Archive for dirty tricks

Republicans Eating Their Own: Episode Eleventy-Thousand


Foley clip edited

Republicans eating their own smaller

The Hartford Courant has a fascinating-- not to mention entertaining-- report about how a Connecticut Republican gubernatorial candidate (John McKinney) manipulated an audio clip of a fellow Republican, his rival (Tom Foley). By editing the audio in one of his political ads, McKinney managed to turn Foley's message into something evil and sinister and icky. Welcome to another episode of Republicans Eating Their Own. Enjoy!

Below is McKinney's ad. The wording in question is at about :07, where Foley supposedly said, "I'm not going to cut spending." Twice! What a terrible person that Tom Foley is! What self-respecting Republican would ever vote a big spender like that?! Presenting Candidate Foley the Double-Crosser in his own words... at least according to McKinney:


Foley's actual words were, "I'm not saying I'm going to cut spending; I'm saying I'm going to hold spending flat" They were completely distorted and taken out of context. As Scott McLean, professor of political science at Quinnipiac University points out in the Courant piece, messing with context is one thing, but this kind of editing is quite another.

Below is a clip in which WNPR experimented with the audio, "editing to see if we could replicate the McKinney campaign's edit":

Well done, WNPR.

Negative advertising strikes again. It's the American way!

And this concludes another episode of Republicans Eating Their Own.


WI GOP may allow cameras next: Poll watchers already allowed 3 feet from voters


cameras in faceImage via

voter intimidation voter suppression

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker signed a bill this year that let poll observers intimidate get within thirty-six inches of the voters they are hovering over monitoring. Nothing like having the rabidly right wing poll police breathing down your neck while you try to make private choices in what used to be a country that believed in democracy. Now Wisconsin may allow cameras. Now they want their "observers" to be able to record your personal information, too.

Steve Benen at The Maddow Blog on the original law:

The law would allow observers to stand 3 to 8 feet from the table where voters announce their names and addresses and are issued voter numbers, or from the table where people register to vote.

Gee, who could possibly mind if a total stranger, a fanatic extremist partisan with fervently opposing views, overheard your name and address? Or scrutinized and challenged your vote? What could possibly go wrong?

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Here's a video of Rachel Maddow explaining the original law in full back in April:

Clearly, that's not enough Dem harassment for Wisconsin Republicans. Now the election bullies observers would be able to unnerve their fellow citizens not just with their presence, but also with cameras and video recorders. If Americans exercising their voting rights happen to rub the monitors the wrong way, then hey, chill them to the bone. Document them. Record them. Use your cameras as weapons. Make them as uncomfortable as possible. Terrify them. Try to suppress their votes by causing them to avoid the polls in order to avoid the poll watchers.

Via the Green Bay Press Gazette:

Wisconsin officials may lift the ban on camera usage by election observers.

The state elections board will meet Monday to vote on proposed changes to election observer rules, the Wisconsin State Journal reported. The Republican-controlled Legislature proposed the ban reversal.

Election observers have been prohibited from shooting photos and video at the polls for the past eight years.

If the ban is lifted, cameras can start being used during the August primary. So much for your privacy, Wisconsinites.


This is going from "creepy" to downright scary.


Subpoenas issued in WI John Doe probe, so GOP tried to change law


walker world subpoenas

As I mentioned in my previous post, Another CA city sues over voting rights law, if you can't win on the merits of your arguments, on your policies (or lack thereof), your talent, or on your powers of persuasion, then hey, cheat. Dirty tricks abound in politics, and Wisconsin's John Doe criminal investigation is no exception. In this case, some subpoenas were sent out in the case involving alleged GOP campaign finance shenanigans, so what's a Republican to do? Why, quietly change the law to suit their needs. No sense in succumbing to potential criminal status when you can use a Mr. Dirty Tricks Clean Magic Eraser to whisk away the dirt!

mr. clean magic eraser

As you may recall, there is an ongoing John Doe investigation into possible illegal coordination between Gov. Scott Walker’s campaign and several conservative groups. Poor Scotty. So many issues, so little time. He's accused of being part of "criminal scheme," which can't be boosting his image or helping his potential 2016 presidential run at all. His troubles just keep on a-mounting. And Walker and his GOP buddies are amounting... to a big stack of fail. has the goods:

New documents indicate that just weeks after the first subpoenas were issued in Wisconsin's "John Doe" criminal campaign finance probe in October 2013, senate Republicans had begun working to change state law to legalize the activities under investigation.

Legislative Republicans surprised many in the state in March of 2014 when they tried to rush Senate Bill 654 through the legislature to explicitly carve-out an exception to the state's campaign finance statutes for so-called "issue ads," those thinly-veiled election messages that stop short of telling viewers to vote for or against a candidate.

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The Wisconsin State Journal called it "dodging public scrutiny." I call it CYA.

On October 3, 2013, prosecutors secretly served Wisconsin Club for Growth director Eric O'Keefe with a subpoena in the John Doe investigation, and executed search warrants on the homes of Walker's top campaign advisor R.J. Johnson (who also was the Club's chief strategist) and his associate Deborah Jordahl.

Two weeks after the secret subpoenas were issued, drafting records show that an aide to [Sen. Mary Lazich (R)], Zach Bemis, contacted the Legislative Reference Bureau and requested a bill that would rewrite state law, reverse court of appeals precedent, and exempt "issue ads" from Wisconsin campaign finance statutes. [...]

By changing the law to put issue ads beyond the reach of Wisconsin's campaign finance statutes, Lazich's bill would have had the effect of legalizing the issue ad coordination under investigation. Lazich was the subject of a recall attempt in 2011.

You can find more details here, definitely worth a read.

Welcome to Walker World.


Another CA city sues over voting rights law


voter suppression voting rights

Voting rights, schmoting rights. Who needs 'em in this post-racial day and age? We've clearly evolved, says the Supreme Court. Says Republicans. Says anyone who doesn't want Democrats to have voting rights. After all, if you can't win on the merits of your arguments, on your policies (or lack thereof), your talent, or on your powers of persuasion, then hey, cheat.

It's the 'Murican way!

the american way

Unless, of course, you get called out. The Los Angeles Times is reporting that the city of Bellflower, right here in my home state of California, is getting sued. Why? Voting rights are being violated... allegedly:

The Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund and two law firms filed a Superior Court complaint Monday afternoon, on behalf of three minority Bellflower residents alleging the city is in violation of the California Voting Rights Act.

The act seeks to ensure that minorities have an opportunity to elect leaders of their choice.  The suit alleges that Bellflower's practice of electing council members citywide instead of by geographic districts has hindered Latino and African American candidates.

The plaintiffs said they have found patterns of racially polarized voting in the southeast Los Angeles County city of about 77,000. They want the city to switch to by-district elections to give voters in strongly minority neighborhoods an opportunity to elect at least one representative to the City Council.

What? Restricting the rights of not-white voters? In this day and age of GOP outreach? Don't be ridiculous...

It's not like Bellflower's population is 66% Latino and African American, but the council members are monochromatically pale. Come on.

Bellflower's population is 52% Latino and 14% African American, according to the city's website.  All five council members are white.