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Fwd: MoveOn.org: Caught Red-Handed Applying a Double Standard

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  • Greg Cannon
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    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 31, 2006
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      --- "FactCheck.org" <subscriberservices@...>
      wrote:

      > Subject: New FactCheck Article: MoveOn.org: Caught
      > Red-Handed Applying a Double Standard
      > To: gregcannon1@...
      > Date: Wed, 30 Aug 2006 12:29:29 -0700
      > From: "FactCheck.org"
      > <subscriberservices@...>
      >
      > MoveOn.org: Caught Red-Handed Applying A Double
      > Standard
      >
      > The liberal group attacks 3 Republicans for voting
      > for military
      > spending bills, but endorses Democrats who voted the
      > same way.
      >
      > August 30, 2006
      >
      > Summary
      >
      > MoveOn.org Political Action attacks three Republican
      > House members in
      > TV ads saying they were "caught red-handed"
      > supporting money spent on
      > Halliburton contracts and wasteful Iraq projects.
      > But a majority of
      > Democrats voted the same way on most of the same
      > measures, usually
      > overwhelmingly. MoveOn endorses one Democratic House
      > member who voted
      > the same way 10 out of 14 times, and two senators
      > who voted for the
      > same measures every time they reached a recorded
      > vote in the Senate.
      >
      > Another ad says the same three Republicans were
      > "caught red-handed"
      > taking donations from military contractors while
      > failing to support
      > penalties for contractors who overcharge. In fact
      > the donations were
      > relatively small and MoveOn offers no evidence the
      > votes were
      > influenced by money. Furthermore severe penalties
      > already exist for
      > fraud against the Pentagon. What the targeted
      > Republicans opposed were
      > Democratic proposals to increase penalties.
      >
      > Analysis
      >
      > The two 30-second MoveOn TV ads "Dumping Billions"
      > and "Red-Handed
      > Defense" are running in the congressional districts
      > of the three
      > Republican incumbents they target, Reps. Charlie
      > Bass of New
      > Hampshire, and John Sweeney and Randy Kuhl of New
      > York. The ads are
      > the third iteration of MoveOn's "Caught Red-Handed"
      > series which we
      > discussed before.
      >
      > MoveOn.org ad:
      > "Dumping Billions/Sweeney"
      > (On Screen: Dump trucks driving through the Iraqi
      > desert, dumping bags
      > of money)
      > Announcer: What happened to the 300 billion dollars
      > we sent to Iraq?
      > Halliburton got 18 billion. Nine billion is just
      > plain missing. And
      > our Congressman John Sweeney has been caught Red
      > Handed voting for all
      > of it.
      > (On Screen: Black and white picture of John Sweeney,
      > his right hand
      > painted red)
      > Announcer: That's money we need for jobs and
      > healthcare here in New
      > York. Now John Sweeney is ready to dump billions
      > more in Iraq. John
      > Sweeney: another Republican caught red-handed.
      > Announcer: With 3.2 million members, MoveOn.org
      > Political Action is
      > responsible for the content of this advertisement.
      >
      > A Double Standard
      >
      > "Dumping Billions" shows dump trucks dropping bags
      > of money in a
      > desert while an announcer questions what happened to
      > $300 billion
      > Congress sent to Iraq – including $18 billion for
      > Halliburton and $9
      > billion that's "just plain missing." The ad then
      > says that "our
      > Congressman . . . has been caught red-handed voting
      > for all of it," as
      > a black-and-white picture appears with the
      > Congressman's hand painted
      > red.
      >
      > To begin with, none of the three targeted
      > Republicans voted
      > specifically for money for Halliburton, and
      > obviously there's no line
      > item for "missing" money in appropriations bills
      > either. The ad faults
      > them for voting for "all of it," meaning all the
      > money spent in Iraq.
      > The problem here is that Democrats generally voted
      > the same way. Even
      > three lawmakers whom MoveOn is specifically
      > endorsing often voted for
      > the same bills being criticized here.
      >
      > On its website MoveOn lists 14 votes among the
      > three ads – votes on
      > defense appropriation bills and emergency
      > supplementals for the war in
      > Iraq. By casting these votes, according to
      > MoveOn.org, these
      > Republicans have been "caught red-handed." However,
      > Democrats usually
      > voted the same way, overwhelmingly. On only 2 of the
      > 14 votes did a
      > majority of House Democrats vote in opposition, both
      > votes on the $87
      > billion Iraq/Afghanistan supplemental approrpriation
      > that came up in
      > the heat of the 2004 presidential campaign. Even
      > these got 82 and 83
      > Democratic votes, respectively. On the rest, an
      > average of 165 House
      > Democrats – better than three out of four –
      > voted the same way as
      > the Republicans that MoveOn is attacking.
      >
      > MoveOn endorses three incumbent lawmakers,
      > Democratic Senators Robert
      > Byrd of West Virginia and and Bill Nelson of
      > Florida, and Democratic
      > Rep.Sherrod Brown of Ohio (who is running for the
      > Senate this year).
      > How do these lawmakers hold up against MoveOn's own
      > standard? Not
      > well.
      >
      > Of the fourteen votes, Brown voted with Sweeney,
      > Kuhl, and Bass ten
      > times (and was listed as "not voting" once). Byrd
      > and Nelson had six
      > opportunities to cast recorded votes on identical
      > conference reports,
      > and voted in favor every time. By MoveOn's own
      > logic, their
      > candidates have been "caught red-handed" too, just a
      > bit less often
      > than the three Republican targets.
      >
      > MoveOn.org Ad: "Red-Handed Defense/Sweeney"
      > (On Screen: Black and white photo of John Sweeney,
      > his right hand
      > painted red)
      > Announcer: Caught Red-Handed again. Congressman Mike
      > Sweeney accepted
      > $30,000 from defense contractor PACs (On Screen:
      > Photos of money
      > changing hands)
      > Announcer: Then he missed votes to penalize defense
      > contractors like
      > Halliburton who overcharged the military in Iraq at
      > a time when
      > soldiers didn't have enough body armor.
      > (On Screen: Black and white pictures of Delay,
      > Cheney, and Sweeney
      > with hands painted red)
      > Announcer: Tom Delay, Dick Cheney, and now John
      > Sweeney, another
      > Republican caught red-handed.
      > Announcer: With 3.2 million members, MoveOn.org
      > Political Action is
      > responsible for the content of this advertisement.
      >
      > Penalties for Contractors
      >
      > The second ad, "Red-Handed Defense," attacks the
      > three for accepting
      > political donations from defense contractors and
      > then failing to
      > support "penalties for defense contractors like
      > Halliburton who
      > overcharged the military in Iraq." Bass and Kuhl are
      > faulted for
      > voting against the "penalties" while Sweeney is
      > attacked for "missed
      > votes to penalize contractors."
      >
      > This implies that the votes were influenced by
      > money, but MoveOn
      > presents no evidence of that. And it's also a bit
      > misleading to say
      > the three "opposed penalties for contractors" when
      > in fact severe
      > penalties already exist. The ad would have been more
      > accurate to say
      > the three Republicans accepted a small fraction of
      > their campaign
      > support from military contractors, and also failed
      > to support
      > Democratic proposals to increase penalties.
      >
      > MoveOn cites four House votes in its backup material
      > for "Red-Handed
      > Defense," all decided pretty much along party lines.
      > Republicans
      > argued that increasing penalties would be piling on.
      >
      >
      > Indeed, under the False Claims Act , defense
      > contractors already face
      > monetary and other penalties for defrauding the
      > Pentagon. Among the
      > most severe is a firm's debarment or suspension from
      > doing business
      > with the federal government, a development that
      > tends to play very
      > badly on Wall Street. In addition, individuals
      > convicted of crimes in
      > connection with a Defense Department contract are
      > barred from having
      > much of anything to do with such contracts for a
      > period of at least
      > five years under Section 2408 of Title 10 of the
      > U.S. Code. And of
      > course, individuals found guilty of fraud can be
      > sentenced to prison
      > and fined. In a case from earlier this year, for
      > example, four men are
      > accused of conspiring to defraud the US by inflating
      > prices of items
      > purchased for the Aberdeen Proving Grounds in
      > Maryland, and face
      > maximum prison terms of five years each, plus fines
      > of up to $250,000
      > each on the fraud counts.
      >
      > One of the four measures cited by MoveOn actually
      > has nothing to do
      > with penalties. It was offered by Democratic Rep.
      > John Tierney of
      > Massachusetts and would have provided $5 million to
      > create a committee
      > to investigate reconstruction efforts and spending
      > in Iraq and
      > Afghanistan.
      >
      > MoveOn makes a fairer point when it cites another
      > amendment, offered
      > by Democratric Rep. Henry Waxman of California,
      > which would have
      > prohibited the Secretary of the Army from awarding a
      > contract "if the
      > Defense Contract Audit Agency has determined that
      > more than
      > $100,000,000 of the contractor's costs for contracts
      > involving work in
      > Iraq under one or more Army contracts were
      > unreasonable." The measure
      > appears to be aimed straight at Halliburton Co. The
      > Defense Contract
      > Audit Agency, the Pentagon's internal audit
      > division, identified tens
      > of millions in questionable and unsupported costs
      > charged by
      > Halliburton subsidiary Kellogg Brown and Root Inc.
      > to the federal
      > government in contracts to provide services in Iraq,
      > although the
      > Pentagon approved payment of most of the questioned
      > costs. Earlier
      > this year, the Comptroller General of the United
      > States criticized the
      > Pentagon's reluctance to police the spending of its
      > contractors. So
      > Waxman's amendment, it could be argued, was an
      > attempt to hold a
      > problematic contractor to account when the Pentagon
      > was failing to do
      > so. It failed on a mostly party-line vote of 193-225
      > last April.
      >
      > Political Donations
      >
      > MoveOn criticizes the Republican trio for accepting
      > money from defense
      > contractors, implicitly linking the contributions
      > and their votes. But
      > these three are hardly big recipients of defense
      > industry dollars.
      >
      > *
      > Bass: MoveOn says Rep. Charlie Bass accepted
      > $35,000 from
      > defense contractor political actions committees
      > (PACs), but doesn't
      > specify what time period is covered. According to
      > the Center for
      > Responsive Politics (CRP), Bass actually accepted a
      > total of $87,252
      > from the defense industry -- that's from PACs and
      > individuals
      > connected to corporations in the industry -- during
      > all his eight
      > House campaigns. Even the higher number, though,
      > accounts for just
      > under 2 per cent of the over $4.5 million Bass has
      > raised in his House
      > career. Defense comes in 20th among industries that
      > have given money
      > to Bass.
      > *
      > Kuhl: MoveOn's ad says Kuhl accepted
      > "thousands" from defense
      > contractor PACS, and their website puts the figure
      > at $8,000. That's a
      > tiny fraction of the $1,887,683 Kuhl has raised in
      > his two House
      > races, according to CRP. Defense does not rank among
      > Kuhl's top twenty
      > donor industries.
      > *
      > Sweeney: MoveOn says Sweeney accepted $29,973
      > from defense
      > contractor PACs over an unspecified period. CRP puts
      > his career total
      > from all defense donors at $55,250. This amounts to
      > less than one per
      > cent of the $6,148,873 raised by Sweeney in his
      > five House races. As
      > with Kuhl, defense doesn't rank among Sweeney's top
      > twenty donor
      > industries.
      >
      > Like most industries, defense doesn't give
      > exclusively to Republicans.
      > It makes more business and political sense to spread
      > the goodies
      > around. Since 1998 Defense PACs have given
      > approximately a third of
      > their donations for federal candidates to Democrats.
      >
      > -by James Ficaro & Viveca Novak
      >
      > Sources
      >
      > Mary Speck, "Rep. Shays Presses for Quick Hearings
      > on Apparent Iraq
      > Contracting Problems," Congressional Quarterly Today
      > , 25 April 2006.
      >
      > U.S. House of Representatives, 109th Congress, 2nd
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      > No. 257
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      > U.S. House of Representatives, 109th Congress, 2nd
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      > U.S. House of Representatives, 108th Congress, 2nd
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      > U.S. House of Representatives, 108th Congress, 1st
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      > U.S. Senate, 109th Congress, 2nd Session. Senate
      > Vote 171
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      > U.S. Senate, 108th Congress, 2nd Session. Senate
      > Vote 163
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      > U.S. Senate, 108th Congress, 1st Session. Senate
      > Vote 364
      >
      >
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