Guest Post by Lee Stranahan
If what we saw Tuesday night is truly the State of the Union politically, we clearly need a new way forward.
From Democrat President Barack Obama, we saw an ominous promise to grab as much power as possible and ignore legislative checks and balances and the decision of the voters.
From Republican Rep. Michael Grimm, we saw an elected official turn into a schoolyard bully when confronted by a reporter with a question about Grimm’s ugly ongoing campaign finance scandal.
Those who put party loyalty above objective morality will cheer for their ‘team.’
Those who believe in principle above politics will shake their heads. Have we really come to a choice between which bully to root for? Is this truly the state of our union?
The corrosion of situational ethics has seeped out of the dark corners where they once dwelled and into all areas of American political life.
For religious conservatives desperate to hold onto a nation they see slipping away, the glittering temptation is political victory through ethical compromise. After all, if the leftists have won through lies, rule breaking and outright thuggery then maybe the right side can adopt a dirty tactic or two just to achieve power.
The whispering voice of temptation tells politicians that once they achieve the goal, then they will clean up their act. So one unseen ethical breach leads to another and another. Then once power is achieved, nothing changes because now the politician finds that they need maintain that power. Not only that but now the politician has a small army of advisors, consultants and and other professionals who also want to keep their jobs.
Unethical candidates become compromised politicians. No wonder our union is in the state it’s in.
Currently looming on the horizon is a major political scandal for Republicans. Most people haven’t heard anything about it yet because the story is just coming together now. But it’s real and it’s going to be big news.
The scandal involves a D.C. area lobbying group called the National Right to Work Committee. Some of the key players in the NRTWC scandal have direct ties to top-tier Republican politicians like Sen. Mitch McConnell, Sen. Rand Paul, Rep. Michele Bachmann and Rep. Steve Stockman.
The National Right to Work Committee is a 501(c)(4) lobbying group that claimed on their IRS 990 forms that they had not engaged in direct or indirect campaign activity involving candidates.
Despite making that claim to the IRS, the NRTWC has been actively involved in direct candidate activity for years in at least twelve states, according to a whistleblower who used to work for the group.
Months of investigation and interviews have turned up evidence like emails and audio recordings that provide strong backing to the whistleblower’s claims that NRTWC employees worked closely with dozens of candidates and elected officials in states like Iowa, Indiana, Kentucky, Nevada, Montana, Colorado, and New Hampshire.
Whistleblower Dennis Fusaro claims to have seen firsthand the secret printing presses in Iowa used by the National Right to Work Committee to print campaign letters for candidates. He says that copywriting for candidates was done by NRTWC employees in Virginia.
Emails supplied by Fusaro appear to confirm these claims. For example, an email discusses ‘the wife letter’; a letter sent to voters just prior to the election that appeared to come from a candidate’s wife. The letters were actually written by National Right to Work Committee employees in Virginia after the candidate’s wives were interviewed.
The secretive program of campaign mailings written, printed and mailed by National Right to Work Committee in coordination with state candidates was managed by then NRTWC Vice President Doug Stafford, now a top staffer for Kentucky Senator Rand Paul.
The Washington Post has described Doug Stafford as having ‘no equal among Sen. Rand Paul’s advisers.’ Stafford was an advisor to Paul during 2010, while at the same time working as a V.P. for National Right to Work. After Sen. Paul’s election, Stafford became his Chief of Staff. Currently, Stafford is the head of Rand Paul’s Rand PAC and is setting up Paul’s potential 2016 Presidential run.
Several key pieces of evidence link Doug Stafford directly to the activities that violate National Right to Work Committee’s 501(c)(4) status.
One bombshell isa secretly 23 minute recorded audio conversation from 2010 that shows Stafford discussing and managing direct campaign activities and the vast mail operation. The recording was made by whistleblower and former NRTW employee Dennis Fusaro, who was ostensibly in charge of Iowa during 2010.
There’s also a connected mail operation in Montana involves a key staffer of Texas Rep. Steve Stockman
After the National Right to Work Committee put an employee named Christian LeFer into place as a field rep in Montana, he set up a 501(c)(4) group called Western Tradition Partnership. Like all 501(c)(4)s, when WTP applied for recognition of its tax-exempt status, the group told the IRS under penalty of perjury that it would not directly or indirectly attempt to influence elections.
Western Tradition Partnership named a friend of Christian LeFer’s as their Executive Director; Donny Ferguson. After leaving WTP in 2011, Donny Ferguson went to become Texas Rep. Steve Stockman Campaign Manager and Senior Advisor.
Later, boxes of documents were found that echo the exact same campaign letter writing strategy National Right to Work Committee used in Iowa. As Frontline reported:
The mysterious boxes of documents, found in a meth house in Colorado, were sent to Montana investigators in March 2011, months after state investigators wrapped up their initial case.
“People Have Gone To Jail”
Open Secrets showed some of the evidence of the National Right to Work Committee’s activities to former an IRS official. His assessment was clear.
Marcus Owens, the former head of the Internal Revenue Service’s Tax Exempt division and an attorney with Caplin Drysdale in Washington, D.C., said there is no question — that is direct political activity.
“Based on what I’ve seen here, this activity is clearly attributable to the (c)(4) and the staff was not under the impression that something else was going on — that these were benign nonpartisan letters. They were intended to drive voters to particular candidates and coordinated with the campaigns,” Owens said. “Bottom line: people have gone to jail for precisely the facts that you are describing.”
The scandal is going to help the Obama administration tar conservatives are criminals and cheaters. Many voters won’t pick up all the details but will simply hold their nose and run away from politics.
A lack of ethical standards becoming the norm only helps the bad guys.
Knowledge is power. You now know more about the National Right to Work Committee scandal than 99.9% of the American people.
More to come on this…
Lee Stranahan is an independent investigative journalist and filmmaker.