Wednesday, November 01, 2006

A Donald Segretti Moment

The mailings went out to homes all over the Philadelphia suburbs, apparently targeting areas known for support of Democratic candidates.

The brochures compared and contrasted the public stands of U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum and his Democratic opponent, Bob Casey Jr. The message was clear: on a number of hot-button issues, such as gay marriage, abortion, stem cell research and gun control, the two candidates hold similar positions. So why draw the contrast?

Well, the sponsor of the brochure was a group called the Progressive Policy Council, which stated it's mission iis to "advocate for progressive public policy solutions for contemporary social issues."

Still, for many recipients, it was a head scratcher. What was the point? Was this a liberal group urging progressives to sit out the election, rather than choose between Casey and Santorum -- implying there really was no difference between the two pols?

It sure looked that way, until people began scratching below the surface. For one thing, when people went to the web address listed on the brochure nothing was there (as of Monday). Later, notice went up saying, in so many words, "Watch This Space."

A check of clips turned up zero on the Progressive Policy Council. And I do mean zero. It's rare, to say the least, for a non-profit advocating policy to never, ever get a mention, especially since the brochure said it was headquartered in Arlington, Va. in the heart of the Beltway.

What is this ghost of an organization? Well, the sheet's been lifted, thanks to, a site sponsored by the Talking Points Memo. Reporter Paul KIel posted an item yesterday that disclosed that the person who filed for the corporate charter for the group in June was a guy named Jason Torchinsky.

Torchinsky is a lawyer with a mega-Washington law firm. But, more important, he is a former Bush-Cheney Campaign political operative. He was on the campaign's payroll in 2004. He is also involved, according to the clips, with the Voting Rights Legislation Fund, another Republican front group involved in ways to suppress voter turnout.
So, what we appear to have here is a Republican-financed phony mailing from a non-existent group seeking to suppress Democratic turnout. It's a dirty trick -- though that's the cleaned up version of what Donald Segretti and his merry pranksters called this kind of stuff.

They called it (explicit language alert) ratfucking.


Blogger rasphila said...

The web site now has some content, but nothing that would identify who put it up. I checked the public records of ownership and found that the listed owner of is based in Nova Scotia—a strange location for a group that is leafletting in the Philadelphia area and has a picture of the capitol building in DC on the front of its site.

Ownership of domains on the Internet, by law, has to be public information. But, as with ownership of property, anybody who is clever enough can conceal who the real owner is. The fact that this domain's owner is obviously hiding something makes the whole thing look pretty fishy.

I'm glad somebody did a good job of reporting and got to the bottom of this. But what a lame dirty trick this was. Surely Segretti and company would have come up with something better.

8:56 AM  
Blogger InsultComicDog said...

Yes, apparently has a service called "Domain Discreet" to allow weasels like Torchinsky to cover their tracks.

11:05 AM  
Blogger AJ Lynch said...

Grow up Tom. It's a cruel world you live in. Why don't you do this kind of snooping on big-bucks Fenton Communications? Cause it does the same kind of stuff for faux Dem causes all the time. Check with your colleague, Julie Stoiber, if you don't believe me.

1:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

call it both ways an you will have credibility
7700 dead voters on rolls in new york state, voting 4:1 democrat-no doubt the same countrywide, and especially in philly

1:55 PM  
Anonymous Mark Stackhouse said...


At least you are getting your news from Brit Hume and not one of the talk show host masquarading as a newmen on Fox.

I don't know what is worse. How you could really think that was relevent to Ferricks column or that I was watching Fox.

4:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You sound like Captain Renault in Casablanca who was "shocked, shocked that gambling is going on here".

Speaking of selective outrage, are voting booths still housed in the living rooms of Democratic precinct captains on election day in Philly, as editor Chris Satullo stated in 2004? When I heard that I was simply shocked, shocked, that such a thing could still go on this day and age.

10:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I knew as soon as I read this mailing it did not pass the smell test. The bottom line message? Santorum is the devil you know. THAT'S THE PROBLEM.

10:18 AM  

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