A vast left wing conspiracy?


Startling news this morning from The New York Post's editorial page, supplemented by extensive detail from the Wall Street Journal's John Fund. In essence: Congress was duped into passing the McCain—Feingold Campaign Finance Reform (CFR) bill by what appears to be money—laundering on the part of 8 liberal foundations, who supplied nearly all of the money to create the illusion of a national grass—roots campaign demanding CFR.

John Fund summarizes:

Sean Treglia, a former program officer for the Philadelphia—based Pew Charitable Trusts, has just ripped the curtain off of the "good government" groups that foisted the McCain—Feingold campaign finance bill on the country in 2002. The bill's restrictions on political speech have the potential for great mischief; just last month a member of the Federal Election Commission warned they could limit the activities of bloggers and other Internet commentators.

What Mr. Treglia revealed in a talk last year at the University of Southern California is that far from representing the efforts of genuine grass—roots activists, the campaign finance reform lobby was controlled and funded by liberal foundations like Pew. In a tape obtained by the New York Post, Mr. Treglia tells his USC audience they are going to hear a story he can reveal only now that campaign finance reform has become law. "The target audience for all this [foundation] activity was 535 people in [Congress]," Mr. Treglia says in his talk. "The idea was to create an impression that a mass movement was afoot. That everywhere [Congress] looked, in academic institutions, in the business community, in religious groups, in ethnic groups, everywhere, people were talking about reform."

Because these rich foundations can afford expensive and capable lawyers, they probably committed no actual crimes in their money—laundering schemes, wherein their sponsorship was hidden. But Treglia admits that the spirit of the law was violated.

It is time for Congress to hold hearings and put foundation representatives under oath. McCain—Feingold is a very bad law, one which the Supreme Court inexplicably upheld, despite its obvious limits on political speech. The First Amendment has been compromised decisively. Treglia boasted

"You will see that almost half the footnotes relied on by the Supreme Court in upholding the law are research funded by the Pew Charitable Trusts."

Hillary Clinton recklessly threw around the phrase "vast right wing conspiracy." Perhaps she was merely projecting onto her opponents the pattern of behavior with which she was familiar among her own allies.

Thomas Lifson  3 21 05