I spent some time recently in the Minneapolis area. People there are eager to manifest their views, and some lawns are decorated with 2, 4, or 6 yard signs.
There is a referendum coming up on whether marriage is for 1 man + 1 woman (so much for the ancestors of Mitt Romney, I guess). As it turns out, a Yes sign means Republican and a No sign means Democratic. That way you can figure out the party of all candidates, who for reasons unknown to me are too bashful to put their party affiliation on their own campaign signs.
The other way you could figure out party identification is money. If a house gets 3 mailers for candidate X in 2 days, you figure X is a Republican. That would be Keith Downey.
One mailer said: “This is an independent expenditure in support of Keith Downey and in opposition to Melisa Franzen and is not authorized or approved by any candidate or candidate’s committee.”
Melisa Franzen sounds good to me. According to her opponent, she is endorsed by unions. They are about the last line of defense for ordinary people, as far as I can see. Go Melisa!
So who sent out that “independent” mailer in favor of Melisa’s opponent? Freedom Club State PAC, Champlin MN. Freedom Club is supported by business donors and supports Michelle Bachmann.
Of course, the name says enough. For reasons I can’t grasp, “freedom” and “liberty” mean right-wing. What terms suggest left-wing? I guess: “middle class,” “workers,” “unions,” “equality,” “justice,” “fairness,” and a few others.
Freedom Club State PAC, of course, is not “working with” Keith’s campaign. No, they just happen to admire him greatly and find a way to slip in his campaign web site in capital letters at the bottom of both sides of their mailer. That’s a definition of “independence” that only the bed-ridden Federal Elections Committee could accept.
Here’s another souvenir I picked up: a mailer entitled “Amy Klobuchar: Minnesota’s Rubber Stamp for Failure.” Shocking: she is for Obamacare, Dodd-Frank, and the stimulus (which saved a whole lot of ordinary folks’ jobs), and she voted to keep the “Death Tax” (paid by the estates of really rich people who didn’t get around to setting up the right trust funds and offshore accounts before they die). Horrific!
And who paid for this item? Americans For Prosperity. They sound like just regular folks: “Over 17,000 AFP activists across the state of Minnesota are taking action every day to advance economic freedom.” (There is “freedom” again, and we can add “prosperity” to the Republican list too.)
They aren’t working with anyone’s campaign either, of course. Here’s the key language: “Call Amy Klobuchar at (202) 224-3244 and tell her to start working for Minnesotans and not just for the failed policies of the Obama administration.”
What does that mean? It means: “For technical reasons, we pretend not to specifically ask voters to vote for or against a specific candidate.” According to the AFP donations page (click on “Donate”),
“Americans for Prosperity is a 501 (c) (4) entity under the IRS code. Contributions or gifts to Americans for Prosperity are not tax deductible. Americans for Prosperity can advocate for and against specific legislation at the state and federal levels.”
And if two “independent” PACs take the same actions? They aren’t working together or with any candidate, of course; it just so happens that both Americans For Prosperity and Freedom Club State PAC opposed Rep. Connie Doepke in the Republican primary earlier this year.
Connie lost by 107 votes; obviously the PACs made at least that big a difference.
Why is it these right-wing PACs seem to have it in for women candidates? That’s a rhetorical question, I guess.
Now here’s the last question: who is really Americans For Prosperity? Short version: the Koch Brothers. But they don’t endorse candidates, oh no: “AFP is committed to educating citizens about economic policy and mobilizing those citizens as advocates in the public policy process.” Watch for their ads in the presidential campaign too and see how many “Pants on Fire” awards they can earn from those pesky fact-checkers. AFP has also been on the warpath against wind energy—hardly surprising, since the Koch Brothers are into fossil fuels.
Here are the morals of the story:
1) If a campaign says something, at least you know who is saying it and whom to blame;
2) if an “independent” organization with a vaguely patriotic name says something, turn the page or press the mute button.