Candy Crowley asked to Gary Bauer, who as Think Progress noted, is a board member of the neoconservative Emergency Committee for Israel (ECI), about whether he'd reveal the names of the donors funding the attack ads against Joe Sestak who is running for the Senate in Pennsylvania. Bauer resorted to the typical defense we've been hearing from all of these Republicans on why they should not have to reveal their anonymous donors, they might be subject to harassment if their names were known.
As Matt Duss pointed out in the Think Progress post:
One of the main claims of ECI — which belatedly came out in support of a two-state solution last month after being shamed into it by the pro-Israel, pro-peace group J Street — is that Americans overwhelmingly agree with them on issues relating to Israel. Yet now one of their board members suggests that ECI cannot reveal the names of donors for fear that they would be harassed. That doesn’t really indicate much confidence in their claims, or in democracy itself.
No it doesn't. The other thing Matt didn't mention is Bauer's other group that is also, as Candy Crowley mentioned earlier in the interview running attack ads against Democrats as well, Campaign for Working Families. I don't know about anyone else, but anyone representing both a far right religious PAC along with a pro-Israeli PAC gives me an extreme case of the hebejebes.
And one last note on the way the press has responded to the reporting by Think Progress on the Chamber of Commerce and their foreign donors. Eric Boehlert wrote a great post earlier this week comparing the media's response to this story and the way they reacted to the Whitewater story during the Clinton administration. He made a lot of great points about the hypocrisy of our beltway media and how they carry water for Republicans.
Full transcript via CNN below the fold.
CROWLEY: Let me turn to you the money question. You are co- chair of one group that is putting ads on the air usually concerning people's -- candidates' support for or against Israel...
CROWLEY: ... and do not disclose the donors. Would you do that? Would you give me the name of the donors?
BAUER: No, of course not.
CROWLEY: Why not?
BAUER: Because these are issue ads, and under the laws of the United States and repeated court rulings...
CROWLEY: But they're attacking Joe Sestak, so that's not quite an issue. That's a, like, don't -- don't vote for this guy.
BAUER: No, it doesn't. It never says in the ad, don't vote. If you say vote for or vote against, then it is a direct political ad.
CROWLEY: That's a nuance. That's a nuance.
BAUER: Well, look, I think...
CROWLEY: Do you think voters don't come away from that thinking, oh, I shouldn't vote for Joe Sestak?
BAUER: Look, I don't write the laws and I don't make the court decisions. And the courts have said, for very good reasons, I might say, that, in these kinds of ads, there doesn't have to be disclosure.
The first court decision on this involved the NAACP in Alabama. Somebody wanted to get their list of donors. Bigots wanted to get the list of donors so they could harass the people that were donating to the NAACP.
The reason this disclosure issue is so important, Candy, quite frankly, is that, on the left in this country, there has been in recent years campaigns of intimidation and outright thuggery when people have put their names on the line and promoted conservative ideas.
CROWLEY: So you're saying that the main reason that you wouldn't tell me the donors who are putting these ads up trying to influence the outcome of an election -- you're telling me that they are afraid that they'll be harassed if people know they are pro-Israel.
BAUER: I think one -- well, I think one of the factors is that some of these folks are Democrats, and they don't want to alienate Democratic friends and people that they work with.
CROWLEY: But isn't that what democracy is all about?
You stand up and you say, here's what I'm for; here's what I'm against. Isn't democracy about someone being able to look at the television and go, oh, this Democrat put up this ad against this Democrat; hmm, that's interesting. If they don't know, it is coming at them in a vacuum. Is that democracy?
BAUER: Well, Candy, where was all this concern about democracy when Barack Obama, two years ago, was raising a massive amount of money, more than any time in the history of the United States? He had tens of thousands of donations that he did not disclose the names of.
And there's a lot of evidence that many of those donations may in fact have come from foreign citizens, not Americans. In fact, there was a couple of brothers in Gaza who gave $17,000 to the Obama campaign, and they gave that money back only after outside groups found that problem and disclosed it. So for Mr. Axelrod and these guys suddenly to be on their high horse and say that they're defending democracy, when for years the left has done this, including the unions, and nobody said a word...
CROWLEY: Gary Bauer, I can't thank you enough for coming in and joining us.
BAUER: My pleasure.
CROWLEY: This is an interesting discussion. This always gets people moving in the morning, doesn't it?
BAUER: Absolutely, it sure does.
CROWLEY: Thank you so much.
BAUER: My pleasure.