Sunday, December 26, 2004

Dear Friends:

Veteran respected muckraker Doug Ireland has uncovered major problems with the leadership at AIDS Action, a DC-based lobbying organization for AIDS service organizations, as you can read below.

After reading Ireland's column from his blog,, about the latest stupidity from AIDS Action, I did some research on the group's tax return and its leader, Marsha A. Martin.

The latest IRS 990 tax return for AIDS Action shows the group had revenue of $565,285 in FY 2002 and that Ms. Martin, the executive director, earned $116,667. (

I'd be most interested to learn what Martin is earning this year for her services to AIDS Action.

As a donor to candidates and PACs, she's not a big giver, according to records with the PoliticalMoneyLine web site,

Only a single donation turned up for her, back when she worked for the federal government, to Al Gore's 2000 run for the White House:

Martin, Marsha A. Ms.
7/21/1999 $250.00
Washington, DC 20003
US Dept. Hlth. & Human Serv. -[Contribution]

I think Martin has a lot of explaining to do to the AIDS community and people with AIDS about her sucking up to the Bush Administration.

Michael Petrelis

For the latest from DIRELAND--on how the executive director of AIDS
Action, D.C.'s largest and wealthiest AIDS lobby, is sponsoring and
helping to organize a banquet celebrating the re-election of George Bush
and a strengthened Republican Congress, with the banquet's proceeds
going to a front group for drug company multinationals--click on

December 24, 2004

By Doug Ireland

It's mind-boggling: Marsha Martin, the executive director of AIDS
Action--the AIDS community's largest, most visible, and wealthiest
Washington lobby, with a multi-million dollar budget--has jumped into
with the Bush-Rove Republicans with both feet. In a perfectly
scandalous act
of betrayal of the AIDS community, Martin is one of a small committee
sponsoring a pricey celebration of Bush's November victory, and that of
Republicans in Congress. And guess who gets the money from this orgy of
felicitations to the GOP? A front group for Big Pharma that crusades
giving cheap, generic AIDS-fighting meds to the world's poorest victims
the AIDS pandemic.

The invitation, on which Martin's name prominently appears as part of a
small "host committee", is to an expensive, upcoming January 20 event at
Washington's J.W. Marriott on Pennsylvania Avenue, just a few blocks
the White House. The event is billed as a "Salute a Second Term:
Freedom, Honoring Service--an Inaugural Dinner Invitation." And the
invitation to this deluxe, black-tie banquet ($125 a plate, with
sponsorships" going for $5000) goes on to say, "You are cordially
to join in celebrating the Presidential Inauguration and Republican
electoral success."

This event, which as a member of the "host committee" Martin is helping
organize, is for the benefit of something called the Aids Responsibility
Project (ARP). And just what, you may ask, is the ARP? As the Center for
Media and Democracy has carefully documented, ARP is pharmaceutical
front group--it even boasts of its "partnership" with the Big Pharma
the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), as
well as
with Pfizer and other drug multinationals. ARP's primary function has
to crusade against the manufacture and use of effective but generic
AIDS-fighting drugs produced by Third World companies like India's Cipla
(whose tripartite AIDS-fighting "cocktail" costs 20 times less than the
U.S.-manufactured version). ARP wants thus to insure that only the
infinitely more expensive AIDS meds manufactured by Big Pharma
companies are
used to prolong the lives of the HIV-infected.

As a result, Bush administration policies allow U.S. monies for Bush's
Global AIDS Initiative to be used only for buying Big Pharma drugs--a
made even easier when Bush appointed to head his AIDS initiative someone
with no experience with AIDS and none with diseases in developing
Randall L. Tobias, the former chairman of the pharmaceutical giant Eli
& Co. Tobias was chosen as Big Pharma's enforcer, to ensure that
getting U.S. help can't themselves buy generic AIDS drugs at the lowest
possible prices — meaning the Bush initiative's money won’t go nearly
as far
as it should.

ARP's founder and executive director, Abner Mason, is a Republican hack
had no previous AIDS experience when George Bush named him to the
President's Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS, which Bush has stacked with
opponents of science-based sex education and anti-condom crusaders.
had previously worked for two Republican Massachusetts Governors -- Paul
Cellucci and Jane Swift -- as chief policy adviser, and served them as
Massachusetts Undersecretary of Transportation, and as Deputy General
Manager of the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority.)

During the the 15th International AIDS Conference, held in Bangkok in
2004, Mason's ARP took out a full-page ad in the Bangkok Post which
generic AIDS drugs and lied about their effectiveness. This caused Asia
Russell, of the AIDS-fighting group Health GAP Coalition, to say, "It is
hard to gauge whether the global AIDS treatment community is more
shocked to
learn that a drug industry stooge is at the highest advisory level of
policy in the United States, or to learn the lengths to which he and his
paymasters would go to falsely undermine confidence in proven and
treatment options."

AIDS Action bills itself as the "national voice" for the some 3200 AIDS
service organizations (ASOs) around the country which make up its
membership. Thus, it is in their name that Martin, as AIDS Action's
executive director, is calling for a "celebration" of an administration
has promulgated regulations demanding that any ASO getting federal money
teach that condoms don't work to prevent AIDS; perverted the use of
tax-payer dollars intended to help fight AIDS by funneling them into
political patronage for the Christian Right disguised as "faith-based
initiatives"; gutted the Centers for Disease Control's AIDS work by
censoring and banishing any educational material that recognizes sexual
practices the Bushies don't like (homosexuality foremost among them);
at the same time, Martin wishes us to hail a Republican Congress that
virtually flat-lined domestic AIDS spending. Moreover, Martin wants us
shout for joy at the GOP's "electoral success" which just elevated to
Senate a phalanx of anti-condom religious primitives-- like Coburn of
Oklahoma (the AIDS community's number one enemy when he was in the
DeMint of South Carolina, Burr of North Carolina, Vitter of Louisiana,
Martinez of Florida.

When Martin was named AIDS Action's executive director in February
2002, she
told the Washington Blade that "We are going to be on AIDS what [the
Rights Campaign] is on gay rights issues." But Martin exceeded even the
Republican-endorsing HRC's collaborationist policies by her constant
effusive praise for Bush's sorry record on AIDS. When Bush made an
election-year campaign speech on AIDS in Philadelphia this past
speech whose phony hypocrisy I exposed for The Nation--Martin gushed to
Today that Bush had given "unprecedented leadership" on AIDS. And she
praised Bush's Global AIDS Initiative as "absolutely exceptional" to
despite its tilt to the religious right's condom opponents. That
ass-kissing doesn't strike most people in the AIDS community as
to the frightening reality they know all too well.

But Martin has now allied herself firmly with a Republican president
and a
Republican Congress who have been hurting the very community she claims
serve, and who have done everything possible to destroy science-based,
life-saving HIV prevention methods. Moreover, she has done so as a
shill for
a banquet to benefit a lobbying group that wants to deny poor people
AIDS around the world cheap meds that can keep them alive.

Sean Strub, the founder of the award-winning magazine POZ (which serves
HIV-positive community) and one of the AIDS community's most respected
activists, has just sent a letter to AIDS leaders in which he says of
Martin's latest and most stomach-turning sellout, "Why don't we just
dissolve AIDS Action, spend the money on cyanide pills, and speed the
thing up? Martin is responsible for protecting the interests of people
AIDS--and yet she celebrates those who have supported Bush's campaign to
control and criminalize us, to deny us treatment and care, to guarantee
further spread of the disease by teaching young people that condoms
work. She might as well go to work for HRC for all the good she's doing
We cannot let this stand."

So, Strub tells AIDS leaders in his e-mailed letter, "we must demand
AIDS Action board members, and the executive directors of the agencies
fund AIDS Action, fire Marsha Martin and find an executive director
celebratory priorities are more appropriate to a constituency
struggling to
survive, to keep from becoming totally invisible, totally ignored,

Strub is, of course, right-- the kapo Martin should be fired. And there
should a firestorm of outrage at her actions from the AIDS community to
insure her eviction.

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