Update, 3/17: More to the story: Sue Rehg of Larimer County explains the unfortunate tale of how her name got connected with Taxpayers for Liberty.
Earlier this week I introduced you to the mysterious Taxpayers for Liberty group and their survey results mailing on the U.S. Senate race:
Suffice it to say, the group Taxpayers for Liberty is very fond of Ken Buck, while railing on Jane Norton for not returning the questionnaire and Tom Wiens for filling out the questionnaire identically but having a voting record, or something like that.
If only I knew how nefarious it all was. Frankly, I’m sick of the underhanded tactics and the lack of transparency — most especially in a Republican primary. I asked around about the Taxpayers for Liberty (TFL) survey, and here’s what I’ve found:
- The Jane Norton campaign says they haven’t seen the survey
- The Tom Wiens campaign says they had to submit their survey multiple times after they learned that TFL was not acknowledging having received it from them
- The Ken Buck campaign says it was just another survey that they had no problems filling out and returning
In short, the Taxpayers for Liberty survey is a dishonest and underhanded scheme implemented by a shadowy group, and its “results” utterly worthless. If only we knew the extent of its reach.
In the process of researching TFL, I learned about a very similar technique pulled off within the past couple months in Colorado by the national Ron Paul group Campaign for Liberty (CFL). On January 26 CFL sent out a letter praising Ken Buck and that, among other things, proclaimed: “The bad news is, Republican Jane Norton has not responded to her Candidate Survey.” On January 29 — three days later — CFL sent a letter to the Norton campaign introducing the survey and asking her to return it. Hmmm…. (See a copy of both letters and the CFL survey here.)
Former Congressional candidate and Americans for Prosperity state director Jeff Crank has been on top of this story for awhile, on his Colorado Springs radio show. I’m a little late to the game. He has reported on CFL’s twisted survey and most recently on the possibly fictitious name serving as the executive director of TFL. That’s right: there is no Andrew O’Neill in the Colorado voter database, and only one person by that name listed statewide in the White Pages. Maybe, for the time being we should just presume that the Andrew O’Neill pictured to the right is the person running TFL.
So is there a connection between Campaign for Liberty and Taxpayers for Liberty? (Update: Forgot to mention that I called Campaign for Liberty several times — leaving a voice message when I got the opportunity — and emailed once, for comment and/or information. I received no response.) Some of you may recall that CFL ran pro-Ken Buck TV ads here in Colorado back in late January. The activity led to some serious grumblings from the CFL membership about Buck’s lack of Ron Paul-pure convictions on foreign policy, and ultimately a January 30 response from CFL president John Tate.
Two and a half weeks later (on February 17) the registration name on Taxpayers for Liberty was changed from Larimer County Republican activist Sue Rehg to Denver attorney Adam Kehrli. So it would make sense that the same entities behind the first sleazy survey didn’t want to continue dragging CFL’s name through the mud and anger the Ron Paul purists, and thus opted to use the empty vessel of TFL to perpetuate the scheme.
But who are the murky operators behind the scheme? Because we don’t have the freedom and needed transparency in our campaign finance laws, I can’t say for sure — not without a smoking gun or someone willing to go on the record. We do know they certainly are working to promote Ken Buck’s candidacy (within the constraints of a 501c4 organization under the letter of the law) and make some money for themselves along the way. And all signs point to the same operators who pulled off similar and other dirty tactics in the 2006 Republican 5th Congressional District primary.
The legacy of the 5th CD dirty deeds is exactly why Republicans need to speak up now and denounce Taxpayers for Liberty. Even if we never get enough sunshine to expose TFL to the light of day and start the disinfecting process, the reprehensible way this underhanded 501c4 group operates will only sow more seeds of division within the Republican Party and weaken our chances to unseat the appointed Senator Michael Bennet in the November election. I’m not the only one who doesn’t want 2010 to be a repeat of 2006.
In particular, candidate Ken Buck ought to come out and publicly condemn the tactics used by TFL, third parties that are seeking to manipulate the game to his benefit. Were he to pursue that course, I and many others would be impressed by Buck’s courage and integrity. The longer he stays silent, though, the more questions will linger about the nature of the relationship between his campaign and this rogue group. And that wouldn’t be healthy for Ken Buck or for the Republican Party.
On a related note, I also find the work of Taxpayers for Liberty disgusting insofar as it mimics and distorts the genuine grassroots engagement of Colorado’s Tea Party movement groups — for ignoble, self-serving and divisive ends. I would like to see the various Tea Party and 9/12 leaders in our state denounce Taxpayers for Liberty, and demand the group comes clean on their funding (I have a good idea of who is funding the TFL scheme, but no solid proof) and operators, and stop the shenanigans. Such a course will be easier for grassroots leaders to take than for any of the candidates.
Because just like the rogue group Taxpayers for Liberty’s actions are unhealthy for the candidates and the GOP as a whole, they are also unhealthy for the conservative movement, our ideals of liberty and limited government and the political process in general.