08 November 2006

Waterloo, Agincourt, Howie Rich

Tonight has been a DISASTER for Howard Rich & Friends.

Rich losses:

(OLD had already lost prior to the election):
  • Michigan
  • Missouri
  • Montana
  • Oklahoma
  • half of Nebraska
  • Wisconsin

NEW losses:

  • Maine 55-45%
  • Florida 58-42%
  • Nebraska 71-29%
  • Colorado 59-41%
  • Washington 57-43%
  • Idaho

Proposition Two (KELO/Takings)
YES 77,115 26%
NO 213,948 74% (X)

  • California -- I'm calling this one over. It's behind by about 300,000 votes with 15% left to count.
Proposition 90 Government Acquisition, Regulation
of Private Property
Choice Votes %

Yes 2,768,048 47.7%
No 3,039,794 52.3%

85% of precincts reporting Updated 11/08 2:05AM
  • Oregon - split.

Tabor and Term Limits lose big.
48 (TABOR): 71-29%
45 (Term limits): 58-42%

Rich victories

  • Arizona - outright victory, for Howie & Co. 65-35%
  • Oregon
    KELO/Takings passes big. 67-33%

That's it, unless you want to include SC Gov. Sanford, who was going to win with or without Howie's cash.


  • South Carolina:

Superintendant of Schools (for Voucher push in two years):
Floyd/Rex race is separated by less than 500 votes, with over a million votes cast. But Dem. Rex has led all night long.

  • Nevada:

PISTOL initiative passes, but "takings" was stripped from it, and the Rich operatives went to the Supreme Court to get the whole thing tossed out (they didn't want the switch running without the bait, evidently). So the "victory" is, if anything, pyrrhic.


07 November 2006

Unlimited Terms of Endearment Part XXXIII, The Final Smear

This just hit this weekend. It would seem that THE STATE in South Carolina, and the Portland OREGONIAN have transgressed by pointing out the Howie Rich connection. So, semi-anonymously, two shadowy "smears" appeared, each of which used the same "talking" point:
Monday, November 06, 2006
posted by Helen Langora* at 8:08 AM

* an anonymous pseudonym
Sunday, November 05, 2006
posted by I am Coyote* at 10:09 PM

*"I am Coyote," by his own admission is former (and present?) Rich operative Ted Piccolo, who lives somewhere in Washington state at an indeterminate location.
In both cases, the attempt is made -- as per usual -- to paint those in opposition to Howard Rich's schemes as whatever Rich is accused of. Here, they claim that the owners of both papers are "out of state" millionaires trying to control the state's politics.

Probably too little, too late, but noteworthy nonetheless even if, as per usual, the "humorous approach" used in the Oregon blog is sophomoric at best.

Who ever told these people that they were "funny"? It seems to be a cruel joke to play on a cabal that is, by all evidence, utterly humorless.


06 November 2006

Memento Mori

If, as the cynics suggest, all elections devolve into a choice between the lesser of two evils, then the choice has seldom been as clear as it is this year.


05 November 2006

Unlimited Terms of Endearment Part XXXII, The Last Trojan Horse

Perhaps the best place to start is with a news item in the Missouri State capitol's newspaper, the Jefferson City NEWS TRIBUNE:
Posted: Friday, Nov 03, 2006 - 11:20:45 pm CST
Chicago group bankrolls anti-Brown effort
By Bob Watson

An independent campaign committee with out-of-state backing has made this year's Cole County circuit judge's race very expensive.
Gee? Where have we heard THAT before?
As of 10 a.m. Friday, the Jefferson City-based Committee for Judicial Reform had received $175,000 from a Chicago-based group called the Americans for Limited Government.

The Judicial Reform committee's paperwork, filed with the state Ethics Commission last month, said its only campaign interest is to oppose the re-election of Cole County Judge Thomas J. Brown III, a Democrat.

Brown had raised $57,699 and spent $35,578, as of Oct. 30, his campaign finance report filed with the Ethics Commission showed.

His Republican challenger, Jefferson City lawyer Jon Beetem, had raised $19,998 and spent $17,280 as of Oct. 26.

"This is frightening," said Cole County Senior Judge Byron L. Kinder. "I am really fearful that these people - who can come in and raise this kind of money, and this is, to them, chump change - will be able to dump $175,000.

"And, if they succeed (in defeating Brown), then they will be able to go around and their minions will be able to say, 'Well, if you don't go our way, then look what happened in Cole County.'"
By this time, no explanation should be necessary: Americans for Limited Government is Howie Rich, et al. They're dumping a huge wad of cash into a race. There's a whiff of political menace. You might recall that these were the "Term Limits" true believers, who fought for years to have mandatory term limits pledges, then voluntary term limits pledges, then demands to have disclosure on ballots, etc. etc. In other words, they don't have many ideas, but when they get ahold of one, they pursue it with an almost religious fervor, and behave in an often nasty way.

And everyone thought that "Missourians In Charge" and their tossed-out-by-the-state Supreme Court ballot initiatives were the last that anyone had seen of Howie's cash. You question whether their tactics are less-than-genteel?
Jefferson City NEWS TRIBUNE
Friday, Nov 03, 2006 - 11:20:44 pm CST

Dirty politics hit home
By Jeff Haldiman

A sampling of the mailers attacking Circuit Judge Tom Brown funded by a Chicago limited-government group that lost two rulings in local courts. (News Tribune photo)

Cole County Circuit Judge Tom Brown is defending himself against negative ads that have been running against him this week and are being paid for by an out-of-state activist group.

The mail flyers, as well as radio and television ads, are paid for by Citizens for Judicial Reform, a group that does have a local treasurer, but has its main funding sources based in other parts of the country and is involved in campaigns on issues across the country.

"This is a group of out-of-staters, who don't want their identity to be disclosed, who are coming in at the last minute in an attempt to influence an election by making statements - and they don't even care whether they're true or not," Brown said. "They're not interested in any honest debate of the issues, because their point is not whether these things are true or not."

The ads accuse Brown of raising taxes, setting utility rates and leaving poor citizens in the cold...
This was not unexpected, given the group of operatives which have surrounded Howard Rich since the 1980s and the endless variety of "masks" that they wear. The nastiness and the sudden dumping of large amounts of cash in the last days of the (usually off-year) elections are also historic modes of operation. As is the screech of political victimhood:

In Arizona, Howie claims that there's a "witch hunt" against him, while in Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Nebraska, Oklahoma and several other states ... including Missouri, CitizenFOIA.org fax bombs were sent out demanding public employees' email records, with the official screech stating:

Paul Jacob says:

... The initiative process is threatened when the government employees try to further their own agenda on the taxpayer's dime, and our study aims to document this abuse of power and to educate people about our findings. Knowledge is power; if the citizen knows, the citizen can keep control...
And, Leslie Graves (whom the late Murray Rothbard called "Madame DeFarge" in the old Libertarian Forum) provides us with a Rosetta stone of the whole gang, if you need to brush up:

Leslie Graves is the national director of G-TAP. She shares about how she became interested in the G-TAP project:

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.

The second week of our ballot drive, a young woman called me one night and, in tears, relayed an experience she had had that day while knocking on doors in the Omaha area to ask voters if they'd consider signing her petition to place a spending lid amendment on the ballot.

At one door, the man who answered became agitated when he saw her petition. He insisted that her petition was illegal and ran to his study to get a copy of an email, so he could prove to her that the petition was illegal. He turned out to be a teacher, and it was an email he had received at work that day....
So, yes, it's "justified" in their eyes.

Let's return to that Jefferson City NEWS TRIBUNE article, "Chicago group bankrolls anti-Brown effort":
But Jeff Mazur of Jefferson City, writing on the Internet blog-site FiredUpMissouri.com, said Thursday the ALG is "seeking revenge" for court decisions backing Secretary of State Robin Carnahan's rejection of two initiative petitions the ALG had backed.

Carnahan earlier this year said petitions - seeking statewide votes on a state spending lid and tougher eminent domain law - were not submitted properly to her office, in violation of state law.

Cole County Circuit Judge Richard Callahan upheld Carnahan.

The group circulating those petitions, Missourians In Charge, in September dropped its appeals of Callahan's rulings, saying "none of the courts indicated any reason for us to think they were going to look at this constitutionally."

Howard Rich, a New York City real estate developer, backs both Missourians In Charge and the ALG...
Jeff Mazur was one of the first and best bloggers on this story, tracking Howard Rich's "Missourians in Charge" through its maze of organizations last summer, leading back, finally, to Howard Rich through Idaho.*

[*"America At Its Best" of Boise, Idaho is listed as the donor of $640,000 prior to June 1. The address is the same as Laird Maxwell's company's address, "702 W. Hayes (sic) #408 Boise, Idaho 83702)" which is also the address of "Cobalt Consulting" (a political consulting and lobbying firm), "Idahoans for Tax Fairness," and "This House is MY Home" the Idaho Takings initiative, Prop. 2.]

Which, from swerve of shore to bend of bay, brings us by a commodious vicus of recirculation back to South Carolina. Almost.

Because along with Colorado, we can now add Florida as another Howie Rich & friends stealth campaign:
Amending constitution polarizes sides

Etan Horowitz
Orlando Sentinel Staff Writer
November 4, 2006

... The serious elements of the debate, however, may have been overshadowed by the campaign's circus-like atmosphere that includes charges of ethnic stereotyping and frequent mentions of pregnant pigs.

This week, the Order Sons of Italy in America, the country's largest Italian-American organization, issued a news release condemning Protect Our Constitution's Sopranos-style ad for "egregious stereotyping" and demanding that Wilson issue an apology and pull the ad.

Wilson said he does not think the ad is offensive and the campaign was planning to take it down anyway. The group's second ad uses a talking llama moving through a grocery store-checkout line with customers who want to "buy their way onto the ballot." The ad ends with the llama negotiating the price to get into the constitution.

"Hey, wait a minute. That pig got in for less than 3 [million]," the llama says. Each group has also attacked the other's contributions. Wilson calls the opposition "Bluff the Voters" and points out that all but $7,530 of its nearly $1.1 million in contributions come from two out-of-state interest groups, the Humane Society of the United States and the Chicago-based Americans for Limited Government. The latter group supports citizens' initiatives throughout the country and is chaired by New York real-estate investor and libertarian Howard Rich. Rich and his organizations have bankrolled ballot proposals throughout the country that would strengthen property rights...
It would seem that Howard Rich is hung up on pigs. Which seems odd, given that when one is an angry "free markets" and "limited government" capitalist of substantial means (or, more likely with access to said means), the pig would seem the last symbol one would wish to associate with one's political agenda.

But, again, the friends of Howie Rich have been flying so far under the radar that it's taken until this week for the Florida newspapers to discover the ALG-Howard Rich component behind their election. I had been puzzled by Paul Jacob's regular soundbites in the Florida media. Now it begins to make sense.

As has it begun to make sense in South Carolina. There, unlike most of the other states, the Howard Rich connection is less obvious, but more blatant. They are attempting to influence races all the way down to the school board and county level -- evidently in preparation for a LEAD/Parents In Charge voucher/tuition credit law in the next legislative session.

The error that nearly every news organization has made in trying to follow this story has been that they have always focused on the AGENDA items, and never on the people with the agenda.

The Center for Public Integrity has focused on the "Takings" initiatives, which is certainly one aspect of the elephant. The Omaha World Herald focused on the "Humane Care" measure in its initial investigative reportage. The Portland Oregonian has focused, finally, on Howard Rich, which, again, misses the elephant. The modus operandi remains the same, but the issues on the agenda change. In Florida, they're playing defense on initiatives. In Colorado (and attempted in Montana) they're after judges (like those mean old judges that threw out their petitions in Missouri, Oklahoma, Michigan , Montana, etc.) and in Missouri, they're going after INDIVIDUAL judges.

Fortunately, they have somnambulant reporters to make up excuses for them:
The Portland OREGONIAN
Illinois looks at allegations against developer's groups
Oregon link - A financing organization backing Measure 48 files its annual report late

Saturday, November 04, 2006

A Chicago-based group that is financing property rights and state spending cap initiatives nationwide -- including Oregon's Measure 48 -- is under fire for violating Illinois' business registration laws.

Americans for Limited Government filed its annual report late, meaning the group did not have authority to conduct business in Illinois between February and September. As a result, the Illinois secretary of state's office is investigating several groups linked to Howard Rich, the New York real estate developer who founded Americans for Limited Government.

This infraction is common, and Illinois officials handle hundreds of cases a year, most resolved without serious penalty. But allegations against Rich's groups are attracting national attention because of the intense debate over this year's libertarian-oriented initiatives....
Got it? They're breaking the law, but IT'S NO BIG DEAL! After all, (as we saw yesterday) their lying press release says so. And even though the law has been admittedly broken, the serpent's hiss is dutifully reported as "news." The Oregonian isn't the only paper -- by FAR -- but there you have it in black and white. Exonerated by the Court of Journalistic Catatonia, the Howard Rich organizations move forward, nastiness intact, assertions unquestioned.

This isn't new. Back in the heyday of their term limits crusades, they actively engaged in negative campaigns against those who opposed them, or otherwise aroused their wrath:
How Not to Lobby
U.S. Term Limits all but killed a popular cause through inflexibility and meanness.

For a lesson in how not to lobby, look no further than the recently failed attempt to enact congressional term limits. In 1995 term limits had won overwhelming voter approval in 23 states, and the issue was one of the ten planks of Newt Gingrich's Contract With America. But its lead interest group, U.S. Term Limits, committed two fundamental lobbying errors: It refused to compromise, and then it attacked supporters for deviating even slightly from what it considered the righteous path. According to GOP Rep. Bill McCollum of Florida, a term-limits enthusiast: "For U.S. Term Limits, winning meant defeating everything except its own view, which has hurt the movement considerably."

At the insistence of New York developer Howie Rich, U.S. Term Limits' president and major benefactor, the organization prescribed one, and only one, kind of limit: three two-year terms for the House and two six-year terms for the Senate. Why three House terms? Because public opinion polls of term-limit backers indicated three terms is what they liked best. That sounds like a preference, but to Rich and his associates, the poll results were akin to divine sanction.

Politicians like Bob Inglis, Republican of South Carolina, pleaded with U.S. Term Limits to be flexible; six terms was the most popular alternative, he told them, because it gave lawmakers in both chambers 12-year limits. "But they refused," Inglis recalls. "They said, 'If you get in our way, we'll mow you down.' " And in fact, lawmakers who didn't support U.S. Term Limits' position were labeled traitors to the cause in advertisements. Worse, at the group's urging, nine states passed "scarlet letter" laws that placed next to the names of candidates on the ballot a notation stating whether they supported a specified type of limit. Such coercion is resented on Capitol Hill and has resulted in a deep decline in the issue's prospects. Today, Rich says he was naive to think politicians would ever curtail their own service. Then again, his actions have assured that they probably never will....
Fast forward to present-day South Carolina.

The South Carolina coverage has, naturally focused on the "school choice" aspects of the campaign. But they've also noticed that Howard Rich has been flooding the races with maximum contributions through a DIFFERENT bewildering variety of pseudonymous companies, corporations, and Limited Liability Companies (LLC's).

Another 'mystery' group is on point, connected to the Howard Rich bunch like "Montanans In Action." Not only will 'South Carolinians for Responsible Government" not reveal their donors, but, when the state demanded disclosure as per state campaign law, the SCRG refused to comply and sued the state ethics commission:
In May, South Carolinians for Responsible Government, a group associated with [Howard] Rich, sued the State Ethics Commission after the agency demanded that SCRG disclose its funding sources. The group is the "state partner" of Rich's Americans for Limited Government.
Right now Howard Rich & Friends are in South Carolina much as they are in Missouri.
Campaign money a vote for vouchers?
N.Y. contributor who supports school choice has given to local, state races
By Aaron Gould Sheinin ยท The (Columbia) State -
Updated 11/04/06 - 1:20 AM

... New York Libertarian millionaire Howard Rich and his affiliates have donated tens of thousands of dollars to campaigns around the state, including the District 29 and 45 state House races.

Rich and other groups that support so-called school vouchers have poured cash into the campaigns of Gov. Mark Sanford and Republican superintendent of education candidate Karen Floyd -- and have given thousands to local Republican state House candidates Mick Mulvaney and Danny Stacy.

"Mr. Rich sent me a good bit of money," said Mulvaney, who is running against Democrat Alston DeVenny. Rich is on the board of the Cato Institute, he said. "I'm happy to be associated with the Cato Institute, the leading conservative think tank in the country."
Well and good, except that weird Cato quote. As you know, they're not conservative; they're "libertarian." But it does bring to bear a critical aspect of the story that hasn't been hammered on ... indeed, it's barely even been touched: Howard Rich is on the board of Cato, and Ed Crane, the president/founder of Cato is on the board of ALG.

So, yes, a politician inadvertently spoke the truth: Cato is in large part behind this attempt to significantly affect South Carolina's government by electing "their" candidates. (And in all those other states as well.)

Alas, the lazy national press sleeps on, visions of Pulitzers dancing in their heads: having figured out that Howard Rich is at the head of the money tree spurting out the fountains of cash ... they've all stopped. They have a figurehead, and that's all that matters. Howard Rich.

Having caught his operatives lying, cheating, evading, slithering and attacking, the mere tag that "Howard Rich" is behind it is all that matters. If his spokespersons say that it's a witch hunt, and that breaking the law is no big deal, well, there you have it.

Sleep on, press corps. There is a reason that circulation is dropping so precipitously, but perhaps if we gave you a name for that, too, you can return to unconscious bliss:

Bloggers. (You know, that 'untouchable' group of 'unreliable' citizen journalists who've been doing YOUR job for you?)

This story has been uncovered, reported and pushed forward by bloggers. In Montana, in Missouri, in Oklahoma, in South Carolina, Nebraska, Oregon, Washington, California, Arizona, Idaho ... etc. etc.

So, I guess the story isn't legitimate. Intone "Howard Rich" and let it go. That's the strategy that's beefing up circulation, right?

The "journalists" who have had months to catch up have taken credit, acted as though they were doing the job, pretended to be advancing the public's 'right to know,' but, with the exception of a few growling -- and dilettantishly self-righteous -- editorials, this has not been a "press" story. It's been a blog story.

After all, the crooks breaking the law point out that the illegalities aren't any big deal, so it's OK. You know. Lots of people get caught driving drunk. No big deal. Lots of Republican congressmen have been caught taking bribes, laundering money, accepting illegal gifts, too. No big deal.

Heck, we're in an illegal war, engaged in illegal torture in secret prisons, too. No big deal.

It's them damn bloggers. They're the ones wrecking the venerable second-oldest profession. Right?

Or, perhaps, journalists, you might consider that you're the ones destroying our profession: the staple of news coverage, and the issue that Howard Rich's operatives use over and over again is your reflexive, uncritical, brain-dead use of the automatic "he said/she said" quotes in any story.
Reporter: Howard Rich's legion of phony shell foundations massively ignored and broke Illinois law.

Rich Spokesperson: It's no big deal. Happens all the time.

Reporter: OK. Well, then. There you have it.
Were it not so universal it would seem laughable. As it is, it is an ongoing tragedy.

Indeed, if you'll poke around in this blog's archives, after part II, you'll find political consultant Michael Arno enraged ... because I didn't give him his opposing sound bite (I'd merely asked for the client list he offered on his web site):

Boregasm Archive:

Of course had you identified yourself as a quasi-journalist we may have been able to have a different conversation. You are doing exactly what all the other so-called journalists have been doing to my company for the past five years: perpetuating a erroneous story that my company engages in any type of fraud. The stories stick because of Google, and the accusers are able to get away with it because they have a sympathetic ear with the reporters. But the fact the stories are oft-repeated still doesn't make them any more accurate. Politics through defamation is what the unions and the left have come to and it does not become your otherwise well-researched Blog to carry the water for them. Show a little courage and call -- I left my telephone number.

Michael Arno

P.S. Lesson one in writing: don't point out a typo from another writer unless what you have written is free of the same.
Of course, if he's been dealing with "journalists" I can understand why he'd want to "correct" bad usage (except, of course, it wasn't bad usage, as the remainder points out). But he is LIVID because he wasn't afforded the AUTOMATIC sound bite, much like Howie Rich's minion was afforded the "sound bite" by the OREGONIAN: Yeah, we broke the law, but it wasn't any big deal, and it's only because of a WITCH HUNT!

OK. No one wants to disturb your beauty sleep, press. But you might wonder why the perceived integrity and trustworthiness of your profession is somewhere down in that pit under the outhouse. (And you might ask yourselves what it used to mean to be reporters. If you're unsure, Mike Arno would undoubtedly be happy to tell you.)

Speaking of lies and spin and distortion, Oh My: perhaps we recognize the semi-anonymous nature of a smear attack launched in late September in Charleston, South Carolina. A "blogger" relates:
Now, we have free porn in the mailbox, courtesy of the folks at the SCRG, which takes Scaborough's Democratic challenger, Eugene Platt, to task for some poetry he published. Take a look for yourself at what got sent out - in plain brown envelopes, presumably to make sure children didn't see the mailing.
Here's the actual flyer: WMWMW

Yup. In breathless prose it begins ...
Citizens Ponder: Is This The Kind Of Character We Want In Columbia?

Platt leaves nothing to the imagination in Summer Days With Daughter & Original Sin

CHARLESTON - It was a feeling of excitement, then disappointment. When Eugene Platt first threw his hat in the ring for State House, we were enthused that once an honest debate on the real issues facing South Carolina would be held again within the confines of House District 115.

But, that enthusiasm quickly turned to disgust when during the usual course of candidate research we uncovered something disturbing lying just beneath the surface of a seemingly gentle mannered man.

In Eugene Platt, what you see isn't what you may get. Platt is the author of at least two collections of poetry, interestingly enough entitled Summer Days With Daughter and Original Sin, which contain entries of a sexually explicit nature. On numerous occasions, Platt describes sex acts and details thoughts and emotions surrounding erotic encounters. (Excerpts from his poems are included with this informational mailer.)
Here's an excerpt, weird punctuation and all:
(Our weekly passion spent, we fall apart on sheets
Illicitly stained before us by legions of lovers like us,
and savor mirrored forms lying side by side overhead.
Beside the bed a digital clock signals, then,
the end of another hour of stolen bliss -- and I plea;)

From The Last Tryst by Eugene Platt
From Summer Days with Daughter
Pretty sleazy stuff, right? Sound at all familiar? Of course it doesn't. Coincidences in this matter are all coincidences, no matter how convenient, nor seemingly coordinated.

Still, as an officially "outed" pornographer (by another semi-anonymous smear about the same time) I can testify with some authority that this is astonishingly tepid stuff. The attack would be laughable, except ... The viciousness of the attack against the local legislative candidate is only matched by its sheer absurdity. They do a lot to try and imply that the poetry book sex is somehow about Platt's writing poems about having sex with his daughter. And that's a viciousness that goes far beyond any sort of concern of "Responsible Government" or for "school choice." It's just plain evil.

But what is interesting here, is neither the state nor the "issue" that we're looking at: whether it be stealth campaign donations, smears, ballot measures, attacking judges, state employees, unions, public education, takings, spending caps or even that old warhorse of this clique, term limits -- it's the continual stealthy, nasty modus operandi of that same small cadre of "friends."

So, here are a number of coincidences. Whether they ultimately weave together I leave to you, dear reader, but they are too numerous and too disturbing to ignore.

In South Carolina, Ross Shealy, in a brilliant op-ed in the State newspaper notes the trend that's been building all year in the Howard Rich donations scheme:
Oct. 31, 2006
Rich's one-man costume party
Guest Columnist

Have you ever seen a one-man costume party?

If not, take a close look at the most recent campaign finance disclosures. When you do, you'll see that the millionaire who finances the South Carolina voucher lobby is playing dress-up for Halloween.

New York libertarian Howard Rich is busy using an arsenal of disguises to bankroll private school tax-credit supporters here in the Palmetto State.

It works like this: Rich makes the maximum legal contribution of $3,500 to a pro-voucher candidate, under the name of "Bradford Management." Then he makes another contribution, to the same candidate, as "Spinksville LLC." And then he makes another, as "Ashborough Investors." Then another, as "405 49 Associates" - you get the idea.

And there are more: Spooner LLC. Bayrich LLC. Dayrich LLC. 538-14 Realty LLC. West 14 & 18 LLC. 123 LaSalle Associates. Just to name a few.

Some of these shell companies list Howard Rich's Big Apple apartment as their primary address. Others purport to be located at an alternate address, but have a "principal" address at his New York residence.

One point of all this masquerading is to bypass our state campaign contribution limit. Rich is the kid who solicits candy at your doorstep, changes his mask and knocks again. And again and again and again. Only Rich isn't begging for sweets, he's giving out wads of out-of-state voucher cash...
By all means read the REST of the piece. It is most lucid and verbally elegant* explanation of what this is all about thus far this season. (*elegant in the mathematical sense: simple)

Shealy was one of the first and best bloggers to dig up the multiple connections between Rich front groups, and thus far, South Carolina is the only state to notice "shell companies" contributions. Most everywhere else, we focus on the endless profusion of "charitable" groups and foundations that push ballot measures, referendums and initiatives.

But the money is gushing in, to Governor Mark Sanford's re-election campaign -- Sanford had pushed a failed voucher scheme in his first term entitled "Put Parents In Charge," or PPIC, and this year, the LEAD/LEAD Foundation twin changed IT's name to "Parents In Charge Foundation" from LEAD Foundation. Sanford is also a 'hero' of the term limits movement, having stepped down after serving his three terms in congress, as US Term Limits notes.

And gushing in to Karen Floyd, running for State Superintendent of Schools:

Campaign money a vote for vouchers?
N.Y. contributor who supports school choice has given to local, state races
By Aaron Gould Sheinin
The (Columbia) State

... An analysis of campaign finance reports in the statewide races on Tuesday's ballot shows Rich's influence has resulted in nearly $125,000 in contributions since December to several Republican candidates.

Karen Floyd, the party's nominee for education superintendent, has been the biggest benefactor, receiving $73,500. Gov. Mark Sanford has received $31,500. Rich also contributed $17,000 to Sanford's 2002 campaign.

Also receiving money were Comptroller General Richard Eckstrom and Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer.

Other individuals with ties to Rich chipped in a total of $18,500 to Sanford, Floyd and Eckstrom. That's a total of more than $140,000 this election cycle.
And the Charleston Post and Courier reports:
Eckstrom, who relied almost exclusively on donors within the state until the third quarter, suddenly collected $11,500 from companies and people directly associated with Rich. That figure represents 24 percent of his total out-of-state contributions, which amounted to $48,000, records show. Other donors included Mark W. Dane, who runs Term Limits America, the political action panel of U.S. Term Limits whose president is Rich; two Libertarians affiliated with Pennsylvania-based Susquehanna International Group, Arthur Dantchik and Jeff Yass (Dantchik is an associate with the Institute for Justice, a Libertarian law firm); and Eric and Donna M. Brooks, who both serve on the Harry Browne for President committee. Browne is a vocal Libertarian who promotes limited government.

Eckstrom has also received money from various in-state and out-of-state PACs, including the South Carolina Club for Growth, an affiliate of The Club for Growth, a national organization of which Rich is a board member. [...]

Piper received $5,000 from Rich-affiliated companies and $5,000 from companies associated with Denver businessman Alex Cranberg, who has contributed to Floyd's campaign. She has received money from some of the same out-of-state Libertarian donors who contributed to Eckstrom. In all, Piper collected $19,000 in out-of-state funds, representing 53 percent of her total third-quarter donations. Piper has expressed support for more charter schools and has aligned herself with Republican school choice advocates.
And again, here, the Post and Courier reports:
The Post and Courier (Charleston, SC)

Outside money pours in
School privatization advocates cited in Floyd, Sanford campaigns
Wednesday, October 25, 2006


The two school privatization advocates have been funding various ballot initiatives and campaigns across the country, according to observers such as Public Citizen and the Institute on Money in State Politics. Rich is chairman of the political action committee Americans for Limited Government, which is conducting four issue-related campaigns, according to its Web site, including one dedicated to promoting school choice. The organization lists South Carolinians for Responsible Government as a "state partner." Floyd appeared Oct. 10 at a luncheon sponsored by the local group and spoke in support of school choice.

Cranberg is founder and executive board chairman of Alliance for Choice in Education, based in Denver.

Six companies that made donations to the Floyd campaign share the same address - 73 Spring St., Suite 507, New York City. Now, a television commercial business, Reprizent Inc., occupies Suite 507 and a political consulting company has relocated to Suite 408 in the same building, a Reprizent receptionist said. The door of Suite 408 displays "Rich and Rich Inc., Effective Plumbing."

Howard Rich is listed as the "chairman or chief executive officer" of Effective Plumbing, which has its principal executive offices at 2001 Arthur Ave. in the Bronx but maintains an office at 73 Spring St., according to New York's Division of Corporations. Reached by e-mail, Rich declined to explain what his companies do.

He wrote: "I have been asking friends, family and business associates everywhere I go to support Karen Floyd for Superintendent of Education. ... Karen Floyd is one of the most honorable, accomplished and experienced candidates running for public office in the country. She has shown the independence from the entrenched bureaucrats of the education establishment and their cronies that is necessary to see real change in education and real change for tens of thousands of children."

Four Colorado companies that have contributed to Floyd's campaign and that share the same address - 511 16th St., Suite 300, Denver - list Charles H. Brownman as the registered agent, according to the Colorado Secretary of State Business Center.

Messages left for Cranberg at Aspect Energy weren't returned ....
What a surprise.

But we have seen Cranberg before, in Part 17, "Follow The Bouncing Ball."

And here is a most curious coincidence.

Cranberg, you may remember, was a big contributor to Betsy DeVos' "All Children Matter." According to the official Virginia records, Cranberg contributed $187,500 right before the 2004 election, and last year, Koch Industries contributed another $75,000.

Now, there was no DIRECT connection between Eric O'Keefe/Howard Rich's LEAD and LEAD Foundation and the "All Children Matter" attack ad blitz (all the way down to the school board level) other than it meshed perfectly with what LEAD was pushing in terms of pro-voucher candidates.

But in 2006, here, Cranberg and Rich are directly in bed together, both contributing to the election of obscure (and not so obscure) officials in South Carolina all but explicitly FOR school privatization. And it's been going on all year:
Fri, Jul. 14, 2006
Out-of-state and serial donors pump cash into campaigns

Associated Press

COLUMBIA, S.C. - A review of campaign finance reports show Gov. Mark Sanford and Education Superintendent candidate Karen Floyd have become particularly adept at getting big donations from friends, family and others outside of South Carolina.

Campaign finance laws allow contributors to give a maximum of $3,500 for primaries and the general election.

Since October, Sanford picked up $164,500 from contributors giving the maximum and Floyd, the GOP nominee to replace Democrat Inez Tenenbaum received $80,500.

High-rollers and their maximum contributions came to at least $451,500 since October, when the state Ethics Commission began requiring statewide candidates to file reports through the Internet.

Sanford and Floyd share a good number of donors.

For instance, they picked up $38,500 from various companies with the same New York address, 73 Spring St., Room 507, in New York City. It's the address Daniel [sic - they mean "Howard" - HW] Rich, a multimillionaire real estate developer, uses for his donations.

The donations from that address come from groups and businesses with different names, such as 405 49 Associates, 123 LaSalle Associates, Dayrich LLC, 538-14 Realty, LLC, Bayrich LLC and LLC Spooner.

"My donations are a matter of public record," Rich wrote in an e-mail to The Associated Press. "I support candidates who believe in sound fiscal policy, expanded choice options for parents in the education of their children, and a more limited role for government."

It's the candidate's role "to directly address the public. My donations simply allow candidates to speak their minds more effectively," Rich wrote.

Rich also is president of U.S. Term Limits, a group that encourages legislators to pledge to limit their service and uses the same New York address. Sanford made a three-term limit pledge in the U.S. House and kept it.

Floyd found multiple donors too at the same Denver address Alex M. Cranberg and four companies - Long Canyon LLC, Aspect Energy LLC, Azimuth Energy LLC and Walnut Software LLC - used for their donations...
Now, taking a look at the Virginia political contributions reports ... What? Virginia?

Yes, Virginia: Virginia. "All Children Matter" Betsy DeVos, president (the Betsy DeVos of Michigan whose husband Dick is running for Michigan Governor as the GOP candidate) is a Virginia political action committee. Donations come from all 'round the nation and then go back out to ... ?

Holy crap.

Take a look at this, will ya? Here are the October contributions to "All Children Matter" (the one who was advertising in South Carolina over vouchers 'n all?):
Donor: Estate of John T. Walton
Date: 10/16/2006
Amount: $2,063,750
Look at the money that's been gushing into DeVos' "All Children Matter" (separate from Eric O'Keefe's "Parents in Charge")
All Children Matter Peter Flanigan 10/27/2006 $50,000
All Children Matter John Fisher 10/27/2006 $25,000
All Children Matter Advocates for School Choice 10/24/2006 $500,000
[Note, Oberndorf is the Board Chairman, and Betsy DeVos and Alex Cranberg are board members of ASC http://www.allianceforschoolchoice.org/About.aspx?p=6 along with Clint Bolick, who was trotted out this week wearing another hat to bolster the Arizona sound bites of Lori Klein on the AZ Prop. 207 "takings" measure]
All Children Matter William Oberndorf 10/20/2006 $200,000
[see above]
All Children Matter Estate of John T. Walton 10/16/2006 $2,063,750
[Listed as "John Walton, Director Emeritus" on the ASC website, although more properly should be listed as "Dead"]
All Children Matter Bruce Kovner
10/16/2006 $250,000
All Children Matter William Hume
10/13/2006 $10,000
All Children Matter Dino Cortopassi
10/10/2006 $50,000
All Children Matter Helen DeVos
10/5/2006 $12,500
All Children Matter Richard DeVos
10/5/2006 $12,500
All Children Matter Benson, Bruce
9/29/2006 $100,000
All Children Matter Alliance for Choices in Education Inc.
9/29/2006 $90,000
All Children Matter DeGeorge, Lawrence
9/22/2006 $10,000
All Children Matter Simon, William
9/22/2006 $10,000
All Children Matter Marcia Peterson Kern
9/5/2006 $50,000
All Children Matter Robert Kern
8/30/2006 $250,000
All Children Matter Brennan, David
8/28/2006 $50,000
All Children Matter Robert, Joseph E. Jr.
8/28/2006 $25,000
All Children Matter Fisher, John
8/10/2006 $50,000
All Children Matter-VA State PAC Peters, Lovett
7/20/2006 $20,000
7/17/2006 $10,000
All Children Matter-VA State PAC Estate of John Walton
7/14/2006 $2,088,000
All Children Matter-VA State PAC Robertson, Julian
7/14/2006 $500,000
All Children Matter-VA State PAC DeVos, Betsy
7/6/2006 $10,000
All Children Matter-VA State PAC Oberndorf, Bill
5/12/2006 $20,000
All Children Matter-VA State PAC J.C. Huizenga
5/5/2006 $25,000
All Children Matter-VA State PAC John D. Bryan
5/1/2006 $25,000
All Children Matter-VA State PAC Frank Baxter
4/27/2006 $10,000
All Children Matter-VA State PAC Betsy DeVos
4/19/2006 $200,000
All Children Matter-VA State PAC Peter Flanigan
4/13/2006 $25,000
All Children Matter-VA State PAC Dino Cortopassi
4/8/2006 $50,000
All Children Matter-VA State PAC Ted Forstmann
4/8/2006 $62,228
All Children Matter-VA State PAC Manheimer, Virginia
1/27/2006 $200,000
All Children Matter-VA State PAC Oberndorf, Bill
1/5/2006 $100,000
And in 2005:

All Children Matter
Alexandria, VA
Miscellaneous Single-Issue


All Children Matter reported these donors who gave $500 or more during 2005:
Koch Industries Inc $75,000
DeVos, Helen $12,500
Devos, Richard Jr $12,500
Alliance for School Choices in Education $2,000

And in 2004, among others, we find:

Virginia State Board of Elections reports that in 2004,
Cranberg Alex
511 16th St. Ste. 300 -
Denver CO 80202
Aspect Resources
Which takes us back to those halcyon days that Howard Rich and Betsy DeVos' groups are still fighting about in South Carolina (from the All Children Matter website):
The State - By Jennifer Talhelm [7/25/2004]

In what some say is an unprecedented interest by national political organizations in local politics, two groups have spent tens of thousands of dollars here.

Their goal is to make sure the S.C. Legislature passes a tuition tax-credit bill that would help low-and middle-income parents send their children to private schools.

Both groups plan to stay through the Nov. 2 election and the next legislative session, which runs from January to June.

They have tax-credit supporters excited, but opponents are questioning the groups' tactics.

Before the June primary, Michigan-based All Children Matter bought radio commercials and sent mailers touting legislative candidates' support for tax cuts -without mentioning their goal is to pass tuition tax credits.

Near the end of the last legislative session, the Washington-based Legislative Education Action Drive helped a local affiliate - South Carolinians for Responsible Government - run a phone bank that swamped lawmakers' phones by connecting voters directly to their representatives.


Gov. Mark Sanford's support for tuition tax credits - and interest in the issue by legislators - attracted the groups to South Carolina. Sanford ran for governor on the issue in 2002 and made it a key part of his agenda in the legislative session that ended in June.

Sanford spokesman Will Folks said the groups have a right to be active, and it is no surprise they are emboldened by the governor's support for tax credits.

A bill Sanford supported would have given parents income-tax credits to send their children to private schools, the public school of their choice or to use for home-school expenses. The bill died in committee, but lawmakers promised to introduce it again next session.

"There is an opportunity (in South Carolina) that we see to push some type of school choice," said J. Sam Daniels, a Charlotte-based political consultant working with All Children Matter.

Added Bill Wilson, LEAD's director, "Like any group, we target our resources where we think we can do the most good." [NOTE: Bill Wilson is on ALG's Board and is the compensated treasurer of several Howard Rich organizations. HW]


Lourie and others say private groups always have worked to influence local policy, but national groups have never spent so much time and money on S.C. issues. And it bothers them that the groups don't always disclose who they are and what they stand for.

Lourie has reason to worry. He faces a tough race against lawyer Ken Wingate for a state Senate seat this November. During the Republican primary, All Children Matter paid for radio ads and mailers on Wingate's behalf.

Records show the groups have spent about $150,000 on broadcast ads and direct mail advertising in South Carolina.

All Children Matter raked in $919,500 in contributions in the past six months. Daniels said the group plans to spend the money in South Carolina and other states.

And he promises the group will raise more before November.
So: They're true to form, dumping huge amounts of cash into races at the last minute, in Missouri, in South Carolina, in Florida. After the election, we'll learn, TOO LATE, about the other states. But that's been a pattern, too.

Again, we don't have direct links with DeVos' group, nor with SCRG and Howard Rich, exactly, but given the deviousness, the intentionally hidden nature of affairs, and, most importantly, the almost desperate nature of various spokespersons -- from Montana to Nebraska to South Carolina, et al -- to HIDE who's financing Howard Rich-related measures, it's not difficult to draw a reasonable conclusion.

But let's add one more bit of evidence to the pile.

"Dennis Sinned"

Last year, bloggers were paying attention too. SC blogger Lauren Manning noted how the scandal involving SCRG's executive director had been swept under the rug:
Way to bury a story, guys! Probably 97% of The State's readers skipped right over this crazy article thanks to your shoddy headline.

Here's the headline: Tax credit group to reorganize staff.

Sounds like some insignificant public interest lobby group is rearranging its 3 staff members because one is on maternity leave or something, right?

This headline surely doesn't mention the fact that the "tax credit group," South Carolinians for Responsible Government, is none other than the primary proponent of Gov. Sanford's voucher plan [sic] and that the staff reorganization came about after Todd McCauley, the Executive Director of this group, tried to scam the editors (and, more importantly, the readers!) of The State by submitting multiple letters touting the tax credit proposal under the pseudonym "Dennis Sinned." Good work, buddy. Dennis Sinned. REAL convincing name there. Not the least bit conspicuous.

Editorial page Editor Brad Warthen spotted the palindrome, smelled a rat, and yanked the letter before publication. From the article [NOTE: Now only available in the paid archive of The STATE - HW]:

Beginning in February 2004, McCauley sent at least three letters to the editor, railing against the media and urging passage of the bill, dubbed "Put Parents in Charge" by its supporters. All were signed "Dennis Sinned" and listed various addresses.

Editorial page editor Brad Warthen said he caught on to the stunt -- thanks to the unusual name -- right before one of the letters was set to run in the newspaper a few months ago.

"This is an attempt to defraud this newspaper and -- more importantly -- its readers," Warthen said.

The letters were traced to McCauley after the contact number listed in one of the letters was matched to the cell phone number on his South Carolinians for Responsible Government business card....
Note that McCauley was merely "demoted" after being caught in the scam. After all, it isn't like he was engaged in any behavior that was unusual for Howard Rich operatives.

And, as usual, blogger Manning was RIGHT to scream HOW COME YOU AREN'T PAYING ANY ATTENTION? It's a scream that bloggers have made from coast to coast, to little avail, finally. Somnambulance reigns o'er all. (Media, that is).

McCauley has a very deep connection to Howard Rich, even though SCRG has sued to prevent revelation of its backers. But note the reflexive pass given to the perfidy and stealth of Mr. McCauley, who came to SCRG directly from US Term Limits:

This is Google's cache of http://www.greenwatch.org/... as retrieved on Mar 7, 2006 04:46:20 GMT.
Profile: U.S. Term Limits
10 G St., N.E. - Suite 410
Washington, DC20002
(800) 733-6440 (phone)
(202) 379-3010 (fax)

Contact Information:
Howard Rich, President

Bill Wilson, Political Director
[Yeah, THAT Bill Wilson of LEAD, see above - HW]
Stacie Rumenap, Executive Director
Howard Rich, President
Todd McCauley, Field Representative
Mr. Paul Jacob, Senior Fellow
Rose Huff, Marketing Director
Kurt Gardinier, Media Relations Director & Internship Coordinator
Eric Dixon, Newsletter Editor & Computer Specialist
Jodi Bridges, Accountant
And, finally, we find this:

[*You can read about the California Prop 45 campaign of 2002 HERE]

April 2002, The Newsletter of the Term Limits Movement. Page 1, there's a picture, with this caption:
Todd McCauley, campaign manager for "No on 45: Stop the Politicians," poses with the campaign's Trojan horse mascot. McCauley took the horse on a seven-day tour of 12 California cities.*

Follow the Horsie

I rest my case.