This piece originally appeared on The Patriot Project
A new, factory-produced front group named the Black Republican Freedom Fund is running ads saying - sit down for this, and do NOT have a cup of coffee anywhere near your face - "Martin Luther King, Jr. Was a Republican."
Last week in Patriot Project's report, Front-Group Economic Freedom Fund and Meridian Pacific, the question was asked,
"How is it that so many front groups are able to appear just in time to spread their lies and poison into campaign seasons? It is almost as if there is a template that is used, with a factory that cranks them out, all the parts assembled, needing only a misleading name -- and a target."
That story discussed how one person is able to fund a front group that is now conducting nasty (and in one case likely illegal) "push polls" and running ads against Democrats in Congressional districts around the country.
That Patriot Project story concluded,
"These connections show more than the fact that there is very little beyond obscure legal wording that separates these front groups from the core Republican Party. They show that there is a far-reaching, "in-place" infrastructure ready to be called on at a moment's notice to secure the objectives of the party and its funders. Organizations like the Economic Freedom Fund can be set up according to a template. Just put money in this end and smears and lies are sprayed out of the other. Inside, operating the machinery are people who move freely between these front-group firms, campaigns, corporate lobbying organizations and the Party. Front groups are set up to obtain signatures for a ballot initiative, saturate the airwaves with ads in favor of or against any candidate or issue - or smear someone like John Kerry or John Murtha. Just write the check, and there you go."
Today Patriot Project further explores this front-group phenomenon, looking at the arrival of yet another factory-produced, turnkey operation: the Black Republican Freedom Fund (BRFF). BRFF is funded, according to their June 30, 2006 report, by over $129,000 in "unitemized contributions" plus a number of other, smaller contributions, all but one under $1,000.
BRFF is running a "Martin Luther King, Jr. Was a Republican" campaign attempting to convince African-Americans that the largely-white Republican Party is their true home. But in this election the Republicans seem to be having a bit of a race problem. For example one Republican, Senator George Allen, has been in the news for calling a non-white person "Macaca" and telling him "Welcome to America." More recently there have been revelations that he has a history of using the "n-word" and even may have placed a severed deer head in the mailbox of the "nearest black person." So yes, the Republican Party does appear to have a slight bit of a race problem on its hands. So the answer? Why, accuse the Democrats of having a race problem, of course.
Here's how the cynical process works. Your opponent is strong and you are weak in a certain area - in this case it is about strong African-American support for Democrats and a Republican race problem making its way into the news. To fight this you set up a front group that is designed to drive a wedge into the core of their support while providing "cover" to deflect attention from you. And to get this done you say anything - whatever is necessary to trick the voters into thinking their interests are served by your cause. So in this case the front-group Black Republican Freedom Fund is set up to run ads in urban areas that say, "Democrats started the Ku Klux Klan," "Democrats released those vicious dogs and fire hoses on blacks" and "Democrats blocked the minimum wage passed by Republicans."
This cynical wedge-driving process is reminiscent of the line from The Godfather, "It's not personal. It's business." It's just how it's done - you do what you have to do. It's just a job, just business.
Further illustrating the factory-made process of setting up these front groups, NBRA shares the same street address and suite number as the DC office of another far-right front group, the National Center for Policy Analysis. This is not to say the two organizations are connected or share facilities or personnel -- a call to a law firm also sharing this address disclosed that this is an "executive suites" facility, which is, in a way, the office equivalent of a post-office-box address. The point is that these are ready-to-go offices that you can move into or out of immediately while giving every appearance of being an established, credible operaiot - quite appropriate for the kind of factory-made, ready-to-go front group that pops up just in time to set a nasty tone and drive a wedge into a target demographic for the election.
Gilliard told RAW STORY that the ad was particularly offensive because "it assumes that blacks are unsophisticated voters, who are driven by emotion," when Maryland just "may have the highest concentration of blacks with advanced degrees on the planet."
"So to try and rewrite history is insulting," Gilliard added. "People know the history of the two parties and this is just offensive."
BRFF, yet another 527, is entirely a creation of the National Black Republican Association (NBRA). The "About Us" page of the BBRA website makes their association with the Republican Party very clear,
MISSION: The mission of the National Black Republican Association (NBRA) is to be a resource for the black community on Republican ideals and promote the traditional values of the black community which are the core values of the Republican Party: strong families, faith in God, personal responsibility, quality education, and equal opportunities for all. GOAL: The goal of the NBRA is to return black Americans to their Republican Party roots by enlightening them about how Republicans fought for their freedom and civil rights, and are now fighting for their educational and economic advancement.
NBRA's website also explains the relationship to BRFF,
The Black Republican Freedom Fund: Our affiliated political action fund, the Black Republican Freedom Fund, will strongly support, both politically and financially, black Republican candidates under the NBRA's Blue County Victory Plan. This strategy entails identifying, training and financing black Republicans to run for election in districts populated largely by black Americans, with the aims of getting black Republican elected and winning votes for the top of the Republican ticket.
Perhaps a review of the rules about connections between front groups and political parties is in order.
NBRA shares a certain extremist bent with other front groups Patriot Project has examined. NBRA Chair(wo)man, Frances Rice, writing at far-right Human Events - a publication that features Ann Coulter - demonstrates this extremist tone, (note the early-1960's John Birch Society-style wording "Democrat Party")
"And as one pundit so succinctly stated, the Democrat Party is as it always has been, the party of the four S's: slavery, secession, segregation and now socialism.
It was the Democrats who fought to keep blacks in slavery and passed the discriminatory Black Codes and Jim Crow laws. The Democrats started the Ku Klux Klan to lynch and terrorize blacks. The Democrats fought to prevent the passage of every civil rights law beginning with the civil rights laws of the 1860s, and continuing with the civil rights laws of the 1950s and 1960s.
[. . .] Today, Democrats, in pursuit of their socialist agenda, are fighting to keep blacks poor, angry and voting for Democrats. Examples of how egregiously Democrats act to keep blacks in poverty are numerous.
[. . .] We must demonstrate that the Democrat Party policies of socialism and dependency on government handouts offer the pathway to poverty, while Republican Party principles of hard work, personal responsibility, getting a good education and ownership of homes and small businesses offer the pathway to prosperity."
Rice has been in the press before,
Back in February of this year, we caught Frances Rice, one of the state's leading Republican organizers, plagiarizing Washington Post columnist Colbert King; when cornered, she accused Venice Florida! dot com of racism.
And, finally, an endnote -- events last year following Katrina. From Sept. 2, 2005,
BLACK REPUBLICAN GROUP PRAISES BUSH'S DISASTER REACTION Seeing the hundreds of relief convoys pouring into New Orleans, bringing medicine and millions of gallons of food and water to provide relief and comfort to the people devastated by Hurricane Katrina, the National Black Republican Association (NBRA), a grassroots organization, issued a statement of praise for President Bush and his show of compassion and leadership in directing the relief effort. ... "As African Americans," NBRA officer Andre Cadogan said, "we are deeply concerned about efforts of President Bush's critics to politicize, for their own partisan political agenda, a disaster that affects so many of our fellow African American citizens."
This was apparently too much for even the organization's own Board of Directors to stomach. Just one week later, on September 12, seven of ten Board members resigned,
RESIGNATIONS AT THE NATIONAL BLACK REPUBLICAN ASSOCIATION
More than half of the newly formed National Black Republican Association's board of directors has walked out, according a now former high ranking board member.
... The exodus comes as President Bush has come under fire for his administration's slow response to Hurricane Katrina, a storm in which many blacks died.
The Patriot Project is working to expose the front groups, their funding, their connections and their tactics.