Obama's Saul Alinsky Style Marxist "Attack Techniques" Take a Toll on Conservative Mega-Donors
May 31st, 2012
All they wanted was to get involved.
But to hear some of the biggest donors of 2012 tell it, their six- and seven-figure contributions have instead bought them nothing but grief.
Their personal lives are fodder for news stories. President Barack Obama and his allies have singled out conservative mega-donors as greedy tax cheats, or worse. And a conservative website has launched a counteroffensive targeting big-money liberals.
This is definitely not what they had in mind. In their view, cutting a million-dollar check to try to sway the presidential race should be just another way to do their part for democracy, not a fast-track to the front page.
And now some are pushing back hard against the attention, asking: Why us?
“This idea of giving public beatings has been around for a long time,” said Frank VanderSloot, a wealthy Idaho businessman who donated $1 million in corporate cash to the super PAC supporting Mitt Romney and says he’s raised between $2 million and $5 million for the Romney campaign.
VanderSloot, who is also a national finance co-chairman for Romney, was among eight major Romney donors singled out on an Obama campaign website last month as having “less-than-reputable records,” and he thinks the purpose is clear – intimidation.
Read more: http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0512/76899_Page3.html#ixzz1wVb1iIU8
“You go back to the Dark Ages when they put these people in the stocks or whatever they did, or publicly humiliated them as a deterrent to everybody else – watch this – watch what we do to the guy who did this.”
VanderSloot is one of the loudest of the aggrieved mega-donors, announcing that his family’s privacy has been invaded and his health and home products company, Melaleuca, had lost hundreds of customers, and asserting the Obama campaign list and liberal websites have misrepresented his company and political activism.
He’s waged an aggressive response, making a series of appearances on the Fox News Channel in which he called for donations to Romney in protest of the list. He also spoke at a Heritage Foundation event in Washington this week. And he told POLITICO he intended to make additional donations to the pro-Romney super PAC each time something untruthful was published about him – a plan he said his wife predicted could yield “several hundred thousand dollars” more in contributions.
The top lawyer for VanderSloot’s company has demanded corrections from media outlets writing about VanderSloot’s political activity. When one blogger emailed back, “I do not appreciate thinly veiled threats,” the lawyer responded, “We have been neither thin nor veiled. … Melaleuca is more than capable and willing to protect its reputation from false and defamatory statements as it sees fit.”
Plus, VanderSloot launched a website where he defends himself against what he calls attacks from “extreme, far left blog sites.”
Other mega-donors seem to have been caught off-guard by media attention and partisan attacks.
Joe Ricketts, the billionaire founder of TD Ameritrade, was said to be “extremely upset” by the controversy that swirled around him after the New York Times reported he was considering spending $10 million on ads attacking Obama over his controversial former pastor.
“It’s just deeply hurtful and unfair to the Ricketts family to have anybody suggest they want to do or pursue or support anything like this,” a Ricketts spokesman said this month on MNSBC’s Morning Joe.
Comedian Bill Maher protested that conservatives were merely looking to divert attention from their own controversies when they made an issue of his sexist slurring of Sarah Palin after he donated $1 million to the pro-Obama Priorities USA Action super PAC in February.
Foster Friess, the mutual fund guru who kept Rick Santorum’s campaign afloat with $1.7 million in super PAC donations, recently professed himself still puzzled over the frenzy sparked by his recollection during a live television interview that women used aspirin as contraception “back in my days.”
Santorum “never bought into what I was saying” about a hard-line opposition to contraception, Friess told POLITICO this month. “So here’s a classic example of how the left is very skillful about trying to – and they can achieve this. Whereas the Republicans, they don’t quite get how the game is played, I guess.”
But it’s the Obama campaign’s list of Romney donors that has ignited the debate over whether donors should be fair game. The list has drawn howls from conservatives, who have compared it to Richard Nixon’s “enemies list,” argued it shows the downside of campaign contribution disclosure, and asserted it’s an attempt “to delegitimize Mr. Romney” and discourage his supporters from donating.
One of the donors listed, Tom O’Malley, an energy executive, said the Obama campaign misrepresented the effect of an oil spill at one his company’s refineries.
“I think somebody screwed up,” said O’Malley. He’s raised money for Democrats and said he voted for Obama in 2008, but this year donated $100,000 to the Romney super PAC and $2,500 to the Romney campaign.
“Being on the enemies list was somewhat shocking to me,” he added.
Another Romney donor on Obama’s list, hedge fund manager Louis Bacon, called the list “a stupid thing done by the campaign,” but predicted “they will apologize or Obama will disavow countenancing this enemies list and it will be deleted.”
That’s not going to happen, said Obama campaign spokesman Ben LaBolt. The purpose of the list is not to intimidate, he said, but rather to educate voters on the “special interest policy goals and motivations” of the big money behind Romney. Not only does the campaign have no plans to remove the list, LaBolt said “we might” add more donors.
Conservatives are fighting back. Michael Goldfarb, chairman of the conservative Center for American Freedom, said Team Obama can count on reaping what it sows.
“They started this war on donors, but we’re going to try to level the playing field,” said Goldfarb
His group, a conservative analog to the White House-allied Center for American Progress, launched this year with a website called the Washington Free Beacon that, like CAP’s, has dinged the other side by relentlessly spotlighting – or trying to create – controversies surrounding their rivals’ donors. Recent Free Beacon reports have dogged Hollywood executive Jeffrey Katzenberg and former New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine.
Goldfarb even took a page out of the playbook of CAP’s ThinkProgress blog this month, sending a reporter to crash a private Miami meeting of the Democracy Alliance, a club of major Democratic donors in which billionaire financier George Soros is an anchor member.
Under a headline about “George Soros’s liberal conspiracy,” and a photo of the octogenarian lounging shirtless on a beach, a story identified several attendees and detailed some innocuous overheard conversation. The site also reported that a club official urged the Free Beacon to be more respectful of club members’ privacy.