Monday, December 03, 2007

(And did I mention the name Ken Blackwell?)

(UPDATE: 6:30 P.M. MONDAY: Well, the theory advanced in this post was nice, but it's not accurate. See the last update below.)

The Politico reports:

A newly-formed group claiming to support Mike Huckabee hit the phones of Iowa Republicans tonight with an automated push-poll attacking Huckabee's GOP opponents and praising the former Arkansas governor....

For each target, the pattern was the same -- a recorded message using voice recognition technology asked the recipient if they would participate in the caucuses, considered themselves pro-life and thought marriage should be between a man and a woman.

Then the dirt came, right after those called were asked which candidate they were backing.

For all three, the calls were phrased in the same manner: "If you knew that..."

But different candidates were targeted with different attacks....

There were attacks on Thompson, Giuliani, and McCain.

At the end, the automated voice directed the recipient of the call to

Now, here's the clue:

The group claims to be affilliated with a larger 501(c)(4) called "Common Sense Issues."

...Groups called "Common Sense Ohio" and "Common Sense 2006" last year spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to attack Democrats in targeted Senate races using similar such automated calls as went into Iowa tonight, per the New York Times.

A Cleveland Plain Dealer blog told us this about the Common Sense groups in 2006, during Ken Blackwell's campaign for governor:

...Joining the legions of lawyers who have sued Secretary of State Ken Blackwell in recent years, attorneys for the Ohio Democratic Party filed suit today in the Ohio Supreme Court, seeking to force Blackwell to unmask donors to a nonprofit group that spent more than $1.5 million last month on anonymously financed TV ads that hammer Rep. Ted Strickland.

The ads, paid for by Common Sense Ohio, rip the Democratic candidate for governor for, among other things, supporting same-sex unions and the use of tax money to pay for abortions.

Common Sense Ohio has concealed its donors' identities by forming Common Sense 2006, a so-called "electioneering communications" entity that is required under the new law to reveal its donors. And, much to the frustration of Democrats, it has done so -- its sole donor is Common Sense Ohio, which gave $1,537,500 to Common Sense 2006.

...The legal architect behind Common Sense Ohio and Common Sense 2006 is Columbus attorney Bill Todd, the brilliant master of the campaign-finance loophole.

Buckeye State Blog tells us Bill Todd is a Giuliani donor, which a search of campaign finance records confirms.

Giuliani also campaigned for Ken Blackwell.

And tells us this about

Common Sense Issues
3046 Brecksville Rd
c/o New Media Communications
Richfield, OH 44286

Yup, Ohio. (But see second update below.)

Rudy needs for Huckabee to win so Romney doesn't seem inevitable after Iowa and New Hampshire. He has the motive. And why not include calls insulting himself? He won't win Iowa anyway.


UPDATE: From The Telegraph in England:

Giuliani and Huckabee agree to pull punches

Rudolph Giuliani, the Republican frontrunner, and Mike Huckabee, the former Arkansas governor now surging up the party’s rankings, are pursuing an unofficial non-aggression pact as they try to knock rivals out of the race for the presidential nomination.

In the week that the battle for the Republican nomination turned ugly in a bad-tempered televised debate, the former New York mayor and the ex-Arkansas governor have been at pains not to knock each other, according to campaign insiders.

Advisors to Mr Giuliani told The Sunday Telegraph that they were deliberately refraining from public criticism of Mr Huckabee, despite his increasing popularity, in the hope that he can derail their mutual rivals, Mitt Romney and Fred Thompson....


UPDATE: Holy crap, somebody involved in this robo-call campaign clearly read what's being written about it, and now the whois listing gives an address in Hernsdon, Virginia. But note this:

Record created on 22-Oct-2007
Database last updated on 03-Dec-2007

The listing was definitely changed in response to the Politico story and maybe this post. Damn, I wish I'd grabbed a screen shot.


UPDATE: I'm now "the left"! (Scroll down to the last paragraph here.)


UPDATE: Well, the Politico's Jonathan Martin has the story:

...Patrick Davis, a Colorado-based political consultant who served as political director of the NRSC in 2004, is running the organization and confirmed in a telephone interview that they were a pro-Huckabee outfit and were responsible for the calls.

...He wouldn't reveal any donors' names, but one active member of the group is Harold "Zeke" Swift, a retired executive at Cincinnati-based Procter & Gamble.

...Swift and his wife served as co-hosts for a Huckabee fundraiser earlier this month in suburban Cincinnati.

Swift was also involved in the efforts of sister independent groups last year, both called "Common Sense," that sent similar calls into states with competitive Senate races. The 501 (c) (4) parent group of the Huckabee organization is called "Common Sense Issues." This organization is also playing in contested Senate races in 2008, and just began airing an ad attacking Rep. Mark Udall (D), who is running in an open seat race in Colorado.

Swift wouldn’t say if another member of the 2006 effort and current Procter & Gamble executive, Nathan Estruth, was involved in funding "Trust Huckabee," but Davis said the donors "were similar but not identical" to last cycle.

Estruth was also a sponsor of Huckabee's fundraising reception earlier this month and he and his wife have already given $2,300, the maximum allowed in a primary, to Huckabee....

So, yeah, it's the old Common Sense crowd that supported Blackwell, but I'm struggling to find a Giuliani connection.

Davis, by the way, is a Fred Thompson donor.

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