Republican Party Front Group "Let Freedom Ring" Issues An FEC Complaint Against Blue America
Most Democrats are still in the suicidal defensive crouch they got into sometime late last summer. This weekend a friend sent me a note about the thinking of some of the big Democratic donors in regard to the 2012 elections. Some want to try to match Republican outside advertising efforts-- successfully led by career criminals like David Koch, Karl Rove and the U.S. Chamber's Republican Party partisan Tom Donohue-- in 2012 and those who insist the left, by its nature, lacks the resources to level the playing field and would be better served funding more permanent intellectual infrastructure rather than political advertising.
Erica Payne, one of the founders of the Democracy Alliance and, more recently, head of the Agenda Project, is warning that major Democratic donors are unlikely to write multimillion-dollar checks to fund ad campaigns in 2012 because of their experience the last time they did it, in 2004. Bush won despite their efforts, and many of the big donors were targeted for retribution by Bush's uber-politicized FEC and harassed with bogus charges of election-law violations.
The Blue America PAC isn't one of the big Democratic donors anyone is worried about. In all we've aggregated less than a million dollars per cycle. This year it was just over $900,000, for example. Nevertheless, we were routinely harassed by the FEC while Bush was in office, costing us thousands in legal expenses. And last week our attorney informed us that a right-wing extremist group, Let Freedom Ring, had filed what amounts to a frivolous nuisance suit against us. Let Freedom Ring's president, Colin Hanna, and counsel, Cleta Mitchell, both well-known right-wing Beltway crackpots, claim that Blue America's Independent Expenditure Committee coordinated activities with Nancy Pelosi. Although this isn't just untrue but patently absurd, it will cost of thousands of dollars to defend ourselves from the baseless accusations.
Since they were trying to sue us, I looked up Let Freedom Ring at wikipedia. It was just a stub:
'Let Freedom Ring, Inc.' is a Conservative think-tank that was set up in 2004 in the USA thanks to a $1 million donation from Dr John Templeton, Jr., President of the John Templeton Foundation. The organization seeks to promote the neo-conservative agenda led by President George W. Bush, and campaigns actively in favor of keeping troops in Iraq as part of the 'war on terror'. It claims that the war in Iraq was caused by Al Qaeda. "LFR" also claims to be a group standing against political attack ads, while at the same time maintaining that conservatives need to not be fazed by "'mud-slinging' coming from the left."
Let Freedom Ring was also involved in organizing the nationwide "Tea Party" protests on April 15 2009, in part by sending out robocalls to potential participants the day before.
Their suit claims we "engaged in the deliberate, willful and intentional violation of the [Federal Election Campaign] Act by specifically requesting that outside organizations make public communications in support of Democratic candidates for Congress." As best as I can tell, the only basis for their claim is that a couple of Inside the Beltway newspapers published a story that Pelosi was concerned that the Democrats were concerned that they were being crushed by outside spending and that they needed liberal groups "to do more-- and quickly." The suit claims Blue America Independent Expenditure Committee made its first buy on October 18, right around the time of the newspaper stories. Our Independent Expenditure Committee spent exactly $83,776.85 this year, on three races, one of which was in the Arizona Democratic primary in support of Randy Parraz ($20,315.00), a race Pelosi couldn't have been remotely interested in. Another was in the race in Alabama's Second Congressional District between Blue Dog Bobby Bright and Republican Martha Roby. We spent $48,364.15 opposing Bobby Bright, the candidate Pelosi was backing. And the third race was in support of Justin Coussoule, the progressive Democrat opposing John Boehner, to the tune of $15,097.70. The DCCC and the DNC made it clear that they had no interest in this race whatsoever. If Pelosi did, it would have taken a mind-reader to have known.
The rest of the money spent this cycle by Blue America went through the normal PAC, not that I.E. Committee, and it wasn't named in the suit. With three exceptions-- longtime Blue America friends Alan Grayson, Raul Grijalva and Mary Jo Kilroy-- all expenditures were made on behalf of primary and general election candidates Pelosi either actively opposed or was uninterested in. The biggest amount, $22,958.00, was spent on TV ads for Marcy Winograd in her primary against Pelosi-backed Blue Dog Jane Harman. The second-largest amount, $13,284.00, was spent in support of Regina Thomas in her primary against Pelosi's candidate, John Barrow. Same story in Utah's Democratic primary, where Pelosi backed Blue Dog incumbent Jim Matheson and Blue America backed Claudia Wright. We also spent money on behalf of Billy Kennedy and Justin Coussoule, two races the DCCC, DNC and Pelosi expressed exactly zero interest in. The total from the PAC was $67,956.00. By way of comparison, two of the most dangerous of the right-wing super PACs, Rove's American Crossroads and the shady American Future Fund spent, respectively, $21,553,271.97 and $10,164,466.18 on Independent Expenditures-- and this was just through mid-October. As for Cleta Mitchell (who is Sharron Angle's and Christine O'Donnell's lawyer) and Colin Hanna, she's given over $43,650 to right-wing candidates and PACs since 1993-- every freak in the book from Marco Rubio, Jim DeMint and Rick Santorum to Bush, Coburn and of course Tom DeLay-- and he's given nearly $60,000 in the same period, again to all the most finge freaks in American politics-- from Allen West, Michele Bachmann and Rick Santorum to Star Parker, Pat Toomey and Joe Pitts.
In fact, the very independent expenditure that Let Freedom Rings cites as the one we somehow conspired with Pelosi on is this ad we ran against John Boehner-- and Nancy Pelosi!
So... if you'd like to help us meet this nasty challenge, please consider a donation to our PAC. Perhaps we can even turn the tables on these creeps for the nuisance nature of their suit.