Archive for July 16th, 2012

Political Stalking

July 16, 2012

The latest trend in politics these days seems to be stalking politicians by hanging out at their homes and posting recordings on YouTube.

Video “trackers” are a mainstay on the campaign trail nowadays. Dispatched by candidates to shadow their rivals, they lurk in the crowds and the receiving lines waiting for the opponent to slip up, then capture the embarrassing moment on camera and post it online.

But this season, Democrats are taking the practice to a new and, some say, uncomfortable level by recording the homes of some Republican incumbents.

Two of the recent targets this year have been Ohio Rep. Jim Renacci and Wisconsin Rep. Reid Ribble, whose homes appear in roughly 30-second video clips posted online.

“It really crosses a line,” Ribble told Fox News. “I think it’s fair game for a tracker or the other party to tape what you’re saying. But this doesn’t do anything for them or the political process. And quite frankly it really disturbed my wife.”

In the Ribble video, posted online June 18, his Wisconsin home is filmed from several different angles on a windy day. It’s unclear whether anyone was home when the video, which has no sound, was shot. The Renacci video follows the same formula — straight, raw footage of the congressman’s home posted to YouTube.

Democrats are defending the practice. They say the videos of GOP members’ homes — which are generally spacious, nice-looking dwellings — expose the fact that congressional Republicans used this session to help the wealthy and themselves.

“House Republicans have spent this entire Congress trying to hide that they’re protecting benefits for millionaires and perks for themselves instead of protecting the middle class. But we won’t let them keep it secret any longer,” said Jesse Ferguson, spokesman for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

The rival National Republican Congressional Committee also uses trackers, but in a more limited scope, spokesman Paul Lindsay said.

“Our trackers serve as eyes and ears to hold Democrats accountable in public events and public spaces only,” he said. “Anything beyond that would be a violation of our policy.”

I can’t say that I am really surprised that it is the Democrats that are doing this, and seem to have no idea that there is anything wrong with this creepy behavior. I wonder if they will take responsibility if some unstable person commits an act of violence, perhaps to get back at the evil 1%.

If you think that perhaps are are safe from this sort of thing because you are not a politician, think again. The Democracy Is Strengthened by Casting Light On Spending in Elections or DISCLOSE act is making its way through Congress. If you want to make a large contribution (more than $10,0o0) to a campaign or any polilical cause, than be prepared to have your name and address known. Here are some FAQs about this legislation from the League of Women Voters.

Q.  Why is the DISCLOSE Act needed?

A.  Following the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United v. FEC, we have seen a huge increase in election-related advertising through supposedly “independent” expenditures – and most of the money comes from secret sources.  Corporations, unions and wealthy individuals can hide the fact that they are funneling tens of millions of dollars into ad campaigns designed to elect or defeat candidates.  The DISCLOSE Act would remedy this situation by requiring disclosure.

Q.  Why is disclosure important?

A.  Voters deserve and need to know the sources of funding for election advertising so they can make informed decisions.  Secret campaign money has no place in America’s democracy simply because it undermines the role of the voter and corrupts the election process.  Voters have a right to know — whether it is a corporation, union, trade association, or non-profit advocacy group making unlimited campaign expenditures and influencing elections – so they can judge whether to believe the ads.

The League of Women Voters believes Americans deserve all the information they can get before they vote.  Tell us where the money is coming from and let the voters decide.


Q.  Is there any other reason for disclosure?

A.  It is often said that sunlight is the best disinfectant.  Disclosure will operate as a deterrent to quid pro quo corruption because it stops the secret spending that could be part of a corrupt arrangement.


Q.  What does the Supreme Court say about campaign finance disclosure?

A.  On an 8 – 1 vote in the Citizens United case, the Supreme Court upheld disclosure requirements.  In fact, the Court pointed in the direction of enhanced disclosure when it said that disclosure is important to “providing the electorate with information.”  It also supported disclaimer requirements “so that the people will be able to evaluate the arguments to which they are being subjected.”  We couldn’t agree more.


Q.  What does the DISCLOSE Act require?

A.  The DISCLOSE of Act 2012 is carefully crafted to require disclosure by outside groups of large campaign contributions and expenditures – those over $10,000 – and includes a valuable “stand-by-your ad” provision for ads run by such groups.  It requires outside groups to certify that their spending is not coordinated with candidates and, very importantly, covers transfers of money among groups so that the actual sources of funds being spent to influence federal elections will be known.


Q.  Covering transfers of more than $10,000 among groups for election advertising is really important?

A.  Yes.  Unless large transfers are disclosed, corporations, unions, trade associations and wealthy individuals would still be able to hide their spending and deceive the voters through “dummy” corporations.


Q.  How is enhanced disclosure accomplished in the legislation?

A.  One of the key elements of the DISCLOSE Act is the definition of “electioneering communications” that triggers the disclosure requirements.  If an ad uses the name or likeness of a candidate within the calendar year of a particular House or Senate election, then disclosure is required.  Current law only requires disclosure of ads within 90 days of a general election, a period of time that is proving much too short with the huge campaign expenditures we are seeing – and made possible by – Citizens United.


Q.  Is the “stand by your ad” requirement an important part of disclosure?

A.  Yes, it is.  The requirement for the main funder(s) of an ad to appear briefly in the ad ensures that the voters will hear directly and immediately who is paying for and is responsible for the ad.

It sounds good and I would support such an act, except that activists have used such information to harass and intimidate  supporters causes they don’t like.

Supporters of California’s Proposition 8 are reporting harassment and even violent assaults from opponents protesting the passage of the ballot proposal which rescinded a California Supreme Court decision that imposed same-sex marriage on the state. Homosexual activists have held large protests at Mormon temples and Catholic churches, deriding their opponents as hateful.

Paul Bishop, a Los Angeles Police Department supervisor reported on the election aftermath in Meridian, a magazine for members of the Latter-Day Saint Church, who are also known as Mormons.

Bishop told how he, as a private citizen, had attended rallies in support of Proposition 8. While both supporters and opponents of the measure honked their horns, he wrote, “the way to tell the difference is the No On 8 supporters usually accompanied their horn honking with an obscene gesture or a string of obscenities. They also liked to swerve their cars toward the children on the curb.”

He noted that several of his ward members had received hate mail after their names, religious affiliation, contribution amounts, and addresses were published on a web site inciting Proposition 8 opponents to target the individuals listed.

“Their houses and cars had been vandalized, their campaign support signs stolen, and opposition signs planted in their place,” Bishop wrote.

This is an opinion piece from US News & World Report

It’s not the new system they don’t like—even while they attack it. It’s that without knowing the identity of the donors who are giving the money to the GOP, they can’t send their mobs arising out of the “Occupy” movement and like-minded groups to the homes of donors in an effort to intimidate them into closing their checkbooks. Last week, for example, hoards of protesters descended on a neighborhood in New York to picket the home of a couple holding a Romney fundraiser, including a plane towing an obnoxious banner overhead.

Other donors to Romney have been singled out by name by the Obama campaign, triggering boycotts of the companies with whom they are affiliated. No such actions have been taken, on the other hand, against individuals or events organized to raise funds for pro-Obama groups. The hypocrisy of the left on these issues should be apparent to anyone who cares to look. They don’t want an even playing field. They don’t want fairness. They want to force, through new law or through intimidation, the GOP’s money out of the political process so they can do all the spending they want, unmatched by anyone who disagrees.

The moral here, is that if the DISCLOSE act is ever passed, conservative activists had better lay low and shut up, or have their homes featured on YouTube, and Occupiers show up at their doorstep.

 

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