So yesterday I casually mentioned that South Carolina's "Conservatives in Action," which consists of a website and spokesman Taft Matney, is a Howard Rich front-group.
It really wasn't fair of Gervais to make such a conclusory statement like that without presenting both sides of the issue, so today I thought I'd rectify the situation.
CIA, you may recall, funded attack mail and television advertisements against Don Beatty (now a South Carolina Supreme Court justice) last year during his election to the state's top court by the legislature. Beatty apparently wasn't CIA's preferred candidate.
There were accusations that CIA was funded by outside interests, that the attacks were "big money hijacking the judicial process," to use the words of one lawmaker.
These allegations of out-of-state interests were generally met by "aw, that's crazy" denials.
So as a public service, Gervais decided to find out for myself whether "Conservatives in Action" was set up as a front-group for New York millionaire Howard Rich. I used my patented two-step process:
1. Listen carefully to what the group’s spokesman says about the origin of its funding.
2. Remember that the group spokesman is probably a liar, and find out the truth on my own.
Here’s Step One:
From The State, 9/17/07:
Taft Matney, a spokesman for Conservatives in Action ... declined to reveal the membership of his organization.From The Post and Courier, 5/24/07:
"They want to be involved in the political process," he said, "but they don't want to be interviewed on TV."
When asked about how the group financed the television ads and whether out-of-state money was used, Matney said, "There are South Carolinians who have a vested interest in their government, and allegations like this and others against the CIA serve to pull away from the real subjects that the CIA has tried to highlight."And from The Greenville News, 5/26/07:
Matney and officials with two other groups who e-mailed supporters about the race denied their groups had been involved with using out-of-state money or had spent anything like what Beatty said.And here’s Step Two:
Matney called the allegation of any group attempting to buy a judgeship "ludicrous."
As you can see (click image to enlarge), Conservatives in Action had a little trouble scrounging up a South Carolina phone number on its IRS tax filing, available in full here.
No worries, though. They gave a phone number.
It’s the phone number for Howard Rich’s “US Term Limits.” And Howard Rich’s “Americans for Limited Government.” And Howard Rich’s “Legislative Education Action Drive.” And – well, you get the idea.
CIA's tax forms were also prepared by the same Illinois accounting firm that counts beans for all of Rich's front groups.
John Grisham writes books about this kind of stuff, people.