Vice News reported that a notorious rightwing, anti-union group was running an astroturf campaign to shame New York City private schools for teaching about diversity and racial bias. The organization was called “Prep School Accountability” and was able to gin up lots of stories, especially in Rupert Murdoch’s New York Post, about the “indoctrination” of privileged young minds. The man behind the campaign is Rick Berman, who runs ”The Center on Union Facts,” which attacks unions. The story is an impressive example of investigative digging, which exposed a hoax.

Rick Berman, an infamous right-wing lobbyist whose organizations have been accused of several astroturfing campaigns—and who is known as “Dr. Evil”—revealed that his firm is behind an organization that claimed to be a grass-roots movement against New York City’s prep schools focus on “diversity education.”

Last week, the New York Post reported on a “group of parents” that was planning to show billboards showing messages such as “DIVERSITY NOT INDOCTRINATION” and “WOKE SCHOOL? SPEAK OUT.” The Post’s story is centered around and features Prep School Accountability, which describes itself on its official website as “a group of concerned parents.”

“In recent years, a new orthodoxy has emerged at our schools, dividing our communities based on immutable characteristics such as race, ethnicity, gender, and sexual orientation. As a result, the core tenets of high-quality education—uniting all children and families through a love and appreciation for learning and community spirit—have gone by the wayside,” the Prep School Accountability website reads…

On Thursday, a researcher who specializes in open source intelligence investigations, published a post detailing evidence that he claimed showed Berman and Company was behind Prep School Accountability.

The researcher, who goes by Z3dster, found a handful of non-public author pages on the Prep School Accountability website, which is built with WordPress. The author pages belonged to:

  • Charlyce Bozzello, whom the researcher identified as the Communications Director for the Center for Union Facts, an organization that is also run by Rick Berman. A Twitter account with the same name describes herself as “Just a New Yorker who left NY and can’t remember why.”
  • Someone with the last name Petriccione, who appears to be Christy Petriccione, a Communications Associate at Berman and Company, according to a profile found here.