Wednesday, August 6, 2014

The Grift That Keeps On Taking

It's time for us to embark on another archeological dig. Today, let's jump back to July 2010. Back then, Sharron Angle was running her outrageously delusional campaign for US Senate. And back then, she was relying on help from some rather shady friends.

One of her shady friends from that remarkable 2010 campaign was Sal Russo. And he had his crew of shady friends help him prop up Angle and their other endorsed candidates for that cycle. In July 2010, we warned everyone about them.

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 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. [...]

[...T]hey 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.

Back when Howard Kaloogian ran for a San Diego, California, based Congressional seat in 2006, he defended his vigorous support for extending the Iraq War by showing all the progress he witnessed firsthand there. The problem with his "firsthand" account was that it was a complete lie. You see, Howard Kaloogian's photos of a "peaceful Iraq" were actually photos of an Istanbul, Turkey, suburb.

And that's not all. Later in that 2006 campaign, Howard Kaloogian was caught falsifying his list of endorsements. Several Republicans came forward to announce they never actually endorsed Kaloogian. So there was also that.

However, not even that was enough to keep Sal Russo. Nope, they teamed up to start a slew of PACs, including the now notorious Tea Party Express.

Tea Party Express has come under scrutiny in recent months over just how much of the money it collects from donors ends up in the pockets of Sal Russo and his top lieutenants. But now, there's evidence showing that the "TEA" tinged gravy train doesn't stop at Tea Party Express.

When Howard Kaloogian wasn't trying to buy a seat in Congress with a phony "Iraq" photo, he was joined at the hip with Sal Russo at Move America Forward. Move America Forward was originally designed to promote continuing American involvement in the Iraq War. But in 2008, it shifted gears and became yet another anti-Obama PAC...

Except that it didn't want to be known as just another anti-Obama PAC. It wanted to be known for "supporting the troops". So Move America Forward started its own "charity" to "support" active duty military serving abroad. But now, we have a better sense of who Move America Forward's "charity" is actually supporting.

Surprise, surprise! Sal Russo, Howard Kaloogian, and the rest of the Move America Forward grifter crew were only using their charity to further enrich themselves. Oh, and of course, it didn't hurt that they successfully conned a whole lot of "TEA" flavored media pundits into endorsing the grift. (We're being charitable here, as this story would be even more disgusting if we were to discover all these pundits were also in on the grift.)

There's so much irony to be found throughout this story. However, we must end on this note. Senator Harry Reid (D) had been working tirelessly to pass a VA bill to help veterans access the health care they need. He's also worked with Rep. Steven Horsford (D-North Las Vegas) to open a badly needed VA clinic in Pahrump. And Sal Russo dispatched his Tea Party Express tour buses to attack Senator Reid for "failing the troops"?

Ah, Sal Russo & his network of "TEA" tinted con artists. They're the grift that keeps on taking.

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