Archive for January 26th, 2010

Breitbart said that he would release the rest of the ACORN videos just before the November 2010 elections if Eric Holder refused to investigate ACORN. Destroying the ACORN filmmakers’ credibility lands a serious blow to the effectiveness of the videos. Perhaps Holder was listening.

It took the mainstream media a few weeks just to give the first ACORN videos even a cursory glance. Any bets on how many weeks it will take them to cover this story?

I.M. Kane


Filmmaker Who Targeted ACORN Arrested in Alleged Senate Phone Scheme

From FoxNews

The independent filmmaker who brought ACORN to its knees last year with an undercover expose was arrested this week along with three others, including the son of a federal prosecutor, and accused of trying to interfere with the phones at Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu’s office.

The independent filmmaker who brought ACORN to its knees last year with undercover exposes was arrested this week along with three others, including the son of a federal prosecutor, and accused of trying to interfere with the phones at Louisiana Sen. Mary Landrieu’s office.

Federal officials did not say why the men wanted to interfere with Landrieu’s phones or whether they were successful. She has been in the news recently because she negotiated an increase in Medicaid funds for her state before announcing her support for Senate health care legislation.

Calls to the cell phone of the filmmaker, James O’Keefe, were not returned, but his lawyer, Michael Madigan defended his client’s character.

“We don’t have any of the facts yet, but James O’Keefe, at heart, is a really good kid,” Madigan said in a statement to Fox News. “We are looking into this further and are awaiting hearing from James directly.”

O’Keefe, 25, already was in Landrieu’s New Orleans office Monday when Robert Flanagan and Joseph Basel, both 24, showed up claiming to be telephone repairmen, U.S. Attorney Jim Letten’s office said Tuesday. Letten says O’Keefe recorded the two with his cell phone.

In the reception area, Flanagan, the son of acting U.S. Attorney Bill Flanagan in Shreveport, and Basel asked for access to the main phone at the reception desk.

After handling the phone, “Flanagan and Basel next requested access to the telephone closet because they needed to perform work on the main telephone system,” Letten’s office said.

The men were directed to another office in the building, where they’re accused of again misrepresenting themselves as telephone repairmen.

They were arrested later by the U.S. Marshal’s Service. Details of the arrest were not available. A fourth man, Stan Dai, 24, was also arrested, but Letten’s office said only that he assisted the others in planning, coordinating and preparing the operation.

Click here to read the affidavit.

Landrieu, a moderate Democrat, declined comment Tuesday.

“Because the details of yesterday’s incident are part of an ongoing investigation by federal authorities, our office cannot comment at this time,” Landrieu spokesman Aaron Saunders told Fox News.

If convicted, each suspect face up to 10 years in prison, a fine of $250,000 and three years of supervised release following any prison term, according the Justice Department.

Bill Flanagan’s office confirmed his son was among those arrested, but declined further comment.

A source close to O’Keefe told Fox News that “he would not want to do anything wrong.”

O’Keefe was the brains behind a series of undercover videos which have caused major problems for ACORN — the Association of Community Organizers for Reform Now — which typically has been associated with liberal causes and has been the target of Republican attacks for years. It is known for registering hundreds of thousands of voters in urban and other poor areas of the country but also has faced voter fraud allegations.

By producing undercover videos shot in ACORN offices, O’Keefe brought a firestorm of criticism that the group was helping its low-income clients break the law.

Using a hidden camera, O’Keefe, accompanied by a young woman posing as a prostitute, shot videos in various ACORN offices where staffers appeared to offer illegal tax advice and to support the misuse of public funds and illegal trafficking in children.

O’Keefe once was editor of a conservative magazine on the campus of Rutgers University in New Jersey, according to the Newark Star-Ledger.

ACORN calls itself the largest grass roots community organization of low- and moderate-income people in the country, claiming over 400,000 families, more than 1,200 neighborhood chapters in about 75 cities.

Until the controversy last year over the videos at ACORN offices, 10 percent of ACORN’s funds came from federal government grants. In September, Congress blocked previously approved funds from going to ACORN.

Fox News’ Trish Turner, Mike Levine and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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“Who would have thunk it? … He enters the race 31 points behind and seven months later sneaks into the lead…. Rubio’s grassroots campaigning among Republican activists around the state clearly has paid off.”—Peter Brown, assistant polling director for Quinnipiac

Last February, the RINO Crist climbed aboard Brother O’s $838 billion porkulus package, joining Olympia Snowe, Susan Collins, and Arlen Specter as the only three Republicans in both the House and Senate willing to sellout their own party to pitch an unread, back loaded plan that is in effect a political war chest to fund Democrat re-election efforts in 2010 and 2012.

I.M. Kane


Rubio Up; Crist, Obama Down in Fla

By Michael McAuliff

If there wasn’t already enough evidence of the energy on the right, Quinnipiac has a Florida poll out today that captures both the conservative surge and ongoing anti-incumbent sentiment sweeping the country.

For the first time, Quinnipiac finds the former state House Speaker Marco Rubio leading the formerly very popular — and still well-known — Gov. Charlie Crist by a margin of 47% to 44%.

“Who would have thunk it? A former state lawmaker virtually unknown outside of his South Florida home whose challenge to an exceedingly popular sitting governor for a U.S. Senate nomination had many insiders scratching their heads,” said Peter Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.

“He enters the race 31 points behind and seven months later sneaks into the lead.”

“And, the horse race numbers are not a fluke,” Brown added. “Rubio also tops Crist on a number of other measurements from registered Republicans, who are the only folks who can vote in the primary. Rubio’s grassroots campaigning among Republican activists around the state clearly has paid off.”

And we suspect the poll is only telling part of the tale for Rubio because the energy is on his side.

The survey is also chock full of bad news for Democrats. President Obama is seen unfavorably in the Sunshine State these days by 49% of the people, versus 45% who still see a positive leader.

And in the Senate horse race, Rubio now tops Rep. Kendrick Meek 44% to 35%.



Poll: GOP primary for US Senate seat in Fla. a tie

By Brent Kallestad

Former Florida legislator Marco Rubio has closed the gap in the race for the state’s Republican U.S. Senate nomination and is in a virtual dead heat with Gov. Charlie Crist, according to a poll released Tuesday.

Rubio, a lawyer who served as Speaker of the House, was once considered a long shot against Crist, who has widespread name recognition and a significant fundraising lead. But with Florida’s primary seven months away, Rubio was favored by 47 percent compared with 44 percent who preferred Crist — statistically a tie in the Quinnipiac University poll that has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.8 percentage points.

The random telephone survey, which included 673 GOP voters, was conducted Jan. 20-24.

“The horse race numbers are not a fluke,” said Peter Brown, assistant polling director for Quinnipiac in Connecticut. “Rubio’s grassroots campaigning among Republican activists around the state clearly has paid off.”

The latest survey marks a stunning turnaround for the 38-year-old Rubio, a conservative who trailed Crist by 31 points in a Quinnipiac survey taken in June.

The governor’s 50 percent job approval rating was its lowest since he took office three years ago, according to a broader poll of 1,618 voters that was part of the same telephone survey.

“In order to defeat Rubio, Gov. Crist is going to have to turn around a perception that he is not as much the true-blue, or true-red, conservative as Rubio,” Brown said. “That probably means lots of TV commercials attacking Rubio’s conservative credentials.”

Both Republicans were leading little-known Democratic U.S. Rep. Kendrick Meek of Miami in the broader survey. The poll showed Crist was leading Meek by 48 percent to 36 percent and Rubio was ahead of Meek by 44 percent to 35 percent. That poll had a margin of error of 2.4 percentage points.

The U.S. Senate seat is now held by Republican George LeMieux, who was appointed by Crist last summer to fill the rest of former U.S. Sen. Mel Martinez’s term. Martinez retired to spend more time with his family in Orlando.

LeMieux, who managed Crist’s successful gubernatorial campaign in 2006, agreed not to run for the seat when he accepted the appointment.

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Event organizer Tea Party Nation will neither confirm nor deny that Sarah Palin will receive $100,000 for delivering the keynote.

For the average tea partier, the $549 per ticket, an additional $9.95 fee, plus hotel and airfare expenses is a bit much.

I.M. Kane




Tea Party Disputes Take Toll on Convention

By Kate Zernike

A Tea Party convention billed as the coming together of the grass-roots groups that began sprouting up around the country a year ago is unraveling as sponsors and participants pull out to protest its expense and express concerns about “profiteering.”

The convention’s difficulties highlight the fractiousness of the Tea Party groups, and the considerable suspicions among their members of anything that suggests the establishment.

The convention, to be held in Nashville in early February, made a splash by attracting big-name politicians. (Former Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska is scheduled to deliver the keynote speech.) But some groups have criticized the cost — $549 per ticket and a $9.95 fee, plus hotel and airfare — as out of reach for the average tea partier. And they have balked at Ms. Palin’s speaking fee, which news reports have put at $100,000, a figure that organizers will not confirm or deny.

Tea Party events exploded last winter, as increasingly large gatherings protested the federal stimulus bill, government bailouts and proposed health care legislation. While they vary by name, specific tenets and relative embrace of anarchy, such groups tend to unite around fiscal conservatism and a belief that the federal government — whether led by Republicans or Democrats — has overstepped its constitutional powers.

Tea Party Nation, the convention organizer, started as a social networking site for the groups last year, a kind of Facebook for conservatives to “form bonds, network and make plans for action.” But its founders, former sponsors and participants are now trading accusations.

Philip Glass, the national director of the National Precinct Alliance, announced late Sunday that “amid growing controversy” around the convention, his organization would no longer participate. His group seeks to take over the Republican Party from the bottom by filling the ranks of local and state parties with grass-roots conservatives, and Mr. Glass had been scheduled to lead workshops on its strategy.

“We are very concerned about the appearance of T.P.N. profiteering and exploitation of the grass-roots movement,” he said in a statement. “We were under the impression that T.P.N. was a nonprofit organization like N.P.A., interested only in uniting and educating Tea Party activists on how to make a real difference in the political arena.”

Mr. Glass said he was also concerned about the role in the convention of groups like Tea Party Express, which has held rallies across the country through two bus tours, and FreedomWorks, a Tea Party umbrella. He called them “Republican National Committee-related groups,” and added, “At best, it creates the appearance of an R.N.C. hijacking; at worst, it is one.”

Erick Erickson, the editor of the influential conservative blog RedState.com, wrote this month that something seemed “scammy” about the convention. And the American Liberty Alliance withdrew as a sponsor after its members expressed concerns about the convention’s finances being channeled through private bank accounts and its organizer being “for profit.”

“When we look at the $500 price tag for the event and the fact that many of the original leaders in the group left over similar issues, it’s hard for us not to assume the worst,” Eric Odom, the executive director of the American Liberty Alliance and an organizer of the tax day rallies last April, wrote on the group’s Web site.

Sherry Phillips, who founded and runs Tea Party Nation with her husband, Judson, said Monday that it was a nonprofit group.

Ms. Phillips said the American Liberty Alliance was “a for-profit company that takes donations.” The National Precinct Alliance, she said, demanded compensation of around $3,000. “Our budget on this convention is very tight and we could not afford them,” she wrote in an e-mail message.

She declined to comment on Ms. Palin’s speaking fee.

“If there is any profit,” Ms. Phillips said, “the money will go toward furthering the cause of conservatism.”

Mr. Glass denied that his group had requested money and said convention organizers had asked his group to pay $2,200 to speak.

As for FreedomWorks, it is not a convention sponsor. Tea Party leaders in training sessions at the group’s headquarters on Monday said their members, for the most part, could not afford the convention or were not interested.

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Emperor O is recalling his Sith Lords who helped him take the White House to thwart Republican challenges in the 2010 midterm elections and rectify his political skid. His 2008 campaign manager, Darth Plouffe, will work through the Democratic National Committee to oversee House, Senate, and governor’s races. That is, Darth Plouffe will keep Emperor O abreast of Acorn, SEIU, and the New Black Panthers’ ability to get out the fraudulent and illegal alien votes.

As part of the Emperor’s attempt to impose greater control over Democrats in the midterm elections, the Sith Lord will send forth several top operatives from the Organizing for America campaign machine as advisers to major races across the nation. He will also unleash the 13 million droid contact list, used in the 2008 campaign, to create and distribute videos, generate e-mails, make phone calls, throw house parties, and canvass communities to build support for Democrat candidates.

I.M. Kane



Obama Calls Team From 2008 for Races in the Fall

By Jeff Zeleny and Peter Baker

President Obama is reconstituting the team that helped him win the White House to counter Republican challenges in the midterm elections and recalibrate after political setbacks that have narrowed his legislative ambitions.

Mr. Obama has asked his former campaign manager, David Plouffe, to oversee House, Senate and governor’s races to stave off a hemorrhage of seats in the fall. The president ordered a review of the Democratic political operation — from the White House to party committees — after last week’s Republican victory in the Massachusetts Senate race, aides said.

In addition to Mr. Plouffe, who will primarily work from the Democratic National Committee in consultation with the White House, several top operatives from the Obama campaign will be dispatched across the country to advise major races as part of the president’s attempt to take greater control over the midterm elections, aides said.

“We are turning the corner to a much more political season,” said David Axelrod, a senior adviser to the president, who confirmed Mr. Plouffe’s role. “We are going to evaluate what we need to do to get timely intelligence and early warnings so we don’t face situations like we did in Massachusetts.”

As Mr. Obama prepares to deliver his State of the Union address on Wednesday and lay out his initiatives for the second year of his presidency, his decision to take greater control of the party’s politics signals a new approach. The White House is searching for ways to respond to panic among Democrats over the possible demise of his health care bill and a political landscape being reshaped by a wave of populism.

Yet improving the tactical operations addresses only one part of his challenge. A more complicated discussion under way, advisers said, is how to sharpen the president’s message and leadership style.

The reinforcement of the White House’s political operation has been undertaken with a sense of urgency since Tuesday when a Republican, Scott Brown, won the Massachusetts Senate seat that had been held by Edward M. Kennedy. The White House was caught off guard when it became clear that Democrats were in danger of losing the seat, and by the time alarm bells sounded from the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, it was too late.

The president summoned Mr. Plouffe to the Oval Office hours before the polls closed in Massachusetts and asked him to assume the new role because of the implications the midterm elections hold. Mr. Plouffe built a reputation in 2008 as a master of the nuts and bolts of campaigns, and will assemble a team to provide unfiltered political information that serves as an early-warning system so the White House and party officials know if a candidate is falling behind.

The day-to-day political operation will be run by Jim Messina, a deputy White House chief of staff, but Mr. Plouffe will coordinate the effort.

The party is trying to become less reliant on polls conducted by candidates, which can often paint a too-rosy picture of the political outlook. The president’s leading pollster, Joel Benenson, will be among those conducting research for Mr. Plouffe, aides said, along with others who will divide the country by regions.

Mr. Plouffe, who did not follow Mr. Obama to the White House last year, has remained in the president’s tight circle of advisers and has frequently worked on projects for the party.

The first indication of Mr. Plouffe’s more prominent role came in an op-ed article he wrote for the Sunday issue of The Washington Post, presenting a blueprint for how Democrats could avoid big defeats in the fall. He acknowledged the challenges ahead, saying, “We may not have perfect results, but November will be nothing like the nightmare that talking heads have forecast.”

Senator Robert Menendez of New Jersey, chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, said he had “no interest in sugarcoating” the defeat in Massachusetts. Several party leaders said they expected Mr. Menendez to remain in his position for the rest of the election cycle, but the move by the White House had the effect of subverting at least some of the committee’s authority.

“Our own political operation will be more rigorously in communication with the other elements, so we can compare notes,” Mr. Axelrod said. “What we learned from Massachusetts is that we need to be more assiduous about getting our own data and our own information so we have a better sense of where things stand.”

The White House intends to send Mr. Obama out into the country considerably more in 2010 than during his first year in office, advisers said, to try to rekindle the relationship he developed with voters during his presidential campaign.

His first big chance will come when he delivers his State of the Union address.

Rather than unveiling a laundry list of new initiatives, advisers said, Mr. Obama will try to reframe his agenda and how he connects it with public concerns. In particular, he will focus on how his ideas for health care, energy and financial regulation all fit into the broader economic mission of creating what he calls a “new foundation” for the country, the key words being “rescue, restore and rebuild.”

While presidents typically experience rough patches, this one is particularly challenging for Mr. Obama. Liberals have grown disenchanted with what they see as his unwillingness to fight harder for their causes; independents have been turned off by his failure, in their view, to change the way Washington works; and Republicans have become implacably hostile.

The long and messy legislative fight over health care is a leading example of how Mr. Obama has failed to connect with voters, advisers say, because he appeared to do whatever it would take to get a bill rather than explain how people could benefit.

“The process often overwhelmed the substance,” said Dan Pfeiffer, the White House communications director. “We need to find ways to try to rise above the maneuvering.”

The discussion inside the White House includes at least two distinct debates: Should Mr. Obama assume a more populist or centrist theme in his message? And should the White House do what it takes to pass compromise legislation or should it force votes, which even if unsuccessful can be used to carry an argument against Republicans in the fall?

It remains an open question how much new legislation will pass Congress, but the coming months will help frame the campaigns. While some form of financial regulation and job creation measures may pass, Obama aides said, the larger initiatives like health care, a cap on carbon emissions and an immigration overhaul may have to wait, even though the White House denies trimming its ambitions.

“I wouldn’t say the door is shut on trying to find some places where you can develop a strategy for a bipartisan vote in the Senate,” said John D. Podesta, a former White House chief of staff under President Bill Clinton who advises the Obama team.

But he said Republicans appeared determined to oppose any initiative Mr. Obama offers. “They would try to deny him passing the Mother’s Day resolution,” he said.

Some veterans of the Clinton White House have advised their friends in the West Wing to take a breath and not make lasting decisions in the immediate aftermath of the election, when it might be tempting to overreact.

Rahm Emanuel, the White House chief of staff and himself a Clinton alumnus, gave a pep talk at the senior staff meeting last week. “These things go in cycles,” participants recalled him saying. “We’ve got a lot of work to do. Keep your head up and keep going.”

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