There's a lot more readily available details about the New Millennium Research Council than I realized: The NMRC is the co-publisher of a report that says municipal broadband is anti-competitive and a waste of taxpayer dollars. eWeek broke the news yesterday that they're a division of Issue Dynamics, Inc., a group that specializes in creating the appearance of grassroots and independent support for ideas on behalf of their clients. They don't hide this specialty.
The NMRC lists this relationship on their About page; I'm embarrassed that I missed noting this: "The NMRC is an independent project of Issue Dynamics, Inc. (IDI), a consumer and public affairs consulting firm that specializes in developing win-win solutions to complex policy issues." (IDI lists the US Internet Industry Association as a client; the head of the USIAA wrote part of the NMRC report.)
An email correspondent who prefers to remain anonymous but has had dealings with the NMRC and IDI wrote in to note, "If you need an 'independent' third party to provide support for your particular issue interest, IDI will find an independent expert who will write a supportive piece for you--the report will then be issued by the NMRC or another front org. There is no direct money passing from the corporation to the person writing the research, and as a technical matter, the funding for NMRC comes directly from IDI. However, people like Verizon pay IDI a pretty stiff retainer, and IDI essentially uses part of that to fund NMRC."
IDI says about NMRC: "A unique component of Issues Management & Research services is our relationship with the New Millennium Research Council. The New Millennium Research Council (NMRC) has an experienced staff that provides clients with topical briefs, targeted policy research, and in-depth issue analysis. The NMRC also provides clients with a network of policy experts who can provide content and services over a range of topics. NMRC research projects include, but are not limited to, telecommunications, Internet, and technology policy issues."
The executive director of NMRC, Allen Hepner, wrote in this article at IDI's site (which is linked from the NMRC About page), "Next Generation think-tanks are able to present their views to larger populations including national and influential decision makers and attain a new level of credibility at a much lower cost. When it comes to winning the war of ideas, bigger isn't always better in this case."