Target Rich Environment

Section I. Great Moments in Implausibility

I’m going to quote liberally from an excellent piece by Mike McIntire that the New York Times ran a few weeks back regarding a non-profit, Republican attack-dog outfit called Americans for Job Security.  Frank Rich brought this piece to my attention in his column on Sunday.   First, let me just say that you have to love the names they come up with for these things.  Americans for Job Security: In brave, steadfast opposition to those vast, staggering numbers of Americans against Job Security.  The active degradation of the English language perpetrated every second of every day by corporate interests in the United States, and beyond, is as appalling as it is impressive in a brutal, Machiavellian sense.   Linguistically, the name Americans for Job Security is so empty and devoid of actual meaning that it’s almost artful in a way.   Furthering the dissolution of meaning and signification, Americans for Job Security claims to advocate a “pro-paycheck public policy.”  It is good to know there’s a courageous bulwark against the strident, surging proponents of “anti-paycheck public policy.”  What’s funny is that these people are probably going to run ads on behalf of West Virginia Senate candidate John Raese, who really does seem to be, at least mildly, anti-paycheck.   But as investigators in Alaska found out, noble provision of paycheck protection aside, Americans for Job Security is actually just a “front for a coterie of political operatives, devised to sidestep campaign disclosure rules.”  Shocking.

According to the Times, the group showed up in Alaska two years ago and spent $1.6 million to influence voting on a referendum that would “restrict development of a gold and copper mine at the headwaters of Bristol Bay.”  Local people in support of the development filed a complaint with the state, which lead to the investigation of Americans for Job Security that is covered in McIntire’s article.  In short, the Alaska Public Offices Commission report found that:

Americans for Job Security has no purpose other than to cover various money trails all over the country

Now let’s start admiring those Great Moments in Implausibility!

Fact #1.  According to Campaign Finance Law (via McIntire’s column, emphasis added by me),  Americans for Job Security must:

not spend the majority of its resources on political activity or coordinate with party committees, and may keep its donors secret only as long as their contributions are not intended for specific ad campaigns close to an election.”

Fact #2. Americans for Job Security is housed in a space that is:

“sublet from a Republican consulting shop, Crossroads Media, whose other clients include the national Republican Party, the Republican Governors Association and American Crossroads, a Karl Rove-backed group raising millions to support Republican candidates.”

Great Moments in Implausibility part I.  In light of the facts posted above-Americans for Job Security’s President, and sole employee, Stephen DeMaura testified, in Alaska, that despite sharing office space with these powerful, supremely connected, overtly Republican operatives, they exerted no influence on his activities.

“I work with them closely on a day-to-day basis, but we don’t discuss our work or coordinate anything,” he said. “It’s firewalled off.”

Fact #3.  Crossroads Media, one of the firms that shares office space with Americans for Job Security, is run by a man named Michael Dubke, who, as McIntire reports, was the president of Americans for Job Security until April 2008 when Mr. DeMaura took over.   Dubke remains a “consultant” for Americans for Job Security and Crossroads Media places “many” of the group’s ads.

Great Moments in Implausibility part II.  Yet, in light of the facts posted above, Mr. Dubke:

denied that the agenda of Americans for Job Security was driven by the political interests of his firms. “Nothing is ever done in coordination with another campaign,” he said. “I’m always trying to follow the letter of the law.”

Fact #4. The Times reports that “the National Republican Congressional Committee — a sometime client of Mr. Dubke’s — sent local reporters an Americans for Job Security announcement and transcript of a new ad opposing a Democratic congressman, Representative Michael Arcuri.”

Great Moments in Implausibility part III.  Yet, in light of the facts posted above:

A committee spokesman said he was not coordinating anything with the advocacy group, but merely passing along “a public document.” The document, however, could not be found on the group’s Web site, and a reporter who received it said the committee was his only source for it.”

There is a lot more that bears reading in McIntire’s excellent work and I urge anyone reading this post to please read the whole article. It is a rare and revealing glimpse into the dishonest, unethical and basically illegal world of corporate conservatives, largely successful, attempts to buy elections.  In the words of the watchdog group Public Citizen’s research director Taylor Lincoln:

“A lot of nonprofits game the system, but A.J.S. is unusual in that they so blatantly try to influence elections and evade disclosure…By any common-sense, reasonable interpretation of what they do, they are in violation of the rules.”

I’ve been interested in these shadow groups since I started doing research for LittleSis and I hope to write a book on the subject someday.  This article was invaluable.  One last parting shot from the Alaska’s Public Offices Commission report regarding Americans for Job Security’s assertion that they protect the identities of their members and donors so that they can “speak without fear of reprisal”:

“One would hardly expect reprisals for ‘promoting a healthy and vibrant economy'”

Section II.  The continuing chronicles of Tea Party hypocrisy

I mentioned Gilded Age enthusiast, and self professed ‘flamboyant businessman,” John Raese, earlier, because he is the subject of my latest look at the truly awesome, would be funny if significant numbers of American voters weren’t so gullible, hypocrisy exhibited by Tea Bag candidates in this political cycle.  Raese finds the minimum wage “hideous,” a new and increasingly popular theme mouthed by millionaires on campaign trails amidst increasingly desperate, misinformed people, and, of course, he thinks BIG Government spending is the DEVIL…BUT, when you look into the details (I’m actually fucking tired of typing this sentence) of his business dealings…Surprise, Surprise…Raese’s company, Greer Industries has received $2.4 million in government contracts over the past decade, according to Media Matters Political Correction blog.  Media Matters goes on to note that Raese is also a big proponent of deregulation, which might be explained by the unfortunate fact that Greer Industries has been fined for over “627 safety violations since 1995.”

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