A common refrain I heard from friends this last week or so was “if you are taking flack, you know you are over the target.”
In this case, “flack” was a 7,000 word hit piece on me (along with my company and 501c4 organizations with which I’m associated) by a liberal non-profit called ProPublica. ProPublica was founded by Herbert Sandler, a left-wing banker at the center of the housing crisis, as described by the New York Times:
At the center of the controversy is an exotic but popular mortgage the Sandlers pioneered that helped generate billions of dollars of revenue at their bank. Known as an option ARM — and named “Pick-A-Pay” by World Savings — it is now seen by an array of housing analysts and regulators as the Typhoid Mary of the mortgage industry.
He made billions selling his bank to Wachovia before the housing meltdown, making him the very definition of “evil billionaire.” (Other liberal billionaires like George Soros and Tom Steyer have also supported ProPublica).
Inexplicably, five days after the ProPublica piece was posted on their website, The Arizona Republic ran it as a front page, tabloid-style story. It was a complete “cut and paste” job from ProPublica, and even though the Republic is my hometown paper, they never called me for comment.
There is something a bit surreal about walking out to your driveway and seeing yourself staring you in the eye. The nearly life-size photo on the front page caused one colleague to remark, “That’s a head shot size usually reserved for Presidents or terrorist leaders.” I’m clearly not the President.
The Republic did allow me to publish a response. However, after publishing 7,000 words attacking me, they only allowed 550 for my response. That’s ok – you can read a more full response here.
Here are a few highlights from my response in the Republic:
I firmly believe that anonymous political speech is not a danger to our nation — it has played an important role throughout our history. Anonymity in political speech protects the speaker from retribution, but it also serves a greater good: It allows the public to listen to ideas without any bias toward the messenger.
ProPublica hopes to bully CPPR and other conservative groups out of existence because we’ve been effective. Thanks to President Barack Obama’s mismanagement of the country, particularly the failure of “Obamacare,” liberals know they can’t win against us in a fair fight of issues and ideas.
Instead, the left must resort to intimidation. Their tactics include boycotts, threatening businesses, digging through divorce records to personally embarrass and hurt the families of those with whom they disagree, etc. But, before they can employ these methods, they need to know who to target. This is why they demand the disclosure of donors to conservative causes.
The Republic is my hometown paper; I’ve interacted with its staff regularly and always held them and the publication in high esteem. I was extremely disappointed by The Arizona Republic’s complete lack of journalistic integrity in this instance. The Republic made itself a willing tool of the left. That is a shame and a real disappointment to this lifelong reader.
The Founders would be appalled at this organized attack on political speech by the media (and the government). Consider this: the Federalist Papers were not only anonymously written, they were anonymously funded! Today, Madison, Jay and Hamilton would be castigated as “dark money.” Good grief!
Fundamentally, the Left’s attack on conservative speech is driven by fear. The Left knows it can’t win the hearts and minds of the American public with their nanny-state mentality, so they have to change the subject away from the content of the speech and who is doing the speaking. Therefore, they attack.
I haven’t and won’t let attacks from the Left stop me from advancing the cause. It is disappointing that they have stooped to a level that includes airing personal issues related to my divorce. I’m not sure I’ve ever heard of a political operative (that is, a non-public official or non-candidate for office) having their divorce records exposed in the news media.
At the end of the day, I remain resolved to continue to fight for the freedoms endowed to us by our Creator, first and foremost among those being our First Amendment freedoms.