You've probably heard about the class action lawsuit the Center for Science in the Public Interest filed on behalf of the mother of two young children, Monet Parham, charging that McDonald's Happy Meal advertising baits kids into eating fatty meals in order to get toys.
"As other busy, working moms and dads know, we have to say 'no' to our young children so many times, and McDonald's makes that so much harder to do," reads a statement attributed to Ms. Parham on CSPI's website. "I object to the fact that McDonald's is getting into my kids' heads without my permission and actually changing what my kids want to eat."
But what you might not be aware of is that Ms. Parham isn't just any mom; she works for the California Department of Public Health. A conservative blog identifies her as regional program manager within the Network for a Healthy California, a program of the department. A representative for the California Department of Public Health confirmed that Ms. Parham is an employee, but said the department is not involved in the suit.
CSPI said it disclosed this information. Jeff Cronin, communications director, said, "In our conference call discussing the lawsuit, Monet Parham described what she did for a living, fully disclosing who her employer was. This is being done out of her own personal interests and not on behalf of her employer." Her day job was not, however, mentioned in the complaint filed with Superior Court of California in and for San Francisco County.
Still, a commenter on the blog FutureofCapitalism.com charged that Ms. Parham "presents herself as an ordinary mother. She is not. She is an advocate, and an employee of a California agency tasked with advocating the eating of vegetables."
So naturally, of course she is "concerned about the health of my children and feel that McDonald's should be a very limited part of their diet and their childhood experience," as Ms. Parham was quoted saying on CSPI's website.
When asked if the fact that Ms. Parham works for an state agency focused on early childhood matters and nutrition would pose a conflict, Mr. Cronin said that "she made it clear [during the conference call] that her employer had nothing to do with it. She is acting as a concerned mother. It wouldn't matter if she worked for the police department or the fire department or the health department. It's personal for her."