Beware those “independent” groups, once again!

In “Some Minnesota candidates and ‘independent’ expenditures” (Oct. 26), I had a few choice words for the well-heeled purveyors of “issues ads” that just happen to look like candidate endorsements:

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….

Of course, the Koch Brothers are so rich that their handiwork is everywhere. But did you notice this one?

“In Shift, Romney Campaign Approaches Pennsylvania With a New Urgency” by JEREMY W. PETERS, New York Times, November 1, 2012, at the end:

…For months now, a locally based group called Let Freedom Ring says it has spent more than $2 million on an online ad campaign that has been viewed 30 million times. It targets women who visit the Web sites of HGTV, Vogue and People with ads that run before online videos.

In one, a young woman asks her friend about Mitt Romney. “I don’t know. He’s not as cool. And he’s a Republican,” she responds before deciding that yes, she will go with “Mr. Dependable” over “Mr. Cool.”

Americans for Prosperity, the conservative advocacy group financed with the help of the Koch brothers, has a chapter here that says it has made more than 200,000 phone calls in October. Many of the callers, they say, are mothers who volunteer from home.

“This is perfect for women,” said Jennifer Sefano, the group’s director in Pennsylvania. “You don’t have to pay for a baby sitter. You don’t even have to leave the house.”

Well, AFP’s cottage industry arrangement is very nice for those women who have chosen to follow Rick Santorum’s dictum that they shouldn’t work outside the home but (unlike his own Mom) should stay home and mind the kids.

But did you notice the group before that? It’s not locally based in Philadelphia (site of the byline) but right here in Chester County.

Let Freedom Ring is another of these 501 (c)(4) non-profit organizations, unleashed by Citizens United, whose donors are hidden from public scrutiny and whose prime activity is not supposed to be to advocate for or against candidates, but rather to be promoting “social welfare”:

501(c)(4) organizations are generally civic leagues and other corporations operated exclusively for the promotion of social welfare, or local associations of employees with membership limited to a designated company or people in a particular municipality or neighborhood, and with net earnings devoted exclusively to charitable, educational, or recreational purposes.[32] 501(c)(4) organizations may lobby for legislation, and unlike 501(c)(3) organizations they may also participate in political campaigns and elections, as long as its primary activity is the promotion of social welfare. (Wikipedia)

According to the LFR site:

Colin is a former County Commissioner in Chester County, PA (1995-2003). Prior to his election he was a CBS sales executive in New York and Philadelphia; after CBS he started and sold several small businesses, including an advertising agency, a computerized barter exchange, a marketing and management consulting firm, an executive search firm and a computer service firm.

Read more than you want to know in “The New Norquist: Meet the GOP’s Latest Hardline Power Broker” by Michael Fitzgerald, The New Republic, September 24, 2011.

Let Freedoom Ring has has a variety of “projects,” earlier centered on building a wall between the US and Mexico. The ones currently mentioned on the web site are:

Auto Bailout Truth
Why Mr. President, Why?
It’s Just Not Working
Pennsylvania Pastors Network
Pennsylvania Catholics Network
Jobs Through Growth

The first three of these are explicitly directed at attacking president Obama.

The 4th’s site informs us: “The PA Pastors’ Network is engaging in a focused effort to preach, pray and fast for America and the Presidential election. For 48 hours from 6 p.m. on Sunday, November 4, 2012 through 6 p.m. on Tuesday, November 6, 2012 the PA Pastors’ Network and affiliated churches will cover our nation in prayer, urging all to turn from their sin and to ask God to heal and forgive our nation.”

Could this have anything to do with voting on November 6? Well, I guess so:

PPN is asking pastors to do these 3 things…
* Seek a 90 percent voter turn-out among your congregation.

And it’s pretty clear, whatever IRS rules say, whom those 90% are supposed to vote for–just as six years ago, when “the Pennsylvania Pastor Network… most notably enlisted pastors to mobilize churchgoers in support of Rick Santorum’s failed 2006 Senate re-election campaign” (The New Republic).

The 5th project is even more explicit on its site:

November 1, 2012
New Ad: Catholics should defend religious freedom by voting for Romney-Ryan

“In this final week of the presidential campaign, the Catholic vote remains the most critical swing demographic. That’s why we’re doing everything we can to make sure independent Catholic voters know: Mitt Romney will restore religious freedom on ‘day one.'”

(No, Colin Hanna is not a Catholic. He was an Episcopalian, backed the “traditionalists” who split off as “Anglicans” some members who do not recognize gay rights or the ordination of women, and then became an Evangelical.)

The 6th project also has an explicit anti-Obama and pro-Romney message. The project’s “members” include Tea Party Express, the aforementioned Americans for Prosperity, and the College Republican National Committee. Well, that’s nice and clear, isn’t it? Don’t miss the heart-rending video lamenting the “missing” jobs that would return, and more, if only the country puts all its eggs in the “growth” (AKA, no doubt, Romney-Ryan-Toomey-Bain) basket.

So what are the lessons?

1) Anyone so fortunate as to receive an Americans for Prosperity phone call should ask about their sponsorship by the Koch Brothers (major polluter, major petrochemical power) and ask the caller, if a woman, how her kids are doing in the next room.

2) lf you see a Let Freedom Ring ad as a “targeted” woman, think of the real agenda behind these wealthy groups: women in their place, maximum child=birthing, and down with social services.

Those 2 points are pretty obvious. But the most insidious one is:

3) These are lobbying and campaign groups masquerading as non-profit “social welfare” groups. They should be paying taxes like other organizations that take in money, pay executives, and lobby for the laws and candidates they like. Long-standing election law and IRS rules are no longer being enforced, and you can bet the law and rules themselves will disappear if R&R win on Tuesday.

And you can also bet a R&R Supreme Court would enthrone anonymous money in every facet of American political and public life. And as for poverty: strictly private.

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About politicswestchesterview

Nathaniel regards himself as a progressive Democrat who sees a serious need to involve more Americans in the political process if we are to rise to Ben Franklin's challenge "A republic, madam, if you can keep it," after a passerby asked him what form of government the founders had chosen. This blog gives my views and background information on the local, state, and national political scenes. My career in higher education was mainly in the areas of international studies, foreign languages, and student advising, most recently at Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster, from which I retired in 2006. I have lived in West Chester since 1986.
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