They’re baaaaaaack. Barack Obama’s election-year goon squad kicked into high gear this week by kicking the president’s fiercest opponents in the teeth and targeting their pocketbooks. Returning to bully business as usual, the Obama campaign launched a brazen salvo against two prominent conservative critics and their legions of private citizen donors.
Let’s be clear (to use Obama’s favorite phrase): This is not just the politics of personal destruction. It’s a vendetta of campaign finance destruction. Under the guise of “disclosure,” Team Obama is exploiting the power of high government office to intimidate lawful, peaceful contributors who support limited-government causes.
In a scathing fundraising e-mail appeal, Obama campaign manager Jim Messina name-checked wealthy free-market philanthropists Charles and David Koch — along with a growing movement of grassroots conservatives who have freely, voluntarily and legally given money to the Koch-founded nonprofit activist group Americans for Prosperity and its sister foundation. As a speaker at several AFP events over the past three years, I’ve met thousands of like-minded, hardworking Americans who support their work at the local, state and federal levels.
The Koches’ sins are to 1. follow tax law and protect the identities of donors to their charitable organizations, and 2. exercise their free speech by funding advocacy ads informing the public about the Obama administration’s jobs toll destruction and failed green energy “investments.” (Their most recent TV spot zeroed in on the taxpayer-funded Solyndra bankruptcy.)
“When you attempt to drown out (Americans’) voices through unlimited, secret contributions to pursue a special-interest agenda that conflicts with what’s best for our nation, you must expect some scrutiny of your actions,” Messina railed. The threat of scrutiny was backed by Obama himself, whose official campaign Twitter account directed 12 million-plus followers this week to “add your name to demand that the Koch brothers make their donors public.”
But Obama’s own former top officials run a so-called super PAC (Priorities USA) that also maintains nonprofit status and subsidizes advocacy ads while protecting its donor base. The White House, of course, is mum on the unlimited, secret contributions that Obama is now encouraging wealthy liberals and lobbyists to make in pursuit of his own special-interest agenda — i.e., re-election.
The president’s flapping lips are also sealed when it comes to applying his disclosure standards to the shadowy, George Soros-backed Center for American Progress, which has supplied the Obama administration with countless top policy staffers, including special Department of Health and Human Services assistant Michael Halle and HHS Director Jeanne Lambrew, a former senior fellow at the Center for American Progress.
CAP founder John Podesta was Obama’s transition chief, overseeing the backroom process of rewarding friends and allies with plum positions. CAP flacks shrugged off conflict-of-interest questions: “We respect the privacy of supporters who have chosen not to make their donations public,” CAP spokeswoman Jennifer Palmieri said.
As for respecting the privacy rights of Obama’s foes? Not so much.