What David Brock Does... Sliming Bernie Sanders On Behalf Of The Clinton Machine
David Brock has been causing a stir recently because he runs a Clinton SuperPAC, Correct the Record, that tried to smear Bernie Sanders, linking him, ineffectively, to Hugo Chavez and U.K. progressive hero Jeremy Corbyn. His SuperPAC's mandate-- financed from within the bowels of the Clinton machine itself-- was supposedly a defensive operation, and in fact has been trying, also ineffectively, to defend Hillary from the slander and innuendo the NY Times has been heaping on her in regard to the trumped-up e-mail non-scandal.
The e-mail Brock sent out to journalists Monday denigrated Corbyn as some kind of a radical leftist-- something you would expect from a right-wing nut candidate or rightist media like the Wall Street Journal-- and then tried to conflate Cornyn and Bernie.
The "similarities" between the two, according to the email, include Sanders' introduction of legislation to terminate the United States' nuclear weapons program, comments that NATO's expansion into former Soviet states is dangerous because it could provoke Russia, opposition to more U.S. funds for NATO, and saying he "was concerned" that proposed new NATO members had shipped arms to Iran and North Korea.
The more serious stretch comes as the email highlights how Sanders helped negotiate a program with Venezuela's national oil company in 2006 that provided discounted heating oil assistance to low-income Vermonters. The senator said it was "not a partisan issue," in the state, which was the sixth to make the deal. His support for the program was apparently enough to merit a mention, since Corbyn has written that the late Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez's "electoral democratic credentials are beyond reproach."
Sanders spokesman Michael Briggs wrote in an email to the Huffington Post that Correct the Record was "distorting the record." The Sanders campaign has argued that attacks from Clinton supporters are inspired by anxiety over his leads in polls of Democratic voters in Iowa and New Hampshire.
"It is disappointing that Secretary Clinton's super PAC is spreading disinformation about Bernie," Briggs wrote. "This is exactly the kind of politics that Bernie is trying to change. To equate bringing home heating oil to low-income Vermonters with support for the Chavez government is dishonest."
The irony here is that Brock came onto the national scene as the most vile of rabid right-wing attack dogs, whose job was to smear... the Clintons. He wrote a really disgusting book, The Real Anita Hill, and, in 1993, an ugly, totally dishonest smear article for the rightist propaganda sheet The American Spectator about the so-called "Troopergate scandal" based on lies from Arkansas state troopers who were paid to make up the whole thing. Caught like a rat, Brock later apologized for his part in the filthy episode, which actually led to a lawsuit with no merit against President Clinton by Gennifer Flowers.
When Brock apologized, years later, he admitted his article was politically motivated as part of the Right's baseless and relentless anti-Clinton jihad and said, "The troopers were greedy and had slimy motives." When the Clintons needed a smear-meister to do their own dirty work, who better than Brock? Simon Maloy who used to work for Brock Media Matters after he switched teams, wrote a post for Salon Tuesday making fun of Brock's decision to go after Bernie using GOP smears.
This is the sort of lame degrees-of-separation attack that hapless conservative bloggers have deployed against Barack Obama for the better part of a decade. A controversial person said a controversial thing, and Obama/Sanders has a tangential, superficial link to that person, so clearly there’s a huge scandal here. It’s a tactic you see deployed when one side has an interest in portraying its opponent as dangerously extreme, but lacks any real, compelling evidence of their opponents’ disqualifying radicalism. Correct the Record is highlighting the radicalism of a third party, drawing the thinnest of lines back to Sanders, and claiming to be troubled by the “similarities” they’ve just invented.Many campaign finance reform supporters have noticed that unscrupulous politicians-- Jeb, Carly Fiorina, John Kasich and Scott Walker, for example-- are illegally coordinating with their SuperPACs. Until the FEC or Justice Department starts cracking down, this will fester and metastasize. Perhaps, to show that it isn't a partisan concern of a Democratic Administration with crooked GOP politicians, they should start with Hillary Clinton and David Brock.
I’m also genuinely puzzled as to the political logic behind this attack. It’s difficult to see how transparent red-baiting of this sort would find a sympathetic audience among liberals and Democratic primary voters. Claire McCaskill, a Senate colleague of Sanders and a Clinton supporter, tested out a similar version of this attack over the summer, going on TV and calling Sanders “extreme” and “too liberal” and reminding everyone that “he’s a socialist.” The party and its base have spent the past seven years rolling their eyes at people like Sarah Palin who describe everything the Democrats do as “socialism”-- why would they respond favorably to an intramural version of this same dumb jab?
If anything, the attack is helpful to Sanders, given his opposition to super PACs and other outside money groups as corrupting forces in politics. Correct the Record is aggressively testing the boundaries of campaign finance law by directly coordinating with the Clinton campaign, which is technically prohibited by our gauzy and barely enforceable laws on election spending. An attack coming from a group like this fits right into Sanders’ message about the poisoning effect of money in politics.
What’s unusual is that Correct the Record plans to coordinate with the Clinton campaign and potentially other federal campaigns and Democratic party committees-- something that quickly drew skepticism from watchdogs who find it difficult to see how the group can function without running afoul of campaign finance laws. Those laws are designed to prevent committees that collect big-dollar contributions from having direct contact with campaigns.
Correct the Record’s plans to coordinate with Clinton’s team amount, at the very least, to a “campaign finance law boundary-pushing” arrangement, said Paul S. Ryan, senior counsel at the Campaign Legal Center. As a super-PAC, the group “cannot make any contributions to a candidate directly or in kind,” he said.
Correct the Record’s communications director, Adrienne Watson, defended its approach, arguing that “FEC rules specifically permit some activity-- in particular, activity on an organization’s website, in email, and on social media-- to be legally coordinated with candidates and political parties.”
She added: “This exception has been relied upon countless times by organizations raising non-federal money.” The group’s lawyer, who declined to be named for the record, pointed to nonprofit issue-focused groups like the National Rifle Association and the Sierra Club, which can communicate with candidates and convey their views through press releases or on websites, as playing a similar role.
If Correct the Record follows through on its plans to bulk up its existing rapid response and research structures, it could allow Clinton campaign to outsource some of the functions that have typically been part of presidential campaigns to a group that can collect dollars in much larger denominations than she can legally. That could mean that Clinton’s campaign committee could focus its more funds elsewhere.
The chart above is just something I thought you might enjoy going over. Tuesday, Bernie sent this e-mail out to his supporters:
I don’t have a Super PAC. I am not going to travel around the country begging millionaires and billionaires for money. That’s just not going to happen.Funny enough, the Clinton attack against Bernie has resulted in a small donor fundraising bonanza for his campaign-- almost $1.2 million raised through ActBlue in just two days! "We've never seen an immediate donor response like what the Sanders campaign received on Tuesday. At one point, it drove 180 contributions through our platform per minute," said Erin Hill, executive director of ActBlue. "Over its 11-year history ActBlue has sent money to over eleven-thousand campaigns and committees-- and the Bernie Sanders campaign holds the record for the two biggest donor days ever for a campaign on our platform." You can contribute to Bernie's grassroots campaign here.
But the success of our campaign certainly has the billionaires' attention.
Yesterday, one of Hillary Clinton’s most prominent Super PACs attacked our campaign pretty viciously. They suggested I’d be friendly with Middle East terrorist organizations, and even tried to link me to a dead communist dictator.
It was the kind of onslaught I expected to see from the Koch Brothers or Sheldon Adelson, and it’s the second time a billionaire Super PAC has tried to stop the momentum of the political revolution we’re building together.
They’ll keep trying… unless we make them pay a price for their attacks.
...Let’s send a powerful message that we have had ENOUGH of the billionaire class buying elections.
If we stand together to fight back against these ugly attacks, we can ensure this election is about who has the best ideas, and not who has the biggest donors.
They should not underestimate us.