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Tag Archives: payola

Justice For Sale – Clarence Thomas, Antonin Scalia and Bribes…

One of the “abilities to rule by the law” of the conservative justices appointed by the Bushes is the wealth their family members suddenly came into when they were appointed to he bench. Need a vote in a critical case? Drop $500k in Virginia Thomas’ PAC. Hire a judges kids for a high paying job…

By all rights, Scalia and Thomas (and Roberts) should be removed from the bench and join the ranks of Orange Jumpsuited criminal politicians.

Clarence Thomas failed to report wife’s income, watchdog says

Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas failed to report his wife’s income from a conservative think tank on financial disclosure forms for at least five years, the watchdog group Common Cause said Friday.

Between 2003 and 2007, Virginia Thomas, a longtime conservative activist, earned $686,589 from the Heritage Foundation, according to a Common Cause review of the foundation’s IRS records. Thomas failed to note the income in his Supreme Court financial disclosure forms for those years, instead checking a box labeled “none” where “spousal noninvestment income” would be disclosed.

A Supreme Court spokesperson could not be reached for comment late Friday. But Virginia Thomas’ employment by the Heritage Foundation was well known at the time.

Virginia Thomas also has been active in the group Liberty Central, an organization she founded to restore the “founding principles” of limited government and individual liberty.

In his 2009 disclosure, Justice Thomas also reported spousal income as “none.” Common Cause contends that Liberty Central paid Virginia Thomas an unknown salary that year.

Federal judges are bound by law to disclose the source of spousal income, according to Stephen Gillers, a professor at NYU School of Law. Thomas’ omission — which could be interpreted as a violation of that law — could lead to some form of penalty, Gillers said.

Then there is the relationship between Scalia and Thomas and Koch Industries. Koch Industries is the principal funder of the Tea Party, as well as the Federalist Society and a number of other right wing organizations… including millions to the Heritage Foundation which Virginia Thomas “worked” for..

Charles Koch’s invitation to their 2011 secretive retreat, to be held in Palm Springs, Ca., on January 30-31, states that the “action-oriented program brings together top experts and leaders to discuss – and offer solutions to counter – the most critical threats to our free society.” It added that past “meetings have featured such notable leaders as Supreme Court Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas,” along with a host conservative leaders and elected officials, like Glenn Beck, Haley Barbour and Jim DeMint.

Campaign finance ruling: Should Supreme Court justices have recused themselves?

Common Cause President Bob Edgar said the group has asked Attorney General Eric Holder to examine whether Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas should have stepped aside rather than vote in the Citizens United case.

The case, handed down a year ago on Friday (Jan. 21), struck down a portion of the McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform law that had barred corporate expenditures for political advertisements during campaign season.

Mr. Edgar said the justices were featured speakers at invitation-only retreats sponsored by Koch Industries, a private company whose officials have played an active role supporting Republican candidates and conservative causes.

He also said Justice Thomas may have had an undisclosed financial conflict of interest through his wife’s work as founder and CEO of a conservative advocacy group, Liberty Central. Edgar said the group stood to benefit from the Citizens United decision through easier fundraising and easier political spending. [Ms. Thomas has since stepped down as CEO of the group.]

Let’s not forget two anonymous doners’ largesse when Virginia Thomas formed her PAC “Liberty Central” – suddenly coming into $500,000 from a single un-named donor  before the Citizen’s United case

 

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Paid Political Bloggers Exposed

This has been going on in the blogsphere for quite a while.  Especially over on the Republican side, who first recognized the value of Internet political entertainment. The fact that the Democrats organized and fought back isn’t any surprise.

Several of your favorite black conservative bloggers, especially the ones who fill the Internet with vitrol are paid to do so.

BTx3 is not and has never been paid to blog anything. The only advertising on my blog is that imposed by the provider,  and that required to get certain widgets free.

Blogging Payola

Of course, looking at what the Republicans are paying for so few eyeballs… I maybe got some space on the right (and left) columns!

True stories of bloggers who secretly feed on partisan cash

Katie Couric once described bloggers as journalists who gnaw at new information “like piranhas in a pool.” But increasingly, many bloggers are also secretly feeding on cash from political campaigns, in a form of partisan payola that erases the line between journalism and paid endorsement.

“It’s standard operating procedure” to pay bloggers for favorable coverage, says one Republican campaign operative. A GOP blogger-for-hire estimates that “at least half the bloggers that are out there” on the Republican side “are getting remuneration in some way beyond ad sales.”

In California, where former eBay executive Meg Whitman beat businessman Steve Poizner in a bitterly fought primary battle in the campaign for governor, it sometimes seemed as if there was a bidding war for bloggers.

One pro-Poizner blogger, Aaron Park, was discovered to be a paid consultant to the Poizner campaign while writing for Red County, a conservative blog about California politics. Red County founder Chip Hanlon threw Park off the site upon discovering his affiliation, which had not been disclosed.

Poizner’s campaign was shocked to learn of the arrangement, apparently coordinated by an off-the-reservation consultant. For Park, though, it was business as usual. In November 2009, for instance, he approached the campaign of another California office-seeker — Chuck DeVore, who was then running for Senate — with an offer to blog for money.

“I can be retained at a quite reasonable rate or for ‘projects,’” Park wrote in an e-mail to campaign officials. In an interview, Park defended himself by claiming, “nobody has any doubt which candidates I’m supporting,” and noting that his blog specifies which candidates he “endorses.”

But while Red County’s Hanlon expressed outrage at Park’s pay-for-blogging scheme, questions arose about his own editorial independence when it emerged that Red County itself had been taking money from the Whitman campaign.

In December of 2009, Red County received $20,000 from the Meg Whitman campaign, which has sent the site $15,000 a month since then.

The money is ostensibly for advertising, yet by conventional measures the numbers don’t add up. According to Quantcast, Red County reaches around 125,000 unique viewers per month. Two new media industry experts confirmed that, given such a readership, Whitman’s ad purchase is “ridiculously” expensive, surpassing the going market rate for such ads by 1,000 percent or more.

In an interview, Hanlon said he had a “very, very direct conversation” with the Whitman campaign that “advertising and editorial are two very different things.” Notably, Whitman’s penchant for throwing money around is well known in California political circles.

Ad purchases at above market rates are a common means by which some campaigns seek to influence bloggers, according to numerous campaign operatives and bloggers.

Bloggers, aware of this, have begun to request improbably high rates on their own.

Florida political blog Shark-Tank.net, which reaches about 15,000 viewers per month, is asking campaigns for $3,200 a month for a large banner ad. For that same price, an advertiser could purchase similar space on political blogs reaching over 1 million readers each week. (more)

 

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