Here is an audio clip of the ad, although this one is slightly different than the one that I heard. This is the raw feed, including the preamble information probably used by the radio station.
Having never heard of the group, I searched for them on OpenSecrets.org. I found little available yet, except for a blog post, describing the organization (look for the group's logo). OpenSecrets.org also lists the independent expenditures so far. There is a well-funded 527 organization with a similar name with significant contributions in 2010 and 2008 from AFSCME and SEIU.
Okay, so now it's off to the Federal Elections Commission (FEC) web site.
According to required financial disclosures, The Patriot Majority PAC received nearly $2 million as of 23-OCT-2010.
Looking through the FEC disclosures, I find the following major contributors of $10,000 or more.
1. SEIU Committee on Political Education (COPE): $400,000
2. American Federation of Teachers (AFT): $300,000
3. Guy David Gundlach: $300,000
4. MGM Resorts and MGM Mirage: $300,000
5. VoteVets.org Action Fund: $250,000
6. American Association for Justice (AAJ PAC): $100,000
7. Clean Energy Fuels Corporation: $75,000
8. Harrah's Operating Company: $75,000
9. Carpenter's Legislative Improvement Committee, United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners: $60,000
10. San Pablo Lytton Casino (San Pablo, CA): $50,000
11. Laborers' International Union of North America (LIUNA) PAC: $20,000
12. Sheet Metal Workers International PAC: $10,000
According to FEC filings, The Patriot Majority PAC "committee will not use those funds to make contributions, whether direct, in-kind, or via coordinated communications, to federal candidates or committees." It's funny how everybody aware of the system knows that this is baloney.
Let's look again at the major donors. More than a few are associated with major labor unions that are listed on the OpenSecrets.org list of major political donors, known as the Heavy Hitters list. Here are a few examples.
- Service Employees International Union (SEIU) is #11 on the Heavy Hitters list with 95% of their contributions going to Democrats.
- American Federation of Teachers (AFT) is #13 on the Heavy Hitters list with 98% of their contributions going to Democrats.
- American Association for Justice (AAJ) is #6 on the Heavy Hitters list with 90% of their contributions going to Democrats.
- United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners is #12 on the Heavy Hitters list with 89% of their contributions going to Democrats.
What about individual donors? Do they primarily donate to Democrats?
- According to OpenSecrets.org, Guy David Gundlach, who gave $300,000 to The Patriot Majority, also gave $2,400 to Harry Reid's campaign (the maximum legally allowed) and $10,000 to the Democratic Party of Nevada. Harry Reid is the incumbent Senator in Nevada running against Sharron Angle. A person of the same name also gave $2,400 to Nevada Congresswoman Shelley Berkley, a Democrat, but the donation was from a California address. Likewise, Guy David Gundlach also gave $12,400 to the Reid Nevada Fund (see page 28, first contributor).
- According to OpenSecrets.org, VoteVets.org gives exclusively to Democrats in 2010 and primarily to Democrats in 2008.
- According to Influence Explorer, Clean Energy Fuels Corporation gives primarily to Republicans, but has supported Harry Reid.
- According to Influence Explorer, Harrah's Entertainment, which may be different than Harrah's Operating Company, is a major contributor to Harry Reid.
- According to Influence Explorer, MGM Mirage was a major donor to both Senator Harry Reid and Congresswoman Shelley Berkley, although their political contributions were fairly evenly balanced between parties.
- One strange member of the list is the San Pablo Lytton Casino in California, which is apparently part of the Lytton Rancheria Of California. I'm not sure what interest they have in this fight other than the casino owners obviously have connections to Nevada casinos.
I also looked up to see who owns the web domain for The Patriot Majority.
The site is registered to "Craig Varoga" with an "independentstrategies.com" E-mail address. Craig Varoga is also the Treasurers name for the FEC filings. Who is Craig Varoga? According to the Independent Strategies web site ...
Craig Varoga is a national political strategist whose presidential experience includes managing former Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack’s campaign for president, serving as national field director for retired Four Star General Wesley Clark, managing the Texas Truth Squad in 2000 and running the state-research program for the Clinton-Gore re-election. ... During the 1990s, Varoga served as communications director to Senator Harry Reid .... Partner at Varoga & Associates and founder of the Patriot Majority, Varoga writes a monthly column ("Ask the Campaign Doctor") for Campaigns & Elections magazine.
But still, who is Craig Varoga? According to a Michelle Malkin post from April, 2010.
Before them, it was Craig Varoga--a shady Democrat political operative and overseer of a convoluted, money-shuffling web of 527s. He launched TheTeaPartyisOver.org in January to target Republicans who supported the Tea Party movement and to prevent the "radical" and "dangerous" fiscal accountability agenda from "gaining legislative traction."
Joseph Abrams also wrote about Craig Varoga and friends back in February, 2010.
Here's how it works: What appears like a local groundswell is in fact the creation of two men -- Craig Varoga and George Rakis, Democratic Party strategists who have set up a number of so-called 527 groups, the non-profit election organizations that hammer on contentious issues (think Swift Boats, for example).Varoga and Rakis keep a central mailing address in Washington, pulling in soft money contributions from unions and other well-padded sources to engage in what amounts to a legal laundering system. The money -- tens of millions of dollars -- gets circulated around to different states by the 527s, which pay for TV ads, Internet campaigns and lobbyist salaries, all while keeping the hands of the unions clean -- for the most part....And this whitewash is entirely legal, say election law experts, who told FoxNews.com that this arrangement more or less the norm in Washington."It's not illegal but it is, I think, dishonest on the part of the organizations," said Paul Ryan, a legal counsel at the Campaign Legal Center. "And there's a reason they do it: they know voters don't like outsiders coming in to sway the vote."...Outside of that firm, the center of their activity appears to be a single office in Southeast D.C. -- 300 M Street, Suite 1102 -- which plays host to a sprawling political shell game they have established.Public records show at least seven political shops listed in Suite 1102, most of which are essentially clones of one another, but all of which have offered money -- from measly thousands to game-changing millions -- in state-level elections across the country:
- The American Public Policy Committee [2010 donations | 2008 donations ]
- Patriot Majority [2010 donations | 2008 donations ]
- Citizens for Progress [2010 donations | 2008 donations ]
- Oklahoma Freedom Fund [ 2008 donations ]
- Mid Atlantic Leadership Fund [2010 donations ]
- Public Security Now [ 2008 donations ]
- Pioneer Majority [ 2008 donations ]
- Bluegrass Freedom Fund [ 2008 donations ]The APPC, which developed the anti-tea party ads, has gotten all of its money for 2010 from Patriot Majority and from Citizens for Progress, which is also called Patriot Majority West.
The 300 M Street, Suite 1102, Washington DC address appears to be the current address for political law firm Sandler Reiff & Young and for business law and litigation firm Shapiro Sher Guinot & Sandler. The "Sandler" in both firms are cousins Paul Mark Sandler of Shapiro Sher Guinot & Sandler and Joseph E. Sandler of Sandler Reiff & Young. Paul Mark Rosen of Shapiro Sher Guinot & Sandler has been involved in high-profile campaign law cases.
USA Today: "Feds probe for Clinton campaign violations", October, 2004.
Talk about Astroturf, I'm calling this one TOTALLY BUSTED! on The Patriot Majority. By all measures, this is a sham Tea Party group and is purposefully deceptive. Anybody from The Patriot Majority care to refute these findings? For you Sarah Palin fans, refute means refudiate. :-)
See also ...
Center for Public Integrity, "Craig Varoga"
Las Vegas Review-Journal, "Reid distances himself from group attacking Lowden"
Las Vega Sun, "Pro-Harry Reid group out with radio ad touting Scott Ashjian"
Politico, "Casinos place bets on Reid"
DC Independent Examiner, "When Astroturf is really Astroturf: phony grassroots PAC reveals massive 527 network"
Washington Examiner, "Want to know how to really astroturf a movement? Just ask Democrat money men Craig Varoga and George Rakis"
Washington Post, "Democratic group targets tea party candidates"
FoxNews.com, "Anti-Tea Party Web Site Part of Scheme to Funnel Funds"
Las Vegas Review-Journal, "Reid, Angle even on campaign cash"
NPR, "Profile: Patriot Majority"
American Thinker, "Information War: TheTeaPartyIsOver.org"
Nevada News Bureau, "Chickens For Checkups TV Ad & Patriot Majority PAC"
Cranky Hermit, "MGM Resorts Dives Headfirst Into the Campaign - And Some Employees and Customers May Not Be Too Happy About It"
SF Weekly, "Jackpot: How four tiny Indian tribes, with help from powerful gambling interests, are trying to transform the Bay Area into a slot machine Mecca," October 27, 2004. Article about the Lytton Casino and Indian gaming in California.
Soquel by the Creek, "A Fake Latino Reform Group Appears in Nevada"
Craig Varoga, Varoga & Associates: This site looks nearly identical to the Independent Strategies web site.