Brownback’s Phone-y Apologies to Romney, Tancredo, and Clinton Go Back to 1996

Scott Swenson

Gov. Mitt Romney and Rep. Tom Tancredo are locked in an apology war with Sen. Sam Brownback, a candidate who specializes in acting first and seeking forgiveness later. Sen. Fred Thompson even has a cameo in this series.

There is trouble brewing in the bottom tier of the GOP/social conservative "who's more negative" primary. Sen. Sam Brownback, underfunded and trying to move ahead of "none of these candidates" in the polls, is picking fights with fellow basement dweller Rep. Tom Tancredo, while besmirching money magnet Gov. Mitt Romney.

But this story goes beyond Brownback's recent use of nasty phone calls to prick up his flagging campaign. The apology Romney and Tancredo are demanding for misrepresenting their anti-choice profiles is not unlike apologies Brownback has given many times, for:

  • anti-Semitic campaign phone calls;
  • condoning an atmosphere around him that fosters religious bigotry; and
  • holding hatred in his heart for powerful women.

The cast of characters in Brownback's "hate first, seek forgiveness later" files reads like a ballot.

Romney has already accepted one apology from Brownback for a staffer's email demeaning Mormons. "He said that religious attacks don't have any place in politics and, of course, we agree on that," said Romney. But Brownback's first race for the Senate, in 1996, for which I had a front row seat as his opponent Jill Docking's Communications Director, was overshadowed in the final weeks by the very religious attacks from which he now distances himself.

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Docking is part of a long and proud family tradition of moderate, centrist Democrats in Kansas; a pro-business stock broker who appealed to many moderate Republicans frustrated with the social conservative takeover of their party. She is also Jewish. In the final weeks of a contest the polls consistently showed as close, the Docking campaign received reports from around the state of push polls. One report:

According to a recently released NJDC (National Jewish Democratic Council) report, two Kansas Republicans have stepped forward to further substantiate claims "that supporters of U.S. Sen. Sam Brownback (R-KS) employed anti-Semitic tactics during his 1996 campaign against Democrat Jill Docking, who is Jewish." Their statements are recounted in the NJDC report:

"The caller, I think it was a male voice, reminded me to vote for Brownback on election day," said Nicki Soici, from Wichita, who at the time was a registered Republican. "Then he said, 'We think it's important for people to know that Docking is a Jew.'" Soici told the caller that Jesus was Jewish. When she informed the caller that Docking was a friend of hers, "the caller hung up."

Steve Baru, a former candidate for an elected GOP precinct office from the Kansas City area, said that he received a nearly identical call a day or two before the election. "We just want to remind you to vote for Brownback, and to remind you that Jill Docking is Jewish,' the caller said." When Baru told the caller he was Jewish the caller abruptly hung up. Baru's caller identification system could not identify the origin of the call. Baru immediately called Brownback headquarters to protest the call.

Additional points raised in the NJDC report included the following:

    • The day before the election, the Kansas City Star alluded to the anti-Semitic calls, which were by that time already well known to both the Brownback and Docking campaigns, when it reported that the Docking campaign said "someone was calling voters asking them if they knew [Docking was Jewish] and that 'there were enough [Jews] in Congress already.'"
    • According to interviews with dozens of Kansans, NJDC found that these were not isolated incidents. Fran Hoggath, a Republican who volunteered as a telephone receptionist on the Docking campaign, spoke with people who received similar calls. "[I took] five or six calls. All referred to questions being asked 'did you know Jill Docking is Jewish, we're taking a survey,'" Hoggath said. Hoggath, who said these calls came in during the final days of the campaign, was unsure about the party affiliation of the callers who were "surveyed."
    • The NJDC spoke to a leader of a local chapter of a major Jewish organization in the Kansas City area, who asked not to be identified, who recalled hearing from two separate people about this type of call.
    • NJDC spoke with Rabbi Karol, spiritual leader of the Topeka, Kansas, Temple Beth Shalom congregation, who said he heard about anti-Semitic calls "two weeks before the election."
    • NJDC reported that interviews with former Docking campaign aides revealed that anti-Semitic "push polls", in which voters were asked whether their vote would change if they knew Docking was Jewish, had been used in the more rural areas of Kansas in the month prior to the vote. Docking aides said they received dozens of complaints from voters, mostly Republicans, who were subjected to anti-Semitic tactics. Former Docking finance director Todd Sandness said that the Docking campaign "kept getting calls from rural areas complaining about a poll [asking] does it make a difference to you if Jill Docking is Jewish."

So prevalent were the calls that they created a bit of a post election stir in the media and have continued to haunt Brownback, who has gone to great lengths to support Israel and win over, or perhaps paper over, his 1996 campaign's transgressions. To be clear, the calls were never directly linked to any source – unlike the Romney/Tancredo calls which are clearly coming directly from the Brownback campaign in Iowa. But seriously, "we want to remind you to vote for Brownback and that Docking is a Jew", doesn't require a Senate investigation to figure out. We'll get to that in a moment.

His campaign also used Docking's maiden name, "Sadowsky" on news releases and by showing her birth certificate in television commercials to underscore her heritage. This from a man who claims to be defending marriage and upholding traditional family values, somehow suggesting her marriage and years of public service in Kansas weren't enough. So outraged by the uproar over the accusations about how his campaign used Docking's maiden name, Brownback sought and won corrections in many publications. But these corrections only reinforced the truth of his campaign's "wicked" ways – just as The Conservative Voice has claimed of the recent Romney/Tancredo phone calls.

But after winning the 1996 election, Sen. Brownback asked to meet privately with Jill Docking for coffee. Being the forgiving soul she is, she agreed. According to her accounts of the conversation, he apologized and asked her forgiveness. Respecting his request for privacy, she never discussed more details of their meeting.

If, as his campaign maintained, they had nothing to do with the anti-Semitic phone calls, what weighed on his conscience so heavily? How could Brownback, Prodigal Son of the Far Right, anointed in the 2008 race by Rev. Pat Robertson, Dr. James Dobson, Harald Bredesen, and who himself is a member of the secretive mono-theocratic/Dominionist Christian organization known as "The Family" or "The Fellowship", have a guilty conscience for something he supposedly did not do? Surely as a convert to the shadowy ultra-conservative form of Catholicism, Opus Dei, he gets confession?

And how could he, with all this support from Far Right leadership, be doing as poorly as he is in the polls and with fund raising?

Years later, in a story that now has become a bit of Beltway legend in some circles, Sen. Brownback offered a similar apology and asked forgiveness of Sen. Hillary Clinton for "hatred he held in his heart" for her and her husband. We can all understand and respect forgiveness, something every major world religion teaches in some way. But to hold hatred in one's heart for a powerful woman like Sen. Clinton and repeatedly use religious bigotry to quench his lust for power, first with Jews and now Mormons, hardly speaks to a genuine sense of forgiveness. It's more like sleeve-wearing piety that serves as a thin veil over less than pure campaign tactics. Like Jill Docking, Sen. Clinton graciously forgave Sen. Brownback. Jesus, a Jew, didn't talk the talk; he walked the walk suggesting others humbly lead by example, as he did, and Romney, Docking and Clinton have demonstrated.

Now, about that Senate Investigation …

One more 2008 Presidential hopeful-to-be factors into the Brownback forgiveness files – Sen. Fred Thompson. It is Thompson who, as Media Matters reports, allowed forgiveness of many campaign sins to wash over a special investigation his 1997 Government Affairs Committee undertook into the shadowy and secretive Triad Management Services. Triad coordinated independent expenditures on behalf of Brownback in 1996, as well as two other Senate and twenty-nine House races. According to Media Matters:

Thompson did initially undertake an investigation of Republicans as well as Democrats, he shut down the investigation before Democrats were able to introduce evidence linking Republican lawmakers to Triad Management, a fundraising group that Democrats claimed had skirted campaign finance laws. The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported on November 1, 1997, that Thompson "abruptly halted" the investigation and that "Democrats noted that Thompson's cancellation of hearings coincided with questions emerging this week about Republican-backed groups using millions of dollars to help party candidates in last year's election.

But the Thompson investigation wasn't shut down until depositions had been taken. And in Meredith O'Rouke's deposition, Brownback is clearly linked to Triad Management, its CEO Carolyn Malenick, and to the independent expenditure campaign committees Citizens for Reform and Citizens for the Republic Education Fund. Those committees had legal ties to Bay Buchanan and former Reagan adviser Lyn Nofziger, and amounted to nothing more than shell organizations used to funnel extra money to highly targeted races and make it harder for media to trace its source. The complete 174-page deposition is here.

In her deposition, O'Rourke provides more than enough information linking Brownback, his mainstream media mogul in-laws the Stauffers, and the acquisition/coordination of donor lists by his campaign and Triad. Discussions of "maxed out donors" and several meetings are detailed. It is not a stretch to imagine how bigoted calls get made from hard to trace phone banks, or third party ads that push the boundaries of propriety get aired when so many layers of shadowy organizations are involved. There was ample evidence to have kept the investigation up and running, perhaps too much for many people's comfort.

Sen. Fred Thompson upset people on both sides of the investigation and as the evidence mounted, so did the pressure to call it off. When Brownback drops out of Iowa, where a weak finish in this summer's straw poll will all but end his candidacy, and even a surprisingly strong finish will only get him close to the butter cow sculpture, watch closely where his allegiance goes. Brownback owes Thompson a big debt of gratitude for not exactly forgiving his and Triad's 1996 sins, but at least for making them disappear.

In the end, many on the Far Right know Brownback isn't going any where on his own. As Jeff Sharlet reports in his excellent Rolling Stone article, God's Senator, "What Sam could do very effectively," says the Rev. Rob Schenck, an evangelical activist, "is hold the nomination hostage until the Christian right 'exacts the last pledge out of the more popular candidate.'"

That was way back last year when hopes were high and now seems like a tall order for a man picking fights with Tom Tancredo over who's more anti-choice, or bashing Mitt Romney for suggesting the Boy Scouts should honor national values and not discriminate, adding to Brownback's oddly obsessive fixation on anti-gay issues.

As Sharlet reported last year:

He purses his lips as he searches the other tables. Look, he says, pointing to a man across the room. "Mark Dayton, over there?" The Democratic senator from Minnesota. "He's a liberal." But you know what else he is? "A beautiful child of the living God." Brownback continues. Ted Kennedy? "A beautiful child of the living God." Hillary Clinton? Yes. Even Hillary. Especially Hillary.

Once, Brownback says, he hated Hillary Clinton. Hated her so much it hurt him. But he reached in and scooped that hatred out like a cancer. Now, he loves her. She, too, is a beautiful child of the living God.

As a gay child of that same living and loving God, I too await one of Brownback's now famous apologies, but it seems he has more trouble with issues of sexuality than most, so his journey accepting all God's children is not yet complete. But don't worry Sam, many of us have already forgiven you for the harm you're causing to young gay people, their families and friends, as well as to women who are victims of rape. We're just waiting for you to catch up with the rest of creation.

Roundup: Are You Ready to Go Back to the 50’s?

Robin Marty

The GOP has taken over, and it's time to start looking at all of the ways they can turn back the clock on progress.

Old fashioned values.  Turning back the clock.  Reproductive justice was just one of the frames used in the 2010 elections to focus voters who are really just wishing that we could go back and relive the 50’s.  Don’t believe me?  Check out this letter from Montana.

The same people who promote sex education today were the free love generation of the ’60s. The progressive viewpoint promoting open sexuality created sex education in the schools and the tolerance of girls coming to school visibly pregnant (these girls used to have a home school teacher). These progressives mocked, and still mock, the moral values of the ’50s. These progressives who are “all-knowing” have overseen an increase of unwed pregnancies and venereal disease. The verdict is clear, it is time to stop listening to these “all-knowing” progressives and go back to those morals which promoted sexual restraint. These morals saw much less unwed pregnancies and venereal disease. Parents need to, for the sake of the children, stand up to these “all-knowing” progressives and just say “no.” These “ all-knowing” progressives will say that it is the media that sexualizes our children. As they very well know, media follows the culture, not the other way around. When promiscuity is not tolerated in our culture it will not be in the movies. Parents need to stand up and, for the sake of their children, just say no to progressive sex education in our schools.

Want to see all the ways that the GOP could potentially turn back the clock, in this case as a means to move us away from a secular society?  The “On Faith” columnist lists them over at the Washington Post:

Here’s a roundup of the potential bad news:

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* The Republicans slated to head House committees are not only religious and social conservatives; many embody the most extreme right-wing brand. Rep. Lamar Smith of Texas, who will almost certainly be the new chair of the House Judiciary Committee, is one of the hardest-line conservatives in Congress. He has long been an opponent of all abortion rights (receiving a 100 per cent rating from the National Right to Life Committee). He’s the sort of anti-choice right-winger who opposes not only abortion but embryonic stem cell research–and judges whose decisions would allow that research to continue. He has been a consistent and strident critic of all in the federal judiciary whose decisions, on matters ranging from the teaching of creationism in public schools to religious school vouchers, run counter to the religious right’s assault on the separation of church and state.

* In the new Congress, there will be almost no moderating Republican voices on any committee. Many moderate Republicans throughout the country were defeated by Tea Party candidates in primaries. On the judiciary committee, the chairman will be backed up by members like Rep. Steven King (R-Iowa), who recently attacked the federal district court judge who struck down the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy.

* Look for an endless stream of amendments to vital appropriations bills designed to promote favorite right-wing causes like abstinence-only sex education. and to favor faith-based social spending over programs administered by secular organizations.

* Forget about any possibility of ending “don’t ask, don’t tell” in the next two years. The Republicans aren’t going to listen to any high-ranking military officials who have already testified against the policy, and the military knows which side its bread is buttered on. Obama, who has always waffled on these issues, is certainly not going to press this battle while he is struggling to retain his presidency.

* Worst of all, from a secular point of view, is the unlikehood of Obama being able to affect the federal judiciary during the next two years. The Senate, of course, still has a Democratic majority, but it has already been demonstrated that in the absence of a super-majority, any appointment can be blocked by any senator. Given the Republicans’ stated objective to make Obama a one-term president, they can endlessly delay any judicial appointment proposed in the next two years. Should any of the four far-right Supreme Court justices drop dead during the next two years, I believe that Republicans will stall the confirmation of his successor. Why wouldn’t they? They scent blood in the water, and it’s hard to imagine that the voting public will punish them for keeping a seat vacant on the Supreme Court until 2012.

And that’s only half of the examples.  Be sure to follow the link for even more.

Speaking of going back to the same place in time, in case you had any doubt, Colorado will be seeing a Personhood amendment on the 2012 ballot again, as they declare victory in 2010 because, well, they had more people vote for it than in 2008, and, oddly enough, because Ken Buck lost his senate race.

Conventional Wisdom: Only 15% will support a personhood 100% abortion ban.

Colorado’s 2008 vs. 2010 Campaigns: The “Yes on Personhood” vote grew by 10% as compared to our 2008 Yes votes, in that 27% of the 2008 vote is now 30% of the 2010 vote, and that encourages us!

In 2010 on Amendment 62: 30% of Colorado voted Yes to ban all abortion, and that is with the opposition of the biggest names in the pro-life industry.

Join Us: in praying for the wisdom and resources to build on this increase the Lord has given us (ten percent growth in those who voted Yes) so that we can reach even more people to protect every precious child by love and by law.

Regarding Ken Buck’s Close Loss: After breaking every pro-life campaign promise he made including by promising to confirm pro-choice judges if elected, Ken Buck told the Amendment 62 proponents, “I’m not going to cater to personhood for 2% of the vote.”

Of course, the conservative voting turnout percentage in 2010 was much larger than in 2008, yet they only gained 3 percent vote change, but we won’t let facts get in the way of a good spin, right?

Mini Roundup: In a belated Halloween roundup, one church has some pretty creepy ideas what belongs in a haunted house.  You can bet that they didn’t hand out condoms as treats, either.

November 4, 2010

Roundup: Vermont Legislature Overrides Governor’s Veto of Same-Sex Marriage Bill

Emily Douglas

Vermont legislature overrides Governor's veto of same-sex marriage bill; assessing new members of the Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships; Illinois can't force pharmacists to dispense EC; Maryland student punished for taking birth control.

Breaking: Vermont Legislature Overrides Governor’s Veto of Same-Sex Marriage Bill
Just this morning, the Vermont legislature overrode Gov. Jim Douglas’s veto of a bill to legalize same-sex marriage. From WCAX.com:

The Vt. Senate voted
to override the governor’s veto of the same-sex marriage bill. This
morning, the Senate voted 23 to 5 to override that veto. Two senators
were absent and Washington County Republican Bill Doyle who had
initially supported same sex, this time voted to sustain the veto.

The
Vt. House voted around 11 a.m. to override the veto. The vote was
100-49. 100 votes were needed.

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Assessing New Members of the Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships

The 15 remaining members of the Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships have been announced, and Frances Kissling, on Religion Dispatches, and Faith in Public Life both respond.  Frances’s take:

Nineteen members of the Council represent religious organizations. Not
one of the organizations they represent has played a strong role in
reforming religion; in fact they have defended themselves against
internal reform. There is not a single academic theologian in the
batch. Thinkers are sorely absent. The majority of the men representing
religious organizations who have been named to the Council either
personally or institutionally represent the most conservative religious
thought on women’s nature, identity and reproductive choice. Of course,
views on reproductive choice are not the only issue—and certainly not
the most important issue—facing the Council.


Faith
in Public Life offers biographies of each appointee, writing, "It’s a
diverse group with wide ranging views on the issues — spanning the
religious and ideological spectrum."

Illinois Can’t Force Pharmacists to Dispense EC
An
Illinois judge has said that the state cannot force pharmacists to
dispense emergency contraception if they object to the medication on
religious grounds, reports Huffington Post. "Sangamon County Circuit Judge John Belz issued a temporary restraining
order Friday until he can hear arguments against the rule from
druggists who object on religious grounds."

Student Punished for Taking Birth Control
A
public school student in Fairfax County, Md., was suspended, and will
possibly be expelled, for taking birth control pills during the school
day, NARAL Pro-Choice Maryland reports. "The teenager (whose name has not been released) was caught discreetly
taking her pill during Oakton High School’s 25-minute lunch break.
According to school officials, this constituted a serious violation of
the school district’s zero-tolerance policy on drugs. An honor roll
student and talented athlete, she was nonetheless given the maximum
permissible suspension; her case was referred to a panel of school
officials, who are now deliberating the possibility of expulsion. This
punishment, as per the Fairfax County Handbook of Student Responsibilities and Rights, is equivalent to the one she would have gotten had she brought a gun to school."

Civil Rights, Women’s Groups Speak Out for Dawn Johnsen
NARAL Pro-Choice America has launched a campaign in support of Office of the Legal Counsel director nominee Dawn Johnsen, reports TPM.  "Last week, the group NARAL Pro-Choice America announced that it would be mobilizing
activists and supporters to help confirm not just Johnsen, but two
other Obama nominees–Judge David Hamilton nominated to serve on the
Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, and Governor Kathleen Sebelius,
nominated to head the Department of Health and Human Services…Among
the signatories [to a letter in Johnsen’s support] were NARAL, the
National Abortion Federation,
National Council of Jewish Women, National Organization for Women,
National Partnership for Women & Families, and the National Women’s
Law Center."  Meanwhile, reports WhoRunsGov, Sen. Arlen Specter has met with Johnsen and is weighing whether to support her.

Putting Anti-Choice Opposition to Obama at Notre Dame in Perspective
Anti-choice opponents of President Obama’s planned commencement address are protesting, but when New York Times covers the opposition, the paper puts it in perspective:

Notre Dame is regarded as an academic powerhouse and conservative
Catholic bastion. But in a mock election here in November, Mr. Obama
defeated Mr. McCain among students by about 11 percentage points. He
won roughly the same margin of victory among Catholic voters in the
national election.

Some 97 percent of seniors who have sent
letters to the school newspaper, The Observer, support Mr. Obama as the
commencement speaker, said the editor, Jenn Metz. Letters from alumni,
however, have overwhelmingly opposed his appearance.


Other News to Note

April 6: Bio-Medicine: Mayer Labs Acquires Today(R) Sponge Distribution Rights

April 7: Washington Times: Tiller win doesn’t end saga

April 5: Watchthecandidates.com: Pro-Life Movement Gains Victory on House Floor

April 6: California Catholic Daily:  “Deja vu all over again”: California Catholic Conference’s Lobby Day 2009 agenda ignores abortion — again

April 6: MSNBC: When fertility treatments become frightening: Carrying multiple fetuses can increase risks for both mother and babies

April 3: Wicked Local Brookline:  Brookline neighbors alarmed by abortion clinic plans

April 6: LifeSite News: Last Chance to Ask Obama Administration to Retain Conscience Protections for Pro-Life Doctors

April 6: Healthcare Republic News: Obese patients need warning about Pill

April 6: OK Magazine: VIDEO: Zac Efron Talks About Condoms… Again

April 6: Gawker: Levi Johnston’s Tyra Trainwreck: The Highlights

Arpil 6: Union Leader: Parental rights: The abortion exception

April 6: Religion Dispatches: White House Conference Call Seeks Common Ground on Abortion

April 5: The National Post: The next moral quagmire: conscience: Politics collides with freedom of workers’ beliefs

April 6: LifeNews: Pro-Life News: Contraception Compromise, Abortion a "Blessing," New Zealand, Montana, Missouri

April 6: The Onion: Panicked, Sweat-Covered Pope Reverses Longstanding Ban On Abortion

April 6: WSJ Blog: Abortion Foes Call Republican Response to Sebelius ‘Baffling’

April 6: National Journal online: Pro-Lifers Want Tougher Line On Sebelius

April 6: Cincinnati Enquirer: New abortion law Tuesday