His name is William Rose. He is a resident of Knoxville, Tenn. And a company he formed on Sept. 26 currently holds the title of biggest corporate contributor in the 2012 election, according to The Center for Public Integrity, thanks to the nearly $5.3 million the company gave to a prominent conservative super PAC between Oct. 1 and Oct. 11.
The fact that one of his company’s first orders of business was giving away several million dollars has earned Rose some unwanted attention. And on Monday, The Knoxville News Sentinel published a six-page press release written by Rose, dated Nov. 3, written in the first person, and intended, in the author’s words, “to address various media reports and inquiries related to Specialty Group, Inc. and its recent contributions to FreedomWorks of America, Inc.”
“I am the CEO, President and General Counsel of Specialty Group,” Rose wrote in the release. “I am also a member of the Board of Directors. Specialty Group is not, as has been insinuated in the media, a ‘shadowy’ entity or an ‘unregistered’ (and therefore, unlawful) political action committee. Specialty Group is a Tennessee corporation formed to buy, sell, develop and invest in a variety of real estate ventures and investments. Although the entity was only recently formed, Specialty Group is developing land that my family has owned for over 50 years and pursuing investment opportunities that I’ve worked on for the past several years.”
According to the News Sentinel, Rose gave the document to a reporter during a meeting Saturday at a Panera Bread restaurant in Knoxville, a meeting at which Rose declined to answer additional questions. The paper also reports that the Knoxville City Council “recently approved the purchase of property on Ledgerwood Avenue that is owned by a trust whose trustee is Rose. According to the city, the property is a chronic blight offender.”
In the press release, Rose described himself as a “disappointed, yet staunchly patriotic, Baby Boomer,” as well as a single father “rearing a couple of young sons, trying to make a living in this cratered economy.” (He has been described in reports as an attorney, but the Tennessee Bar Association does not list a William Rose among its members.) Rose railed against the Obama administration’s responses to the December 2010 death of U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry, the Fast and Furious scandal, and the recent attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi.
“Common sense - a notion seemingly lost in 2012 American politics - tells me that if the Obama administration had a truthful, reasonable explanation for Agent Terry’s death and for the attacks and resulting casualties in Benghazi, the administration and its political operatives would run post-haste to every microphone, town hall, and political rally to laud the leadership of the President and his team,” Rose wrote. “Silence on these issues can only mean one thing, namely, the administration must hide the truth from the American people until after the election.”
Rose expressed surprise that anyone would be interested in “my opinion in regard to these matters, but I’ve been besieged for an ‘explanation’ of why Specialty Group has
donated its money in a particular legal fashion.” He maintained that he had no reason to answer the questions being asked of him:I just want to be left alone by the prying media who seem hell bent on asking a private citizen about private facts, rather than asking the President, the Vice President, and other administration officials about ‘what they knew’ and ‘when did they know it’ in regard to ‘Operation Fast and Furious’ and the attacks in Benghazi.
With this said, Specialty Group is a private corporation which uses private capital for lawful business, social, and political purposes, as specifically addressed by the 2010 United States Supreme Court in the Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission case and later, the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit case, Speechnow.org v. Federal Election Commission.
A couple of reporters who have contacted me have suggested that I have
some ‘duty’ to disclose otherwise private information. No such ‘duty’ exists.
The document ends in a perhaps unintentionally mysterious way. After relating a story from his youth, the time when his father confided in Rose how much was paid each month to rent their house, Rose wrote that “[t]he business of Specialty Group is my ‘family secret,’ a secret that will be kept — as allowed by applicable law — for at least another 50 years.”
Read Rose’s whole release here.
WASHINGTON — U.S. Senate candidate for Indiana Richard Mourdock is again comparing slavery to modern politics, this time likening it to President Obama’s Chrysler bailout.
The Republican state treasurer argued during his primary contest against Sen. Richard Lugar that the climate now is like that before the Civil War, with Obama and Democrats in the roll of slave owners.
Late last week, Mourdock made the comparison even more direct, telling a crowd in Dallas that Obama’s Chrysler bailout showed the same principle that Abraham Lincoln decried in his famous debates with Stephen Douglas.
Mourdock, speaking to a PAC convention organized by the Tea Party group FreedomWorks on July 26, said that Lincoln’s argument was about the principles of right and wrong. What was wrong was the “divine right of kings … that would give power to someone so that they might say to someone else, ‘you work, you sweat, you toil, you earn bread — and I shall eat it.’”
h/t: HuffPost Politics
FreedomWorks, which favors smaller government, has spent more than $735,000 on TV ads, grassroots outreach and glossy brochures seeking to defeat the two senators. It says both men vote too often with Democrats to expand the scope of government. The group pledges to spend more, with Hatch facing delegates at a Republican nominating convention April 21 and Lugar running in a May 8 primary.
“I would like to win the fight against at least one of them, but I think there’s a pathway to victory in both states,” Russ Walker, FreedomWorks vice president of political campaigns, said at the group’s Washington headquarters last week.
The voting will be a test of the Tea Party’s ability to influence Senate primaries as it did two years ago in such states as Delaware, Alaska and Nevada, said Jennifer Duffy, an editor at the nonpartisan Cook Political Report.
Yesterday, I wrote a post on Bloomberg Market Watch’s upcoming expose on the Koch brothers and Koch Industries. Well, that article made it online last night, and had a few more surprises for readers. It turns out that some, but not all, of the money that Koch Industries made in their deals with Iran is traceable. And I doubt you’ll be surprised about where Bloomberg’s reporters found it.
from Politicus USA:
Bloomberg revealed the deaths, bribes, felony charges, envelopes stuffed with cash, criminal violations, deliberate poisoning of the air with cancerous smoke, and hundreds of millions of fines behind the Koch Brothers. They revealed that employees are taught to cheat and steal under “The Koch Method.” Oh, and the Kochs sold millions of dollars in petrochemical equipment to Iran, a country recognized for sponsoring terrorism but also one of three countries in the George W Bush identified “Axis of Evil.”
It’s ironic that Sarah Palin, whom the Koch brothers money paid to speak on behalf of the “Tea Party,” has accused President Obama of “palling around with terrorists.” See, the money from those petrochemical sales funded Americans for Prosperity which funds the Tea Party which pays people like Sarah Palin and Glenn Beck to speak. David Koch is in fact the founder of Americans for Prosperity. This money trail is no longer murky.
Based on an analysis of FEC filings and IRS disclosure, Kenneth P Vogel of Politico reported this morning, “POLITICO’s analysis of disclosures filed with the Internal Revenue Service and Federal Election Commission found that the large groups spend big bucks on salaries, like the $500,000 that FreedomWorks paid its chairman, Dick Armey, endorsements from radio hosts like Glenn Beck and Mark Levin, and speaking fees to movement heroes like Sarah Palin and Samuel “Joe the Plumber” Wurzelbacher, not to mention millions more on consultants and ad buys.”
Explaining how the groups like Americans for Prosperity and Freedom Works fund the Tea Party, Vogel detailed, “All the groups say they provide training, yard signs or help planning rallies and booking speakers. The Express has held dozens of rallies around the country and in April reported paying a $750 honorarium to Wurzelbacher, while Americans for Prosperity in 2010 spent $1.9 million on event planning, and $253,000 on honoraria including a $128,000 payment to the speakers’ bureau that represents Palin, with whom AFP had contracted to speak at its Defending the American Dream Summit in Clarkston, Mich., in May 2010.”
AFP also paid Palin to go to Wisconsin to tell the Fox brethern how bad unions were. Clearly we can see how well her employers treat people. Why would anyone need a union? Then there’s Glenn Beck, paid by Freedom Works. The Kochs denied having anything “specific” to do with Freedom Works, but Karoli at Crooks and Liars traced Koch brothers money into the origins of Freedom Works.
Remember, about 6 months ago, when various celebrities began donating large sums of money they’d received as payments from the Gaddafi family? What do you think the odds are that we see Glenn Beck or Sarah Palin doing the same?
Read the Bloomberg Market Watch article online here
Since the end of the Bush presidency, shadowy right-wing groups, many of them formed for this very purpose, have primed the public with a sophisticated public relations campaign to shift the national discourse to a focus on debt reduction. Many of these groups do not appear partisan, and have figured out ways around registering their activity with the Federal Elections Commission (so the true extent to their ad-buying is rarely recorded):– Founded in 2010 by former Bush admin flak Gretchen Hamel, the group Public Notice has quietly pumped millions into advertising about debt reduction: Public Notice sponsored at least $3 million on a debt ad called “Shovel” that falsely claims the spending doesn’t create jobs, an undisclosed amount for online ads promoting a highly produced web series on the evils of government spending, a debt pledge that features pop singer Justin Bieber, and what is believed to be another multimillion dollar ad buy recently for a commercial, appearing like a PSA, that warns that government spending is akin to cocaine addiction. To warp elite opinion, the group sponsored billboard ads at Reagan National Airport and on buses and bus shelters near Capitol Hill. Although Hamel does not reveal her donors, she is connected closely with the Koch network of billionaire and investors. Last year at a right-wing donor conference attended by top hedge fund manager Steve Schwarzman and Charles Koch, Hamel gave a presentationon “Framing the Debate on Spending.”
– Retired investor Pete Peterson has dedicated $1 billion of his personal wealth to reducing government spending; much of that money has gone to a multifaceted marketing campaign: The Peterson Institute has spent $1 million underwriting a movie about the debt, at least $1,010,232 developing a children’s debt sports game that also directs users to a Econ4U, a front group created by infamous lobbyist Rick Berman, and millions more for a TV ad campaign called “Hugh Jidette,” an MTV-U cable television series that misleadingly conflates personal debt with the national debt, a newspaper partnered with the Washington Post, and even a program at Columbia University to develop a national debt-related K-12 curriculum.
– Corporate astroturf lobbyist Rick Berman has spent large amounts orchestrating a scare-mongering campaign over the national debt. Along with his connections to the Peterson network mentioned above, Berman has set up a campaign called “Defeat the Debt” to push the public into believing the national debt is the country’s top priority. He has run ads on television, purchased billboards throughout the Washington D.C. metro area, and aggressively marketed his campaign to Capitol Hill staffers. Last year, Berman purchased an ad during the Super Bowl — spending approximately $3 million — that showed schoolchildren pledging allegiance “to America’s debt, and to the Chinese government that lends us money.”
– A network of other right-wing groups have used a series of public relations gimmicks — like barnstorming bus tours filled with highly paid GOP operatives posing as Tea Party activists — to orchestrate an astroturf effort to build support for cutting spending over creating jobs. Groups like Americans for Prosperity and Americans for Tax Reform sponsored a group called Spending Revolt that toured the country organizing debt-related rallies with Republican candidates last year. The group, which has organized events with the Ohio Coal Association, gained countless local press hits appearing as a genuine citizens groups, despite the fact its sponsors are corporate lobbyists. This year, Americans for Prosperity has continued a separate effort to organize debt-themed rallies. American Majority, a group founded after Obama’s election by two GOP operatives, has quietly provided training efforts across the country to mobilize around the issue of the national debt.
This is only a snapshot of the debt-related public relations campaign; millions more have been spent by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, FreedomWorks, Club for Growth, and other big business advocacy groups.
The incredible resources the right has amassed for its debt campaign are unmatched by progressives. Moreover, at a time when solving the unemployment crisis should be our national priority, only the very wealthy and privileged have the money to direct national ad campaigns of any real impact. In an era of unlimited corporate money in politics, the unemployed and the Middle Class have a quickly disappearing voice in public life.