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USAToday: ‘Political Non-Profits Ramp Up Their Rhetoric.’ But Why Trust a ‘Committee for Truth in Politics’ That Refuses to Disclose ‘The Truth’ About Who’s Secretly Bankrolling $5 Million of Their Political Propaganda?

by Paul B Farrell, JD, PhD
| | 4/28/2010

Read Fredreka Schouten’s article in USAToday: Political Non-Profits Ramp Up Rhetoric Ahead of Elections. No, this is not about any infringement of First Amendment rights that bothers people. It’s the lack of transparency, whether in Washington, on Wall Street or Main Street … you can’t see the source of the rhetoric nor their biases … so you can’t gauge how much these so-called “non-profits” will “profit” by successfully selling their message and manipulating the public, when, for example, you’re trying to figure out whose behind a “storefront” organization that has a deceptive name like “Committee  for Truth in Politics” but refuses to tell the “real truth” about who’s behind their $5 million political propaganda machine. Here’s the story in USAToday:

A little-known group, the Committee for Truth in Politics, recently made a big splash: It spent $5 million on television ads denouncing Democratic efforts in Congress to impose new regulations on the financial industry. The public can’t find out who’s behind the ads, because the group doesn’t have to disclose its donors under federal law. The group’s lawyer Jim Bopp, a Republican activist from Terre Haute, Ind., won’t reveal details about donors or organizers, saying they must be protected from lawmakers who will “attack and punish people who are willing to step forward and tell the truth about politicians.”

The organization is among a cluster of non-profit groups that have launched new operations in recent months in advance of key votes on the issue on Capitol Hill and November’s elections for Congress. The Committee for Truth in Politics spent more on TV ads than any other group from Jan. 22 to March 18, according to Evan Tracey of the Campaign Media Analysis Group, which tracks ads. Overall, outside groups spent $12.5 million on TV ads to slam proposals pushed by congressional  Democrats and President Obama during that period, compared with $1.5 million by those backing Democrats. Campaign-finance watchdogs, such as Meredith McGehee of the Campaign Legal Center, predict even more activity in light of the Supreme Court’s recent decision freeing corporations and unions to spend millions of dollars on campaign ads.

New groups have been started by several prominent Republicans, including Liz Cheney, daughter of former vice president Dick Cheney, and Virginia Thomas, wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. Fred Malek — a top GOP fundraiser involved in two other new groups, the American Action Forum and the American Action Network — said there’s a surge of political activity among Republicans who are “concerned about big government, big spending and big debt. …

“Concerned about big government, big spending and big debt?” They must be joking. Where were these ”big spending” Republicans when they controlled the presidency and both houses from 2000 to 2008? Unfortunately, their motives and credibility are suspect.

People feel there’s an opportunity to reorient the direction of the country and to get our message out and change things.” Malek describes the two groups as advancing center-right ideas and not being affiliated with any political party.

Democrats did the same thing when Republicans controlled the White House and Congress. For instance, the now-defunct America Coming Together, whose contributors included billionaire financier George Soros, poured millions into the 2004 elections. The left-leaning group was required to disclose its donors but raised and spent unlimited amounts of money by operating under federal tax laws. …Most of the new groups are known as 501(c)4s for the section of the tax code governing their activities. They won’t have to report their donors publicly as long they spend less than 50% of their funds to influence candidate elections and steer clear of  funding television and radio ads that mention a
candidate close to Election Day or that call for the election or defeat of candidates.

Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., grew so angry about the recent Committee for Truth in Politics ad targeting him that he fired off a letter last month to Bopp, the group’s lawyer, demanding to know who was behind it. “We need to have as much transparency as possible in government,” he said in an interview. “If these are a bunch of Wall Street brokers who are running these ads, I think people ought to know that.”

Here’s a tip: Yes, the lack of transparency is the big problem. We’ve been exposing that problem for years. There is a simple solution. You need to question every ad, political or financial, whether Obama, Goldman Sachs or Liz Cheney are behind it. What The Buddha said 2,500 years ago applies even more today in 2010: “Believe nothing, no matter where you read it or who has said it, not even if I have said it, unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense.”

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