Liberal Blackmail

Lefties threatening to reveal anonymous donations to conservative groups.

We can no longer afford to build ourselves up by tearing each other down. We can no longer afford to traffic in lies or fear or hate. It is the poison that we must purge from our politics; the wall that we must tear down before the hour grows too late.

 - Barack Obama

It's a great relief to hear that one of Barack Obama's trademark "Changes we can Believe In" is to purge lies, fear, and hate from politics.

Admittedly, he has set himself not merely a noble but a Herculean task.  Given that politics is, by definition, the way in which national public disagreements are aired, and that disagreements on matters far less weighty than affairs of state can often lead to hate, this is an endeavor fully worthy of a political messiah, no less.  It may be hard for practical-minded voters to imagine exactly how this is to be accomplished.

But never mind reality.  Have faith!  Obama is not alone on his quest to purge politics from the baser human frailties.  The New York Times brings us word of a new political group that shares the same shining goal.

...The newly formed nonprofit group, Accountable America, is planning to confront donors to conservative groups, hoping to create a chilling effect that will dry up contributions.  "We want to stop the Swift Boating before it gets off the ground," said Mr. Matzzie, who described his effort as "going for the jugular."  The warning letter is intended as a first step, alerting donors who might be considering giving to right-wing groups to a variety of potential dangers, including legal trouble, public exposure and watchdog groups digging through their lives.

John Kerry's 2004 defeat is generally credited to the TV ads sponsored by "Swift Boat Veterans for Truth," (SBVT) in which members of the military who had served in Vietnam with Kerry specifically refuted his claims of heroism and patriotism during his time abroad.  The ads weren't pretty, but they surely were effective.

SBVT was, as required by law, a completely independent organization that had nothing whatsoever to do with the Bush campaign.  It was paid for by private donors and run by independent staff.  From that day to this, the left has tried to use the term "Swift-Boating" to refer to scurrilous smears against a candidate by a private organization, completely ignoring the fact that, as far as anyone can tell after forty years, the stories told by the Swift Boat Veterans were true.

The Democrats don't want anything like that to happen this time around.  Considering the mud that Barack Obama has managed to accumulate without anyone actually throwing it at him - Rev. Wright, Bill Ayers, Tony Rezko, the list goes on - their fears are well founded.

After all, since he's obviously the perfect candidate, any attacks on His Holiness the Obamessiah could only be motivated by fear, hate, or racism, right?  At least that's what the media constantly tell us.  Anything good-hearted and virtuous lefties do to stamp out right-wing hate is OK, or so they say.

Thus it is that we find Accountable America, having somehow obtained a list of the wealthiest donors to conservative causes, taking it upon themselves to kindly warn Republicans of the potential consequences of their actions.  Michelle Malkin has obtained a copy of one of their letters.

Among other things, it paints a dreadful picture of IRS audits, public exposure of the donation, and all manner of other threats.  The clear goal is to frighten people into not giving money to the conservative causes they wish to support.  In other words, to combat supposed lies, fear, and hate on the Right, the Left is using... genuine lies, fear, hate, and blackmail.

The key element doesn't so much seem to be threatening the donors with prison, everybody knows that doesn't happen and couldn't be arranged by any private pressure group no matter how well funded.  The idea seems to be that donors to political organizations would prefer not to have their names and donation amounts aired in public.  In fact, 501(c)(4) groups have their donor lists protected by law; they can't legally be forced to cough them up.

That means that Accountable America is threatening private individuals with publicly revealing information they would rather be kept secret (their name and donation info), unless they take a specific action (stop giving.)

Accountable America is a liberal blackmailers organization.

Yes, that's right.  The dictionary defines "blackmail" as "to force or coerce into a particular action, statement, etc."  That's precisely the purpose of the letter.  Mr. Matzzie, the group's founder, even had the gall to brag about his blackmailing intent to the New York Times!  When was the last time you saw a blackmailer issue a press release?

Which gives right-wing donors an opportunity for sweet, sweet revenge.  As noted, it is exceedingly rare for donors to political organizations to wind up behind bars as a result of their donations.  Blackmail, though, is another matter.  To prosecute for blackmail, you don't have to divulge the information you were threatened with - just prove that you were threatened.

A more perfect proof could hardly be imagined than a signed letter.  Whoever gets one of these letters in the mail simply needs to walk down to their local police station and swear out a warrant for Mr. Matzzie's arrest.  Voila!

With a little coordination, we can watch the amusing spectacle of all 57 states in the Union fighting over which one gets to extradite him.  Tune in next week to hear Barack Obama intone, "This wasn't the Mr. Matzzie I knew!" as two loud thumps come from under his campaign bus.

Or maybe Mr. Obama won't subvehicularize him after all.  Maybe Mr. Matzzie is doing just what Mr. Obama wants done.

To hear the MSM tell it, political sins are only committed by Republicans; Mr. Edwards' proven philandering has yet to make the front page, whereas the New York Times routinely finds Page One appropriate for accusations against McCain that are demonstrably false.  Blackmail must be OK when liberals do it - their motto seems to be "If our guys do it, it's not illegal."

Alas, not much of a change after all; we've heard that song quite enough already.

Read other articles by Hobbes or other articles on Partisanship.
Reader Comments
What makes me angry about this is that it is actually a brilliant plan by the left. There are MANY conservative donors who don't like their liberal friends to know what causes they support because of their fear of alienation. I KNOW some of these people. It use to be that you could donate to whatever group you wanted and even though the records were public, no one ever took the time to manually find and cull-down all the data. Now, with web sites and web services that share - in real time, on-demand systems - the pertinent information, who does what and where IS VERY MUCH a serious tool for those that wish to hide.
August 12, 2008 7:30 AM
One might suggest that if you are a

"conservative donors who don't like their liberal friends to know what causes they support because of their fear of alienation"

you might not really be as conservative as you think you are.

It's tough to take stands, particularly when the political fires are as hot as they are right now. But if you're not willing to do it when it's hard, why bother doing it at all?
August 12, 2008 7:39 AM
I don't know if I agree. It's easy to say that if you don't have a lot to lose (not that I'm saying you don't). But if you're the CEO of a large company, having all your political decisions exposed in nitty, gritty detail can damage your business.
August 12, 2008 11:00 AM
Then you don't think the secret ballot is important, Angus?

The purpose for a secret ballot is so that voters cannot be pressured into voting a certain way by bullies. This is also why the unions are so desperate to eliminate the secret ballot on unionization - they can once again beat up anti-union workers when they can identify them, as they did long ago.

This is exactly the same thing. Examples about of abuses against donations to political opponents - the Clintons and the FBI files come to mind. A rational person would surely prefer a private donation to a public one, no matter how fervently they believed in the cause.
August 13, 2008 11:51 AM
There's a difference between voting and giving money. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I thought Scragged said at one point that all caps should be taken off of campaign contributions and the information for who is giving to whom should be easily found by anyone who wanted to know. So if the libs wanted to have Chinese donors, that would be fine, but everyone would know.
August 13, 2008 12:08 PM
While I remained reserved on this issue, I do not think it's the same thing (as Patience just suggested). It is a VERY GOOD thing for the electorate to know where an organization gets its money.
August 13, 2008 12:11 PM
Yes, it's a good idea for us to know who is giving money to candidates, because those candidates are supposed to represent US. I have a hard time seeing how it's anyone's business what private organizations you contribute to or vice versa - they are not pretending to represent anybody other than their donors. Different burden of responsibility, seems to me. Should we know that you gave money to your church? To private individuals? Why is it anyone else's business?
August 13, 2008 4:29 PM
No, you're sliding into other areas now. If you dig through their site, Accountable American is about exposing MAINLY conservative causes as they relate to PACS and 501c4. Those are candidate-centric or campaign-centric causes, and DO absolutely fall under the area of what should be publicly exposed. Other private non profits and churches are not the point of what AA is exposing. You're changing the topic, mid game.
August 13, 2008 8:14 PM
Wait a minute. We're in agreement that we need to know who gives to candidates. I'm assuming that you think donations to non-political orgs should be private, right? So I guess the question is relating to organizations that want to affect politics in some way, but NOT relating to donations to specific candidates.
It seems to me that Constitutional rights of free association and privacy should control here. Why do people NOT have a right to make private donations to private organizations, regardless of their purpose?
August 13, 2008 8:56 PM
Yes, I think we agree on candidates.

But I would extend that same public requirement to PACs and 501(c)4 organizations as well.

Those are not really "private" in the sense that they want to do the same thing candidates want to do - change political policy for the US.

If you think about it, PACs are basically the corporate version of a candidate running for office. And in a practical sense, they are the loophole that allows people to support a candidate who has already been given the maximum contribution.

I would say that 501c3 and MAYBE c4 organizations should have privacy rights (definitely the c3). But with PACS, I'd like to know who is supported those because their end game affects me politically just like supporting a candidate does.
August 14, 2008 8:29 AM
I think a great deal of the PACing is a wholly artificial response to the unconstitutional artificial restrictions on donations to actual candidates. If you could donate as much as you wanted to to the candidate of your choice (disclosing it, though), I expect that a great deal of org activity would go away. There weren't nearly so many independent political orgs before McC-F campaign finance "reform" as there are now.
August 14, 2008 3:31 PM
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