Monday, November 8, 2010

How about some fact-checks of Karl Rove's and right's falsehoods?

Original Link:

By Greg Sargent

Virtually every news org under the sun has now weighed in with an aggressive fact check of White House/Dem foreign money allegations against the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. And that's as it should be.

But when are folks going to start getting equally aggressive about fact-checking the false and misleading claims in this dispute that are coming from the right?

Karl Rove, who co-founded two big spending groups, and others behind the huge conservative ad buys, have repeatedly claimed in recent days that their spending is comparable to anonymous spending from the left. These claims are serious distortions at best and demonstrable falsehoods at worst. But no one seems to care. While it's understandable that White House claims would draw more scrutiny, Rove is a hugely influential figure this year, helping raise and spend tens of millions to swing the elections.

Yesterday Rove falsely claimed that MoveOn doesn't disclose its donors, even though it complies with the same disclosure requirements that candiate and party committees do. And today, Rove amplified this line on Good Morning America, responding to the President's broadsides as follows:

President Obama based his attack on a blog posting by Think Progress, which is associated with the Center for American Progress, a group headed by John Podesta, who was the chairman of the president's transition. It is a political group and does not reveal its donors. The president didn't say anything about the League of Conservation Voters, which does not reveal its donors, and makes political ads.

The Natural Resources Defense Council, which runs ads through its action fund, does not reveal its donors. The president's own campaign refused to reveal the names of donors who contributed literally tens of millions of dollars to his efforts.

Rove's claims passed largely unchallenged, but let's take them one by one. The comparison to the Center for American Progress is absurd, because it does not and has never run campaign ads. The League of Conservation Voters has only spent a paltry $1.3 million this cycle -- an infinitesimal fraction of the right's spending. It pays for ads out of several committees. Nearly half of LCV's spending came from a committee that does, in fact, disclose its donors, according to a group spokesman.

LCV does also spend for ads out of a 501 c4, which doesn't disclose donors, but there's substantial donor overlap between the two committee, so we already have a very good idea of who they are. The Natural Resources Defense Council Action Fund is also a 501 c4, and doesn't disclose.

But even so, Rove's assertions about these groups are still absurd, because we already know what their issue positions and agendas are. What's more, Obama and Dems tried to pass the DISCLOSE Act this summer -- which would have forced such organizations to disclose their donors.

As for Rove's claim that literally tens of millions of Obama's contributions remained secret, the reality is that 90.2 percent of the hundreds of millions Obama raised were disclosed. And the comparison of conservative spending to labor, echoed by many on the right, has already been debunked by one lone blogger, Ben Smith.

By all means, let's fact-check the living heck out of the White House/Dem attacks on Chamber foreign money. But the steady stream of falsehoods and distortions coming from major players on the right deserves a look, too.

UPDATE, 3:15 p.m.: With regard to Rove's claim about the Obama campaign, it's also important to note that the campaign shut down the spending of outside groups, though people have debated the motives for doing so.

UPDATE, 4:25 p.m.: It gets even more ridiculous: A spokesman for the NRDC Action Fund tells me that his group will spend a grand total of $500,000 on the elections from August to November 2nd. That means the grand total being spent by all the groups Rove cited is less than $2 million, a comically tiny fraction of the right's spending, and not all of it is undisclosed to begin with.

UPDATE, 7:06 p.m.: The link to the figure on Obama's fundraising has been fixed. Apologies. Also, one other point: An operative gets in touch to object that the issue positions of Rove's groups can be ascertained from their Web sites. Fair enough, I suppose. But the comparison to these lefty groups is still completely bogus. Groups like the NRDC and the LCV were founded specifically to advocate on issues. Rove's groups were created to sway these elections, and are spending huge money chippped in by very powerful anonymous interests to do just that.

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