Not What It Appears to Be?

SACRAMENTO, Calif., Feb. 8, 2012 /PRNewswire/ –, a new website that exposes ConsumerWatchdog as a “pay to play” organization that generates millions of dollars for itself in fundraising schemes without revealing its special interest donors, was launched today.

The website includes records of fines levied by the California Fair Political Practices Commission against the organization, a detailed accounting of the millions of dollars in funds it collects for itself from insurance companies as a result of a provision it inserted in a ballot measure, the group’s IRS returns, and numerous examples of the group’s media-focused grandstanding in an effort to raise money for its operations instead of pro-consumer actions.

“Simply put, is an affront to legitimate consumer organizations,” said Steven Maviglio, principal of Forza Communications, a long-time Democratic activist and former lawmaker who launched the site. “It’s a group that is all about its own self-interest and media grandstanding rather than looking out for consumers. Consumers, contributors, and the media deserve to know the organization’s dirty secrets.”

According to recent filings recorded by the California Attorney General’s Office, bills itself as a $5 million “charitable” organization. However, unlike legitimate consumer groups like Consumers Union and the Consumer Federation of California, has no consumer membership. Instead, it receives millions of dollars in contributions from special interests it refuses to identify.

The website notes that the organization has several other affiliated “nonprofit” and political groups, including one that pays founder Harvey Rosenfeld $100,000 per year to make a single grant to its parent organization. According to documents compiled on the website, Rosenfeld has earned in excess of $472,288 in 2010 from the organization and lives in a $1.75 million home in southern California — hardly the profile of a consumer activist.

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