The Other NRA: Unmasking the Agenda of the National Restaurant Association

Today, Restaurant Opportunities Centers United, along with Alliance for a Just Society, Family Values @ Work, Food Chain Workers Alliance, Good Jobs First, Movement Strategy Center, and Real Food Media Project, release the most comprehensive examination to date of the National Restaurant Association and its top members. For the first time, it compiles information on the NRA’s public policy priorities, the extensive scale of their federal lobbying activities, the scope of their political contributions, as well as CEO compensation and usage of public subsidies among top corporate chain members.

“This report is part of the campaign to fight back against the National Restaurant Association’s destructive lobbying agenda,” said Saru Jayaraman, co-founder and co-director of ROC United. “We want to see elected officials back off from accepting the NRA’s contributions. Their corporate cash does more than quash workers’ rights — their influence is detrimental to our environment, public health, animal welfare and equality for women. For the first time, this report lays it all out, and we expect Congress to pay attention.”

This Tuesday and Wednesday, lobbyists from the NRA and its corporate members fly into D.C. for their annual conference and lobby days.

Highlights include:

  • The NRA’s political spending shows a highly partisan split – it’s given 83% of its federal contributions since 1989 to Republicans, compared to 17% to Democrats.

  • Data on the NRA’s “revolving door lobbyists”: many former chiefs of staff and legislative directors to members of Congress are on the NRA’s payroll. With 27 revolving door lobbyists last year, the Restaurant Association’s had almost twice as many as the National Rifle Association.

  • NRA has compromised the health and nutrition of millions of U.S. consumers — including children — by opposing public health policy measures like nutritional menu labeling requirements, limitations on the marketing of junk food to children, and regulation of sodium, sugar, and trans-fats in processed foods.

  • The NRA has successfully shepherded legislation that strips the rights of localities to vote on paid sick day legislation in nine states, and has helped introduce similar legislation in at least seven more.

  • Analysis on a loophole in the tax law allows corporations to deduct an unlimited amount of the cost of performance pay options from their income taxes resulting in US taxpayers subsidizing nearly $232 million in CEO compensation for the top 20 restaurant chains in the National Restaurant Association.

Today’s report release coincides with a full-page New York Times ad placed by leading food, environmental, women’s and labor organizations demanding members of Congress stop accepting the National Restaurant Association’s corporate cash.

Download the PDF here.