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The Rich project

Ae we’ve been saying for some time, the recent spate of land use and state finance initiatives are an abuse of the initiative process. More evidence of that today, from the Center for Public Integrity.

Center for Public Integrity

From their story:

“The Idaho group that’s pushing Proposition 2 is being kept afloat by large infusions of cash from out-of-state organizations controlled by Howard Rich, a wealthy political activist in New York. Records released yesterday by the Idaho Secretary of State’s office show that This House is MY Home, the chief proponent of Proposition 2, received $75,000 of its $76,764 in contributions from June 3 to September 30, 2006, from America at its Best, a Rich-funded organization.”

Prop 2 is a New York idea, not an Idaho idea.

UPDATE Our usual practice is to run here emails sent to us only after communicating back, but in this case no name was attached to the mail – it was addressed simply as freedomworks(at)wwdb.org, the latter being an ISP rather than a political site – its sender remains anonymous (not usually a good sign). The message:

Randy, re: your citation of the Center for Public Integrity’s focus on Prop 2 funding by Howie Rich…

In the interests of balance and full disclosure, ever occur to you to ask who funds Center for Public Integrity?

Just wait a few days. It’s a lot bigger (and wealthier) name than Howie Rich. And the Butches of the world are gonna wish they could go crawl in a hole somewhere…

Actually, just call up Laird and ask for his news release. AP is already on it.

By way of response:

The use of the Center’s release was only a convenience on our part, since it relied only on information online at the Idaho Secretary of State’s office. Look up “This House is MY Home,” the Maxwell organization in question, and here is what turns up in contributions:

America At It’s Best PO Box 1678 Kalispell MT 59903 4/17/2006 $50,000.00
America At It’s Best PO Box 1678 Kalispell MT 59903 4/17/2006 $50,000.00
Fund for Democracy 73 Spring St Ste 406 New York NY 10012 3/21/2006 $80,000.00
Fund for Democracy 73 Spring St Ste 406 New York NY 10012 4/12/2006 $25,000.00
Fund for Democracy 73 Spring St Ste 406 New York NY 10012 4/13/2006 $50,000.00
Fund for Democracy 73 Spring St Ste 406 New York NY 10012 4/25/2006 $55,000.00
Fund for Democracy 73 Spring St Ste 406 New York NY 10012 5/5/2006 $22,000.00
Fund for Democracy 73 Spring St Ste 406 New York NY 10012 6/2/2006 $5,000.00
Maxwell, Laird 702 W Hays Ste 16 Boise ID 3/21/2006 $50.00

And that’s all. A little less readiable than the paragraph from the release, but it translates to the same thing.

Might more money from additional sources be coming? Never say never. We’ll be watching.

As to why “the Butches of the world are gonna wish they could go crawl in a hole somewhere,” well, we’ll be watching for that too.

As for the Center for Public Integrity, in case you were wondering, here’s the shorthand description from Wikipedia:

The Center for Public Integrity is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization, dedicated to producing original, responsible, investigative journalism on issues of public concern. The Center, located in Washington, DC, USA, is committed to transparent and comprehensive reporting on campaign finance, government contracting, telecommunications ownership and lobbying in federal and state government.

The Center is headed by Executive Director Wendell Rawls, Jr., a Pulitzer Prize winning reporter. The Center was founded in 1989 by Charles Lewis following a successful 11-year career in network television news.

Since 1990, the Center for Public Integrity has released more than 275 investigative reports and 14 books. In just the last eight years the organization has been honored more than 31 times by, among others, PEN USA, Investigative Reporters and Editors (IRE) and the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ). The Center’s “Windfalls of War” report on U.S. government contracts in Iraq and Afghanistan won the highly prestigious George Polk award (online category) in 2004.

We’ve seen their reports over the years, and they’ve maintained high quality.

Finally – the reference to FreedomWorks in the email . . .

There is a national organization by that name, whose stated purpose is to further a Freedom Agenda, “a set of political changes that FreedomWorks supports. The six core issues are: Fundamental Tax Reform to scrap the federal tax code and make it simple, low, transparent, and flat; Social Security to include large Personal Retirement Accounts (PRAs) that individual workers own; Tort Reform to end lawsuit abuse; School Choice to increase parental control and competition in education; Economic Growth to push for pro-growth regulatory and trade policy changes; and Welfare Reform to emphasize work, personal responsibility, and greater access to capital. The Freedom Agenda also includes numerous state issues including those on telecommunications, TABOR (taxpayer bill of rights), property rights, and decreasing local taxes.”

The linkages do keep on growing.

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