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 TPMMuckraker.com, 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.