I caught this clip of Ralph Reed waxing eloquent in Wisconsin at the Faith & Freedom Coalition pre-primary "warm up the crowd and get them frothing" before he introduced Rick Santorum this weekend, and I confess, I may have cut it off just a little bit early so that it might sound like he is excited about President Obama's inaugural in 2013.
I know it's a bit of a bait and switch but then I view his current operation as a bit of a bait and switch, too. Let's have a closer look at Ralph Reed's "business dealings."
After the Christian Coalition fell apart and Reed was exposed for using earnest Christian soldiers as pawns to screw some Native American tribes out of casino deals so other ones who just happened to be clients of Jack Abramoff's could get a decent deal, Ralph Reed tried to run for office and failed. You'd think at some point he might actually be held accountable by those pious conservatives out in the Midwest, but instead they laud him as some kind of prophet. Go figure.
And now I can't help but wonder if he's up to the same old tricks. In 2009, he started up his new operation with seed money of $500,000 from an unknown donor. That $500,000 was earmarked for "voter education" according to the initial tax filing. The name used on that tax filing was "Freedom and Values Alliance, Inc." While Reed was named as Chairman of the Board, he received no compensation in 2009.
I guess he just serves out of the goodness of his itty-bitty little heart. Then I had a look at the 2010 filing, which uses the same tax identification number, but now has a different name. For 2010, the name of the same organization with the same identification number was now the "Faith and Freedom Coalition, Inc" with a related entity, the "Freedom and Values Alliance, Inc."
Once again, Reed received no compensation from the Faith and Freedom Coalition, Inc., but the organization received over $5 million dollars in 2010 and of that, over $1 million went to the sister organization, Freedom and Values Alliance, Inc.
Are you following me so far? The organization in 2009 has one name and in 2010 it has another, with a newborn sister organization carrying its first name but with no federal disclosures. And a million dollars went to it.
Is anyone besides me the tiniest bit curious about where that million went and whether Reed was paid a whole lot of money to rally the faithful from that other organization that he serves as director of but didn't file financial disclosures for? I suppose it's possible he didn't receive any compensation but frankly, I'll believe that when I see it. A greedy man does not turn away from the big bucks when they're dangled in his face.
Here's the 2010 report so you can see with your own eyes what I'm talking about. The sister organization with no federal disclosures despite receiving over a million in 2010 is on page 29.
While you're mulling over the 2010 report, be sure to stop at page 17, and notice the money spent for fundraising. It's astounding. First, we have nearly three million going to American Target Advertising, a direct mail fundraiser, and that organization returned 2.7 million, keeping only about $300,000 or so. Nifty. Send out three million for fundraising, get back less than you sent. That's some really interesting but not particularly conservative spending there. Then there's two million heads over to Infocision for phone marketing, and they retain all but $70,000! I guess their phone banks weren't all that effective if the goal was fundraising.
But maybe it wasn't.
American Target Advertising is Richard Viguerie's direct mail outfit. Infocision is a right-wing direct mail/robocall outfit in Ohio that Newt Gingrich and others use. What is conservative, I wonder, about spending nearly five million dollars on fundraising to get 2.7 million of it back? Unless, of course, those direct mailings weren't really about fundraising and were more a way to spread propaganda along with their robocallers. It seems there were more than a few robocalls made with Sarah Palin's voice wherever a Tea Party candidate was up for election there for awhile.
Whatever the case, it's inconsistent and unclear exactly how money is being spent, and I don't believe Ralph Reed is doing this out of the driblet of goodness in his tiny little heart. Perhaps it's something worth digging into further.