Obama Gets A 'B'

Disclosure Fail

Yesterday, the Obama campaign sent out one of those bragging emails you just know you love to receive. In it, much is made of a purportedly non-partisan veteran’s group called "Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America," or IAVA.

The IAVA has released a Congressional Scorecard — a report card on how congresspersons have voted on what the group has identified as key veteran’s issues. Senators Obama and Biden each received a B, the email gushes, whereas veteran-hating McCain finished at the bottom of his class with a D. The card, they say, highlights "who failed to make veterans a priority." The email came from the Obama for America Veteran’s Director Phillip Carter, as did the general press release.

So what is the problem? Phillip Carter is the problem. You see, the "non-partisan" IAVA and Obama campaign staffer Phillip Carter are not as separate from one another as this email was designed to convince you they are.

"IAVA has just confirmed what many of us combat veterans have known for a while," says Carter in the email. Well one would hope you know what the IAVA has to say Phillip — after all, you co-founded the group!

Yes, contrary to the thrilled tone of outside, non-partisan endorsement, the Obama campaign’s Veterans Director was referring to a study conducted by his 501(c) baby!

How very non-partisan of them. If the campaign and the group were coordinating, then this warrants an FEC investigation. If they were not, it at least ought to have been mentioned. The campaign tried to pass off a group co-founded and represented by their own Veterans Director as some sort of outside, non-partisan authority in a low-down attempt to smear Senator McCain on veterans affairs and bolster Senator Obama’s terrible image on military affairs.

But hey, they might still be non-partisan, right? Well … let’s see.

For the short answer I give you these tidbits: they gave Barbara Boxer and "Baghdad" Jim McDermott "A"s, and gave John McCain and Tom Coburn "D"s. Yeah, not seeing any bias there, are we? Not compelling? How about the fact that ex-Marine, current Judas, Democrat Jack Murtha scored higher than Republican Jim DeMint?

Senator DeMint once opposed a a bill because an earmark took money meant for troops and directed it to a Beverly Hills park. "The men and women who wore America’s uniform need the money a lot more than the men and women who wear Prada," said DeMint, who received an "F" from the "non-partisan" IAVA.

Murtha, on the other hand, gets an "A." Apparently falsely accusing Marines of being child-murdering, maniac fiends (baseless accusations for which he is currently facing multiple lawsuits) is some kind of legislative success as far as the IAVA is concerned. Murtha, incidentally, is the recipient of the Code Pink "Badge of Courage" and is treated like an honorary member and hero of "the cause" by the group. The same group that tried to block the Marine Corps from their own recruiting station, among other transgressions against our troops. So Murtha, enemy to Marines and friend to Code Pink, he gets the A.

Oh, that vote by DeMint? They counted it against him. He voted against the bill because of the earmark, but because the bill had a vaguely pro-Troop sounding name the scorecard dinged him for it.

The scorecard itself seems to have quite a number of significant obfuscations and errors … too much to go into here. Go to "This Ain’t Hell" for extremely detailed and documented examples of such in the scorecard, here and here especially.

So when TAH broke this story, it was picked up at Blackfive. IAVA Director Paul Riekhoff then sent an email retort to Blackfive. Rieckhoff wrote, "as for Phil Carter, it is no secret that he is an IAVA member. We have tens of thousands of members—and Phil is one of them." Then today a new disclaimer was added to the staff page which lists Carter a founding member: "Those veterans who initially volunteered with Rieckhoff to found IAVA are not associated with the organization in a formal capacity, but are listed here because we wanted to to recognize the first group of veterans who helped create an organization that now counts thousands of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans as part of its membership."

They are trying to distance themselves and their report card from Senator Obama. They paint Carter as some figure from the murky past, not really involved anymore. Yet earlier this year, Carter was still listed as one of their "Representatives," a group which they refer to as "the most active of the thousands of IAVA member veterans, who are representing IAVA online, in the media, and at local events nationwide." He’s not on the representatives page now. Wonder when they took him off.

Incidentally, if after all this you still find you wish to donate money to the IAVA, you certainly can do so. They are set up to receive donations through Democracy In Action, the website which states "we’re a progressive nonprofit whose core activity is providing e-advocacy tools to other progressive nonprofits for pennies on the dollar relative to the fees demanded by the private sector." So progressive of them to be progressively progressive like that on behalf of the IAVA, don’t you think?

Or perhaps you just want to know more about their Director? Well you can find him easily enough, just click on over to the Huffington Post. It’s all so wonderfully non-partisany isn’t it? I’ve never felt such compelling non-partisanship, have you?

So just to summarize: the Obama campaign is sending emails out about a supposed non-partisan group which just "happens" to think Democrats are the bees’ knees on veterans issues, just "happens" to be headed by a HuffPo blogger, just "happens" to run their donation software through a progressive activist community, and just "happens" to have been co-founded by the very campaign figure who is sending the email … and they didn’t see fit to disclose a single one of these facts. In fact, Carter went out of his way to appear unaffiliated with the group in his email.

You may have nabbed your B from the IAVA on their selected items, Senator Obama, but for honesty and integrity you just got a big fat F.

Caleb Howe,