As Washington’s Public Disclosure Commission prepares for a Thursday hearing to discuss whether Lisa MacLean – principal of the Seattle-based political consulting firm Moxie Media – orchestrated dirty tricks to eliminate a conservative Democrat in a state legislative race, links between Moxie, MacLean, and Sen. Patty Murray’s campaign are bound to solicit attention.
MacLean’s Moxie Media was laying low in the hotly-contested U.S. Senate race between Murray and Republican challenger Dino Rossi when their name popped up on an independent expenditure report filed with the Federal Election Commission by Planned Parenthood Votes! Washington. The pro-choice PAC has targeted Rossi for an $85,000 Moxie-created direct mail attack as part of the final push to Election Day and cut the check on the same day that news of Moxie diva MacLean’s serious troubles with the PDC broke in local outlets.
MacLean is also associated with Murray’s own negative ads aimed at Rossi, but via a peculiar route. In 2008, MacLean was part of the Evergreen Progress political action committee’s Rossi attack squad, a group that created anti-Rossi spots for that year’s gubernatorial race. Those ads were stripped down for parts and retrofitted by the Murray campaign for use in a race that observers have long felt will be a photo finish.
(As an aside, The Seattle Times has called the ads “false” and “grossly malicious.”)
Looking at the images included in this post that show clips from the 2008 and 2010 ads side by side, it’s easy to see that the content comes from a common source. Put simply, if “before” and “after” photos in diet pill ads documented a similar lack of change, sales would plummet.
Questions still remain about how People for Patty Murray obtained several minutes of video footage and photos – “voter” testimonials and background photography – that are nearly identical to the content of Evergreen Progress’ 2008 spots. A review of the filings by Evergreen Progress and People for Patty Murray with the PDC and FEC failed to find any reciprocal transactions, although examination of expenditure filings by both groups solve the mystery of whether the ads share a common lineage.
In 2008, Evergreen Progress paid Washington, D.C. media firm Struble Eichenbaum for editing and production of the anti-Rossi television spots. Struble Eichenbaum was the only vendor paid for video work during the time Evergreen Progress was putting out its attack ads against Rossi. Media Strategies of Colorado made the ad buys in Washington’s key markets to make sure every voter would get a seat for the mud bath.
Evergreen Progress was also paying MNP Partners – the shop Lisa MacLean ran along with Christian Sinderman – to handle direct mail opposition to Rossi.
Now, fast forward to 2010.
Murray’s campaign has paid $133,000 to Struble Eichenbaum and $3.5 million to Media Strategies in the current cycle for media consulting, while running its own ads attacking Rossi.
Former Murray chief of staff Rick Desimone was also instrumental in designing the ’08 blitzkrieg against Rossi. Desimone’s firm McBee Strategies received $105,000 in consulting fees from Evergreen Progress while Desimone also acted as the PAC’s chairman.
Desimone may have been the mastermind directing the creation of the Evergreen Progress ads, or it may have been MacLean at Moxie, a savvy political insider whose role in campaigns is known to exceed the scope of a simple vendor doing direct mail piece work.
Now, MacLean has birthed another mailer for the purpose of distorting Rossi’s record on abortion. Same players, same enemy, different avatar.
As was tweeted by this blogger, the persistence of these figures over the course of Rossi’s political career creates the appearance that Murray is not a distinct political figure, but a convenient horse to be saddled and ridden by a progressive cabal focused only on preventing Rossi from getting into office.
In 2008, Democratic tacticians knew Gov. Chris Gregoire would need to benefit from a massive diversion from her own troubles, a questionable sweetheart deal with Washington’s Native American tribes that was negotiated by her office shortly before an flood of contributions from the tribes came rushing in to fill the Democrat’s war chest.
Flash to 2010, when Murray’s significant weaknesses on earmarks and her inattention to key economic concerns such as Boeing’s gradual retreat from Washington State and a worsening agricultural trade war with Mexico that is hurting farmers on the eastern side of the state.
In addition to giving the impression that Murray lacks her own identity as anything but a host for a left-wing anti-Republican strategy, the choice to take this approach exemplifies why Democrats are likely to lose big this November.
The electorate has changed since 2008, but instead of adapting Democrats like Murray and her consultants have chosen to keep singing from the same old progressive hymnal. The decision to stick to the golden oldies – the haunting ballad of Republicans standing betwixt voters and federal pork – is tone-deaf to the widespread anti-big government sentiment that shows up in polls among moderates, independents, Tea Party voters, and conservative Republicans.
Pathetically, the Democrats can’t even put their own stamp on being out of touch and unoriginal. Republicans made the same monumental miscalculation in 2006 and 2008, one that we can hope will have similar results for Murray and other Democrats in 2010 and 2012.