Federal Election Commission

Who's Who in Today's DOMA Hearing

Cross-posted on PFAW blog

Senate Republicans have called Tom Minnery of Focus on the Family, David Nimocks of the Alliance Defense Fund and Ed Whelan of the Ethics and Public Policy Center as witnesses in today’s hearing on the “Defense of Marriage Act.” The groups these witnesses represent have a long record of extreme rhetoric opposing gay rights:

CitizenLink, Focus on the Family’s political arm, is a stalwart opponent of gay rights in every arena:

• Focus on the Family has consistently railed against the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, demanding the discriminatory policy’s reinstatement.

• The group claims anti-bullying programs that protect LGBT and LGBT-perceived youth in schools amount to “homosexual indoctrination” and “promote homosexuality in kids.”

• The group insists that House Republicans investigate the Justice Department over its refusal to defend the unconstitutional Section 3 of DOMA.

The Ethics and Public Policy Center is backed by the far-right Sarah Scaife Foundation, the John M. Olin Foundation, the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, and the Koch- backed Castle Rock Foundation, all well-known right-wing funders.

• George Weigel of EPPC wrote in June that “legally enforced segregation involved the same kind of coercive state power that the proponents of gay marriage now wish to deploy on behalf of their cause.”

• Ed Whelan spearheaded the unsuccessful and widely panned effort to throw out Judge Vaughn Walker’s 2010 decision finding California’s Proposition 8 to be unconstitutional on the grounds that Walker was in a committed same-sex relationship at the time of the decision.

The Alliance Defense Fund, which bills itself as a right-wing counter to the American Civil Liberties Union, is dedicated to pushing a far-right legal agenda:

• The ADF has been active on issues including pushing "marriage protection," exposing the "homosexual agenda" and fighting the supposed "war on Christmas."

• The ADF claims 38 “victories” before the Supreme Court, including: Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, which allows corporations to spend unlimited money on elections in the name of “free speech” and Boy Scouts of America v. Dale (2000), which allowed the Boy Scouts to fire a Scout Leader because he was gay.

The Resurrection of Ralph Reed

Religion Dispatches' Sarah Posner has a really good article on Ralph Reed and his miraculous resurrection through his Faith and Freedom Coalition which contains a lot of useful information, a lot of which I was totally unaware of, like the fact that Tim Phillips, which whom Reed c0-founded Century Strategies after leaving the Christian Coalition, is now the president of Tea Party activist firm Americans for Prosperity and that Reed's new organization is apparently cannibalizing his previous organization to create his new organization:

Reed’s FFC is essentially a retread of the Christian Coalition which, under Reed’s leadership, was investigated by Congress, the Federal Election Commission, and ultimately (after Reed’s departure) had its tax-exempt status denied over its engagement in electoral politicking. But Reed, who has managed to survive the Christian Coalition meltdown, his two-timing of evangelicals through his business association with Abramoff, and his 2006 loss in the Republican primary for lieutenant governor of Georgia, is sifting the remnants of the Christian Coalition infrastructure to build FFC.

O'Neal Dozier, pastor of the Worldwide Christian Church in Pompano Beach, Florida, and a Christian Coalition of Florida board member, said that the board voted last year to “come under the umbrella of” the FFC. For an organization that was low on funds, said Dozier, it was “a great opportunity that we felt we couldn’t pass up.”

Now Dozier also serves on the FFC board, and says that the affiliation brings “more fundraising capabilities. With Faith and Freedom and with Ralph being known as he is, we can get more conservatives involved and coming to functions that we have in order to raise funds,” both locally and nationally. “It costs a lot of money to print voter guides,” he chuckled.

Also rather amazing is the fact that nobody in the movement is particularly concerned about Reed's Jack Abramoff-related double-dealings:

Yet Reed continues to elicit effusive praise from fellow evangelicals. The Christian Broadcasting Network’s David Brody claims FFC “is indeed poised to be a major player in the 2010 and 2012 elections.” About Reed’s association with Abramoff, [Iowa Christian Alliance president Steve] Scheffler told RD, “if you look at the whole explanation it was a nonissue, it was the press that made something out of nothing that was there.” He added that Iowa activists were “excited” that Reed was the master of ceremonies for the Iowa Christian Alliance’s fundraiser this week, at which Rick Santorum was the keynote speaker.

Cindy Costa, the Republican National Committeewoman for South Carolina and former Christian Coalition activist, told RD that Reed is a “fine gentleman” and “helpful to the conservative movement.” After an FFC organizing event in Tennessee last week, Richard Land, head of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, called the FFC “one of the most important forces for sound public policy in America in the coming years.” And GOP operative Chip Saltsman, forced to pull out of the race for Republican National Committee chair last year after he distributed a “Barack the Magic Negro” CD, added that FFC “has already been effective in identifying and turning out conservative voters and we’re pleased to bring it to Tennessee.”

But rest assured that even though Reed might be seeking to tie his current activism to the Tea Party movement, he isn't abandoning his Religious Right foundation:

Reed went on to claim that not running the country on a Judeo-Christian moral code is actually contrary to democracy. “So really, when you really get right down to it, James,” he said, “democracy doesn’t really work at all unless there is a citizenry animated by a moral code that derives from their faith in God. That’s what makes the whole thing work because otherwise, the government has to tell everybody what to do.”

I encourage you to read the whole thing.

Mike Huckabee's Costly Endorsement

Last month, Mike Huckabee and his HuckPAC endorsed Les Phillip who is running for a seat in Congress representing District 5 in Alabama. Huckabee called him "a true American success story" and "an outstanding Conservative Republican who fully understands the important issues facing his district, his state and his country. His principles are the same as those of Huck PAC and me." As such, Huckabee was "pleased to endorse Les Phillip and urge you to support him and his campaign."

When Huckabee headlined an event for Phillips a short time later, Phillips glowed that it was a "complete success" ... but that was presumably before he realized that it had just cost him tens of thousands of dollars:

One of the most curious fundraising reports of the second quarter came from Republican Les Phillip, who is looking to challenge Rep. Parker Griffith (D-Ala.) in a top national race.

If you've heard of Phillip, it's probably because he welcomed former presidential candidate Mike Huckabee to his district for a fundraiser during the second quarter, and Huckabee endorsed him.

It was an expensive endorsement.

According to his Federal Election Commission report, Phillip raised just $17,000 and spent more than $56,000 during the second quarter.

His disbursements include a $33,990 speaking fee for Huckabee, $600 for photography for the Huckabee event, $438 for a lunch with Huckabee, $6,233 for a stage rental and equipment (presumably for the Huckabee event), and a $2,350 facility rental fee (also presumably for the Huckabee event).

In other words, Phillip spent nearly $45,000 to raise less than $20,000 and took a major financial hit for the Huckabee event.

Perhaps the most painful part is the fact that he was forced to loan his campaign $50,000 in four installments after the event.

The purpose listed? A "Personal Loan from Les Phillip to cover general campaign expenses and Mike Huckabee event expenses."

A Seemingly Simple Question: Where Does Harry Jackson Live?

Considering that Harry Jackson is leading the war to prevent marriage equality from coming to the District of Columbia, it would be nice to figure out if he actually lives in the District. 

A few weeks ago we asked this question, pointing out that while he was claiming to be a resident of DC, there was also evidence that he was actually a resident of Maryland.  Then, last week, the Washington Blade reported that Jackson had recently registered to vote in DC using as his address an upscale condominium, suggesting that he had in fact moved to the District.  

But now the Blade reports that its not actually clear whether Jackson really lives at the address he used on his registration:

The pastor of a Maryland church who filed papers calling for a voter referendum to overturn a D.C. law recognizing same-sex marriages from other jurisdictions lists his address as a condominium that is owned by another person and that is barred from being rented.

A member of the condo board at the Whitman, an upscale condominium apartment building at 910 M St., N.W., said the owner of the sixth floor apartment listed on D.C. voter registration rolls as the address of Bishop Harry Jackson Jr. told the board that Jackson is his roommate.

But the board member, D.C. gay businessman Brian Pruitt, and another resident of the building, Earl Fowlkes, co-founder of the city’s Black Pride celebration, said they and other building residents have never seen Jackson in the building and were not aware that he lived there.

Pruitt said the condo board placed a cap on the number of apartments in the building that can be rented and that Joseph Honaker, the owner of the apartment in which Jackson says he’s living, is not eligible to rent his apartment.

If Jackson has moved to DC, that appears to come as something of a surprise to his neighbors in Maryland ... and his wife, who seemingly still lives at their home in Silver Spring:

In a related development, a source familiar with the street in Silver Spring, Md., where Jackson and his wife, Vivian Michelle Jackson, have lived since early 2006 said Jackson’s neighbors on the street were not aware that he or his wife had moved from their $1.1 million house on a four-acre tract of land at 15713 Holly Grove Road. Michelle Jackson is executive pastor of Hope Christian Church in Beltsville, Md., and Harry Jackson is senior pastor.

Records with the Montgomery County Board of Elections show that as of Monday, June 8, Jackson was still on the voter registration rolls as a Montgomery County voter, with the Holly Grove Road address listed as his residence.

Records from the U.S. Federal Election Commission show that Jackson listed the Holly Grove Road address as his residence in November 2007 when he made a $2,300 contribution to the presidential campaign of Republican Mike Huckabee, the former Arkansas governor.


A source familiar with Holly Grove Road in Silver Spring said neighbors continue to see cars arrive and leave at Jackson’s house.

The source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Vivian Michelle Jackson was seen on the property within the past week. The source did not know whether Harry Jackson had been on the property within the past few weeks, but neighbors assume the couple still lives there because there were no signs of the family moving out.

This really shouldn't be this confusing.  If Jackson does live in Washington, DC,  he ought to explain when and why he felt this sudden move was necessary. 

If he doesn't live in DC, then he is probably going to have some trouble explaining why he registered to vote there. 

As the leading force behind the effort to get a voter referendum in DC on the same-sex marriage law, Jackson really ought to clarify whether or not he actually lives in DC. 

McCain Wins By Losing

Suffice it to say that John McCain and Wisconsin Right to Life (WRTL) have had something of a rocky relationship in the past, engaging in extensive litigation over the senator’s flagship McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform legislation ever since WRTL ran ads back in 2004 targeting WI senators Herb Kohl and Russ Feingold despite a provision in the law “banning ads that mention the names of candidates for public office within certain ‘blackout periods’ ranging from 30 to 60 days before an election--if funds from corporations or unions are used to pay for the ads.”

As the Weekly Standard explained:

McCain has thrown himself into the McCain-Feingold litigation with unusual fervor, personally intervening in Wisconsin Right to Life's lawsuit rather than relying solely on the lawyers for the Federal Election Commission and Justice Department who are charged with defending the constitutionality of federal election laws. "It is not a common, ordinary occurrence" for sponsors of federal legislation to become involved in litigation over their handiwork, notes Bradley A. Smith, a law professor at Capital University in Columbus, Ohio, who served as FEC chairman during Bush's first term and is a vocal opponent of McCain-Feingold as well as most other regulation of elections. "How rare it is I can't tell you, but it's more common just to file an amicus [friend-of-the-court] brief."

The case ended up going all the way to the Supreme Court and McCain even filed a brief in which he argued that WRTL’s actions were “a classic case of business corporations funneling unregulated monies to an advocacy group to pay for ads that will influence a federal election” in violation of the law.    

Unfortunately for McCain, he ended up losing the case on a decision written by Chief Justice Roberts and joined by Justice Alito and and others whom he voted to confirm to the Court.  

But it looks like WRTL isn’t one to hold a grudge, because they have now endorsed him and are citing his pledge to appoint more justices like Roberts and Alito to the Supreme Court as one of the key reasons:

The Wisconsin Right to Life Political Action Committee today announced its endorsement of Sen. John McCain in the 2008 presidential race.

Senator McCain has a stellar 100% voting record on protecting unborn children from abortion.  He opposes the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion on demand in the United States and he voted to ban the gruesome partial-birth abortion procedure. He opposes taxpayer funding of abortion and supports legislation that would require parental notification prior to a minor's abortion.

Senator McCain opposes human cloning and the intentional creation of human embryos for research purposes.  He has stated that he would nominate U.S. Supreme Court justices in the mold of Justices Roberts and Scalia.

Presumably, all McCain needs to do to rack up support from his former Religious Right foes is to keep pledging to appoint the type of judges they demand, even if that means ones who will strike down legislation and views he otherwise champions.

The Brownback Endorsement

Last October, Mike Huckabee was hoping to score an endorsement from another second-tier, right-wing candidate who had dropped out, but Sam Brownback ended up backing John McCain. Huckabee, who was even more cash-strapped back then, probably never stood a chance. As the Los Angeles Times reports, Brownback had financial problems that only a nominee with deep-pocketed contributors could fix:

Some of John McCain's largest political donors sent checks to failed GOP presidential candidate Sam Brownback to help him pay off his campaign debt in the days after the Kansas senator endorsed McCain. …

Brownback's endorsement of McCain on Nov. 7 gave the Republican senator from Arizona a much-needed boost at a time when his campaign was faltering; it also helped bolster McCain's credentials among conservatives who have been skeptical of him.

As of Dec. 31, Brownback's presidential campaign remained more than $32,000 in debt. But his campaign made $226,000 in payments in the final three months of 2007, aided in part by donations from McCain backers, Federal Election Commission filings show.

Brownback's filing indicates that after he endorsed McCain, at least 17 donors gave him the maximum $2,300 each -- totaling nearly $40,000. Those donors are among McCain's largest contributors, having given almost $250,000 to his various campaign accounts in recent years.

Meanwhile, McCain is trying to get his money’s worth, name-dropping Brownback left and right while talking with conservative Catholics.

Was He Trying To Get Them In Trouble?

One has to wonder what Michael Blake, a candidate for Seminole County Commission, was thinking when he issued a flyer that seemed to indicate that he had received the endorsement of the Christian Coalition of Florida, causing the Coalition to hurriedly explain that it had issued no such endorsement

"Our organization never endorses candidates, yet a mailer was recently sent by Blake that is misleading many voters into thinking that he has been endorsed by the Christian Coalition," the recorded message from executive director Bill Stephens said in part.

Considering that the Christian Coalition has had some unpleasant run-ins with the Federal Election Commission in the past, it is not hard to understand why the Florida chapter reacted so swiftly.  

The story of what happened is actually pretty entertaining

Blake said he was surprised and disappointed at the response to the flier, which includes an endorsement from Christian Coalition board member Christine Moore, who also is a paid consultant running Blake's campaign.

"The mailer says what it says and is not misleading in any way," Blake said. "Christian Coalition board members [individually] are routinely involved in politics and make endorsements."

Moore, a founding member of the Christian Coalition of Florida in 1990, has run several successful campaigns through her company, Discovery Group, including two County Commission campaigns in 2004.

Getting the endorsement of one’s own campaign consultant is usually not the sort of thing a candidate would trumpet, which is probably why Blake played down the consultant’s role in his campaign and played up her ties to the Christian Coalition.

Considering that “at least 40 people … called the [Christian Coalition] last week” out of concern about the supposed endorsement, Blake’s claim that the flyer was “not misleading in any way” defies reason – it obviously misled at least 40 people.