Monday, July 12, 2010

Why Does Sharrontology Have to Depend on California Based "Tea Party, Inc." for Support?

So this is the moment we've been waiting for...

Sarah Palin's political action committee contributed at least $87,500 to candidates she's endorsed in the last few months, according to a report filed Sunday with the Federal Elections Commission. U.S. Senate candidate Sharron Angle was among the beneficiaries.

But SarahPAC's financial disclosure also shows Palin spending more than $210,000 on consulting. [...]

Among Palin's other high-profile endorsements, Republican Carly Fiorina, who's running for the U.S. Senate from California, received $2,500.

Angle, who's challenging U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid in Nevada, also got $2,500. Nikki Haley, who's running for governor in South Carolina and for whom Palin personally campaigned, got no money, according to the filings.

Ah, the intersection of Sharrontology and Palintology. Sharron Angle and Sarah Palin, ideological soulmates.

So why can't she get more support from more locals? Why does Sharrontology have to go to Washington, DC, New York, and California for money? Why do she and her campaign depend on outsiders for help?

Well, remember who got her where she's at now. Her ascendancy was engineered by "Tea Party, Inc."... With a little help from Suzy Lowdown (and her self-imploding hot mess of a "campaign"). From the start, "Tea Party, Inc." had Harry Reid on its radar.

The defeat of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid was from the outset perhaps the top priority of the Tea Party Express, according to an internal memo obtained by Politico. The group's focus on unseating the Democratic Senate leader appears to bolster the charge that its priorities dovetail more closely with those of the Republican party than with the more independent Tea Party movement.

The memo was written in April 2009 by Joe Wierzbicki of Russo, Marsh -- the California Republican consulting firm, run by veteran consultant Sal Russo, that created the PAC that runs Tea Party Express. As Politico reported, Wierzbicki proposed launching the Tea Party Express as a bus tour across the country, arguing that it would "give a boost to our PAC and position us as a growing force/leading force as the 2010 elections come into focus." [...]

Of course, it's not a surprise that a Tea Party group would be no fan of Harry Reid. But toppling the Democratic leader is as much a Republican priority as a Tea Party one -- as the example of 2004, when Republicans set out, successfully, to defeat then-Democratic Senate leader Tom Daschle, suggests. The fact that Reid's campaign seemingly was Russo Marsh's top priority in formulating the Tea Party Express offers another stark reminder that the group may have more in common with an independent expenditure campaign on behalf of the GOP than an autonomous grassroots uprising -- a charge that grassroots Tea Partiers have leveled at Tea Party Express in the past.

The keen interest that Tea Party Express has taken in the Reid race hasn't waned. Just today, the group announced it would support former state assemblywoman Sharron Angle in the Republican primary.

"We will invest the resources necessary for Sharron Angle to win the Republican primary through an aggressive independent expenditure campaign," said Wierzbicki in a press release. "Sharron Angle's victory is our top priority for support in the primaries in the 2010 elections.

But wait, who are these people? Really, who are these people pulling the strings at Tea Party, Inc? A local conservative blogger investigated, and discovered the bizarre tangled web of self-enrichment, self promotion, and back scratching among a few high powered California Republican operatives.

Let's start with the guy who started Tea Party Express. So where did Sal Russo come from?

The architect of the Tea Party Express, Sal Russo, is a California political operative who has spent nearly half a century campaigning for Republican candidates.

The Sacramento-based political action committee that funds Tea Party Express activities, Our Country Deserves Better, has taken in more than $4.5 million since forming in 2008 to help John McCain's presidential campaign. That includes major contributions from corporate executives and other bedrock supporters of conservative candidates, such as actor Chuck Norris. [...]

That the Tea Party Express is led by operatives such as Russo has caused some resentment among others in the tea party movement. They believe the group has blurred the line between what they see as a nonpartisan effort and the GOP establishment.

Mark Meckler, a Northern California attorney who is a national co-founder of a separate group, Tea Party Patriots, seeks to distance his organization from the Tea Party Express and its leaders.

The Patriots group is a nonprofit umbrella organization for more than 1,200 tea party chapters around the country. Meckler said the activities of the Tea Party Express undermine the tea party's claims of nonpartisanship and run against its founding ideals.

"When you have people who've associated with the GOP for their entire lives claiming to be anti-establishment and then appearing at the Republican convention, that's a pretty interesting picture," said Meckler, who lives in the former Gold Rush town of Nevada City near Sacramento.

Russo runs a PR firm in Sacramento, and utilizes his right hand men (and women) in Tea Party Express. There's "grassroots coordinator" Joe Wierzbicki, the same guy who works at Russo's high priced Sacramento PR firm, the same guy who tried to help George Bush drum up support for the Iraq War, tried to swiftboat Barack Obama the same way John Kerry was swiftboated, and is now organizing his luxury coach buses to go across the country and spread lies about Democrats like Harry Reid.

And then there's Howard Kaloogian. He aligned with the radical right and corporate powers that be in the California Legislature. And in 2003, he teamed up with Russo's PR firm, Enron pollster Frank Luntz, talk radio "shock jock" Melanie Morgan, and Newt Gingrich to engineer the 2003 recall campaign that ousted California's duly elected Governor and replaced him with Arnold Schwarzenegger.

And in 2006, Kaloogian himself ran for Congress in a special election in San Diego County. Russo joined him yet again, hoping that he'd slip in. But oops, one of Howard's lies about his "time in Iraq" caught up with him.

Remember Howard Kaloogian? He was the Republican House candidate who in 2006 tried to pass off a picture of a quiet Istanbul street as having been taken during a trip he made to Baghdad -- then told a string of additional lies in trying to explain what happened. [Emphasis mine.]

Well, he's back. And this time he's taking the bamboozlement to a whole new level.

Kaloogian is the chair of Our Country Deserves Better, a GOP-affiliated PAC which has just launched what it calls the "Tea Party Express" bus tour. The tour -- which made a stop over the weekend in Elko, Nevada, where it kicked off a round of awkward dancing -- is the latest effort to organize the Tea Partiers into a cohesive movement.

Also involved in the effort is Sal Russo, the heavy-hitting California Republican political consultant and former Reagan aide who ran Kaloogian's ill-fated congressional campaign.

In 2005, Kaloogian and Russo teamed up to create Moving America Forward, which used conservative radio hosts to, as a spokesman put it, "report the good news on Operation Iraqi Freedom you're not hearing from the old line news media." It was a "Truth Tour," organized by MAF and the Defense Department's Office of Media Outreach, that Kaloogian claimed his Istanbul picture came from. Around the same time, Russo's firm signed a contract with the Kurdish government to promote Kurdish interests in the U.S., including T.V. advertising.

Now it looks like Kaloogian and Russo may have spotted their latest opportunity for political agit-prop. As with other Tea-Party-branded rallies, the anti-government types who are showing up for the tour's events appear motivated by a range of issues, from health-care to taxes to an unfounded fear of government control of the internet. The savvy activist who can cohere this inchoate anxiety into some kind of movement could turn himself into a powerful player in GOP circles. Never mind that Kaloogian and Russo's GOP insider operation doesn't do much for the supposed grassroots cred of the Tea Party brand.

So they lied about Bush's war in Iraq, they lied about what they actually saw there, they lied their way into the California Recall that saddled that state with "Arnold", and now they're lying about what their little "tea party" is really up to.

Oh, and now they're trying to dupe us into believe Harry Reid is some sort of "Satan Incarnate" and Sharrontology is our only way to salvation. But when we look behind the curtain, we have to notice the corporate fat cats funding the "Tea Party, Inc." gravy train supporting Sharrontology.

They may claim to be "helping the grassroots defeat Harry Reid", but what Sal Russo and his band of corporate funded California Republican PR operatives, along with their high profile national cheerleaders like Sarah Palin, are really up to is a national campaign to replace Democrats like Harry Reid who can think for themselves and help working families in their states with corporate tools like Sharron Angle who will do as they say, NOT as we Nevadans would like.

Can we really afford to lose real representation, real service to working Nevada families, and real leadership, just so we can instead have someone who's simply a pawn of the corporate right?