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March 18, 2005
Ryan Sager Updates The Money Trail

I received several e-mails yesterday regarding this excellent Ryan Sager follow-up on the shenanigans behind the BCRA and the general push for campaign finance reform, but I ran out of time to post about it. Sager has video and transcripts of a talk given by Sean Traglia, formerly of the Pew Charitable Trusts, admitting to staging a fraud on Congress to convince them that a popular groundswell of demand for the BCRA existed:

Charged with promoting campaign-finance reform when he joined Pew in the mid-1990s, Treglia came up with a three-pronged strategy: 1) pursue an expansive agenda through incremental reforms, 2) pay for a handful of "experts" all over the country with foundation money and 3) create fake business, minority and religious groups to pound the table for reform.

"The target audience for all this activity was 535 people in Washington," Treglia says 100 in the Senate, 435 in the House. "The idea was to create an impression that a mass movement was afoot that everywhere they looked, in academic institutions, in the business community, in religious groups, in ethnic groups, everywhere, people were talking about reform.["]

It's the baldest statement yet of exactly how the BCRA and its ridiculous First Amendment restrictions got bought by the same mechanism that it supposedly prevents, and a pretty good accounting of who bought it, too. Sager restates the money trail that he revealed in his TCS column earlier this week for the benefit of the NY Post's readers:

That cash, it turns out, was the one thing about the "movement" that was masssive: From 1994 to 2004, almost $140 million was spent to lobby for changes to our country's campaign-finance laws.

But this money didn't come from little old ladies making do with cat food so they could send a $20 check to Common Cause. The vast majority of this money $123 million, 88 percent of the total came from just eight liberal foundations.

These foundations were: the Pew Charitable Trusts ($40.1 million), the Schumann Center for Media and Democracy ($17.6 million), the Carnegie Corporation of New York ($14.1 million), the Joyce Foundation ($13.5 million), George Soros' Open Society Institute ($12.6 million), the Jerome Kohlberg Trust ($11.3 million), the Ford Foundation ($8.8 million) and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation ($5.2 million).

Not exactly all household names, but the left-wing groups that these foundations support may be more familiar: the Earth Action Network, the NOW Legal Defense and Education Fund, People for the American Way, Planned Parenthood, the Public Citizen Foundation, the Feminist Majority Foundation . . .

Where did that money go? It bought coverage at places like NPR, and even an entire issue of The American Prospect, which failed to disclose that its "Checkbook Democracy" issue had been sponsored by the Carnegie Corporation, which has spent millions pushing the BCRA.

All of this caught Chris Muir's eye at Day by Day, who stays on top of the issue:

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The stink of the BCRA continues to grow. It now appears obvious that some very powerful interests bought and paid for McCain-Feingold as a means to counter the coming political realignment by restricting political debate to the Exempt Media and incumbents. Which party does that favor? Take a look at the endorsements in the Exempt Media from the last election and you'll see who had the edge.

Sphere It Digg! View blog reactions
Posted by Ed Morrissey at March 18, 2005 5:57 AM

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» Don't get mad, get even! from Vote for Judges
The scandal here, again, is the one that's gone largely unremarked. The Supreme Court agreed to the evisceration of the First Amendment. We can punish the politicians involved. We can withhold our contributions from these foundations. But we have, sh... [Read More]

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» Buying Campaign Finance Reform from JustOneMinute
Ryan Sager of the NY Post peeks behind the curtain of campaign finance reform: CAMPAIGN-FINANCE reform has been an immense scam perpetrated on the American people by a cadre of left-wing foundations and disguised as a [Read More]

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