If you’ve seen the #GrowMO ads on your TV recently in the State Of Missouri (and surrounding states that have a portion of Missouri in their media markets in them), then you’ll be not surprised to learn that Grow Missouri (#GrowMO) is just another right-wing front group with VERY close ties to that state’s Club For Growth and Americans For Prosperity chapters.
Missourians could soon see television ads urging them to support a tax cut measure that Gov. Jay Nixon has vetoed.
Two of the state’s business groups — the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry and Associated Industries of Missouri — announced today that they will start airing commercials throughout the state on Monday, asking people to reach out to their lawmakers and push for an override of Nixon’s veto.
The two 30-second spots direct viewers to GrowMissouri.com if they want more information on the tax bill.
Grow Missouri is a political action committee created earlier this week. The PAC reported today that it had received $1.3 million from political mega-donor Rex Sinquefield of St. Louis.
In a 10-part veto message last month, Nixon called the tax cut legislation an “ill-conceived, fiscally irresponsible experiment that would inject far-reaching uncertainty into our economy, undermine our state’s fiscal health and jeopardize basic funding for education and vital public services.”
Here’s a couple of ads by Grow Missouri that are in circulation on TV:
So-called “small business” (really pro-corporatist) group National Federation of Independent Business endorses #GrowMO:
Guess who showed up for the Colorado recall effort against Senate President John Morse and Sen. Angela Giron? Who else but the Koch brothers and their Super PAC, Americans for Prosperity. Of course the Kochs are there, injecting their millions into helping out their NRA pals undo an election. Here’s the mailer against Morse they’re sending to Colorado voters, and above is a screenshot of part of it.
They announced a month ago that they’d be active in the recall campaign against Morse, even though the tough gun safety law the prompted the NRA’s recall isn’t high up on their list of reasons for trying to oust Morse.
It’s all about taxes and of course, Obamacare for them. Note that they just slapped that picture of Bloomberg in there to allude to the gun issue. The rest of the mailer, though, is all taxes and Obamacare, including the lie that will never die: Obamcare “takes $716 billion from Medicare to pay for new entitlements.” Yep, that $716 billion lie that Mitt Romney flogged to death, the same $716 billion that Paul Ryan included in his budget.
What it’s really about is taking down the powerful Democratic Senate leader in this trending blue state. It’s the Koch brothers’ fight we’ve seen across the country. They’re trying to take over Colorado, just like they did in Wisconsin. Don’t let them.
Working out of an nondescript brick rowhouse in suburban Virginia, a little-known organization named Donors Trust, staffed by five employees, has steered hundreds of millions of dollars to the most influential think tanks, foundations, and advocacy groups in the conservative movement. Over the past decade, it has funded the right’s assault on labor unions, climate scientists, public schools, economic regulations, and the very premise of activist government. Yet unlike its nearest counterpart on the progressive side, the Tides Foundation, a bogeyman of Glenn Beck and Bill O’Reilly, Donors Trust has mostly avoided any real scrutiny. It is the dark-money ATM of the right.
Founded in 1999, Donors Trust (and an affiliated group, Donors Capital Fund) has raised north of $500 million and doled out $400 million to more than 1,000 conservative and libertarian groups, according to Whitney Ball, the group’s CEO. Donors Trust allows wealthy contributors who want to donate millions to the most important causes on the right to do so anonymously, essentially scrubbing the identity of those underwriting conservative and libertarian organizations. Wisconsin’s 2011 assault on collective bargaining rights? Donors Trust helped fund that. ALEC, the conservative bill mill? Donors Trust supports it. The climate deniers at the Heartland Institute? They get Donors Trust money, too.
Donors Trust is not the source of the money it hands out. Some 200 right-of-center funders who’ve given at least $10,000 fill the group’s coffers. Charities bankrolled by Charles and David Koch, the DeVoses, and the Bradleys, among other conservative benefactors, have given to Donors Trust. And other recipients of Donors Trust money include the Heritage Foundation, Grover Norquist’s Americans for Tax Reform, the NRA’s Freedom Action Foundation, the Cato Institute, the American Enterprise Institute, the Federalist Society, and the Americans for Prosperity Foundation, chaired (PDF) by none other than David Koch.
In a recent interview, Ball, who calls herself a libertarian, went to great lengths to stress that she’s no Koch brothers stooge, and that Donors Trust is not yet another appendage of the almighty "Kochtopus." She insists, “We were not created by them at all.”
Donors Trust is a so-called "donor-advised fund," a breed apart from a family foundation like, say, the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, which helped build the conservative movement over decades with donations totaling tens of millions of dollars. The people who donate to Donors Trust don’t get final say over how their money is spent. But they get to recommend where their cash goes, and in exchange for giving up some control, they get a bigger tax write-off than they would with a family foundation. (And those who wish it get anonymity.)
Ball says she travels all over the country courting wealthy conservatives and libertarians, and attends Koch donor retreats and Cato “shareholder” meetings. The crux of her pitch is this: Rich folks can give to Donors Trust and rest easy knowing that their millions will continue bankrolling the conservative movement long into the future, even after their death.
Donors Trust grew out of the fear among right-leaning donors that their family foundations might end up in the hands of those who would fund centrist or, even worse, left-of-center causes. At the behest of the late Bruce Jacobs, a Seattle-area businessman and “paleocon” who didn’t want to underwrite a local community foundation, Ball and a conservative strategist named Kimberly Dennis created Donors Trust.
Donors Trust is the only honey-pot of its kind for right-leaning donors. But on the left, there’s theTides Foundation, which gives out tens of millions of dollars each year to thousands of left-leaning groups in the US and overseas (including Mother Jones' nonprofit arm, the Foundation for National Progress). Tides is a target of conspiracy theorists such as TV and radio host Glenn Beck, who hasfeatured Tides on his infamous connect-the-dots chalkboard. But Donors Trust’s strategic intent is far narrower and more coherent than Tides’. The groups funded by Donors Trust more or less pursue the same agenda—eliminate regulations, kneecap unions, shrink government, and transfer more power to the private sector.
Donors Trust keeps its contributors secret. Funders can ask Donor Trust to publicly identify their donations, but very few do, Ball says. The reasons for preferring anonymity are many. Some donors want to avoid attention; others don’t want their mailboxes and inboxes filling up with unwanted solicitations for more money.
Tax records, however, reveal some of the sugar-daddies of the conservative and libertarian movement who funnel big money through Donors Trust. The Knowledge and Progress Fund, a charity bankrolled by Charles Koch, gave $2 million in 2010. The DeVos family charity, another pillar of conservative politics, contributed $1 million in 2009 and $1.5 million in 2010. And yet another long-time bankroller of conservative politics, the Bradley family, donated $650,000 through their charity between 2001 and 2010.
h/t: Mother Jones
WASHINGTON — Three influential conservative groups that helped to defeat Speaker John Boehner’s “Plan B” before Christmas called for a “no” vote on the fiscal cliff deal struck by the White House and the Senate. The calls of opposition from these groups appear to have been heard by House Republicans, who are refusing to support the deal passed by the Senate.
The ultra-conservative Club for Growth stated, “This bill raises taxes immediately with the promise of cutting spending later. Tax rates will go up on marginal income, capital gains, dividends, and even certain estates when a person passes away. But it also delays the sequester for at least two months, breaking the promise made by Congress in 2011 to cut government spending. And, among other things, it includes an unpaid for extension of unemployment benefits.”
Heritage Action, the political arm of the Heritage Foundation, echoed these concerns, “To be clear, this is a tax increase. … Heritage Action opposes the kick-the-can tax increase and will include it as a key vote on our legislative scorecard.”
FreedomWorks President and CEO Matt Kibbe opposed Senate passage of the dealand wrote to his group’s members to call their senator to express their opposition. “I urge you to call your state’s two U.S. Senators and ask them to vote NO on the McConnell-Obama bill to raise taxes and postpone the promised sequester savings. We will count any vote on this proposal as a KEY VOTE when calculating the FreedomWorks Economic Freedom Scorecard for 2012.”
A fourth group, the Koch brothers-controlled Americans for Prosperity, stopped short of calling for supporters to oppose the deal, but did blast both the deal’s contents and the way it was being passed.
"The package is being rushed through at the last minute, possibly voiding the Speaker’s promise that the country would be able to review legislation for three days before the House voted on it. Much like the President’s health care law, it looks like we’ll have to pass the tax bill to find out what’s in it," Americans for Prosperity policy director James Valvo wrote on AFP’s blog.
Dana Busted: Anti-Union bastard Dana Loesch: "'Union Thugs' destroyed Clint Tarver's hot dog stand."
On yesterday’s edition of KFTK’s The Dana Show, Loesch had on Clint Tarver, whose hot dog stand got demolished in the protests on Tuesday. Predictably, she and the other right-wingers are trying to make this into another Kenneth Gladney non-scandal.
From the 12.12.2012 edition of KFTK’s The Dana Show:
Loesch, of course, was blaming the unions for his hot dog stand being destroyed.
Nobody is safe. Apparently union protesters targeted anything that had a white tent yesterday, even reportedly taking out the hot dog stand of Lansing fixture Clint Tarver.
LANSING, MI – A fixture on the local food scene was in the wrong place at the wrong time Tuesday: under the Americans for Prosperity tent on the lawn of the state Capitol when it collapsed, allegedly at the hands of pro-union protesters.
Clinton Tarver operates a popular hot dog stand at the corner of Michigan Avenue and Capitol Avenue, across from the state Capitol, from March to November each year.
In the offseason, he takes on catering work.
Tarver was set up under the Americans for Prosperity tent, his wife, Linda Lee Tarver, said Wednesday.
When the tent came down, allegedly at the hands of pro-union protesters, Tarver and his catering equipment were caught inside.
His cart was not on-site, Linda said.
She estimates the equipment losses totaled at least $500; other losses include supplies, condiments, coolers and food. He crawled out of the tent.
Tarver, who is black, was also the victim of racially-charged verbal attacks, his wife, Linda, said.
On her Facebook page, she wrote that union protesters called her husband “an Uncle Tom [n-word]” when he attempted to retrieve his equipment from the collapsed tent.
"When he came back to get his stuff, people called him the n-word," she said. "They said he deserved what he got and he was on the wrong side. I think they thought he was part of [Americans for Prosperity]."
But Clint is not a political man, she said; she herself is, and has been involved with Americans for Prosperity.
There was no excuse for Tarver to be racially insulted by a few protestors; however, this is no excuse for right-wing nuts to blame everything on “union thugs.”
Eclectablog has all the facts on how the anti-union right-wing media is blowing this story out of proportion:
This is a far cry from the all-caps-can-you-believe-what-these-union-thugs-did freak out by conservatives who would have you believe that Tarver lost his entire livelihood at the hands of union goons. Tarver was set up on some tables under the tent and did not even have his cart. He must have had a very slow day. Anyone who was at the rally and wandered by the two giant AFP tents will tell you that they were essentially empty all day. There were a few AFP folks standing out front, taunting union members and provoking confrontations, but there was not a lot of activity inside the tent where Tarver was.
Nonetheless, much like, Kenneth Gladney, the St. Louis guy who faked getting injured at the hands of union members then solicited funds for his hospital bills even though he had health insurance, a collection has been taken up on Tarver’s behalf. According the article, they have raised over $10,000 for him (UPDATE: MIRS News reports that it’s now over $16,000.) The total value of what he lost in the scuffle? $500.
I wonder what they’ll do with the thousands of extra dollars not needed to buy more buns, hot dogs, ketchup, mustard and a couple of folding tables and coolers?
Certainly Clint Tarver didn’t deserve to be treated as shabbily as he was by the union folks there. His wife claims he was called a “nigger” and jeered for working for the enemy. If true, that’s reprehensible and inexcusable. But the off-the-charts poutrage from the right on this is an absolute joke. Some of the same people decrying the verbal taunts that Tarver experiencde are here on this very website calling union members all sorts of hideous names. So let’s keep it real, shall we?
Adding… Let’s not kid ourselves about what “Tentgate” and “Hot Doggate” are all about: distracting the country from noticing that corporatist ideologues have turned the birthplace of American organized labor into a Right to Work for Less state. It’s a smokescreen, chaff to make sure the conversation is not about screwing union members and is, instead, about the AFP losing a couple of tents.
Fox News' Steven Crowder & Americans for Prosperity use Breitbart-style film editing to show “union thug brutality”
Yesterday, I wrote about how Americans for Prosperity representatives helped knock down their own tent on the grounds of the Michigan State Capitol building during an anti-Right to Work for Less rally there. Subsequent to posting that piece, I was alerted to comments on Reddit by user “mtalna”. You can read those comments HERE. What is evident from the comments is that there is a lot of editing that has gone on with the videos Fox News is now running in nearly constant rotation making it look like all of the violence and hostility at the rally yesterday came from union members. As it turns out, significant portions of it were faked and creative Breitbart-style editing helped it along much more.
This morning I spoke with “mtalna”. “mtalana” is Matt Allen from Fowlerville, MI. He’s an 18-year college student and not a union member. He assisted me in putting this piece together and was present for the conversation that happens in the first minutes of the first video below.
This video is actually a composite of a things that happened over the course of the day, many of them hours apart. The initial conversation happened early in the morning. At about 0:16, it cuts to Crowder saying, “You’ve already destroyed one tent, leave this one alone.” That happened hours after the interview with the union workers that starts the segment. The guy he’s talking to is standing quite a distance from the tent but Crowder insists that he’s somehow tearing down the tent.
Selective editing at about 0:39 mark shows what appears to be union guy attacking Crowder for no apparent reason. However, if you look closely, you’ll see that the guy is getting up off the ground — that he was NOT the one that became aggressive first.
At about 1:13, as the tent is coming down, Crowder comes over to the cameraman and waves him off as if to say, “that’s enough filming.”
What they apparently don’t want you to see is union members using knives to cut the tent open to let people inside out. Rather, the message that is being sent by the conservative media and blogosphere is that the union members deliberately cut the tent to pieces in an act of malicious vandalism. As Matt Allen points out in his comments HERE, the union members actually ask, “Is everybody out?” and then proceed to make sure that they are.
At 1:49 in the longer video, one union members notes that an AFP guy has a gun and brags that he’s “killed plenty of mother fuckers with a gun” (i.e., he’s killed people who were in possession of guns.) This is being played up as if a UNION MEMBER had a gun. Not true.
If you want to see a blatant act of theater on Crowder’s part, keep watching that segment. At 2:07, Crowder asks the cameraman “are you recording this?” The cameraman answers, “Yes”, then Crowder acts as if he’s being roughly shoved back into the crowd unprovoked. If you watch closely, the guy who supposedly pushed him has his hands by his side.
For those who have accused me of defending violence by union members, I don’t. It pisses me off to no end that these people allowed themselves to be manipulated by Americans for Prosperity and Fox News and incited into doing stupid shit that gives ALL union members a bad name even though the stupid shit was done by only a small handful out of the 15,000+ people that attended the rally and behaved perfectly calm.
That said, there is no question in my mind whatsoever that AFP and Fox employees set out to incite a huge crowd of very angry people.
Fox News Ethics: Contributor Monica Crowley Speaks At Anti-Obama Rallies | Blog | Media Matters for America
The Denver Post is reporting that Fox News contributor Monica Crowley spent Thursday speaking at rallies in Colorado sponsored by Americans for Prosperity as part of the group’s “second statewide Obama’s Failing Agenda Bus Tour.” Crowley’s appearance adds to Fox’s long history of ethics problems.
In a press release announcing the bus tour, Americans for Prosperity indicated that it “includes three continuous buses crisscrossing the nation, giving a voice to the millions of Americans who oppose the policies of this administration.”
From The Denver Post:
So much for “fair and balanced.” Fox News Channel is doing the RNC’s work on the ground in a key swing state. Note, AEP wouldn’t use the word “stumping,” they’re bashing Barack Obama, not promoting anyone else.
According to a press release for the event, “this tour will educate Americans on the most harmful aspects of President Obama’s big-government agenda…” The group adds that “The Failing Agenda bus tour is an issue advocacy effort by Americans for Prosperity and does not expressly advocate for the success or defeat of any candidate for public office.” But you get the drift.
To be clear, AEP does not count itself a pro-Romney group. It’s an anti-Obama group. There.
This appearance by Crowley raises significant ethical questions since she regularly appearson Fox News’ “fair and balanced” segments to opine on political issues, including the 2012 campaign and the Obama administration’s policies.
This appearance by Crowley raises significant ethical questions since she regularly appears on Fox News’ “fair and balanced” segments to opine on political issues, including the 2012 campaign and the Obama administration’s policies.
However, this is not the first instance in which a Fox employee has appeared to cross the ethical line.
Morris has also repeatedly appeared on Fox News to promote the campaigns of Republican senatorial candidates without noting that their campaigns have paid him to promote their candidates.
Fox also continues to employ Karl Rove as a political analyst though he also doubles as an adviser to GOP super PAC American Crossroads, which is a conflict rarely mentioned on air. Fox, which also has a history of providing free advertising for Republican campaigns, even when those ads are filled with falsehoods, has aggressively promoted ads from American Crossroads.
Sean Hannity has also faced his own ethical scandal. In 2010, Fox News executives were forced to pull him from a planned show filming/fundraiser for the Cincinnati Tea Party after numerous news veterans and watchdogs questioned it. That same year, Fox contributor Pat Caddell spoke at a high-priced conservative retreat sponsored by activist David Horowitz.
In Search Of Votes, Billionaire-Backed Anti-Obama Groups Distribute Gas, iPads, Gift Cards | The Nation
Americans for Prosperity (AFP), the nonprofit financed by David Koch and other wealthy Republican businessmen, has spent some $31 million on anti-Obama ads since April. The group recently opened 98 Get-Out-the-Vote offices, hired some 200 field staffers, and has been distributing its state of the art voter targeting technology on Samsung tablet computers to its volunteers. Now AFP is hoping to win hearts and minds with gifts of free gas.
AFP is hosting events at gas stations across the country to provide gasoline to motorists for the price of $1.84 per gallon. The group is paying for up to 15 gallons for 100-150 drivers at each station, telling them that the $1.84 price symbolizes the price per a gallon before Obama took office in 2009.
The Koch’s political operatives are hoping drivers forget the fact prices peaked over $4.00 under Bush, that the prices in January 2009 were artificially low because of the financial crisis, and that there’s little a president can do to affect oil prices. There’s also the hypocrisy problem. Koch Industries, the company that invented the oil derivative, considers itself one of the world’s biggest players, up there with Goldman Sachs, engaged in the type of commodity speculation that many experts believe is a key driver in rising gas prices. AFP is also providing free barbeque to at its anti-Obama rallies as well as gift cards to its phone bankers, which in the past have been as high as $200 each for the most productive volunteers.
AFP’s giveaways seem to be increasing at a time when other related groups are adding more incentives for people to volunteer against Obama. Last Thursday, the Republican Jewish Coalition, another undisclosed group associated with a small set of wealthy patrons, including Mel Sembler and Sheldon Adelson, began giving away iPads to its most active volunteers. The Huffington Post reported on the RJC’s efforts to “woo” volunteers:
Put in at least 20 hours at an official RJC phone bank in California, Florida, Pennsylvania, New York or here in Washington and receive a $100 American Express gift card. Up that to 30 hours and one gets an older model iPad 2 (worth about $200). And to volunteers who dial up Jewish voters for 50 hours or more, the RJC will give a new 32GB iPad 3, worth $599. Less time gets a lesser tablet, with 40 hours on the phone equaling a 16GB iPad 3 ($499).
Of course, some pro-Obama groups are providing minor gifts to their supporters as well. As far I know, it’s been limited to free pizza, or in one case, a $5 gift card for an evening of phone banking.
Have you seen this anti-Obama ad? The Koch-funded Americans for Prosperity is spending millions to run it nationwide. It relates the story of Shona Holmes, a Canadian who says she had to travel to the US to seek free-market treatment for a life-threatening brain tumor.
Thing is, it’s BS — and it has been since her case was first used by anti-Obamacare conservatives in a 2009 ad. It even has its own Wikipedia entry. Turns out Holmes never had a life-threatening brain cancer, but a benign growth, and she skipped out on her scheduled care to get an earlier appointment in the States. Nevertheless, AFP decided to use it for a new, deceptive ad this year.
Meantime, HuffPo relates the story of another Canadian, Ian, who does have a malignant brain cancer - and whose Canadian health benefits paid for his very sensitive care in America, even as he watched his friends to the south suffer and waste away:
Ian goes on to tell a story of a U.S. system where fellow brain tumor patients spent their time pleading with U.S. insurance companies for just one more week of treatment. The friends Ian made at the hospital had to leave treatment early because they had run out of money and the insurance companies would no longer cover the procedure.
Ian is still alive. But his friends are dead.
But there’s no excuses for AFP because they know that Shona’s story is much more nuanced than they make it out to be in their new TV spot. AFP also knows that if they spend big bucks on TV spots, that regardless of reality, Shona’s story will become fact in the minds of voters.
Bill Ouren, True the Vote’s national elections coordinator, is presenting before a group of about 50 recruits in Boca Raton, Fla. He stands beneath a banner bearing his organization’s name, alongside that of the Koch brothers’ SuperPAC Americans For Prosperity, and the Franklin Center for Government & Public Integrity’s “Citizen Watchdog,” a rightwing group that teaches people how to become “investigative” journalists. He’s telling the story of how True the Vote grew from a small posse in Harris County, Texas, in 2009, to a deployed army of over 1,000 poll watchers across most of the state the following year. Ouren brags that the 2010 recruits reported “over 800 individual incidences of voter … irregularities.”
Irregularities is not a common term in the True the Vote vocab. Usually, it’s just called fraud. Seeing that the wording change has brought confusion to some of his audience’s faces, Ouren offers an explanation. “I use the word ‘irregularities’ because we don’t know if people did it intentionally or if they just didn’t know better.” That kind of logic isn’t normal for the group either, so he immediately adds, “So for those people who say voter and election fraud doesn’t exist, I’ve got 806 answers to that. It absolutely does in one election.”
Ouren and Americans for Prosperity gathered these recruits in Boca Raton in July to instruct them on how they could become “empowered” vessels for True the Vote’s poll watcher program. True the Vote is most widely known for its advocacy of restrictive photo voter ID laws. But while that might garner headlines, the group’s real focus is on policing the act of voting itself. As Ouren declared during the group’s national summit in April, and repeated again in Boca Raton, his recruits’ job is chiefly to make voters feel like they’re “driving and seeing the police following you.” He aims to recruit one million poll watchers around the country.
That’s an ambitious goal, and it’s easy to conclude Ouren’s eyes are bigger than his organizing stomach. But when you consider all of the eyes in True the Vote’s rapidly growing network, the goal may not be so far-fetched.
True the Vote’s emergence wasn’t an isolated event. Its rapid rise occurred in harmony with hundreds of other Tea Party groups across the nation, dozens of which exist in Texas alone and many of which have been “empowered” by True the Vote for “election integrity” kibitzing. It has plugged itself into an existing infrastructure of influential far right organizations hellbent on criminalizing abortion, banishing gun control, repealing the Affordable Care Act—and now, on intimidating would-be voters.
The 2008 ACORN “scandal,” where ACORN was found with thousands of falsified voter registration forms, is partially what inspired Engelbrecht to form the King Street Patriots. Even though no fraudulent votes were cast, Engelbrecht’s King Street Patriots lionized the ACORN tale and used it as a mobilizing tool to recruit hundreds of volunteers for 2009 Election Day poll watching, mostly in black and Latino districts. The Patriots came out of that experience convinced that election workers in Harris County were letting non-citizens vote and enabling fraud.
Only a handful of fraud cases were tried after the election, and none led to full convictions. Still, the King Street Patriots spun off as “True the Vote” and came out again for the 2010 elections—bulkier with more recruits, again at black and Latino polling places. A local Houston newscast noticed the bulge in poll observers and reported, “As the number of poll watchers have increased, so have the number of complaints.” A video True the Vote circulated at the time contained doctored photos of black people falsely pictured as advocating for voter fraud.
The electoral reforms True the Vote pushed, and the High Court fight they spawned, would have never become law if not for the relationships the group built with Texas elected officials and election administrators. As far back as early 2010, the group was hosting events in a mall office that drew county clerks, state legislators, members of Congress and a wide net of Tea Party and Patriot groups across the state. (Read a list of them and see their pictures here.)
These relationships with elected officials are perhaps the most troubling ones in the impressive national network that True the Vote has since built. The group claims non-partisanship, which is an important assertion to avoid legal entanglement. But that’s dubious given its affiliations and activities.
True the Vote often explains to recruits that they can’t dispatch them at polls in many states; they can only offer training. In Florida, for instance, the political parties and their candidates must select and place poll watchers. So if a volunteer wants to be considered by the parties for Election Day, “we can help facilitate those connections,” Engelbrecht told recruits at the Americans for Prosperity summit in Boca Raton.
Such facilitation means relationships with people in government. That was apparent at True the Vote’s national summit this year, when Republican Harris County Clerk Stan Stanart, who helps manage elections, was asked to stand and given applause. He’s been a regular at True the Vote events since their inception. Also in attendance were True the Vote regulars U.S. Rep. Ted Poe, infamous for quoting a Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizardon the House floor in 2007, and state Rep. Jim Murphy, both Republicans. Gov. Rick Perry wasn’t present, but he wrote a letter of congratulations to Engelbrecht saying he looks “forward to working with you and True the Vote in the coming weeks and months ahead.”
A year before the conference, Gov. Perry was the guest speaker when the King Street Patriots opened their new headquarters, an upgrade from their mall office. The King Street Patriots were working so closely with the Republican Party—hosting fundraisers and providing resources for their candidates—that a judge ruled this year that the group’s electioneering violated its 501c4 status and declared them a political action committee.
But the relationship with the Republican Party goes beyond Texas.
At a Heritage Foundation-sponsored panel in July, Engelbrecht shared the stage with Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach and Colorado Secretary of State Scott Gessler, both of whom are involved in a multi-state program Kobach created for purging voters using dubious methods. Under the Interstate Cross Check Project, 15 states (not including Texas) have been enlisted to share voter registration data under the premise that they will root out “non-citizen” voters. It’s an outgrowth of Kobach’s Secure and Fair Elections [SAFE] law, one of the strictest voter ID laws passed in 2011, particularly for its requirement that voters show proof of their citizenship when they first register. It was fueled by claims that felons, dead people and “illegal aliens” were voting and stealing elections. There is scant evidence for any of those claims. But Engelbrecht told the Heritage crowd that Kobach’s SAFE was “the model” the rest of the nation should follow.
Englebrecht’s Heritage Foundation panel was actually a rogue’s gallery of election administrators. The same week of the panel, Colorado’s Gessler tried to force local elected officials to accept changes to poll monitoring and canvassing rules; the locals protested loudly. At the panel Gessler, who’s embroiled in lawsuits over a directive to county clerks not to mail ballots to people who skipped the 2010 elections, said he is busy checking databases for “illegal immigrants” on ICE holds, and asserted he found 185 of them were registered to vote.
This is how True the Vote has been building its poll-watching army: recruiting from one far-right confab after another.
Ouren has a five-point recruitment strategy: Plan. Mobilize. Train. Deploy. Follow-up. Election workers, poll judges, clerks, machine operators and other elections staff are “under immense pressure to do the wrong thing,” Ouren told recruits at the Boca Raton training. “Your monitoring gives them cover to do the right thing.”
Recruits sign up at True the Vote’s website for online trainings and gain access to voter registration lists in their counties. They look through the lists for names to submit to election officials for purging. This process isplaying out now in Tampa, where True the Vote’s reputation for voter intimidation has followed the RNC to a state already notorious for reckless purging. Come Election Day, they’ll deploy to the polls.
There have, however, been ample complaints about True the Vote intimidating voters. During Wisconsin’s recall election, students complained that True the Vote volunteers harassed them. The group’s regional director Erin Anderson told me the charges were false, but acknowledged that they couldn’t account for every volunteer they had in the state. “We had an online training, but a lot of people participated in it,” said Anderson. “We know who they are but we don’t know where they ended up.”
Of course, if there’s doubt that True the Vote’s zealous promotion of poll monitoring is about more than “election integrity,” suspicions are confirmed every time Tom Fritton of Judicial Watch speaks to the recruits. At least twice he’s been a featured guest at True the Vote events and both times he’s delivered the same message: “We are concerned that Obama’s people want to be able to steal the election in 2012” with the “illegal alien vote” and a “food stamp army.”
Judicial Watch is crusading to force states to carry out voter-roll purges like the one that has subjected Florida to multiple lawsuits. Together with Judicial Watch, True the Vote formed the 2012 Election Integrity Project, launched in February at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC). Through the Election Integrity Project, the group has sued to allow Florida’s purge program to commence, and has sent letters threatening lawsuits in Indiana and Ohio to do the same.
CPAC, meanwhile, rewarded True the Vote’s efforts in 2011 with one of its highest honors, the Ronald Reagan Award, which no doubt ingratiated them with even more activists on the political far right.
All of this further betrays the idea that True the Vote is a nonpartisan organization with an agenda that won’t harm the civil rights of African American and immigrant voters. “Their organization knows they broke the law in 2010 by coordinating with only one political party while enjoying nonprofit status,” says Rebecca Acuna, communications director of the Texas Democratic Party.
For all the headlines and hand-wringing about super-PACs, it is dark-money nonprofits like Karl Rove’s Crossroads GPS and Americans for Prosperity that dominate the political money wars. These politically oriented groups, which keep their donors secret, outspent super-PACs 3-to-2 in the 2010 elections. Through the spring of 2012, 91 percent of advertising by independent groups came from nonprofits and big business trade groups. And a growing pile of evidence suggests that it’s these nonprofits, notsuper-PACs, hauling in the bulk of corporate political cash.
But come Saturday, the dark-money nonprofits face a dilemma. A high-profile court case known asVan Hollen v. FEC threatens to shine an unwelcome beam of sunlight on donors bankrolling these organizations. Nothing’s stopping Crossroads GPS or AFP from running more “issue” ads hitting Obama and other Democrats (that is, ads that don’t explicitly say “vote for” or “vote against”). Except now nonprofits will have to reveal who funded those spots.
ark-money nonprofits don’t want to name names. Their pitch to donors includes the promise of anonymity and a shield from public scrutiny. This means that Crossroads GPS and other politically active nonprofits—which aren’t supposed to make politicking their primary purpose—have to rethink their ad strategy, election experts say. Do they shift money to super-PACs? Go dark in the months before the election? Find another loophole to run ads and keep their donors secret?
Tax and election law experts say that, short of shutting down, any new strategy carries significant risks. Run-ins with the Internal Revenue Service or the Federal Election Commission, the federal elections watchdog, could be on the horizon. “It’s a tough strategic choice for these groups,” says Joseph Birkenstock, an election law attorney and former chief counsel at the Democratic National Committee.
Here’s the quick-and-dirty version of how nonprofits including Crossroads GPS, Americans for Prosperity, and pro-Obama Priorities USA, among others, ended up in this bind. Until recently, nonprofits had exploited a federal loophole allowing them to run issue ads without disclosing the sources of their funding. These so-called social welfare organizations may also run ads directly backing or opposing candidates, but can’t run too many of them at the risk of running afoul of the IRS for being too political.
In 2011, Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) and pro-reform advocacy groups sued the Federal Election Commission to close that loophole. This March, a federal district court judge agreed with Van Hollen, and a second federal judge refused to stay that decision. The loophole was gone. (The case is currently on appeal.)
In other words, the rule book has changed mid-election for politically active nonprofits, and the first effects will be felt Saturday. Now, if AFP or Priorities USA runs a TV or radio ad mentioning Obama or Romney without endorsing or opposing a candidate, the group’s donors must be named. Starting in early September, if they mention any federal candidate, donors must be named.
One dark-money heavyweight, the US Chamber of Commerce, has already said it will change its game plan. As Chamber president Tom Donohue explained in May, the Chamber will no longer run the thinly veiled “issue” ads mentioning a candidate that it did in 2010 and 2011. Instead, the group—which says it’ll spend $50 million during the 2012 cycle—will run ads outright urging voters to oppose or support a candidate. The Chamber can get away with this because, after decades of conservatives and libertarians chipping away at the law, a loophole opened letting donors escape disclosure for “vote for” and “vote against” ads by nonprofit groups.
The conservative group Americans For Prosperity may have taken a step that eventually forces it to reveal its donor base, which has so far remained anonymous thanks to federal law, according to the Las Vegas Sun.
But after it became involved in a Nevada Senate race last month, a state law could mean the Koch-funded group loses its ability to avail of federal protections against disclosure. Democrats are said to be pressing the issue.
h/t: TPM LiveWire
Yesterday in Madison, Wisconsin, CNN “Contributor” and paid GOP hack who pretends to be an independent Conservative Dana Loesch spoke at the Wisconsin Tax Day Rally, which was of course attacks on Democrats, unions, supporters of Walker’s recall, and liberals.
At the Tax Day Rally, Loesch relied on her numerous falsehoods.
- She declared Wisconsin “ground zero” between unions and union-busters. Guess which side she’s on? (approx. 0:57)
- Loesch: “We are fighting the Reds.” (Reds in this case is code for anti-Walker/Kleefisch and pro-union activists) (approx. 1:28)
- She falsely claims that the "Democrats have launched the ‘War On (Stay-At-Home) Moms.’" (approx. 1:48)
- She mentions that she was a former registered Democrat, but when September 11th, 2011 hit, Loesch said: “good-bye Dems and I thank God we have a Republican in office.” (approx. 2:00)
- Loesch: “I left that party (Democrat Party) of motley crews, rudeness, crassness, and absolute Marxist confusion because of the way they exploited women” (approx. 2:18) No, Dana, it’s the GOP that’s exploiting women, you asshole!
- She misleadingly accuses the Democratic Party of launching a “war on women.” Wrong, Ms. Loesch! (approx. 2:35)
- She was cheerleading for the corrupt Lt. Gov of Wisconsin, Rebecca Kleefisch (R), who happens to be the subject of a recall. (approx. 2:44)
- She slammed the Democrats, SEIU, AFL-CIO, and other liberal-leaning groups for calling out people like her. (approx. 2:59)
- She misleadingly attacks Democrats as “sexists, misogynists, and creeps.” (approx. 4:00)
- Loesch was telling lies about the history of the Democratic Party. (approx. 5:00)
- She falsely states that Walker’s “reforms” are “saving the state thousands of dollars.” Wrong, Walker’s bankrupted that state. (approx. 5:38)
- Loesch: “I’m a hard-working, private sector, homeschooling mom.” (approx. 5:45)
- Loesch: “The Democrats and unions want to rob our money, our benefits, our children’s education.” (approx. 6:01)
- While she portrays her family as “blue-collar and hard-working,” she and her husband (Chris) are anything but that. (approx. 6:29)
- She misleadingly claims that “20,000+ jobs will be provided by the building of Keystone XL.” (approx. 6:45)
- She falsely blames the Democrats and Obama for “shutting down oil.” (approx. 7:10)
- The crowd blurted out “She [Kleefisch] rocks!” Nope, she sucks! (approx. 8:14)
- Loesch: “The Democrats, Leftists, Liberals, Marxists, Socialists, and Fascists can bite me!” (approx. 9:00)
- She is still attacking the Democrats for “stalling progress, reform, attacking moms, etc.” That’s not true, ma’am! (approx. 9:15)
Later that night, she was on CNN Newsroom with Don Lemon, and of course, she was being rude, discourteous, and just flat-out dishonest.
From the 04.14.2012 edition of CNN’s CNN Newsroom:
‘Pro-Life’ Fliers Handed Out At Americans For Prosperity Conference Call For Boycotting The American Cancer Society
MILWAUKEE, Wisconsin — Attacking Planned Parenthood was so 2011. This year, conservatives may have a new target: the American Cancer Society.
Fliers calling on “patriots” to “boycott the American Cancer Society” were in abundance at the Americans For Prosperity’s Defending the American Dream Summit in Milwaukee last weekend. It also urged churches and Christian schools to stop participating in the American Cancer Society’s annual Relay for Life fundraiser for cancer research.
According to the flier, people should boycott the American Cancer Society because the group supports “the Marxist Obamacare plan” and is insufficiently “pro-life.” The American Cancer Society spends approximately $130 million each year to fund cancer research, helping save countless lives in the process.
More deranged conservative boycotts of companies that do good things.
(via Evan McMorris-Santoro at TPM: Santorum: “Obama ‘A Snob’ For Wanting Everyone To Go To College” | TPM Livewire)
TROY, MICHIGAN — Rick Santorum is working hard in Michigan to try and cast himself as the candidate of the working class. At a speech before a tea party audience here Saturday, he made his case by accusing President Obama of trying to turn America’s youth into liberal drones by sending them to college.
The idea was pretty well received by the crowd here at a rally hosted by the Michigan branch of Americans For Prosperity.
"Not all folks are gifted the same way. Some people have incredible gifts with their hands," Santorum began. "Some people have incredible gifts and want to work out there making things."
Then he went after the president’s call for making college easier for Americans to attend.
President Obama wants everybody in America to go to college. What a snob,” Santorum said as the crowd howled with laughter and applause. “There are good, decent men and women who work hard every day and put their skills to the test that aren’t taught by some liberal college professor.”
Santorum said he knows the real reason Obama wants more Americans on college campuses.
"That’s why he wants you to go to college. He wants to remake you in his image," Santorum said to more applause. "I want to create jobs so people can remake their children into their image, not his."
See Also: In 2006, Man-on-Dog said the exact opposite on this issue.