"For a fairly small state like ours to have someone who is a major player in the country is an enormous advantage to Kentucky because every time I'm in a negotiation, I always try to look for the things that I think will have the most adverse impact on us."
President Obama's final campaign rally was held Monday night in Des Moines, Iowa, wrapping up the 2012 campaign with an emotional speech marked by references to his 2008 campaign and the Iowa caucus victory that helped catapult his political career.
"I came back to ask you to help us finish what we started because this is where our movement for change began," Obama declared. "To all of you who’ve lived and breathed the hard work of change: I want to thank you. You took this campaign and made it your own ... starting a movement that spread across the country.
"When the cynics said we couldn't, you said yes we can. You said yes we can and we did. Against all odds, we did," he said.
The President wiped an occasional tear from his eye, and while looking over a crowd of 20,000 concluded the night by telling the story of Edith Childs, who inspired the "fired up, ready to go" chant of his first presidential campaign.
There's nothing really new in Obama's remarks in Iowa, but he does outline his vision for a second term in much clearer terms than he is given credit for doing.
A check shows a donor's support for the campaign of Mike Miller, who defeated John Ward, that was released when the Montana district court judge unsealed the bank records of Western Tradition Partnership at the request of Frontline and ProPublica. (Photo credit: text to link herePBS Frontline )
By Kim Barker,ProPublica, and Rick Young and Emma Schwartz, Frontline, Nov. 5, 2012, 10:19 a.m.
But unlike donors to political committees, the names of those who gave to Western Tradition Partnership, or WTP, were never supposed to be made public.
That changed Friday after a Montana district court judge released the social welfare nonprofit's bank records at the request of Frontline and ProPublica, saying citizens had a right to know.
It was the first time that a court has ordered a modern dark money group's donors to be made public, firing a warning shot to similar organizations engaged in politics.
The WTP bank records, which cover a period from March 2008 to December 2010, show that the group raised almost $1.1 million from other social welfare nonprofits, corporations, a political committee and individuals. It received $650,000 from the nonprofits, $70,000 from an Oklahoma businessman and his company and $50,000 from a Colorado homebuilder. Most WTP contributors, however, gave on a smaller scale: 495 of the group's 607 donations were for $100 or less.
The total amount raised by WTP, now known as American Tradition Partnership, was not large, compared to the tens of millions of dollars dark money groups like Crossroads GPS and Americans for Prosperity have collected in the 2012 election cycle.
But the details available on WTP, which has worked to elect conservatives in Montana and Colorado and has won national attention for a lawsuit that led the Supreme Court to apply its Citizens United ruling to states, are striking.
The bank records highlight WTP's ties to groups backing libertarian Ron Paul. The Conservative Action League, a Virginia social welfare nonprofit run at the time in part by John Tate, most recently Paul's campaign manager, transferred $40,000 to WTP in August 2008, bank records show. Tate was also a consultant for WTP. In addition, WTP gave $5,000 to a group called the SD Campaign for Liberty, affiliated with Paul and the national Campaign for Liberty.
Evan Axelbank, a reporter with WPTV in Florida, was tweeting late Tuesday night about a memo he received from a GOP campaign adviser to a local candidate there that contained some good news...for Democrats. (See the memo above.)
Axelbank tweeted that a "Worried GOPer leaked memo to me because they wanted to motivate the base, show that loss is possible."
The text of the memo reads:
The early and absentee turnout is starting to look more troubling.
As of yesterday, Republicans made up only 22% of early voters and 30% of returned absentee votes.
This is closer to (and worse than) 2008 where we saw 19% EV and 38% of the absentees. 2010 (our blowout year) was 33% of EV and 45% of AB.
Conslusion: The Democrat turnout machine in the county has been very effective and they are cleaning our clock. Even if Romney wins the state (likely based on polls), the turnout deficit in PBC will affect our local races.
When you are calling or canvassing, remind people how effective our opposition has been and how they must not only get themselves to the polls, but their friends and neighbors as well.
Axelbank spoke with Palm Beach GOP Chair Sid Dinerstein, who is responsible for leading the ground-game criticized in the memo.
Dinerstein says he believes that motivation will not be a problem for GOP voters in Palm Beach Co.
"We are broken glass Republicans, meaning we will walk over broken glass to vote."
Obama has been surging in Florida's early voting for three days now, and apparently it's taking its toll on Florida Republicans to the point that even they don't believe Mitt Romney is going to win. And not that I enjoy kicking anyone when they're down -- okay, I do make an exception for Republicans -- the latest numbers from FivethirtyEight give President Obama a 77.4% chance of winning the election, 299 electoral votes projected for Obama, and 50.4% of the popular vote projected to go to Obama.
Guest Post by Jim Messina, Campaign Manager, Obama for America
For this video, we asked people to compare Mitt Romney's real positions with the ones he's claimed to support in the final weeks of the campaign.
We know Mitt Romney will say anything to win, even if it’s not true – just like he did in Massachusetts and in the first debate. The real Mitt Romney has been running on his “severely conservative” positions for years, but now – just weeks before Election Day – he’s trying to hide them because they’ll hurt the middle class and his chances of winning.
We saw this clearly in the first presidential debate on Oct. 3, as Governor Romney cynically and dishonestly hid the self-described “severely conservative” positions he’s been running on – and there’s no doubt he’s memorizing more deceptions as he prepares for Tuesday’s second debate.
On Tuesday, Romney will be asked some simple questions by Americans from diverse backgrounds about how his plans will impact their lives. So we’ve provided some simple translations to help voters – and the media – interpret the deceptive answers he’s most likely to give in return.
Question #1: What’s your tax plan and what will it mean for middle-class families?
What he’ll say: “I will not, under any circumstances, raise taxes on middle-income families.” – Mitt Romney, Denver Presidential Debate, 10/3/12
Translation: As part of his tax plan, Romney has proposed $5 trillion in specific tax cuts. As independent, non-partisan analysts have highlighted, to pay for his plan, Mitt Romney has promised $1 trillion more in tax cuts for the rich than there are tax benefits to close. As a result, he would have to cut popular tax deductions that middle class families rely on, like the mortgage interest and charitable deductions, to pay for $250,000 tax cuts to multi-millionaires. Paying for Romney’s tax cuts would mean the average middle class family with kids would see their taxes go up by $2,000 a year.
Reality under President Obama: The typical middle class family has seen their taxes cut by $3,600 by President Obama over the course of his first term, and he has a detailed plan that would keep income taxes low for 98% of families and 97% of small businesses, while asking the wealthiest to pay their fair share to help create an economy built to last.
Question #2: What about that $5 trillion tax cut skewed toward the wealthiest I’ve heard about?
What he’ll say: “First of all, I don't have a $5 trillion tax cut…I’m not going to reduce the share of taxes paid by high-income people.” – Mitt Romney, Denver Presidential Debate, 10/3/12
Translation: Mitt Romney has detailed a specific tax plan that provides $5 trillion in tax cuts weighted towards millionaires and billionaires – a combination of a 20 percent cut in individual income taxes, eliminating the Alternative Minimum Tax, repealing the estate tax and the high-income Medicare tax, and cutting taxes for corporations by $1.1 trillion. That math is clear, but when it comes to paying for these tax cuts, Romney hasn’t specified a single loophole he’d close. Even if he eliminated every deduction for high-income taxpayers and enough loopholes to pay for his corporate tax cut, he’d still need to increase middle class taxes by $1 trillion to pay for his plan.
Reality under President Obama: President Obama has already signed $1 trillion in spending cuts as part of a balanced plan to reduce the deficit by more than $4 trillion, while maintaining critical investments in innovation, education, and infrastructure needed to create jobs now and grow our economy in the coming decades.
Question #3: So how can you claim your tax cuts won’t result in more taxes for the middle class?
What he’ll say: “Six studies have guaranteed…that this math adds up…even their own deputy campaign manager acknowledged that it wasn't correct.” – Paul Ryan, Vice Presidential Debate, 10/11/12
Translation: While Romney will cite “studies” to back up his wild suggestion that he won’t raise taxes on middle-class families, independent fact checkers and journalists have noted time and time again, those so-called “studies” are actually partisan op-eds, blog posts and analyses by conservative think tanks. None have disputed the total cost of his plan or the fact that it is a large tax cut for those at the top – so none prove that he can pay for his tax plan without raising middle-class taxes. He’s trying to take statements out of context to get around the truth: he’s proposed $5 trillion in specific tax cuts, and even if he closes every deduction for the wealthy, he’ll still fall $1 trillion short. That means he has to either raise taxes on middle-class families or explode the deficit.
A dark money nonprofit group that has run more than $1 million in ads in the Ohio race for U.S. Senate told the IRS last year it did not plan to spend any money to influence elections when it applied for recognition of its tax-exempt status.
ProPublica first reported on the group, the Government Integrity Fund, after information from television station political ad files became available online (see our Free the Files project), showing extensive spending by the Fund.
The group's filings with the IRS illustrate how "social welfare" nonprofits, also known as 501(c)(4)s, are playing an aggressive role in this election, pouring tens of millions of dollars into races around the country, while taking advantage of the donor anonymity their tax status provides.
The Fund applied for IRS recognition last December and received the IRS' approval less than two months later.
Question 15 on the application asks, "Has the organization spent or does it plan to spend any money attempting to influence the selection, nomination, election, or appointment of any person to any Federal, state, or local public office or to an office in a political organization?"
Much hinges on this: Under the tax code, social welfare nonprofits may not have political campaign activity as their primary purpose, though exactly what that means is a subject of much debate.
Fund chairman Tom Norris, who signed the Fund's application, checked the "No" box on Question 15.
In a statement to ProPublica, the Fund said that "legally, the concept of ‘influencing elections' has been narrowly defined" and that "throughout its existence, [the Fund] has regularly consulted with experienced tax counsel to ensure it is in full compliance with the federal tax laws." (See the full statement.) Norris, a Columbus lobbyist, did not respond to calls.
Ads paid for by the Fund, which ran through the summer, praised Republican Josh Mandel and attacked Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown. One spot features Mandel telling a veterans group, "I think this campaign is all about the past versus the future." A voiceover chimes in: "Josh Mandel served our country with two tours in Iraq. Now he's fighting for taxpayers, fighting for our future."
There are several reasons groups may prefer answering "No" to Question 15. Those answering "Yes" are instructed to explain in detail and list the amounts to be spent, which can lead to scrutiny that slows down the IRS approval process, tax experts say.
"Checking yes is a yellow flag for the IRS, which likely would cause the IRS to refer the application to an agent for consideration and follow-up questions," said Lloyd Hitoshi Mayer, an expert in nonprofit tax law at the University of Notre Dame law school. "There could be donors saying, ‘I'm not comfortable giving to you until I know you are a 501(c)(4) and my identity is protected. So I want that IRS [approval] letter.'"
The Fund's IRS application did provide other clues about its intentions. In one section of the form, the Fund said its budget for 2011 was $78,000. It then projected a budget of $6.7 million for 2012, an election year, before going back down to $50,000 for 2013, a nonelection year.
Mayer said the IRS typically wouldn't scrutinize a group's spending until it files a tax return — and in the case of the Fund, the return covering 2012 could be filed as late as November 2013. If the IRS found that the Fund was improperly taking advantage of its status as a social welfare group, it could impose a fine and make the group operate as a political organization that does have to report donors.
The group's application for IRS recognition was signed under penalty of perjury, but Mayer said it was rare for the agency to pursue charges against an applicant for lying.
The IRS did not respond to a request for comment.
The Fund's application for tax-exempt status also sheds a bit more light on who is running the group. It names four men as board members, including Norris. Another of the board members, Jeffrey L. Dean, referred questions to Jonathan Petrea, who was campaign manager and district director for Mandel when he ran for the state legislature.
Petrea told ProPublica he had no official role in the Fund, but helped Norris find potential board members.
"I was just doing a guy a favor by putting him in touch with people who might be interested," Petrea said.
Norris and the Mandel campaign did not respond to questions about Petrea's relationship to the Fund or the candidate.
Petrea was also previously Ohio grassroots director for Americans for Prosperity, a conservative 501(c)(4) backed by the Koch brothers, and has recently done work for Energy Citizens, a group advocating oil and gas development.
The Fund's ads have been off the air since Sept. 6, according to the Brown campaign. (After that date, certain types of ad spending had to be reported to the Federal Election Commission.)
The group's attorney, William Todd, said he doesn't know about its plans "for future education efforts."
On the morning after the first presidential debate, President Obama mocked the Mitt Romney he encountered last night as decidedly different from "the real Mitt Romney" on the campaign trail. During the chilly morning at Sloan’s Lake Park in Denver on Thursday, Obama touted his plan for restoring the middle class.G
Now, the reason I was in Denver obviously is to see all of you, and it’s always pretty, but we also had our first debate last night. And when I got on to the stage, I met this very spirited fellow who claimed to be Mitt Romney. But it couldn’t have been Mitt Romney because the real Mitt Romney has been running around the country for the last year promising $5 trillion in tax cuts that favor the wealthy. The fellow on stage last night said he didn’t know anything about that. The real Mitt Romney said we don’t need any more teachers in our classrooms, but -don't boo, vote – but the fellow on stage last night, he loves teachers, can’t get enough of them. The Mitt Romney we all know invested in companies that were called pioneers of outsourcing jobs to other countries, but the guy on stage last night, he said that he doesn’t even know that there are such laws that encourage outsourcing. He’s never heard of them. Never heard of them. Never heard of tax breaks for companies who ship jobs overseas. He said that if it’s true, he must need a new accountant.
Now, we know for sure it was not the real Mitt Romney because he seems to be doing just fine with his current accountant. So you see, the man on stage last night, he does not want to be held accountable for their real Mitt Romney’s decisions and what he’s been saying for the last year and that’s because he knows full well that we don’t want what he’s been selling for the last year. So Governor Romney may dance around his positions, but if you want to be president, you owe the American people the truth. So here’s the truth – Governor Romney cannot pay for his $5 trillion tax plan without blowing up the deficit or sticking it to the middle class. That’s the math. We can’t afford to go down that road again. We can’t afford another round of budget-busting tax cuts for the wealthy. We can’t afford to gut out investments in education or clean energy or research and technology. We can’t afford to roll back regulations on Wall Street or on big oil companies or insurance companies. We cannot afford to double down on the same top-down economic policies that got us into this mess. That is not a plan to create jobs, that is not a plan to grow the economy, that is not change, that is a relapse. We don’t want to go back there. We’ve tried it, it didn’t work and we are not going back, we are going forward.
Now, I’ve got a different view about how we create jobs and prosperity. This country doesn’t succeed when we only see the rich getting richer. We succeed when the middle class gets bigger. We grow our economy not from the top down, but from the middle out. We don’t believe that anybody’s entitled to success in this country, but we do believe in something called opportunity. We believe in a country where hard work pays off and where responsibility is rewarded and everybody’s getting a fair shot and everybody’s doing their fair share and everybody plays by the same rules. That’s the country we believe in. That’s what I’m fighting for, that’s why I’m running for a second term as President of the United States, and that’s why I want your vote.
This from a new Obama campaign ad: Miners were told that attendance at a Mitt Romney campaign rally was mandatory. Not only that, the miners were not paid for the time they were forced to spend at the rally, and then Mitt Romney used the miners in an ad for his campaign.
Leonardo DiCaprio and Tobey Maguire want to hear what you’ve got to say. The two stars unveiled a campaign on Monday called Vote4Stuff. It urges voters to use social media to talk about what issues are most critical to them in the upcoming election.
A public service announcement went online Monday, asking: “What stuff is important to you?” Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Jonah Hill, Zac Efron, Edward Norton and Ellen Degeneres — among others — also appear in the video.
Anyone interested can submit their own 30-second video about their biggest concerns going into the election. Then, selected videos — in addition to tweets, photos or posts directed at Vote4Stuff — will be incorporated into the campaign later in the month.
The PSA mentions several potential issues to talk about, including jobs, marriage equality, foreign policy, immigration and education. But DiCaprio and the team are encouraging people to be creative.
“Hey, knock us out and we’ll put (the video) in,” Norton says in the announcement.
Saturday night, during a fundraiser at the Beverly Hilton Hotel about 1,500 people paid up to $50,000 to see the Republican nominee for president speak. Guests were also entertained by comedian Dennis Miller, but it seems that the Romney campaign could've easily skipped that expense.
Romney’s wife, Ann, was in attendance, and the candidate spoke of the concern he had for her when her plane had to make an emergency landing Friday en route to Santa Monica because of an electrical malfunction.
“I appreciate the fact that she is on the ground, safe and sound. And I don’t think she knows just how worried some of us were,” Romney said. “When you have a fire in an aircraft, there’s no place to go, exactly, there’s no — and you can’t find any oxygen from outside the aircraft to get in the aircraft, because the windows don’t open. I don’t know why they don’t do that. It’s a real problem. So it’s very dangerous. And she was choking and rubbing her eyes. Fortunately, there was enough oxygen for the pilot and copilot to make a safe landing in Denver. But she’s safe and sound.”
Didn't they have science class in that fancy private school?