Sen. DeMint: No Gay or Unmarried Female Teachers Allowed

Amie Newman

Senator Jim DeMint, of South Carolina, believes gay people and women who are not married have no place teaching our children in schools. He also believes he's the one being persecuted.

Potential Senate Majority Leader and U.S. Senator Jim DeMint speaking to a crowd at the “Greater Freedom Rally” in Spartanburg, South Carolina this weekend, said that neither gay people nor unmarried women should be teaching in our classrooms.

DeMint said if someone is openly homosexual, they shouldn’t be teaching in the classroom and he holds the same position on an unmarried woman who’s sleeping with her boyfriend — she shouldn’t be in the classroom.

The rally was sponsored by the CEO Roundtable of South Carolina, and was billed, on DeMint’s web site as an “education roundtable.” The organization is a political action committee with the goal of closing the chasm between “economic and social conservatives.” DeMint told the crowd that he was becoming an “outcast” in Washington for his positions on issues like government spending and “Obamacare.” In other words, DeMint is part of a growing group of GOP-ers who claim their own rights to block the rights of others are being stomped upon as they push to merge their far right, extremist ideological positions with faux-fiscal conservativism. Calling up other like-minded GOP candidates like Rand Paul and Marco Rubio, DeMint said that, “They’ll talk about principles and pro-life issues and will fight to keep marriage between a man and a woman.” Except, notes Jay Bookman, at the Atlanta Journal Consititution, this is also hypocrisy of the highest order,

You find a similar contradiction on economic issues. “People are beginning to see that there’s no way we can pay the interest on our debt and every week, we’re borrowing money to pay the debt we have and are creating new programs that are costing more money,” DeMint said, even as he continues to advocate making permanent the $4 trillion in Bush tax cuts.

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Rand Paul, a DeMint acolyte, made a similar point in a debate on Fox News this weekend. “I’ve become very concerned about the debt we’re piling on, I think, the mountains and mountains of debt,” Paul said. But when Chris Wallace asked about the $4 trillion increase in the debt that would be caused by making the tax cuts permanent, those mountains of debt suddenly weren’t so important.

Speaking about his openly homophobic and misogynistic statements in the past, DeMint presented himself as persecuted:

“(When I said those things,) no one came to my defense,” he said. “But everyone would come to me and whisper that I shouldn’t back down. They don’t want government purging their rights and their freedom to religion.”

Astoundingly, DeMint doesn’t feel that he is “purging the rights” of people who are gay and women who are not married by disallowing them from teaching in public school. What does “freedom to religion” look like for Senator DeMint? It’s the “freedom” to align his political mandates for all Americans with his personal religion. This is what he told the crowd,

“Hopefully in 2012, we’ll make headway to repeal some of the things we’ve done, because politics only works when we’re realigned with our Savior,” he told the Spartanburg crowd.

In fact, while he feels perfectly comfortable espousing his right to pontificate on the civil and individual rights of gay people and women, he says he doesn’t believe he can actually do anything about it:

Wesley M. Denton, communications director for DeMint, told The Huffington Post that the senator was “making a point about how the media attacks people for holding a moral opinion.” “Senator DeMint believes that hiring decisions at local schools are a local school board issue, not a federal issue,” he added.

This is not the first time, notes Amanda Terkel, that DeMint has spoken out about the evils of gay people or women teaching his children. In 2004, the late Tim Russert interviewed DeMint on “Meet the Press,” saying,

MR. RUSSERT: You also, when asked about your comments about gay teachers, said this: “I would have given the same answer when asked if a single woman, who was pregnant and living with her boyfriend, should be hired to teach my third-grade children.”

REP. DeMINT: I believe that’s a local school board issue. And, Tim, I was answering as a dad who’s put lots of children in the hands of teachers and I answered with my heart. And I should just say, again, I apologize that distracted from the real debate.

He did not, however, apologize for the statement – only that it “distracted” from a real debate. According to DeMint’s official web site, Senator DeMint weaves his anti-choice,anti-woman, anti-gay rights positions seamlessly, declaring,

“That’s why it is so important that our nation protect the lives of the most vulnerable, the unborn, and encourage loving families that choose to adopt children in need of a home. That’s why we must protect marriage between a man and a woman because we know children that are raised by a mother and father have the best chance to succeed.”

DeMint has a 100 percent anti-choice voting record, has been endorsed by ultra-conservative, far right, anti-choice organizations Concerned Women for America, the National Right to Life and the Family Research Council. He also voted for the Marriage Protection Act in 2004, stating that marriage must solely be a legal union between a man and a woman.

Analysis Politics

Meet the Anti-Choice Radicals Behind the House Freedom Caucus

Ally Boguhn

The House Freedom Caucus (HFC) has spent the last year making waves as it pushed the Republican Party further to the right. Now, the group's rising prominence could pose a problem for reproductive rights advocates.

The House Freedom Caucus (HFC) has spent the last year making waves as it pushed the Republican Party further to the right. Now, the group’s rising prominence could pose a problem for reproductive rights advocates.

Chaired by Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH), the HFC was founded in January 2015 by a group of nine right-wing lawmakers to give “a voice to countless Americans who feel that Washington does not represent them.” The HFC has since developed a reputation for their hardline conservative stances and willingness to hold true to them no matter the costs—even if it means shutting down the federal government.

Although the HFC does not officially disclose its members, an October analysis of the caucus conducted by the Pew Research Center found 36 HFC legislators through public statements and contact with their offices. Pew noted that the group’s makeup reflects little diversity, with just one woman, Cynthia Lummis (R-WY), and “one ethnic or racial minority,” Raúl Labrador (R-IA), whom Pew classifies as Hispanic, on its rolls. Pew also reported that its confirmed members are among the most conservative lawmakers in Congress.

Explaining how the group has become so powerful, particularly within the Republican Party, Pew highlighted its discipline as a voting bloc determined to counter legislation with which its members disagree. 

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“Currently, Republicans have 247 seats in the House to 188 for the Democrats, which would seem to be a comfortable majority,” Pew wrote. “But if the 36 (or more) Freedom Caucus members vote as a bloc against the GOP leadership’s wishes, their effective strength falls to 211 or fewerthat is, less than the majority needed to elect a new speaker, pass bills and conduct most other business.”

That means the caucus presents a major threat to Republican legislation its members may perceive as not conservative enough.

Given the caucus members’ willingness to go after their own, it’s no surprise that other Republicans have developed a disdain for the group.

Speaking with Roll Call‘s 218 blog after HFC waged a February battle over a border security bill, a senior GOP aide claimed the group was “the craziest of the crazy” and cared more about obstructionism than accomplishing real goals. “They’re not legislators, they’re just assholes,” said the aide. “These guys have such a minority mindset that the prospect of getting something done just scares them away, or pisses them off.”

Even some original members of the HFC itself have fallen away as its efforts became increasingly extreme.

In September, the House Freedom Caucus and its members vowed to oppose any and all budget measures that did not explicitly defund Planned Parenthood, citing the series of deceptively edited and discredited videos released by the anti-choice organization the Center for Medical Progress.

“Given the appalling revelations surrounding Planned Parenthood, we cannot in good moral conscience vote to send taxpayer money to this organization while still fulfilling our duty to represent our constituents. We must therefore oppose any spending measure that contains funding for Planned Parenthood,” said the group in a statement on the matter.

Rep. Tom McClintock (R-CA) subsequently resigned from the HFC, citing its “counterproductive” strategy to force a government shutdown in order to defund Planned Parenthood.

“Last week, the House Freedom Caucus formally vowed to shut down the government over funding Planned Parenthood,” McClintock wrote in a letter announcing his departure from the group. “I have never served with a group of patriots more devoted to our country and dedicated to restoring American founding principles. However, I feel that the HFC’s many missteps have made it counterproductive to its stated goals and I no longer wish to be associated with it.”

Now heading into the 2016 election season, the HFC is again threatening to make waves.

According to a November report from Bloomberg, several members of the group have been preparing their “Contract With America II,” a set of legislative priorities “that would call for House votes in the first 100 days of 2016 on replacing Obamacare, overhauling entitlement programs such as Social Security and Medicare, and repealing the estate tax.” The plan is said to include a promise to defund Planned Parenthood.

They’ve also moved to take on a greater role in helping get politicians elected who could join their ranks, launching the House Freedom Fund in anticipation of a major fundraising push ahead of the elections, according to the Washington Post.

The political action committee (PAC) already has a reported $23,000 on hand to throw into races, and members of the HFC are discussing the influence they may wield with it.

“We fully expect to start our own separate fundraising, our own separate vetting for candidates, and you’ll see us trying to get good conservatives elected in open races,” said Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-SC), a caucus co-founder according to the Post. “We recognize the fact that we have a brand, and we’re going to try to use that to further our mission,” he continued.

The group’s potential to grow could spell trouble for reproductive choice advocates. In addition to HFC’s steadfast opposition to funding Planned Parenthood, the caucus and its members have consistently used their offices to push anti-choice legislation and rhetoric.

In April, the group helped lead the charge to dissolve a Washington, D.C., law protecting employees from being fired for their reproductive health-care choices such as abortion and contraceptive use, alleging that it impeded on the religious liberties of anti-choice advocates in the city.

“The House Freedom Caucus urges Republican leadership to allow the House to consider … a resolution to disapprove of the District of Columbia Council’s recently-passed Reproductive Health Non-Discrimination Act of 2014 (RHNDA), as soon as possible this week before the law goes into effect,” the group said in a statement urging lawmakers to act against the law.

“RHNDA would discriminate against D.C. residents with pro-life views. RHNDA could force D.C. employers to cover abortions in their health plans and require pro-life organizations to hire abortion advocates.”

And the records of HFC’s confirmed members are yet another cause for alarm. According to conservative site the Daily Signal, all members of the House Freedom Caucus received an above-average score for Republicans from Heritage Action, a conservative PAC that rates candidates based on their support for repealing Obamacare, pushing abortion restrictions, and a host of other right-wing talking points.

The group’s leader, Rep. Jordan, has been a staunch anti-choice proponent during his time in the House. Voting with the anti-choice National Right to Life Committee in all 35 scored pieces of key legislation, Jordan has earned himself top honors from anti-choice organizations across his home state. On his website, he boasts that he is “the only legislator in state history to win both the Defender of Life award from Ohio Right to Life and the Pro-Life Legislator of the Year award from the United Conservatives of Ohio.”

In 2013, Jordan sponsored the failed Life at Conception Act, a “personhood” bill that would have granted embryos, eggs, fetuses, and clones constitutional rights. The extreme legislation could have banned all abortions without exception, as well as many forms of birth control such as IUDs, the pill, and emergency contraception.

Jordan also sponsored the Ultrasound Informed Consent Act, a forced ultrasound bill that would have required all doctors to perform ultrasounds and “provide a simultaneous explanation of what the ultrasound is depicting” in graphic detail, displaying the images to a pregnant woman before giving them an abortion.

Other notable members of the HFC include birther conspiracy theorist Rep. Ted Yoho (R-FL), who voted in May for the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Act, which would have banned abortions after 20 weeks. Yoho previously compared fetuses to endangered species in order to justify the bill.

How can we as a nation have laws that protect the sea turtle or bald eagle, but yet refuse to protect the same of our own species?” asked Yoho, arguing in favor of the medically unsound measure on the House floor.

HFC member Rep. John Fleming (R-LA), who famously cited an article from satirical site the Onion to claim that Planned Parenthood was doing “abortion by the wholesale,” made waves in September for boycotting Pope Paul Francis’ address to Congress alongside fellow HFC member Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ), in part for the pope’s stance on abortion.

“What I’m a little concerned about is that the pope seems to distract at times from some of the most important issues of faithwhich is life—and he talks about issues like climate change,” said Fleming. Claiming the pope had “made some statements that would suggest that there may be certain level of acceptance of abortion,” he called on the religious leader to “re-emphasize the importance of protecting life and preventing abortion.”

Gosar has been no stranger to anti-choice advocacy himself, earning a “100 percent pro-life voting record on all right-to-life issues that have reached the House floor” and an accompanying endorsement from the National Right to Life Committee. In a statement accepting the anti-choice group’s endorsement, Gosar claimed that protecting fetuses is “our country’s next big battle for civil rights.”

Given the House Freedom Caucus’ endless crusade to restrict and ban abortion, its members’ rising prominence could spell trouble as it continues to throw its weight around Congress and the 2016 election season.

After Republican lawmakers finally put forth a $1.1 trillion spending deal this week to avoid a shutdown of the federal government, the HFC again threatened to withhold its support for the bill unless it was modified to include more extreme abortion restrictions.

The group’s requested riders include three abortion measures authored by the Pro-Life Caucus, the Hill reported, including an effort to allow states to decide whether Medicaid should cover abortion providers and increased protections for medical professionals and organizations who refuse to cover abortion care.

After the House Freedom Caucus’ provisions were ultimately rejected, many of the group’s members threatened to withhold their votes for the larger bill. Although the bill is still expected to clear the House thanks to bipartisan support, the group’s threats nevertheless underscore the dangers it presents as it attempts to push its party even further to the right.

Analysis Politics

Sean Fieler, the Little-Known ATM of the Fundamentalist Christian, Anti-Choice Movement

Sharona Coutts

Since 2010, Sean Fieler, a New Jersey-based hedge fund manager and fervent Catholic, has personally contributed nearly $18 million to political candidates and causes that align with his anti-choice, anti-LGBT, and pro-theocracy views, according to an analysis of tax filings and campaign finance records by Rewire.

He’s a mega-rich member of the New York financial class who backs the Tea Party and rails against “elites.” He spends millions at a time funding extreme anti-government, anti-choice groups including the Susan B. Anthony List and Americans United for Life. He’s set up nonprofits that seem to act as pass-throughs for rivers of campaign cash.

And his last name is not Koch.

Since 2010, Sean Fieler, a New Jersey-based hedge fund manager and fervent Catholic, has personally contributed nearly $18 million to political candidates and causes that align with his anti-choice, anti-LGBT, and pro-theocracy views, quietly cementing himself as the ATM for the most extreme elements of the fundamentalist Christian and Catholic political machine, according to an analysis of tax filings and campaign finance records by Rewire.

“It’s enough money that folks ought to know who he has given to.”

Due to the opaque nature of federal and state disclosure laws, it’s impossible to know exactly how much any individual has given to political candidates, causes, and committees. Experts told Rewire, however, that $18 million places Fieler among the upper tier of political givers in the United States.

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“Whether he’s in the top ten or top 20, it’s impossible to say,” said Dale Eisman, spokesperson for Common Cause, a nonpartisan good government group. “It’s enough money that folks ought to know who he has given to.”

Fieler did not respond to Rewire’s requests for an interview, but our analysis of his public statements and financial contributions paints a picture of a man with extremely deep convictions, and the pockets to match. He has sprinkled funds amongst at least 77 candidates throughout 19 states, has almost single-handedly created a pass-through entity for funding extreme Catholic and Christian groups, and has laid the foundation for a policy center that appears intended to influence the Republican Party to bring ultra-conservative views to the center of its policies.

“When it comes to what are euphemistically referred to as the ‘social issues,’ we promise not to talk about life and marriage, the literal future and irreplaceable foundation of our society,” Fieler told his audience at last year’s annual gala for one of the nonprofits that he funds, the American Principles Project. “To win, we need but make one change, to emphasize, rather than run away from our principles.”

So ubiquitous is Fieler’s money, and so extreme are his views, that even other conservatives are willing to speak out against him.

“Very few people actually support the positions advocated by the groups that he funds but their funding is so massive that they’re able to project more strength than they actually have,” said Jimmy LaSalvia, a conservative strategist and commentator who formerly headed GOProud, a now-defunct group that advocated for LGBTQI people within the Republican Party. “Fewer and fewer conservatives are supporting such extreme social positions. The only thing keeping that movement alive is the funding because there isn’t popular support for those points of view.”

However, given Fieler’s wealth and the fervor of his convictions, it’s likely that he will have a growing influence on conservative politics and national political debates.

Fieler is the manager and co-owner of a financial firm called Mason Hill Advisors, which was formed on Christmas Eve of 2004. At of the end of 2013, the firm had more than $2 billion under management, according to filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

“Fewer and fewer conservatives are supporting such extreme social positions. The only thing keeping that movement alive is the funding because there isn’t popular support for those points of view.”

The funds that Fieler manages through Mason Hill hold large amounts of stock in mining companies whose value depends largely on the value of silver and other metals.

Two such companies are MAG Corporation and Fortuna Silver Mines, both Canadian-based companies that operate in Mexico. (Fortuna also has sites in Peru.)

Like most hedge fund managers, Fieler and his partners take a percentage of their investors’ capital as fees, as well as a percentage of any profit they earn on those investments. While hedge funds are notoriously opaque, it’s clear that Fieler’s business has done well enough to enable him to shower dozens of candidates and a select few of his favored nonprofits with millions of dollars at a time.

The main beneficiary of Fieler’s generosity is the Chiaroscuro Foundation, a New York-based nonprofit that says it aims to “offer the saving grace of Jesus to all while defending everyone’s unalienable right to exercise the religion of their own choosing.”

Fieler appears to have given nearly $13 million to the foundation since 2006, with contributions ramping up in 2010. In fact, Fieler appears to be the only significant contributor to Chiaroscuro, with all other contributions totaling less than $90,000.

“Chiaroscuro” refers to the style of painting from the 17th Century—made most famous by Caravaggio and da Vinci—that emphasized contrasts between light and dark. One can’t help but think the name is a metaphor for how Fieler, who is chair of the foundation, and the group’s president, Greg Pfundstein, see the world: in stark terms, where their views represent the light, and other views belong in the shadows.

In all, Chiaroscuro disbursed some $19.2 million to conservative, and mostly religious, organizations between 2011 and 2013, according to an analysis of the foundation’s own numbers, as well as publicly available documents. (Because Chiaroscuro did not reply to our request for comment, we cannot account for the discrepancies between what they have reported on their site, versus on their tax filings.)

Recipients of Chiaroscuro’s largesse include:

  • Nearly $1.2 million to EMC Frontline Pregnancy Centers, also known as crisis pregnancy centers, a type of anti-choice center known for bait-and-switch tactics that mislead pregnant women into believing they offer abortion, when in fact they exist to peddle anti-choice propaganda such as debunked claims about the health risks of the procedure.
  • $650,000 to the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, the nonprofit law firm that, along with the Alliance Defending Freedom, has played a central role in the scores of lawsuits challenging the Affordable Care Act.
  • $295,000 to the extreme anti-choice group Americans United for Life.
  • $275,000 for the Susan B. Anthony List, a key anti-choice group that funds misleading attack ads against pro-choice candidates, while also backing anti-choice candidates.
  • $100,000 to Live Action, the group run by Lila Rose, a young darling of the anti-choice movement, whose so-called “sting” operations on Planned Parenthood clinics and other progressive groups have veered between over-hyped and clownish.
  • $20,000 to the National Organization for Marriage, a leading group that opposes equal marriage rights for same-sex couples.

(See complete lists of Fieler’s giving, both directly and through the multiple nonprofits he funds, here.)

But that is far from the full extent of Fieler’s giving. He has an entirely separate collection of entities known as the American Principles Project, with its affiliated groups, the American Principles Fund and American Principles in Action. According to public records analyzed by Rewire, Fieler appears to have given just shy of $1 million to American Principles in 2013 and 2014 alone.

American Principles paid nearly $800,000 in 2013 to 2014 for political advertisements attacking candidates for their stances on same-sex marriage and abortion. Key targets included Cory Booker, the former mayor of Newark, New Jersey, who is now a U.S. senator, as well as Elizabeth Cheney in her bid to win the Republican primaries to become a U.S. senator for Wyoming.

Why Fieler’s group would oppose Elizabeth Cheney—whose anti-gay rights views led to a bitter public conflict with her sister, Mary, who is a lesbian—is unclear.

“Regrettably, the Left’s spontaneous chant against life is not an aberration. It is part of a larger tension with human dignity that underlies their whole project.”

The third target of American Principles’ attack ads was Monica Wehby, a Republican challenger for a U.S. Senate seat from Oregon.

And then there’s Fieler’s personal giving, which he does directly in addition to the millions of dollars in contributions he makes to nonprofits and pass-through entities.

Since 2008, Fieler has contributed $2.5 million directly to 77 candidates in 19 states, including both state and federal races.

His largest contributions included denizens of the ultra-conservative movement. Ken Cuccinelli, the unsuccessful Republican gubernatorial candidate for Virginia, received $72,000. Cuccinelli supports so-called personhood laws, an anti-choice legal Trojan horse that would criminalize abortion and many forms of contraception under the guise of giving fetuses the full rights of legal “persons.”

Other ultra-conservative stalwarts—Mike Pence, Scott Walker, and Carl Paladino—each received $20,000 or more.

Fieler also gave $2,500 to Richard Mourdock, the GOP candidate for a U.S. Senate seat for Indiana who torpedoed his 2012 campaign when he said that pregnancies resulting from rape are a “gift from God.”

And Fernando Cabrera, a New York City Council member and pastor who is running for New York state senate, received $6,500 from Fieler. Though a Democrat, Cabrera has recently made comments broadly understood to be praising the extreme anti-LGBTQI laws in Uganda. Cabrera, a former Republican, has also attended events held by the Family Research Council, a fundamentalist Christian organization that has been designated a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

If that isn’t wingnuttish enough, Fieler also gave $3,500 to Edward Ray Moore, an unsuccessful candidate for lieutenant governor in South Carolina, who believed children should be pulled out of “godless” and “pagan” public schools, which he characterized as “the enemy.” He spoke at a 9.12 Project rally (a Tea Party-aligned movement run by Glenn Beck) and was behind a documentary called IndoctriNation, which warned Christians about the evils of public education.

But of all the states, Fieler paid special attention to Utah, giving more than $70,000 to candidates there.

Why would a New York-based hedge fund manager feel so passionate about politics in Utah?

The answer appears to be linked to legislation recently passed in Utah, relating to one of Fieler’s pet causes.

Fieler is a fervent advocate of returning to the use of silver and gold coins as currency in the United States, believing that “honest money” will rein in what he sees as a rogue U.S. Federal Reserve Bank. These views put him in the company of cranks like Glenn Beck, who has been shilling gold to his audiences for years, even while the firm he promotes, Goldline, had to repay millions of dollars to clients in order to settle a 19-count criminal charge in a California court in early 2012.

Indeed, surprising as it may seem, of all the issues supported by Fieler, he has perhaps been most vocal on “honest money.”

American Principles in Action cites promoting “a return to the gold standard and sound money” as its first priority, and Fieler has spoken about silver and gold money at gala events, as well as during interviews with people such as the head of the Gold Money Foundation.

The group has been lobbying lawmakers throughout the states to introduce legislation to allow silver and gold to be used as currency, Fieler said in a June 2011 interview, and trying to figure out how to “mainstream” the idea.

An employee of American Principles, Steven Lonegan, last month wrote a column in which he called the “fight” to return to the gold standard, a “moral issue.”

(Lonegan is a former Koch operative, having worked for Americans for Prosperity. Fieler contributed $10,400 to Lonegan’s unsuccessful campaign for a U.S. Senate seat last year, before Lonegan joined American Principles, according to news reports.)

In 2012, Fieler gave $10,000 to Larry Hilton, an insurance executive and lawyer based in Provo who was running for state office in Utah, according to his LinkedIn account.

At around the same time, Utah’s governor signed a bill that legalized gold and silver coins as legal currency in Utah, making it the first such law in the nation.

Who drafted that bill? None other than Larry Hilton.

An editorial in the Salt Lake Tribune called the law “outlandish,” and reported that Hilton claimed in 2011 that gold and silver currency were necessary because “one dollar will be worth one penny in five years,” due to inflation.

“The GOP is the party of life, marriage and religious liberty. Conservatives adopted these issues because they believe in them. Republicans need to push them, and govern with them, not run from them, in order to attract Latino voters.”

On his declaration of candidacy for that race, Hilton said he was on the advisory board of American Principles in Action (though the nonprofit’s most recent available tax filings don’t list Hilton as a board member).

Since Utah’s law passed, TexasLouisiana, and Oklahoma have each implemented laws that make silver and gold currency legal tender, and that remove various taxes from transactions using those coins.

It looked as if Arizona was set to follow, with the legislature passing a similar bill in April 2013. However, Republican Gov. Jan Brewer vetoed the bill, citing practical concerns but no philosophical objection to returning to metal money.

Another ten states are considering similar laws, and a federal version was introduced in 2011 by then Sen. Jim DeMint, who later left Congress to lead the ultra-conservative Heritage Foundation. Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) reintroduced the bill last year (there was also a House version), but it died in committee.

In all of the public speeches and editorials that Fieler has written calling for the use of silver and gold as currency, Rewire did not find a single instance where he disclosed that he invests in companies that profit from digging up the metal.

There is nothing illegal about Fieler backing silver as currency while also profiting from investing in companies that dig up the mineral, or even any obligation to disclose those interests in the course of his advocacy and lobbying work, according to Eisman, of Common Cause. Eisman says, however, that he would prefer if Fieler chose to make those disclosures.

“It would be nice if he did [disclose],” Eisman said. “It would be reassuring about his commitment to public service if he did.”

In addition to showing candidates and causes with cash, Fieler appears to be trying to establish his groups as thought leaders in the conservative movement.

In October 2013, American Principles released a white paper called “Building a Winning GOP Coalition: The Lessons of 2012.”

Unsurprisingly, the report concluded that Republicans should be more aggressive on “social” issues, such as abortion and marriage.

But it also contained some nuances that explain why Fieler could be such an interesting complement to the Koch brothers.

The report—also known as the “autopsy” of the 2012 Republican defeat—urges immigration reform because, it argues, Hispanics are natural conservatives who are currently alienated by the GOP’s stance on immigration.

If the party shifted on immigration, the report argues, it could “use values issues to attract Hispanics.”

“The GOP is the party of life, marriage and religious liberty,” the report says. “Conservatives adopted these issues because they believe in them. Republicans need to push them, and govern with them, not run from them, in order to attract Latino voters.”

Fieler himself occasionally claims that his “project is nonpartisan,” as he did at the American Principles Gala in 2013.

“If only, there will a little room in the Democratic Party for the unborn, we would willingly engage with them,” he told the room. But then he made known his true contempt for people who disagree with his own religious views. “Regrettably, the Left’s spontaneous chant against life is not an aberration. It is part of a larger tension with human dignity that underlies their whole project,” he said.

Apparently, Fieler’s view of human dignity includes denying reproductive rights to women, denying family rights to anyone other than married heterosexuals, allowing employers to impose their religious views on workers, and imposing fundamentalist Catholic orthodoxies on society writ large.

And given his growing influence in the conservative movement, it’s possible that his views will grow in dominance at both state and federal levels.

Brie Shea contributed research to this report. 

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