“Conservatives became targets in 2008” [Darleen Click]
In the continuing “faux scandal” of IRS targeting TEA Party, 9/12, Pro-Life and Pro-Israel groups in order to seal Obama’s 2012 re-election, let’s remember that Obama’s tactic of harassing opponents and their supporters has a long history.
Let’s take a romp down memory lane and review the typical Obama campaign strategy. Obama became a U.S. senator only by virtue of David Axelrod’s former employer, the Chicago Tribune, ripping open the sealed divorce records of Obama’s two principal opponents.
The press was a willing accomplice in Obama’s unclean road to the Senate. Also, little examined, was the scorched earth, mod-inspired Chicago tactics used by the Obama campaign in 2008.
On Aug. 21, 2008, the conservative American Issues Project ran an ad highlighting ties between candidate Obama and Bill Ayers, formerly of the Weather Underground. The Obama campaign and supporters were furious, and they pressured TV stations to pull the ad—a common-enough tactic in such ad spats.
What came next was not common. Bob Bauer, general counsel for the campaign (and later general counsel for the White House), on the same day wrote to the criminal division of the Justice Department, demanding an investigation into AIP, “its officers and directors,” and its “anonymous donors.” Mr. Bauer claimed that the nonprofit, as a 501(c)(4), was committing a “knowing and willful violation” of election law, and wanted “action to enforce against criminal violations.”
AIP gave Justice a full explanation as to why it was not in violation. It said that it operated exactly as liberal groups like Naral Pro-Choice did. It noted that it had disclosed its donor, Texas businessman Harold Simmons. Mr. Bauer’s response was a second letter to Justice calling for the prosecution of Mr. Simmons. He sent a third letter on Sept. 8, again smearing the “sham” AIP’s “illegal electoral purpose.” […]
The Bauer onslaught was a big part of a new liberal strategy to thwart the rise of conservative groups. In early August 2008, the New York Times trumpeted the creation of a left-wing group (a 501(c)4) called Accountable America. Founded by Obama supporter and liberal activist Tom Mattzie, the group—as the story explained—would start by sending “warning” letters to 10,000 GOP donors, “hoping to create a chilling effect that will dry up contributions.” The letters would alert “right-wing groups to a variety of potential dangers, including legal trouble, public exposure and watchdog groups digging through their lives.” As Mr. Mattzie told Mother Jones: “We’re going to put them at risk.”
The Bauer letters were the Obama campaign’s high-profile contribution to this effort—though earlier, in the spring of 2008, Mr. Bauer filed a complaint with the FEC against the American Leadership Project, a group backing Hillary Clinton in the primary. “There’s going to be a reckoning here,” he had warned publicly. “It’s going to be rough—it’s going to be rough on the officers, it’s going to be rough on the employees, it’s going to be rough on the donors. . . Whether it’s at the FEC or in a broader criminal inquiry, those donors will be asked questions.” The campaign similarly attacked a group supporting John Edwards.
American Leadership head (and Democrat) Jason Kinney would rail that Mr. Bauer had gone from “credible legal authority” to “political hatchet man”—but the damage was done. As Politico reported in August 2008, Mr. Bauer’s words had “the effect of scaring [Clinton and Edwards] donors and consultants,” even if they hadn’t yet “result[ed] in any prosecution.”
The same tactics were used against any and all supporters of Romney in 2012. Never before has a President called private citizens to slander them as “less-than-reputable” and “betting against America” for the crime of exercising their First Amendment rights.
There might not be any bright-line evidence that King Barry give any direct order for the IRS to strangle grass-roots opposition in the crib. But like Henry II, he really didn’t have to …
“Will no one rid me of
this turbulent priest these troublesome groups?”