23 October 2006

Unlimited Terms of Endearment Part XXVI: Bringing Home The Bacon

Well, then: if you read the (seemingly interminable) three parts of "Duncan Scott," you have a sense of the entire political movement that swirled out of the '83 Libertarian schism in New York -- to become the modern initiative machine that the eponymous rich man of New York seemingly coordinates.

If not, Gentle Reader, no matter: the story suddenly returns to the present on several fronts.

Add TWO new states to the mix (geez, these guys ARE prolific). A group called "Colorado At Its Best" has donated significant cash to the California Proposition 90 campaign.
Mogul's network bankrolls Prop. 90
Web of advocacy groups funnels millions to pass property rights initiative

Patrick Hoge, [Sasn Francisco] Chronicle Staff Writer
Thursday, October 5, 2006

[Proposition 90 - Eminent Domain] Donations included:

$1.5 million from Rich's Fund for Democracy, which he describes simply as "a trust.'' The organization is not incorporated and has no publicly stated aim.

$1 million from Americans for Limited Government, a tax-exempt advocacy group that Rich runs. The group's stated purpose is to promote smaller government, according to tax documents.

$600,000 from Montanans In Action, a tax-exempt group incorporated in December that received seed money from Americans for Limited Government. A Montana attorney is fighting to get the donors' names disclosed.

$220,000 from the Club for Growth State Action, a tax-exempt group of which Rich is a director. The group promotes "economic growth, limited government and minimal taxation," according to documents.

$50,000 from Colorado At Its Best, a tax-exempt group of which Rich is a director. Documents state the group's goal is to affect policy on "education, government operations and efficiency and representative democracy." [emphasis added]
Yup: Colorado At Its Best, who turn out to be funding the lion's share of well, let the Rocky Mountain News tell the tale:
Rival ads debate limits for judges
By Sara Burnett, Rocky Mountain News
October 7, 2006

The two sides in the debate over limiting state Supreme Court justices and appellate court judges to 10 years on the bench will hit the airwaves next week with $1.2 million worth of radio and television ads....

Limit the Judges, the group supporting the ballot initiative, has spent about $300,000 on statewide ads that will run on radio and cable television, said John Andrews, the group's chairman. Limit the Judges has received almost all of its money from Colorado At Its Best, a Golden-based organization that supports term limits. [emphasis added]
Chief Petitioner? Dennis Polhill, who, as a senior Fellow at the Independence Institute in Golden, Colorado, is a regular player in the Colorado petition game. Jon Caldara, President of the Independence Institute -- compensated $77,822 in 2004 according to their 990 tax return -- was last seen driving his very own Howie Rich pig in 2005, some of you might recall.

Polhill has been intertwined with Caldera for a few years.
CAIB, naturally, won't tell where their money comes from, just like "Montanans in Action."

If you were watching closely, you might note that in Montana, in 2004, there was only one major in-state contributor to the term limits defense -- Trevis Butcher. And, Trevis Butcher's "Montanans In Action" similarly sent $600,000 to California after similar refusals to reveal the source of his funding.

Oh, Butcher's Montana Pig seems to be the Colorado pig on loan*, and not the Michigan Tillman Pig -- nee Trojan Horse. There are, it seems, an Eastern Pig and a Western Pig. One seems to be named "Willie." The other seems to be named "Porky."

[* Helena Tribune:
Groups raise red flags over proposed cap on spending

Helena (Montana) Tribune
Tribune Capitol Bureau

... Jon Caldara, of Colorado's Independence Institute, a free-market think tank that led the fight to keep TABOR, predicted that the battle over SOS in Montana will be just as intense, with one key difference:

"We will win," he said.

"We've sent our TABOR experts to the far reaches of the world - Maryland, New Jersey, Arizona, New Mexico and Kansas," said Caldara, listing some states considering similar amendments. In Colorado, the initiative campaign events sometimes became circus-like, with pro-TABOR types showing up at anti-TABOR rallies with a Trojan horse or a big pink pig.

Caldara said he'd happily come to Montana to offer his opinions on SOS.

"I'll ride the pig up," he said.
This may explain why "America At Its Best" sent all that money to Nebraska and Missouri, while "Montanans in Action" sent money to California, like, interestingly enough "Colorado At Its Best" has ALSO sent money to California.

You don't suppose that this all happened by merest coincidence, do you? After all, Howard Rich and John Tillman, and (before she was yanked off the stage for some reason) Heather Wilhelm all say the same thing:

We're just helping out local activists.

And, increasingly, through their state "local activist" frontmen and woman, who somehow take coordinated marching orders from Howie Rich organizations like: Americans for Limited Government, the Fund for Democracy, U.S. Term Limits, Citizens in Charge (all of whom are the same people, over and over, e.g. Paul Jacob is a member of every board, save Fund for Democracy) -- well, through those "independent" mouths comes the unquestioned assertion: Howard Rich isn't making anything PERSONALLY. He's a philanthropist!

Er, doesn't it stand to reason that, given the petulant coordination of multistate information demands (which some have characterized as "harassment"), AND given the eerie similarity of "talking points," the state-by-state sole-spokesperson speaks, WHY is it a reasonable presumption to assume that Rich is acting out of sheerest love and charity? The plain fact is that we don't know what it is that he stands to gain from the multi-state game of initiative checkers he's playing.

But the mere assertion by a Rich spokesperson/operative that Randian* Rich is an altruist pure and simple -- as an 'explanation' of Howard Rich's political motives -- seems absurd on the face of it. Certainly it is absurd to take that statement at face value: but the ever-supine media have echoed it uncritically in state after state in the past week or so.
[*"All that which proceeds from man's independent ego is good. All that which proceeds from man's dependence upon men is evil. . . A man thinks and works alone. A man cannot rob, exploit or rule - alone. Robbery, exploitation and ruling presuppose victims. They imply dependence. They are the province of the second-hander. Rulers of men are not egoists. They create nothing. They exist entirely through the persons of others. Their goal is in their subjects, in the activity of enslaving. They are as dependent as the beggar, the social worker and the bandit. The form of dependence does not matter." -- Ayn Rand, For the New Intellectual, p. 94-6)]
In several states, the "local activists" have been acting in concert for Americans for Limited Government's Howard Rich's brother-in-law Paul Jacob's Citizens In Charge's G-TAP project (a/k/a CitizenFOIA) led by Leslie Graves who says:
"I live near Spring Green, Wisconsin, with my husband Eric O'Keefe. Eric has been involved for many years with the term limits and school choice movements, recently serving as Chair of the Executive Committee of Americans for Limited Government.

We've raised three children. In early 2006, after two decades as a stay-at-home mom, I started a petition drive management company and plunged into managing the paid part of two petition drives in Nebraska..."
Er ... wasn't that the $1.7 million that came from America At Its Best in Montana, from Initiative & Referendum Institute Legal Advisory Board member Duncan Scott's office in Kalispell, that sent the cash to Mike Groene's and Thomas Mann's solo operations, and where John Boehm, General Counsel, Initiative & Referendum Institute, of Lincoln, Nebraska incorporated "Renewal Voter Outreach" which listed its address as a post office box in Omaha, Nebraska, but which was being paid to Leslie Graves' post office box in Spring Green, Wisconsin?

Land sakes. What a small world.

I do not know why Murray Rothbard referred to Ms. Graves as "Madame deFarge" in those old Libertarian Forums, but I DO know that it's damned curious that this little clique of "preppies" (as Rothbard called them) who continue to hide their actions through the most arcane money-laundering scehemes (in the dictionary sense, not the legal sense, necessarily) would suddenly become stridently vocal about "transparency in government" and the people's "right to know"? And that they would choose Eric O'Keefe's wife as the frontperson for their eight-state FOIA fax-bombing of state agencies for email records, with a promise to eventually expand it to ALL 24 initiative and referendum states? Doesn't this seem more than a tad hypocritical?

The "Citizens in Action" page cited is literally the Rosetta Stone of the "& Friends" portion of Howie Rich & Friends. Indeed, the ONLY name on the page that is conspicuous by its absence is "Howard Rich," who has, seemingly, directed the funding of "Montanans in Action," "Missourians in Charge," "Oklahomans in Charge," "Citizens in Charge," "Parents In Charge," "America At Its Best" (formerly "Virginia At Its Best"), "Colorado At Its Best," "Americans for Limited Government," "U.S. Term Limits," LEAD, et al, etc. ad infinitum.

Graves continues:
John Fund describes other issues with the Nebraska petition drive in "Taking the Initiative", appearing in the Wall Street Journal on October 16.
  • Sometimes lower-level government officials actively prevent the gathering of signatures. In Nebraska, a group seeking to put a spending cap on the ballot expected to face union-paid "blockers" who would yell at and otherwise intimidate people being asked to sign petitions as well as robo-calls warning voters that signature gatherers might engage in identity theft.

    What they didn't expect was that unionized police forces in Omaha and Lincoln would deny signature gatherers the right to work outside driver's license bureaus, libraries and the public sidewalks that lead to private buildings. Some police officers would even threaten petitioners going door to door with arrest, saying they first needed a permit to "solicit." A federal judge had to issue a temporary restraining order stipulating the right to collect signatures outside public buildings and on sidewalks. Freed from harassment, spending-cap proponents collected over a third of the necessary signatures in just a week and qualified for the ballot.
As the petition drive wore on, it occurred to me that if the union-backed group that was working hard simply to keep the Spending Lid amendment off the ballot was using email extensively to communicate with government workers across the state, it would be important to know about that.

Did any government workers abuse public resources in their determination to shut down this ballot drive?
Er, wasn't John Fund of the Wall Street JOURNAL a featured speaker at the ALG Conference in Chicago (with the Al Capone speech and Eric O'Keefe keynote address) back in August? And isn't it interesting that Leslie Graves can quote Fund to her specific talking point about Nebraska?

Wait a minute: this is Eric O'Keefe's wife (O'Keefe is on the "Citizens in Charge" Board) defending Howard Rich initiatives (O'Keefe is also on the board of virtually all foundations involved), on behalf of Rich's brother-in-law Paul Jacob -- whose radio show is produced by "Americans for Limited Government" (Rich/O'Keefe, et al), and where Jacob is a "senior fellow") but they won't reveal the sources of THEIR funding.

And then they run petition drives to change Nebraska when Graves lives in ... Wisconsin? Taking orders or at least direction from Howard Rich in Manhattan?

New York to Chicago to Washington, D.C. to Spring Green, Wisconsin? Then from Spring Green to Idaho (Laird Maxwell), Oregon (Kurt Weber), Nebraska (Mike Groene), and several other states with massive fax blasts asking for public employee emails? (Four weeks before the election?) Here's Groene, according to Leslie Graves :
As I relayed my experiences to Mike Groene, chairperson of the Spending Lid initiative committee in Nebraska, it turned out that he shared my concerns. He collected many signatures and worked with many volunteers on the petition drive. His experiences, and the stories he heard from his volunteers, were strikingly similar to the stories I was hearing from petitioners who were collecting signatures for pay.

My old friend Paul Jacob of Citizens in Charge has helped with hundreds of statewide petition drives over the last 25 years. As I spoke with him about my experiences in Nebraska, Paul said he'd seen problems like this for years, in many states, in many petition drives. However, there didn't seem to be a good way to study or learn about the full extent of the problem....
And you've suddenly got a jones for the Truth? For openness and transparency?

Hypocrisy is the kindest charge that can be leveled. Add the almost instinctual fetish for secrecy, for secret identities (hiding behind letterheads) and moving a nearly infinite number of peas under an absurdly numerous number of shells. What can one reasonably conclude from this mess?

One thing's for sure: It can't all be a coincidence.

And, add late-breaking news, seems there's a TABOR clone on the New Hampshire ballot, as well. But they seem more fearful that Easterners might note their sponsorship, and, as in Maine, the contributions, while substantial, aren't on the order of 80% as they are in several of the Western states (perhaps they take us Westerners for idiots):
Nashua [New Hampshire] Telegraph
Kevin Landrigan Column

Sunday, October 22, 2006

(many campaign finance mini-stories ... scroll down to:)

Restricting eminent domain

The campaign to restrict eminent domain takings via the Nov. 7 ballot will hit the airwaves this week.

TV ads on cable outlets will open the effort, followed by commercials on WMUR-TV starting Thursday.

The Property Protection Alliance and its chief organizer, Chuck Douglas, already raised $40,000 and had spent $12,500 on the design and postage of targeted mail that's going out.

Some of the campaign's biggest donors included McCain's PAC, $5,000; Pataki's 21st Century Freedom PAC, $1,500; Americans for Limited Government of Chicago, $5,000; ex-Republican Gov. Craig Benson, $2,500; Douglas, $3,462; ex-GOP Gov. Steve Merrill, $500; Romney's PAC, $500; Illinois executive Charles Walgreen, $2,000; and U.S. Term Limits, $5,000. [emphasis added]
That's a quick $10,000 out of a $40,000 campaign, ALG and USTL slithering into the funding pac(k). And who knows what other contributions are masked under various assumed names?

Soon: I'll tell you how Koch Industries (of Kansas) and Betsy DeVos (of Michigan) used a Virginia PAC (much as "America At Its Best" began life as) to run political advertising in South Carolina that eerily paralleled Howard Rich and Eric O'Keefe's "school choice" flibertygibbetry in South Carolina. Just another coincidence. But meantime ...

The people of New Hampshire may have no idea what's about to hit them.



Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home