A Tea Party charity called “Move America Forward” is facing serious allegations of fraud — suggesting it may not be what it appears to be. Complicating matters, the group has benefited from testimonials from Dick Cheney, Rick Perry, Rush Limbaugh and other high-profile Republicans.
Any time a charity is accused of fraud, it’s alarming, but especially during a war, there’s something even more outrageous about dubious charities that claim to be helping veterans and active-duty military personnel.
Last year, for example, Florida Gov. Rick Scott’s (R) lieutenant governor, Jennifer Carroll, was forced to abruptly resign over her connections to something called Allied Veterans of the World. The Florida-based non-profit was accused of trying to “defraud the public and governmental agencies by misrepresenting how much of its proceeds were donated to charities affiliated with Veterans Administration.”
This year, a Tea Party affiliated group called Move America Forward, is facing allegations every bit as serious. Kim Barker’s piece in The Daily Beast raises serious questions the charity will have to answer quickly.
Move America Forward calls itself the nation’s “largest grassroots pro-troop organization,” and has recruited a bevy of Republican luminaries, including former Presidents George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush and former Vice President Dick Cheney, to support its efforts.
Yet an examination of its fundraising appeals, tax records and other documents shows that Move America Forward has repeatedly misled donors and inflated its charitable accomplishments, while funneling millions of dollars in revenue to the men behind the group and their political consulting firms.
Barker’s report raises allegations that, if true, may point to illegalities, including the possible use the charity’s funds to subsidize conservative political action committees.
The driving force behind Move America Forward is Sal Russo, 67, the longtime political consultant who is listed on the 10-year-old charity’s tax returns as chief strategist.
Russo is better known for helping to form the Our Country Deserves Better PAC, also known as the Tea Party Express, one of the largest Tea Party groups in the country. Consultants from his Sacramento-based firm, Russo, Marsh and Associates, also set up two other PACs, the Move America Forward Freedom PAC and the Conservative Campaign Committee, to aid conservative causes and candidates.
According to its tax returns, Move America Forward paid out more than $2.3 million – about 30% of the group’s overall expenditures – to Russo or his firm.
Barker talked to a former Tea Party Express consultant who said, “It was just so shady. With PACs, I know it’s dirty money – it’s politics. But this is a charity that’s supposed to be helping the troops.”
It’s not clear who, if anyone, is handling the day-to-day management of this charity. The organization’s former executive director left in 2012 “and does not seem to have been replaced.”
The same report goes on to detail instances in which Move America Forward falsely claimed to deliver care packages to troops, used photos in fundraising and promotional materials that belonged to other organizations, and even boasted to donors about a partnership with Walter Reed National Military Medical Center that never existed.
And yet, despite all of this, Dave Weigel notes that Move America Forward benefited from testimonials from Dick Cheney, Rick Perry, Rush Limbaugh and other high-profile Republicans.
Obviously, the charges raised in this investigatory piece remain in the realm of unproven allegations. But given the evidence and seriousness of the potential wrongdoing, it’s easy to imagine law enforcement taking a keen interest in Move America Forward’s records, bank accounts, and activities.
Israel launches a third day of air strikes on Hamas, Utah asks the Supreme Court to rule on gay marriage, and more
1. Israel steps up its Gaza offensive as death toll rises
Israeli air strikes — intended to stop Hamas rocket fire — killed eight members of a family, including five children, in Gaza early Thursday, according to Palestinian officials. Israel’s three-day air offensive has killed at least 66 people, Gaza medical authorities said. Israel says it is targeting Hamas sites, including launchers behind a barrage of more than 320 rockets into Israel. The rockets have paralyzed businesses and sent thousands fleeing southern Israel but caused no serious casualties. [Reuters]
2. Utah asks the Supreme Court to take gay marriage case
Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes announced Wednesday that he was taking his state’s appeal of a ruling declaring its same-sex marriage ban unconstitutional directly to the U.S. Supreme Court. Reyes said he was seeking “clarity and resolution from the highest court” instead of appealing to the full 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver. A panel of three of the court’s judges last month upheld a lower-court decision overturning the ban. It was the first federal appeals court ruling on gay marriage. [USA Today]
3. Former New Orleans mayor Ray Nagin sentenced to 10 years in bribery scandal
A federal judge sentenced former New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin to 10 years in prison for public corruption on Wednesday. A jury in February found the two-term Democrat guilty of accepting hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes and favors from businessmen seeking special treatment from his administration. Nagin, who was the city’s face in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, maintains his innocence. He is the first New Orleans mayor ever sent to prison for corruption. [CNN]
4. Snowden asks Russia to extend his temporary asylum
Fugitive National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden has officially applied to Russia toextend his temporary asylum in the country, his lawyer, Anatoly Kucherena, told Russia’s Interfaxnews agency on Wednesday. Snowden’s year-long Russian visa is set to expire on July 31. Snowden, 31, was trying to flee to Cuba after leaking secret documents on NSA mining of phone and internet records, but he got stuck in a Moscow airport after the U.S. revoked his passport. [Los Angeles Times]
5. Report finds 40 percent of colleges have not investigated a rape in five years
Many colleges are “failing to comply with the law” in investigating campus rapes, according to a report released Wednesday by Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.). About 40 percent of U.S. colleges and universities have not conducted a single sexual assault investigation in five years, and one in five institutions allowed their athletic departments oversight of cases involving student athletes. McCaskill said that was a “big problem” because the departments want to protect athletes. [NBC News, The Washington Post]
6. Obama urges Rick Perry to back $3.7 billion immigration plan
President Obama challenged Texas Gov. Rick Perry to rally his fellow Republicans behind a $3.7 billion White House proposal to address a crisis created by a wave of Central American immigrants who illegally entered the U.S. over the Mexican border. Obama said he told Perry the proposal to care for and deport the children would meet GOP calls for increased border security. Perry said later on Fox News that Obama could stop the “humanitarian crisis” by sending National Guard troops to secure the border. [The New York Times, Fox News]
7. Weakening storm hits Japan’s main islands
Typhoon Neoguri, once the strongest storm yet of the Pacific season, has slammed into Japan’s southernmost main island, flooding hundreds of homes with heavy rain. Authorities urged thousands of people to seek shelter from the storm, which has injured nearly 50 people and been linked to five deaths. The weakening storm, which first ravaged the Okinawa island chain, is expected to hit the country’s biggest island, Honshu, next, and reach the tsunami-crippled Fukushima nuclear plant on Friday. [AFP]
8. Colorado says annual legal pot demand will reach 130 tons
A day after Washington became the second state to allow legal marijuana sales, Colorado, where the nation’s first licensed pot stores opened in January, released a study estimating its marijuana demand at 130 tons per year. The projection was far higher than expected, and it came as tax figures showed that the state’s retail supply was growing. “The primary difference is caused by much heavier dosage amounts consumed by the state’s ‘heavy user’ population,” the Colorado Department of Revenue report said. [Reuters]
9. Alleged prostitute arrested in connection with Google executive’s overdose
Police have uncovered a surveillance video they say suggests that a Google executive, Forrest Hayes, found dead on his yacht of an apparent overdose in November might actually have been a victim of manslaughter. Santa Clara, California, police have arrested Alix Tichelman, whom they describe as a high-end call girl, and accused her of injecting Hayes with heroin and callously leaving him to die on his yacht, Escape. Hayes was on the team working on the rollout of Google’s cutting-edge Glass eyewear. [ABC News, Mercury News]
10. Argentina beats the Netherlands to advance to World Cup final
Argentina eliminated the Netherlands 4-2 in a penalty shootout on Wednesday to win a spot in the World Cup final against Germany. After 120 minutes of regulation and extra time, the teams remained locked in a scoreless tie. Then Argentina’s goalkeeper, Sergio Romero, confidently blocked two Dutch players’ penalty kicks, while his teammates Lionel Messi, Ezequiel Garay, and Maxi Rodriquez blasted their shots into the net. Argentina and Germany now square off July 13 for their third meeting in a World Cup final. [Bloomberg, The New York Times]
Rick Perry is the governor of a state that has the highest percentage of uninsured. After the full implementation of Obamacare in 2014, many will remain uninsured because Texas Gov. Rick Perry is not accepting the Medicaid expansion to the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare). Perry runs around Texas telling his constituents that it would bankrupt the state. He says this even though 100 percent of the cost of the expansion is paid for by the federal government for the first 3 years. Thereafter the states are responsible for only 10 percent.
Most of the states with the highest uninsured rates are the ones neither setting up exchanges nor accepting the Medicaid expansion to Obamacare. These states have chosen the status quo. Millions of American citizens that could qualify for healthcare insurance through the Medicaid expansion will be left in the cold.
Make no mistake, the governors of these states have choices. They could take the 3 year Medicaid expansion at 100 percent and then opt out in year 4 if they really thought their state would get bankrupted. Their citizens could have at least 3 years’ worth of preventative care, coverage for their children, and much more. They could make the poor and the working poor in their states healthier.
Opposition to Obamacare has characteristics of an addiction. One knows intrinsically when one is doing wrong or doing something detrimental. However, the cravings make one disregard reality and acquiesce to the drug. What is the drug? The drug is hate for all things Obama.
Politics is a blood sport. Politicians and parties attempt to get an advantage at every turn. That is okay as long as it does not materially or deliberately affect the overall well-being of the constituent.
There are many stories detailing the plight of the poor whose only recourse is the emergency room. They get to the emergency rooms only to be stabilized and not really diagnosed in detail. Generally, not until it is too late do they get care at a point when it is most expensive and deadly. One of the most gut-wrenching stories was detailed by a Galveston, Texas, medical student where she literally watched a patient die over a few months. The patient died not because they could not help his cancer, but because he was uninsured.
There are so many real stories out there that every politician opposing Obamacare has access to. They instead promote stories that are generally debunked soon after they are released to the public. They choose to continue promoting stories they know are debunked.
On Saturday, nearly 40 armed men, women, and children waited outside a Dallas, Texas area restaurant to protest a membership meeting for the state chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, a gun safety advocacy group formed in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting.
According to a spokeswoman for Moms Demand Action (MDA), the moms were inside the Blue Mesa Grill when members of Open Carry Texas (OCT) — an open carry advocacy group — “pull[ed] up in the parking lot and start[ed] getting guns out of their trunks.” The group then waited in the parking lot for the four MDA members to come out. The spokeswoman said that the restaurant manager did not want to call 911, for fear of “inciting a riot” and waited for the gun advocates to leave. The group moved to a nearby Hooters after approximately two hours.
MDA later released a statement calling OCT “gun bullies” who “disagree[d] with our goal of changing America’s gun laws and policies to protect our children and families.” The statement added that the members and restaurant customers were “terrified by what appeared to be an armed ambush.” A member of OCT responded by tweeting, “I guess I’m a #gunbullies #Comeandtakeit.”
This is not the first time that gun advocates have rallied at MDA events. In March, a group of armed men crashed a MDA gun-control rally in Indianapolis. Other gun advocate groups will hold rallies this upcoming December 14th, the anniversary date of the Sandy Hook shooting.
Licensed gun owners are allowed to carry concealed weapons, but Texas is one of six states that prohibits open carry of firearms. Attorney General Greg Abbott, a likely Republican successor for Gov. Rick Perry (R), has vowed to permit concealed handgun owners to display their firearms in public. Four GOP contenders for lieutenant governor similarly hope to put in place open carry laws if elected.
State Sen. Wendy Davis apparently has decided her future includes a 2014 race for Texas governor.
The Associated Press reports Davis, who is scheduled to announce her political plans Oct. 3, will jump into the race to succeed Republican Gov. Rick Perry. The AP story is based on two unnamed Democrats with knowledge of her decision.
Davis has become a Democratic Party sensation across the country for her marathon filibuster in June against a bill to restrict abortion. Though the Fort Worth lawmaker temporarily succeeded in blocking the bill, the measure eventually passed the Legislature and was signed into law by Perry.
Despite her near-celebrity status among Democrats, Davis would have an uphill fight in a campaign for governor. No Democrat has won a statewide Texas office since 1994.
She is likely to face Attorney General Greg Abbott, the favorite in the GOP race, next November. Abbott, known outside of Texas for his lawsuits against the Obama administration, has about $20 million in his campaign account.
Wayne Slater of The Dallas Morning News reports Davis would need $40 million for the gubernatorial race. She’s been padding her campaign account — and raising her profile — with fundraising events and speeches in New York, San Francisco and Washington.
Politico first reported Thursday that Davis has been telling “influential Democrats” that she’s in the race.
Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R), a longstanding Obamacare critic, is negotiating a $100 million health care deal with the Obama administration, Politico reported on Tuesday.
The Community First Choice Program, aimed at improving the quality of health services for the elderly and disabled, was approved by the Texas legislature earlier this year. Perry health aides are now looking to the Obama administration for funding.
Perry has been a strident Obamacare critic from the beginning, but his spokesman explained that the funding pitch is about aiding people with disabilities, independent of a health insurance mandate.
“Long before Obamacare was forced on the American people, Texas was implementing policies to provide those with intellectual disabilities more community options to enable them to live more independent lives, at a lower cost to taxpayers,” Havens said in a statement. “The Texas Health and Human Services Commission will continue to move forward with these policies because they are right for our citizens and our state, regardless of whatever funding schemes may be found in Obamacare.”
According to Politico, 12,000 Texans are expected to benefit from the program in its first year, beginning in September 2014.
A Texas judge said Thursday he plans to have a special prosecutor review allegations that Gov. Rick Perry abused the powers of his office and broke the law over a veto that cut funding for state public corruption investigators.
Judge Robert Richardson said he expects to select someone in the coming days to look at a two-page complaint filed by a watchdog group, Texans for Public Justice. The special prosecutor could quickly deem the complaint meritless or decide it warrants further investigation.
Perry’s office denies wrongdoing.
The complaint stems from the April drunken-driving arrest of Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg, whose office houses the Public Integrity Unit that is the state’s criminal ethics arm. Its high-profile cases include the 2010 prosecution of former U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, and an ongoing investigation into the state’s $3 billion cancer research agency.
Lehmberg pleaded guilty after her arrest and served half of a 45-day jail sentence. But she refused calls from Republicans to resign, including from Perry, who publicly said he would eliminate $3.7 million in annual state funding if she did not step down.
Lehmberg stayed in office, and Perry vetoed the money in June.
In a two-page complaint filed shortly after Perry’s veto, the head of Texans for Public Justice accused Perry of possibly violating laws regarding coercion of a public servant, bribery, abuse of official capacity and official oppression.
“Governor Perry violated the Texas Penal Code by communicating offers and threats under which he would exercise his official discretion to veto the appropriation,” wrote Craig McDonald, the group’s executive director, in the June 26 complaint.
Perry spokesman Josh Havens said Thursday he was not aware of any contact from investigators concerning the veto.
Havens said Perry “exercised his constitutional veto authority through line item vetoes in the budget” as he does each session. He went on to point to Perry’s statement following the veto of the prosecution unit dollars.
“Despite the otherwise good work the Public Integrity Unit’s employees, I cannot in good conscience support continued state funding for an office with statewide jurisdiction at a time when the person charged with ultimate responsibility of that unit has lost the public’s confidence,” Perry said.
The appointment of a special prosecutor is less reflective of the allegations’ possible merits than the unique circumstances of the complaint.
The complaint from the Austin-based watchdog group was originally filed with Lehmberg’s office, where investigators would normally review the complaint and determine whether it was worth pursuing. But Lehmberg recused herself and the complaint eventually trickled to Richardson, a former state district judge, who is now finding his own prosecutor to review the complaint.
Following Perry’s v eto, Travis County commissioners originally voted to send layoff notices to nearly three dozen staff members in the public corruption office. They have since approved a reduced budget for the unit that trims the staff cuts to 10.
As part of the reduced budget, the unit will also drop at least 54 of its more than 400 active cases.
Why is it that National Rifle Association board member Ted Nugent gets away with joking about machine-gunning South Central Los Angeles residents from a helicopter, equating them with the feral hogs he likes to hunt in the same manner?
In a profile that appeared in the Washington Post‘s Sunday magazine last weekend, Nugent detailed how he befriended Texas governor Rick Perry while at the same time offering a policy solution to the state’s feral hog problem:
Nugent says it was at his suggestion that Perry, dealing with feral hog populations that were destroying crops, signed a controversial law allowing private hunters to shoot the animals from helicopters. Nugent has been up more than once, using an automatic rifle and donating the meat to Hogs for a Cause, a Christian ministry that provides game meat to food pantries.
According to the article’s author, “it’s a story he loves to tell” and that he repeated during a paid appearance before an association of entrepreneurs in San Antonio:
“Lots of places have a hog problem,” Nugent said. “In Texas, the hogs have a Ted problem.” He described the giddy joy of shooting from the open copter with an M4 machine gun. “And four hours later I had 450 dead hogs,” he said to loud applause. Then he added an afterthought that produced ample laughs: “And now if they would just take me to South Central. … Okay! I kid.”
Made infamous nationally by the 1992 riots that broke out after the Rodney King verdict, the New York Times characterized South Central as a “national symbol of rage in a poor black neighborhood.” Today, the area is mostly Latino and is officially known as South Los Angeles.
That Ted Nugent is a ready source for controversial, often racist or sexist, quotes is nothing new and has been well documented. Equally evident is the Coulter-like pleasure he derives from the sputtering reactions that result from his inflammatory statements.
But shouldn’t a board member of a $219 million organization that likes to present itself as representing mainstream America be held accountable for wistfully joking in barely coded language about machine gunning hundreds of black people, hunting them like feral pigs? If it was any other organization besides the National Rifle Association, wouldn’t someone on the board say (and despite an abundance of white males, the NRA’s board does have women and minorities), quite simply, enough is enough? If such comments wouldn’t pass muster at the Food Network, shouldn’t they raise concerns at, as the NRA likes to call itself, “America’s longest-standing civil rights organization”?
Governor Rick Perry explained to John Roberts, host of Fox News Sunday, that he was complimenting state Senator Wendy Davis on her life, and the only reason people took it the wrong way is because “this” (aka, allowing women to have medical rights over their bodies; aka, abortion) is a volatile issue and they wanted to avoid discussing it.
Perry said, “You know, I think this is a volatile issue that people are grasping on to anything that they can criticize and not focusing on what’s really at hand here and, uh, the taking of life after twenty weeks, is what this is about. The killing of babies that are viable outside uh their mom’s bodies after twenty weeks is what this is about. A lot of folks really don’t like to talk about that, they would like to focus on practically anything rather than to say ‘we support that process.’”
Perry then assured everyone that his goal is to make sure women get the healthcare they “deserve”.
John Roberts, host of Fox News Sunday, explained to a very smug Governor Rick Perry (R-TX) that many people were offended by his previous comments about state Senator Wendy Davis (D-Fort Worth), in which he used her personal life against her stance on the issue of choice.
Roberts pointed out that Texas House Speaker Joe Straus expressed concern that Perry should have left her personal life out of his remarks. Roberts worried that Perry’s comments would hurt him with independent women, should he decide to run for President again in 2016.
Governor Rick Perry didn’t hear that alarm bell at all. See, he was “complimenting” Wendy Davis by showing what she had accomplished when she did what Rick Perry wants all women to do.
Perry mansplained why this won’t be an issue for him, “Actually, those comments were meant to be a compliment to her for what she had accomplished in her life. You think about where she came from, what she’s accomplished. And as a matter of fact, I would think that she’s very proud of that as well. My point was that saving a life and letting that life come to its fulfillment and all the good things that happened that you never know who’s going to be considered an extraordinary individual who’s going to make that real impact and life. And that was our point that we were making, and nothing else, nothing more.” (Yes, Perry is another who refers to himself as the royal “we”.)
Roberts pressed on, “Why do you think it was seen so differently by so many people?”
Perry had an answer for that one, too. It’s not that women/people were insulted when he used Davis’ personal life against her cause in an effort to get her to be quiet, it’s that — harkening back to the women are hysterical days, “You know, I think this is a volatile issue that people are grasping on to anything that they can criticize and not focusing on what’s really at hand here and, uh, the taking of life after twenty weeks, is what this is about. The killing of babies that are viable outside uh their mom’s bodies after twenty weeks is what this is about. A lot of folks really don’t like to talk about that, they would like to focus on practically anything rather than to say ‘we support that process.’”
Well, heavens yes, it’s not as if those people who “Stand with Wendy” could have a point worth listening to about letting women and their families make their own medical decisions. And while we might say that Rick Perry wants to discuss anything but using his power as a Government official to forcibly take away what should be personal medical decisions from citizens in order to impose his religious beliefs upon taxpayers, you can see how if he accuses everyone else of “killing babies” he doesn’t have to have a real discussion let alone debate on the issue. Toss that bomb, Rick!
See, if Perry leaves important decisions up to you girls, you just mess things up. This way, Republican Rick Perry, who cares about the unborn — just not the born — is in charge of all of you ladies’ bodies.
Perry said he was a big believer in state’s rights, especially since the outcome he wanted takes so long through a Constitutional amendment. And, whoopee, “We’re going to protect life in Texas.” Amended statement should read, “We’re going to protect all non-female and unborn ‘life’ in Texas.” State Senator Wendy Davis called Perry out on his bullying of women last week.
Perry tried to get out of talking about his political future and said his job was to be focused on getting things done in Texas, “To make sure women get the healthcare they deserve” and that it’s “safe”. Always check your back when a Republican lawmaker or Governor starts talking about giving you the healthcare you “deserve” (see their “repeal and replace” lie).
A reality check for Fox and Perry: A Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research poll of Texans on the issue found that the majority do not think the Governor or the legislature should be making these choices for individuals. “Support for a woman’s ability to make decisions on abortion for herself is both broad and deep, including among Independents (76 percent) and Republicans (61 percent).”
Forget what cynical pundits say. Democrats need to win states like Texas and Kentucky, and fed-up women are the key
Public Policy Polling is out with a new survey showing that Texas Gov. Rick Perry has actually increased his lead over state Sen. Wendy Davis in the wake of her nationally heralded filibuster against SB 5, the draconian antiabortion legislation Perry’s trying to pass in a second special section. It should be noted that Davis isn’t even a candidate for governor at this point, so this is a theoretical matchup absent any kind of campaign.
Still, the poll numbers are likely to bolster the already strong cynicism of Texas political observers about the chance that Davis could beat Perry if she fulfilled the dream of many liberal women nationwide and ran against him next year. Similarly, most journalists dismiss the chance that Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lunderman Grimes can knock off Sen. Mitch McConnell. But the rise of these red-state women is good news for Democrats, even if pundits say they can’t beat right-wing veterans (and national villains among liberals) like McConnell and Perry next year (and I’m not conceding that here). In most red states, the best hope for Democrats is a rising coalition of Latinos, black people, Asians, young voters and white women. Davis and Grimes could accelerate the future.
I’ve been struck by even liberal Texas reporters minimizing Davis’ chances, and suggesting that the national groundswell of support will hurt her in her home state. Writing in the New York Times, Texas Tribune reporter Jay Root reports that it “puzzles” Matthew Dowd, a former George W. Bush strategist, that Davis and her backers “are allying themselves with Hollywood actresses and handing Mr. Perry the ideological battle he so desperately needs to revive his standing — at least with the right,” Root writes.
“The best thing to do with Rick Perry is to make people laugh at him,” Dowd told Root. “If you get into a sort of ideological thing, and into a back and forth, that’s how Rick Perry survives.”
Another Texas Tribune writer, Ross Ramsey, wrote a piece headlined “For Davis, Opportunity Knocks at Inopportune Time,” arguing that the Fort Worth Democrat is little known outside her district and the state party is poorly organized to give her a statewide lift. “It’s her bad luck that she’s the fastest runner on a team that can’t seem to find its way to the track,” he writes. But then he concludes his piece by seeming to contradict it, claiming that if Davis doesn’t run now, “she’ll never have a better shot.” That’s puzzling – to follow his logic, she’d have a better shot if Democrats were better organized in a few years. So I’m not convinced anyone knows for sure that Davis can’t beat Perry.