July 11, 2010

As John Amato wrote back in March, Liberty Central is the right wing "civic organization" headed up by Ginni Thomas, wife of Supreme Court Clarence Thomas. And, as John wrote back then, the idea of the wife of a Supreme Court Justice heading up a Tea Party site is a little on the edge of the ethical line, don't you think? Even in March, it smelled hinky:

I'm sorry, this looks bad for a lot for reasons and to say that they rarely discuss court matters seems absurd to anyone that has had a long term relationship or have been married. And the fact that she's going to take cash from corporations is a big deal. Her marriage to a Supreme Court judge would be very appealing to donors.

Yes, it does look bad and the Federal disclosure reports (form 990) don't make it look much better. 2009: Two donors only. One for $50,000 and one for $500,000.00.


I'm very, very curious as to which individual would believe so utterly and completely in the Tea Party movement that they'd write a check for $500,000.00. That's a pretty big non-tax-deductible contribution for a "person" to make (assuming that a person is really a person and not a corporation parading its personhood, of course).

AlterNet has a theory that goes like this:

Here’s how it works: Tea Party Inc. is vying for control of the Republican Party. One of the biggest players in Tea Party Inc. is the AstroTurfing group, FreedomWorks, which is chaired by former House Majority Leader Dick Armey, for whom Ginni Thomas worked while the former Texas congressman occupied his leadership post in the Republican Party. Thomas also worked at the Chamber of Commerce, a pro-business organization with Matt Kibbe, who is now the president of FreedomWorks. Keeping it all in the family…

It more or less goes without saying that whoever the specific players are, they represent the mainstream heart and soul of the Republican party. My question: Is there a way to link up or develop a relationship between specific power players in the Republican party and Liberty Central?

Sometimes hints hide in the Board of Directors. Here's some verifiable details on some of the members of LibertyCentral.org's board:

  • Leonard Leo - One of the so-called "Gang of Four":

    The daily conference call, in many ways, is indistinguishable from thousands of others occurring inside Washington's beltway, but with one big difference: This one is shaping the Republicans' nomination strategy for the Supreme Court and, in consultation with the White House, scripting party-line talking points. The daily call is also the glue for a fragile conservative coalition, from the religious right to the business lobby, that's smoothing the way for President Bush's nominee to replace Justice Sandra Day O'Connor.

    The men, who have been dialing in since 2003, have come to be known as the "Four Horsemen": C. Boyden Gray, Edwin Meese III, Jay Sekulow, and Leonard Leo. Hand-picked by the White House for their ties to disparate conservative groups, they have been instrumental in helping the president name strict constitutionalists to the federal bench--and now they hope to do the same on the nation's highest court. "We've been waiting for this for four years," says Sekulow of the American Center for Law and Justice. And so the Four Horsemen are galloping into this confirmation fight.

    "This" was Chief Justice John Roberts, of course. Isn't it strange that a close associate of the religious right, the business lobby, and a Supreme Court justice can sit on the board of that very same Supreme Court Justice's wife's Tea Party organization and there's no potential conflict of interest?

    Leo Leopold Leonard Leo is also head of the Federalist Society's judicial branch organization. He likes to claim they're just a good old debating group but of course, they're much, much more than that. Citizens United and the current reactionary court majority can be laid right at their doorstep, courtesy of Leopold with the assistance of Meese, Gray, Sekulow and Bozell contingent.

  • Matt Schlapp - Well, now, what a fascinating bio overall. Matt Schlapp is George W. Bush's former political director, one of the Miami "Riot Squad" members, and a lobbyist at Cove Strategies, a Washington DC lobbying firm. Cove Strategies' clients include Koch Industries and Medicines Co

    But wait, there's more. From the bio:

    Matt Schlapp has nearly twenty years of government and corporate experience. Most recently, he served as Vice President of Federal Affairs at Koch Companies Public Sector, LLC where he directed the major federal strategies for it and its subsidiaries with a focus on environmental and energy policies, financial markets, legal reform, and international and domestic tax issues.

    Every principal of Cove Industries is either a former Bush administration official, Koch Industries executive, or both.

  • Tracy Price - There is a Tracy K Price, CEO of The Linc Group, a company that miraculously rose from the ashes of Enron. The treasurer of Liberty Central is listed as Tracy Price, but there is no clear link between the two, so I don't think any inference or relationship can be drawn at this time.
  • Bob Russell - I couldn't find any specific information tying a specific person/organization with this person. A common name, and there are many different people in many different walks of life with his name.
  • Diann Huber, PhD - Diann Huber is founder of iTeach Texas, Inc, a educator certification company that specializes in online courses. Her link to Virginia Thomas appears to come via Hillsdale College in Michigan. Dr. Huber's son graduated from Hillsdale in 2009, and Virginia Thomas was the Washington liason for Hillsdale until she left to begin Liberty Central in November 2009. Hillsdale College receives funding from the Coors family, the Olin Foundation, the Prince family and the other usual large Republican donors.

The strongest ties on the board lead straight to Koch Industries, FreedomWorks, and Americans for Prosperity, which makes some sense given their ties to the Tea Party movement. What I find most disturbing about it all is the second degree of association to Citizens United via the right wing Koch/Coors/Olin organizations. Citizens United is the granddaddy of conservative smear organizations, and Floyd Brown, its original President (before David Bossie, Lee Atwater acolyte took the helm) wants to impeach this President because he doesn't like him very much.

And of course, it was Citizens United's case before the Supreme Court that opened the floodgates for corporate contributions to influence elections.

In review:

  • Virginia Thomas is Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas' spouse.
  • Virginia Thomas is on record as calling our current President a "tyrant" (see video at the top)
  • Virginia Thomas is the President and Founder of Liberty Central, a conservative organization which lists FreedomWorks as a "friend of Liberty Central" and "Coalition Partner".
  • At least two directors of Liberty Central have strong direct ties to Koch Industries.
  • One director had direct input to the Bush administration with regard to the selection of John Roberts and his elevation to Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.
  • Liberty Central will directly benefit from the Citizens United ruling as a recipient (past, present or future) of undisclosed corporate donations.
  • Justice Thomas supported the Citizens United decision.

Based only on these facts, shouldn't Clarence Thomas recuse himself from all proceedings concerning Citizens United or affiliated organizations, and shouldn't his refusal to do so be grounds to call for his resignation, retirement or impeachment?

Who would like to bet on where the seed money for Liberty Central came from? In the long run, whether it was Koch money, or the DeVos family, or someone else really doesn't matter. The names change, but they're all highly partisan, highly conservative, and willing to spend whatever they must to defeat the middle class in this country.

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