National Family Coalition traced back to far-right ideologues

Anti-gay mailer attacking Texas Senate District 10 candidate Libby Willis traced back to organization that is part of an ‘archconservative cabal’; tie to Burton consultant also found

 

James Russell  |  Staff Writer

russell@dallasvoice.com

 

Their names are simple, but clearly ideological: National Association for Gun Rights, National Pro-Life Alliance and National Family Coalition.

They blast voters with mailers and pre-recorded calls using meaty buzz terms: The candidate “voted for Obamacare,” “supports the radical anti-gun agenda,” “will leave the unborn defenseless.”

Last week, mailers distributed by the National Family Coalition appeared in Senate District 10 mailboxes, asking the Democratic candidate “to stop pushing the radical homosexual agenda.” As first reported in Dallas Voice, Luke Macias, consultant for Konni Burton of Colleyville, the Republican candidate for the Texas Senate District 10 seat, denied any knowledge of the mailer attacking Libby Willis, the Democrat running for the open District 10 seat.

“The campaign is not affiliated with the group that sent this mail piece in any way. … We are unaware of who sent the mailer, as the group claiming credit has no website, no telephone number, and only a mailing address,” Macias assured the Voice at the time.

The campaign was sticking to what matters to voters of Senate District 10, he said.

But Dallas Voice has since learned that the National Family Coalition is connected to a web of national, influential right-wing organizations linked to individuals with troubling legal histories and questionable backgrounds. They are white supremacists, anti-abortion purists, anti-gay pastors and hard-right political operatives. And they are linked to numerous shell organizations that routinely break the law.

Figuring out the connections among the complex web of organizations, their affiliations and associates emerging in the final days of the 2014 elections is like following a paper trail with no end. Figuring out why the National Family Coalition, which has neither an Internet presence nor listed phone number, chose to hit a senate district in Texas as its second target one week before the general election is just as complicated.

***

During the summer of 2013, a filibuster against the final passage of legislation restricting abortions propelled Sen. Wendy Davis, a Fort Worth Democrat, into the international spotlight.

It also riled Konni Burton, a Colleyville Tea Party operative who worked for Sen. Ted Cruz and Sen. Dan Patrick.

Burton announced she would challenge Davis for the seat with a fiery anti-abortion television advertisement. Her campaign coffers were immediately padded with donations from around the country.

One of those was a $25 donation from Lawrence “Larry” Pratt of Springfield, Va. He’s the executive director of Gun Owners of America, a far-right, Washington, D.C. lobbying organization that makes the National Rifle Association look like a gun control group. A former associate to right-wing presidential candidate Pat Buchannan, Pratt has been affiliated with white supremacist groups and violent anti-abortion groups.

Pratt is also a well-known operative for Dudley Brown, the right-wing Colorado operative who founded the National Association for Gun Rights. The NAGR’s PAC formally endorsed Burton in the May runoff election. The endorsement came with a plump $1,500 donation on April 23, 2014.

The National Family Council’s mailer was sent by VoterDirect Texas, the campaign arm of the New Braunfels direct mail firm WishLIST Direct.

According to state campaign finance records, the majority of VoterDirect’s clients are linked to Macias’ consulting group, Macias Strategies. Many of them are also affiliated with the state’s prominent hard-right organizations, most notably Texans for Fiscal Responsibility, a conservative group funded by West Texas oilman Lee Dunn, for which Macias conducts a majority of the consulting.

According to the Texas Ethics Commission, Burton’s campaign has paid WishLIST around $200,000 since July 8, 2013. The most recent payments came on Oct. 14, when it paid $4,530.81 for campaign mailers. On Oct. 23, the campaign paid $50 for graphic designs and $2,870 for push cards in two separate payments totaling $2,920. The mailers in question hit mailboxes on Oct. 27.

“Wishlist does a significant amount of political work for other campaigns,” Macias said, “but it gets run through consulting firms. I run my business differently. All my clients pay the vendors directly.

Macias repeatedly denied affiliation with the group. “We had never heard of the National Family Coalition until their mailer landed in District 10,” he said.

The National Family Coalition, like the NAGR PAC, is a 501(c)4 not-for-profit social welfare organization. It cannot legally endorse, oppose or support candidates in elections.

“Its primary goal must be education,” said Matthew Wilson, an associate professor of political science at Southern Methodist University. “As long as most of its expenditures are dedicated to issue-based education, the rest of the expenditures can go to electioneering.”

The organization can accept as much in donations as it wants without reporting it. Money can flow among groups without public knowledge. For wealthy donors who support a controversial cause and don’t want to hurt their business, Wilson said it’s a great resource. If there is no paper trail, there’s no way of knowing if there is any collusion among candidates and committees.

No paper trail? No problem.

Matt Angle, director of the Washington, D.C.-based Lone Star Project which provides opposition research on Texas Republicans, prefers to call them “dark money groups.”

“That’s where it gets murky,” Angle said. “Consultants and campaigns can claim plausible deniability. They can say ‘We don’t have control,’ but it’s obviously part of a coordinated effort among Republicans.”

The National Family Coalition fits that mold of the typical “dark money” group: It operates out of a post office box in a UPS store at 8116 Arlington Blvd., Ste. 142 in Falls Church, Va.

The Senate District 10 race wasn’t the National Family Coalition’s first rodeo.

Two Democratic Colorado senators, including Senate President John Morse, were recalled in September 2013 due to passage of gun control legislation. The effort was lead in part by Dudley Brown.

With two senators successfully recalled, Democratic Sen. Evie Hudak of Senate District 19 was next. Recall petitions were gathered. Given her colleagues’ defeats, she knew she couldn’t face a recall. She knew she’d lose. So she resigned, allowing Democrats to appoint Sen. Rachel Zenzinger, in order to hold onto their one-seat edge in the Colorado Senate.

Senate District 19 is one of two swing districts in Jefferson County, Colorado, or JeffCo, considered the state’s bellwether county. “As goes JeffCo, so goes Colorado,” said Mario Nicolais, an attorney who ran in the Republican primary in the county’s other swing seat Senate District 22.

Nicolais and Lang Sias, who narrowly lost to Hudak in the Senate District 19 race in 2012, were considered top Republican recruits. But Brown and his cohort of conservative activists didn’t think so. They targeted both Republicans for defeat. Nicolais faced a challenge from the “hand-picked” Tony Sanchez. Sias faced Laura Woods.

Both districts were soon flooded with mailers, some of which were provided by Nicolais. They have the generic names: Rocky Mountain Gun Owners, Colorado Campaign for Life and Colorado for Family Values. They all stuck to the red meat that riled up a Republican base.

The National Family Coalition was the newest entry in the race. The coalition’s mailer hit Senate District 19 before the Republican primary election.

In it, Sias was a “Democrat until 2006” whose campaign was funded by “millionaire homosexual activist Tim Gill.” Dotted with the footnotes to prove it, the mailer strikes a similar cord as the Willis mailer: “Call Lang Sias today and demand he cut his ties with the liberal Democrats who are attacking Coloradans’ traditional family values.”

On June 24, 2014, Sias lost the primary by 10 percentage points. Nicolais lost by 33. All signs point to the two incumbent Democrats retaining their seats on Election Day, Nov. 4.

Nicolais described the Colorado cabal as “a far right, fringe element of the Republican Party — an archconservative cabal” — a potent but viable cabal that has officially flooded into Texas, linked to a simple mailer in Senate District 10.

—  Tammye Nash

The wingnuts speak on SCOTUS decision not to hear marriage case appeals

On Monday, Oct. 6, the national LGBT community rejoiced and wedding bells began to ring in 11 new marriage equality states when the Supreme Court of the United States announced it would not hear appeals of circuit court rulings striking down same-sex marriage bans in five states.

But for the right wing faction of the U.S., that ringing wasn’t wedding bells, but a death knell.

bryan-fischer

Bryan Fischer

Perhaps one of the most outrageous declarations came from Bryan Fisher, “director of issue analysis” for the so-called American Family Association. Fischer called the Supreme Court’s decision not to hear the marriage appeals “the Dred Scott of gay marriage” and said that marriage equality is “as morally bankrupt and indefensible as the institution of slavery. Slavery ate away at America’s soul, and homosexual marriage will do the same thing, It is a deviant and grotesque caricature of the real thing. For this sexual debauchery to be normalized by the highest court in the land is a sign of the nation plunging headlong into a bottomless moral abyss.”

Jeremy Hooper, special projects consultant for the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, said that sometimes the best way to rebut what someone says is to get out of the way and just let them keep talking. So let me step aside and let the wingnuts speak. …

Right Wing Watch  rounded up responses from other wingnuts, including the Liberty Counsel, which issued a press release denouncing the Supreme Court’s “decision to watch marriage burn to ashes,” and accusing the justices of “dereliction of duty.”

Liberty Council Founder and Chairman Matt Staver declared, “Everyone will be affected by same-sex marriage because it is an intolerant agenda that will directly collide with religious freedom.”

The Family Research Council predicted that “more and more people [will] lose their livelihoods because they refuse to not just tolerate but celebrate same-sex marriage,” adding that the Supreme Court’s decision “will allow rogue lower court judges who have ignored history and true legal precedent to silence the elected representatives of the people and the voice of the people themselves by overturning state provisions on marriage. Even more alarming, lower court judges are undermining our form of government and the rights and freedoms of citizens to govern themselves. This judicially led effort to force same sex ‘marriage’ on people will have negative consequences for our republic, not only as it relates to natural marriage but also undermining the rule of and respect for law.”

FRC did not that the court’s rejection of the appeals “ensures that the debate over natural marriage will continue and the good news is that time is not on the side of those who want to redefine marriage.”

The National Organization for Marriage called for passage of a national marriage amendment: “…the only alternative to letting unelected judges impose their view of marriage on Americans across the country is to pursue a process that will allow the American people to decide for themselves what is marriage. It is critical not only to marriage but to the republican form of government in this country to amend the Constitution to reaffirm the meaning of marriage. We therefore call on the US Congress to move forward immediately to send a federal marriage amendment to the states for ratification.”

And Focus on the Family clamored that the decision will result in a “further expansion of threats to religious freedom.”

“Marriage has always been — and will always be — between a man and a woman. Ultimately, no court can change that truth,” Focus on the Family’s statement said. “So regardless of legal outcomes, we’ll continue to address the importance of one-man, one-woman marriage to families, society and especially for children who have a right to both a mother and a father. Our concern continues to be for children who deserve to grow up with both a mom and a dad, as well as for the religious freedom rights of people who strongly believe in God’s design for marriage and want to live consistently with those beliefs.”

Faith and Freedom Coalition called the decision a “miscarriage of justice” and warned that SCOTUS will “reap a political whirlwind.” And the Florida Family Policy Council’s John Stemberger warned that the court “risks losing enormous institutional legitimacy” by ruling in favor of same-sex marriage.

Here’s a video of Bryan Fischer and his declaration of how SCOTUS imposed “sodomy-based marriage” on 11 states that voted against it.

—  Tammye Nash

Ted Cruz takes up fight for heterosexual privilege

Ted Cruz

Sen. Ted Cruz

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-originally from Canada) has taken up the fight for heterosexual privilege and discrimination against same-sex couples. He introduced the so-called State Marriage Defense Act of 2014. His only co-sponsor is Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah). Canada is a marriage equality country. Texas, which Cruz represents, and Utah both have marriage-discrimination laws that have been declared unconstitutional by federal courts.

The bill would force the federal government to consider a couple’s place of residence rather than place of ceremony and invalidate marriages as people cross state lines.

Cruz claims his law would make the federal government respect all 50 states. However, federal regulations simply take place of celebration into account and do not invalidate marriages as people cross state lines.

The regulations do not force states to recognize marriages of same-sex couples. For example, married couples must file their federal income taxes as married, but the regulations do not force states to allow couples married elsewhere to file as married.

If Cruz’s law were to pass and be signed into law, gays and lesbians who live in marriage-discrimination states would lose social security, disability and other benefits making those states’ residents poorer.

Since he joined Congress in 2013, no legislation — this doesn’t include resolutions and amendments — Cruz sponsored has passed and been signed into law.

—  David Taffet

Oklahoma candidate calls for death by stoning for gays but he’s broken some biblical law himself

Scott Esk

Scott Esk

Right-wing candidates from Oklahoma making homophobic and stupid comments are nothing new. So last week, when Oklahoma state House candidate Scott Esk said he thought it was OK if the state stoned gays to death, it was hardly news. Even the state’s mainstream media made fun of the stupidity. This in a state where the one of the Fox TV affiliates edited out 15 seconds of Cosmos that mentioned evolution.

“Ignoring as a nation things that are worthy of death is very remiss,” said Republican candidate Scott Esk.

He did clarify to Salon magazine that he wouldn’t try to amend Oklahoma law to call for the death penalty for gays. Oh, well, that qualifies him to be a responsible state representative.

Of course, he only favors such things because God said so. It’s right there in the Bible.

What’s worth noting is Esk’s limited understanding of the Bible. It’s easy to read the first line without knowing anything about history, context or other things written in the Bible. I’m assuming God wrote those other things in the Bible too.

First, while it does condemn those who are gay to death by stoning, the Bible also says (straight) adulterers should be stoned to death. So is a man having sex with your mother-in-law or daughter-in-law. So is raping a virgin who’s engaged.

Being a stubborn or rebellious son or cursing your parents? Stone him to death.

Religious crimes are also punishable by death — things like not keeping Saturday holy. Oh, sure, in English it says “the Sabbath,” but in the Bible, the Hebrew word is Saturday. Si is trying to convert someone to a different religion is punishable by stoning.

Then there’s how those laws were carried out. The court that heard those cases was called the Sanhedrin. Rules on imposing the death penalty were strict. Four eyewitnesses were required to convict. Confessions were not admissible. A court that convicted more than one person in seven years was considered draconian.

Also, if biblical law conflicted with civil law, civil law prevailed.

However in the case of Mr. Esk, although he’s confessed to his crimes, I’m sure we can find at least four witnesses who have seen him not keeping the Sabbath (Saturday, as it says in the Bible) holy and he sure does seem to be trying to convert people to his religion. That’s two capital offenses. I’m not sure we can just let those go so easily.

—  David Taffet

Pat Robertson, protecting families from “weird” adopted kids

Although he does not mention gay adoption at all — that would be a longer clip, I’m sure — I felt compelled to share this little bit of Christian hatred and selfishness from the diseased mind of Pat Robertson, who comes out against adoption because he knows adopted kids grow up “weird.” No weirder than he ended up.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Right-wing Liberty Institute issues action alert in support of transgender marriage ban

Sen. Tommy Williams, R-The Woodlands

Daniel Williams at Legislative Queery reports that the Texas Senate has again adjourned for the day without taking up a bill that would bar transgender people from marrying people of the opposite sex. However, The Woodlands Republican Tommy Williams’ SB 723 remains on the Senate’s calendar for Thursday. The bill, a response to the Nikki Araguz case, would remove a court order of sex change from the list of documents that can be used to obtain marriage licenses in Texas.

Daniel Williams also notes that today, the right-wing, Plano-based Liberty Institute issued an action alert calling on people to urge senators to support the anti-LGBT bill. Here’s an excerpt:

Some Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender advocates, want to thwart a Texas appeals court decision and force the state to recognize their gender (for marriage purposes) as something other than what was assigned at birth, to change their gender later on in life and force county clerks to recognize the changed gender. Such an outcome will create confusion for county clerks, for the courts and no doubt will be used by the GLBT community to undermine our marriage laws, which affirm traditional marriage, between one man and one woman.

Protect traditional marriage, support SB 723.

If you haven’t already contacted your senator and asked them to oppose this bill, this disgusting action alert from the Liberty Institute should provide plenty of motivation to do so. Email your senator by going here.

—  John Wright

Celebrating ‘Family Time’ with COLAGE

COLAGE, an organization for people with lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer parents, has just launched its new website, and its chock-full of information, entertainment and resources.

There’s an interactive timeline on LGBTQ families; there’s a blog; there’s a calendar; there’s a video story-wall and more. But perhaps the element with the most impact is the short film, “Family Time,” produced and directed by Jen Gilomen, and featuring the pioneering young men and women who founded COLAGE (back then it was called Just For Us) 20 years ago and who have helped it grow.

Every parent wants the best for their children. Every parent worries about doing something wrong. But when you are L or G or B or T and you are constantly bombarded by negative messages from mainstream society, no matter how confident and proud you are, you sometimes worry that who you are may be hurting your son or daughter.

So watching this film, seeing these proud, strong young people, was a very affirming for me as a lesbian parent. And I can guarantee that everyone will find at least one moment that makes you want to stand up and cheer. For me, the main highlight came about one-third of the way in — between the 4- and 5-minute marks — when the film is showing footage from a Canadian talk show from the early 1990s. In that clip, the young man and young woman who founded Just For Us/COLAGE have been blindsided by the talk show host who has brought on some right-winger to talk about how horrible it is for LGBTs to be raising children, even though the host had promised that wouldn’t happen. But then the young woman, who had a gay father, refuses to take the right-wing crap laying down, telling everyone in no uncertain terms that it isn’t the gay parent that causes problems, it’s the anti-gay assholes who harass and discriminate and intimidate and bully.

I know that at 15 minutes this is a little longer than the clips we usually post on Instant Tea. But it’s worth it.

—  admin

No GOProud at next year’s CPAC

HARDY HABERMAN  |  Dungeon Diary

There is a surprise! Not really.

GOProud, the allegedly gay Republican organization whose involvement with the Conservative Political Action Committee (CPAC) conference stirred up so much anger among the right-wing they are politely being asked to not come back. GOProud’s presence atthe conference was enough to make a few very large participants stay away. Those include, Heritage Foundation, Concerned Women for America, Media Research Center and the hate group, Family Research Council.

Apparently the CPAC cannot afford to alienate these major players in their activities, so the gays get thrown under the Republican bus. Again, I have to wonder why the hell a group who is plainly not welcome and whose very existence goes against some of the GOP platform planks calls itself Republican? The degree of self-loathing of the GOProud folks is apparently limitless. For example, GOProud volunteer Matt Hissey is quoted in the above video saying, “I don’t really like gay people.” Nice!

—  admin

HRC goes on strike, threatens to spam our Inbox until it has 32 new members from Texas

We’re joking, of course, but that is kinda what President Joe Solmonese implies in a mass e-mail this morning. Here’s an excerpt:

We have staff on the ground around the country and plans to deploy even more. We’re bolstering state groups, even as we fight against hostile federal bills and amendments. But to make it work, we need 2,011 new members like you – that works out to just 32 more from Texas – to join HRC in the next week. Once you do, we’ll stop sending reminders and get back to the work of securing equality.

Solmonese goes on to reiterate his warning that if you don’t join, you’ll continue to receive these e-mails:

Be part of the civil rights battle of our day. Fight for marriage. Join now — and we won’t send you any more emails for the remainder of our membership drive.

On a serious note, the e-mail comes under the subject line “The next Prop 8,” and it notes that lawmakers in New Hampshire are set to try to repeal same-sex marriage. It also says “hateful groups” are trying to ban same-sex marriage in Indiana, Minnesota, New Mexico, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Iowa and West Virginia. There are now 20 state legislatures with anti-LGBT majorities, Solmonese says, which is twice as many as are under pro-equality leadership.

And if that isn’t reason enough to join HRC, check out the USB car charger above that’s offered with a new membership, which can be had for as little as $35.

If journalism ethics didn’t discourage us from supporting individual LGBT groups, Instant Tea would be tempted. Then again, we’d stop receiving these fun e-mails. But seriously, maybe you should join so that HRC will start working again. Full e-mail after the jump.

—  John Wright

Query • 12.17.10

What’s your preferred holiday greeting and why?

……………………………

John Kroll — “I respond however I’m greeted. ‘Merry Christmas’ gets ‘Merry Christmas;’ ‘Happy Hanukah’ gets ‘Happy Hanukah,’ and so on.”

Terry Don — “A hug. No matter the greeting it gets a hug.”

Tomi Kuczynski — “My preferred is ‘Merry Christmas’ because it is what I grew up with and has many memories attached to it. But I also believe in respecting others’ cultures and beliefs by greeting with happy holidays when with an acquaintance or client.”

Courtney Davis — “I say ‘Happy Holidays’ out of respect for someone’s culture and religion. The nasty right wing gets so upset over this. Really?”

Jason A. Walker — “Depends on what holiday it is and what the cultural/religious tradition of the person I’m speaking to is. If I don’t know the person to whom I’m speaking I generally go with ‘hello.’”
………………………..

Have a suggestion for a question you’d like us to ask?
E-mail it to nash@dallasvoice.com
.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 17, 2010.

—  Kevin Thomas