Cable, telephone and Internet industry giants are fiercely lobbying, using every tool at their disposal to gain a competitive advantage in telecom reform legislation. Some of those tools are easy to spot - campaign contributions, television ads that run only inside the Beltway, and meetings with influential members of Congress. Other tactics are more insidious.
One of the underhanded tactics increasingly being used by telecom companies is "Astroturf lobbying" -- creating front groups that try to mimic true grassroots, but that are all about corporate money, not citizen power.
Another industry approach is to fund "think tanks" and nonprofit groups with innocuous sounding names to write reports and policy papers. These groups accept subsidies or grants from corporate interests to lobby or produce research when they normally might not, but too often fail to disclose the connection between their policy positions and their bank accounts.