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Nader's GOP backers violate Fed Election Law

A Washington watchdog group is charging that Ralph Nader's presidential campaign benefited from "illegal" assistance provided by right-wing organizations -- at the behest of his supposed opponents in the Bush-Cheney campaign. Melanie Sloan, Executive Director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, plans to file a complaint on Tuesday with the Federal Election Commission, charging that Nader and his conservative enablers in Oregon violated the federal statute prohibiting corporate contributions to presidential candidates.
 http://www.salon.com/opinion/conason/2004/06/29/nader/print.html

Nader's "illegal" GOP backers

Right-wing groups -- and Bush-Cheney '04 -- may have violated federal
campaign law to help get Ralph Nader on the ballot in Oregon.

By Joe Conason


June 29, 2004 | A Washington watchdog group is charging that Ralph Nader's
presidential campaign benefited from "illegal" assistance provided by
right-wing organizations -- at the behest of his supposed opponents in the
Bush-Cheney campaign.

According to Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington
(www.citizensforethics.org) -- whose name sounds as if Nader could once have
been its founder -- the Nader presidential campaign received illicit
assistance for its petition drive in Oregon last weekend from two local
conservative organizations, which were "encouraged" by President Bush's
campaign committee.

Melanie Sloan, CREW's executive director, plans to file a complaint on
Tuesday with the Federal Election Commission, charging that Nader and his
conservative enablers in Oregon violated the federal statute prohibiting
corporate contributions to presidential candidates.

Accused in Sloan's complaint along with the Nader and Bush campaigns will be
Citizens for a Sound Economy and the Oregon Family Council, whose leaders
have acknowledged that they are trying to help the "independent" gadfly win
a place on the state's November presidential ballot. The two conservative
groups admit that they are backing President George W. Bush, and quite
frankly describe Nader as nothing more than a convenient instrument to drain
support from Democrat John Kerry in a closely fought battleground state.

In recent weeks, the Oregon conservative groups deployed their phone banks
to contact Republican voters, urging them to attend a Nader rally in
Portland on Saturday, where the candidate's organizers sought to gather
enough signatures to place him on the ballot. Although only 1,000 valid
signatures are needed, the Nader campaign had already tried once and failed
last April, when only 750 voters showed up at a similar event. On Saturday,
with CSE and OFC phoning and organizing their members to rally behind Nader,
more than 1,150 voters turned out and signed the petition.

As Russ Walker of Citizens for a Sound Economy explained, "We disagree with
Ralph Nader's politics, but we'd love to see him make the ballot." Walker
even posted a "phone script" on his group's Web site that offered activists
talking points to convince their fellow conservatives to sign Nader
petitions.

Mike White, director of the Oregon Family Council, which focuses on social
issues such as abortion and gay rights, was equally candid: "We aren't
bashful about [aiding Nader]. We are a conservative, pro-family
organization, and Bush is our guy on virtually every issue."

But Sloan said their telephone campaign -- and any other assistance provided
by the right-wing outfits in Oregon -- was unlawful. "Both of these groups
are 501C4 corporations," she said, referring to the section of the federal
tax code under which such political "educational" outfits are exempt from
taxation. "They are corporations, and therefore can't make donations. The
phone calls are an in-kind corporate contribution prohibited by the Federal
Election Commission."

Sloan has also included the Bush-Cheney campaign itself in her complaint.
"Apparently the Bush campaign encouraged these calls and may have even
allowed some of them to have been made from Bush campaign headquarters," she
told Salon. "It is illegal to solicit a corporation for a campaign donation
so Bush-Cheney, by soliciting CSE and OFC to make calls, would have been
soliciting a prohibited in-kind corporate donation."

The alleged violations, Sloan added, resemble those charged to TRMPAC, the
committee used by Rep. Tom DeLay, R-Texas, to funnel corporate contributions
into Republican legislative races in his home state. A Texas grand jury is
currently investigating whether DeLay and TRMPAC violated laws that outlaw
corporate spending in the state's elections.

Sloan's new complaint about the Oregon scheme will actually be filed as an
amendment to a complaint her organization sent to the FEC on June 25. Her
original complaint charged that the Nader campaign had violated federal
election law by leasing its Washington headquarters space and telephones
from a Nader-affiliated nonprofit called Citizen Works.

That strange arrangement, first reported in Salon last March, was the
subject of a front-page investigative story in the Washington Post on June
13. The Post article quoted FEC documents showing that Nader also used
Citizen Works facilities in his 2000 campaign.

In addition to the FEC complaint, Sloan's organization has also filed an
official complaint with the IRS, alleging that the Citizen Works lease
violated federal restrictions on political activity by charitable
organizations.

"Ralph Nader seems to think that because he founded Citizen Works, he can
use the organization as he sees fit; this includes using the charity to
assist his campaign," Sloan said in announcing the complaint. "No one, not
even Ralph Nader, is exempt from campaign finance and tax laws."

The Nader campaign has dismissed the CREW complaint as "completely frivolous
and without merit," and described charges that it received unlawful aid from
Citizen Works as "totally false."

Whatever the eventual outcome of Sloan's legal action, her complaint points
to a troubling aspect of Nader's 2004 crusade. Following his rebuff last
Sunday by the Green Party at its national convention in Milwaukee, which
rejected his candidacy in favor of a little-known party activist, he could
now face a difficult challenge achieving ballot access in dozens of states.
The temptation will be great to accept financial and organizational help
from conservative Republicans who want him to divert progressive votes from
Kerry. Indeed, he has accepted help from Republicans not only this year,
when they have contributed thousands of dollars to his war chest, but in
2000, when the Republican Leadership Council sponsored television ads on his
behalf in Wisconsin, Washington and Oregon.

Yet Nader still insists that he will draw more votes from Bush than from
Kerry. He often makes that dubious claim while campaigning in New Hampshire,
where four years ago he almost certainly played a role in delivering the
state to Bush. No matter what Nader may say to exculpate himself, it's
becoming difficult to believe that he truly wants anything except attention
for himself -- and another four years of Republican rule.


- - - - - - - - - - - -

About the writer

Joe Conason writes a twice weekly column for Salon. He also writes a weekly
column for the New York Observer. His new book, "Big Lies: The Right-Wing
Propaganda Machine and How It Distorts the Truth," is now available.


======================

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Good Question 29.Jun.2004 12:44

dude

The Gag is on speech.

Campain reform is bogus from the my perspective if you cant afford a large leagal staff- your in jeapordy.

Election reform appears mainly to prevent the rise of political competition.
Kerry's VP?
Kerry's VP?

This is a lie 29.Jun.2004 12:56

George Bender

The Nader campaign did not solicit support from these Republican organizations and has no control over what they do. This is part of a Democratic smear campaign. They are desperate to keep Nader off the ballot.


/ 29.Jun.2004 13:07

//

Big Lies: The Left-Wing Propaganda Machine and How It Distorts the Truth

Such a pack of lies

just more of a baseless democratic smear campaign 29.Jun.2004 13:25

WitchGirl

Joe Conason is one to pen a book on propaganda, isn't he? First, where is their any evidence of collusion or wrongdoing? Why, then, is this being vaguely implied? This is not honest. This is distortive (propaganda). Nader cannot control the actions of other groups, and Joe Conason knows as much. So, why is this article meant to vaguely implicate Nader or his campaign in wrongdoing? It's misleading and disengenuous. Again, some of the same charges are raised again and again, although there has been no evidence presented that implicates Nader or his campaign in any wrongdoing. This is a dirty smear tactic, and it is baseless. Again, democrats are making allegations without substance or validity, in order to further their own untruths. In order to wage a smear campaign.

The fact that the propagandist Joe Conason ends his argument by stating:

"No matter what Nader may say to exculpate himself, it's becoming difficult to believe that he truly wants anything except attention for himself -- and another four years of Republican rule. "

is rather telling. What conceit! This is an entirely anti-democratic and disenfranchising statement. The campaign that Nader is running is not about Nader, but it IS about voters seeking representation through Nader and what his policies and platform offers. Does Joe Conason think that Nader's 5-7 percent support are not people who are fed up and seeking representation outside of the Duopoly? Why does he think so little of democracy that he has no respect for the people who support Nader? Does he think the people are unintelligent, or that they are being "misguided", that they are children who do not understand their vote? That's elitism, not democracy. We have a right to seek representation outside of a corrupted system. It is a necessity in a democracy to be able to do so.

But, yet again, democrats belittle the fact that there are pissed off voters who want another kind of representation, better than what the democrats can offer them. The democrats should realize that there time would be better spent in changing their weak platform and lack of policies, and instead addressing the concerns and necessities of this nation, including opposing the Iraq War and occupation. The fact that they are not doing that tells what kind of party they really are and who they are really intent on serving, and it's not the people.

Frankly, I believe that both the major parties would like to see Nader have limited ballot access at this point, as I have begun to encounter pissed off Republicans who will VOTE Nader. The corporatists are working to shut him out and shut him up because they fear that the people are waking up to the fact that we are quickly losing control of our government. People from so many different political backgrounds and walks of life are beginning to come together and agree that change must occur in order to keep democracy alive. People are not stupid.

You nailed it, dude 29.Jun.2004 13:26

James

Rather than spending money to advance ballot access efforts, Nader will now have to spend many thousands of dollars defending these patently absurd allegations. If it wouldn't waste even more money, Nader should file a nuisance suit against these people.

Even if Nader *had* accepted help from these conservative groups, phone-banking is categorically *not* an in-kind donation. That's just flatly ridiculous.

Similarly, I could spend 400 hours door-knocking for Ralph without violating campaign finance laws. Four hundred hours at $7 an hour is $2,800 dollars worth of door-knocking -- beyond the individual contribution limit by $800. But it is not an in-kind donation, because door-knocking is not a good or service which I am selling.

If you follow the logic of these groups, every activity would be priced and accounted for, and noone could volunteer more than $2,000 worth of work for a campaign. You couldn't go out on your own and spend more than $2,000 in time and money leafletting for a candidate.

Luckily for our country, that's not yet the case.

But as these awful campaign finance laws muddy the waters more and more, it becomes increasingly difficult (and expensive) to prove you're not breaking the law. And that might just be the point.

Individual contribution limits are a good thing, but anything beyond that can be used to stifle democracy as much as large contributions themselves can.

two-pronged attack speaks volumes of the democratic party 29.Jun.2004 13:50

WitchGirl

I agree. This is a two-pronged attack. First, a smear campaign. Second,a financial (legal) attack. It speaks volumes that the democratic party is far more interested in stifling representation, than supporting it by expending its energies adopting policies and platforms that are meaningful to the American public. This, along with the fact that democrats sent an email to members asking them to flood the convention in order to NOT sign the petition -- tells me that something is happening. These absurd and undemocratic tactics are early symptoms of the democratic party's self-destruction. It makes them look bad, and it makes them look desperate.
And why should the democratic party be desperate? With sound policies that are supportative and supported BY the people, there is no need to engage in dirty, underhanded politics. That's the truth. People will only be put off by these kinds of tactics. Especially when confronted with the fact that in the scope of things, the democratic party is offering very little.

Democrats/Republicans can't play fair 29.Jun.2004 17:51

hope they're all busted

An official in the Democratic Party has admitted to sending an email encouraging Kerry supporters to fill the auditorium and then refuse to sign for Nader. Seems like two sleazy tactics just put Ralph in the middle. I certainly hope that what the Democrats did is illegal as well, and I hope they are prosecuted.

Boondocks 29.Jun.2004 19:32

Boondocks

Nader cartoon that says it all.

Use of time and energy 29.Jun.2004 22:10

Travis

Doesn't it seem like they have better things to do than attack Nader? They have the bulldog, Dean attacking, they mobilize volunteers for the effort, they get Wyden and Big Media to slander.

Why would they do that? Maybe because they don't have anything nice to say about themselves. Why doesn't the DNC and the Kerry campaign extoll thier own virtues? Maybe because it's hard to identify any.

Democrats - better things to do, 30.Jun.2004 02:10

etc.

watch closely the opening ten minutes of "Fahrenheit 9/11".

hope nader loses 30.Jun.2004 09:53

a dem

there is nothing illegal about encouraging democrats to attend the nader rally. there is nothing illegal about trying to help the candidate that you believe in win the election in Oregon, and in the country. they can be just as dedicated as the naderites.

if the nader folks aren't well organized enough to figure out how many people are actually going to sign their petition and how many are not, that is their problem. they chose to close the doors when they thought there was more than 1000 people. their choice.

Maybe not 30.Jun.2004 11:15

James

"there is nothing illegal about encouraging democrats to attend the nader rally."

It may be, it may not be. It's certainly arguable either way. Interfering with an official election is, in fact, a crime, with both civil and criminal penalties proscribed.

I'm not sure the law envisioned organized interference designed to prevent even ballot access. So such interference may not be against the letter of the law. But surely it's against the spirit.

What I can't get past is this hypothetical: If the Democrats organized a 5,000 strong force who would pile into any nominating convention, overwhelming the capacity of the building so that the fire marshal closed the doors, surely there must be some remedy to that nuisance.

I don't think you could individually punish those in attendance. You'd have no way of knowing why they were really there. But I think you could make a strong and believable case against the organizer of the force.

Good Point James 30.Jun.2004 11:57

get real

However, a synonym for 'proscribed' is 'prohibited', as in the Bush pirates have so far failed to plant any significant proscribed WMD in Iraq. I suspect that is not what you meant.

hope Kerry loses 30.Jun.2004 12:19

George Bender

If it wasn't illegal it should be. Certainly unethical. Rules, legal or ethical, are not some luxury we don't need to take seriously, they keep us from killing each other. Politics is the "moral equivalent of war." If we can't settle our differences peacefully, playing fair and following the rules, than eventually something else will happen. Remember the Democratic convention of 1968? Time to do it again.


Nader is violating Fed Election Law 30.Jun.2004 12:35

Gator

.
Thatís Ferdaral Law!
Thatís Ferdaral Law!

hypocracy 30.Jun.2004 18:00

been there

Can you imagine the incredible uproar on these pages if Kerry went on the Lars Larson show and urged his rightwing listeners to show up at his events? Yet when Ralph does it, that's fine, that's just politics, and of course he then suddenly is NOT responsible when they actually do show up.

Give me a break.

Again, Kerry's zillions of miles away from being perfect. He's genuinely bad on many issues. However, there are many positions -- some, not all -- taken which you know damn well are done so because he wants to get elected. He can't do much if he doesn't. That's the reality of electoral politics right now. Not electoral fantasy, which says ignore the real world and only vote for your unblemished idol -- who of course can use whatever slimy political tricks he wants to, to feed his own ego, because HIS ends, being pure, justify any means at all -- which makes it more likely we'll get four more years of the bushcabal, and if you think dubya was horrible in the past four years, wait'll you see him when he gets the electorate "approval," stolen or not. It'll be bush on steroids. And guess how many supreme court justices are ready to die or retire? Most of them.

We all have a chance to do what we can to stop bush. Or we can claim he and Kerry are the same, hide our heads in the sand or where the sun don't shine, have a great big p-a-r-t-y!!! for Ralph, and allow a cabal of truly evil monsters to pretty much be given a blank check to pretty much destroy any vestiges of freedom we have left, not to mention the hopes and dreams of billions around the world.


What? 30.Jun.2004 18:29

get real

Re: "Can you imagine the incredible uproar on these pages if Kerry went on the Lars Larson show and urged his rightwing listeners to show up at his events?"

No, I can't imagine that. I can't imagine Kerry ever having enough courage to even go on the Larson show, and I can't imagine anyone but the democracy hating Democrats giving half of a shit if he did.

no I can't imagine 30.Jun.2004 18:30

.

Why would there be uproar? Kerry already has the support of many republicans. He should go on Lars Larson. Nader also has the support of many republicans, particularly those who hate Bush but who have issues with ever voting for a democrat. That should make the democrats happy that Nader is focusing on giving republicans an alternative to Bush.

"And guess how many supreme court justices are ready to die or retire? Most of them."

Hmmm, yet none of them have during the republican control of all 3 branches of government. Maybe that should be an indicator of something, perhaps something important.

"allow a cabal of truly evil monsters to pretty much be given a blank check to pretty much destroy any vestiges of freedom we have left"

Well, that is what you're doing. You're telling the Bush campaign to go ahead and steal the election again in 2004. The democrats are going to be perfectly happy to blame Nader, and if Nader drops out, they can just blame another third party. It's so convenient when you're willing concede and blame others.

Of course, if you're really worried about Bush, you could start pressuring Kerry to drop out of the race. I mean, clearly Kerry doesn't have an ego and will do what's best for the country and allow Nader, who has a much broader support base, to run against Bush.

In 2000 the democrats ran attack ads on Nader, and alienated people. In 2002 the democrats ran on their support for Bush. Notice a pattern? In 1992 Ross Perot running on a similar platform to Nader handed the election to Clinton (after, of course, forcing Clinton to run on a more progressive platform).

But you know what they say about leading a donkey to water...

that's right... 30.Jun.2004 18:30

been there (see message titled "hypocracy")

.... Mr. "Please visit..."

When in doubt, just lash out with stupidity. Sure beats thinking. I'm sure your real-life M.O. is simple violence.

Re: been there 30.Jun.2004 18:37

linker

Your link looks interesting, but I can't get it to work.

This is amazing.... 30.Jun.2004 18:49

been there

The unnamed poster with "no I can't imagine" brings up an astonishing point that hadn't dawned on me: Nader supporters actually think he could get a majority (or plurality) of the vote if only the demos. would get out of the way (e.g. Kerry steps down, etc.). I had no idea how far removed from reality you folks are.

George Bender then points us to naderoregon.com, the local Nader mouthpiece. Scroll down to the article there labeled "Poll: Nader siphons off Kerry's lead." Here are the Nader supporters actually bragging about the fact that Nader takes votes away from Kerry (as everyone who's half awake and hasn't succumbed to senility knows), rather than Ralph's and many of his supporters' outlandish statements that he's taking votes away from Bush. So... the website basically acknowledges that a vote for Ralph makes a Bush victory more likely.

So why don't all you rabid Ralphies simply come out and ackowledge it: you'd rather have four more years of Bush. Might as well be honest.

Oh, by the way, linker: of course that wasn't my post. Just juvenile bullshit.

Kerry is a Maggot Gagger 30.Jun.2004 19:05

get real

Kerry should step down. If he did, Nader would coast to an easy victory.

 http://portland.indymedia.org/en/2004/06/291215.shtml

Kerry is already in third position in public opinion. If he remains, his millions of Corporate dollars might throw the race to Bush. At least at this stage we can be proud that we never voted him into office, even though the Democratic party was too worthless to point that out.

Oops 30.Jun.2004 19:10

linker

I guess I can't tell the difference between your posts and juvenile bullshit. Either way, if you can get it to work, please let me know. I'll keep trying.

linker 30.Jun.2004 19:15

been there

My mistake. I thought there was actually another sincere, non-ranting individual in this thread, and was simply trying to respond. Should have known better.

That's OK 30.Jun.2004 19:27

linker

It is plain to see that you Kerry sympathizers will fall for anything. There is no need to explain.

TOTAL LIES - Republicans???? Where were they? 30.Jun.2004 19:57

was at the convention

what I find most interesting is that local KBOO DJs and listeners are engaging in a Nader bash-fest this week,

predicated on the non-existent evidence that Right-Wing-Fundamentalist-Republican-Evildoers have financially and otherwise propped up Nader's constitutionally-guaranteed bid for ballot presence in the November election.

no matter what your opinion of pResidential Selections (and specifically who you'll cast a vote for in that race come Nov.), political theories/leanings, "safe states" vs. "swing states", corporate domination of American life, etc. -

Ralph has every right to be on the Oregon (and all other states') ballot as a candidate.

Intimidation, mudslinging and subterfuge are in no way representative of Democracy.

(through it all, no-one has said a word about -
1. Eight million registered Democrats who voted for Bush in 2000
2. battalion of lawyers hired by DLC to oppose Nader's ballot access in every state this year
3. Democrats who showed up at last Saturday's nominating convention in Portland, only to leave the building when it came time to sign)