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New Front-Group Alert: Economic Freedom Fund

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This piece originally appeared on The Patriot Project

A new front group has appeared on the scene. Yesterday in her Patriot Project post Robert J. Perry is Back, Taylor Marsh wrote about Robert J. Perry plunking down $5 million (!) just to fund the Economic Freedom Fund (EFF). Perry - who has close ties to Karl Rove and Tom DeLay - was a prime funder of the notorious Swift Boat Vets for Freedom - the smear front-group that made claims including that John Kerry shot himself to get his medals - and now this one person is providing $5 million in funding for a national front group that is attempting to have an influence on the control of the Congress in this election.

In government filing documents (here and here) EFF lists its contact as Charles Bell, of the Sacramento, California law firm Bell, Mcandrews & Hiltachk. Charles Bell is general counsel to the California Republican Party, is Vice Chairman of The Federalist Society's free speech and election law practice group, and is active in the Republican National Lawyers Association.

There is an interesting read at the firm's website, In the Right Place at the Right Time,

"When Charles Bell Jr. got on the bus carrying the California Republican delegation to a party Monday night, he received the kind of introduction political lawyers dream about.

"This guy's Mr. Campaign Law," was how one delegate described Bell to a colleague. "He'll keep you out of jail."

Bell, Mcandrews & Hiltachk's clients include the California Tribal Business Alliance - an "Indian Gaming" organization. Their mission statement is "to safeguard and enhance the success of the business enterprises of our tribal government members" ....... and "will foster business development and coalition building with like minded government and business leaders in California."

Another Bell, Mcandrews & Hiltachk client was Californians for Paycheck Protection - yet another front group - this one sponsoring a California anti-union ballot initiative. (Their major funders in 2005 (go see how much) included the Chamber of Commerce and the California Republican Party.)

Another client is the notorious anti-environmental Congressman Richard Pombo.

And, of course, always, always showing up with this crowd, big tobacco: BELL, MCANDREWS & HILTACHK Philip Morris Outside Counsel".

A different partner at this firm, Thomas Hiltachk, filed the "Fair Pay Workplace Flexibility Act of 2006" - a stealth attempt to get rid of California's overtime rules.

Stories about this EFF front group running nasty Republican push-polls in districts around the country are popping up in the blogs. A story about one EFF poll appears at the Iowa Radio Blog,

The call started by asking if I plan to vote in November. It's a recorded voice asking the questions, and it only accepts "yes" or "no" as responses. ... There were no questions about local races (neither Lamberti nor Nussle), but the questions were designed to cross-check Bush's popularity with the issues Republicans, particularly conservatives, have pushed.

Another blog post appears at Diary of a political madman, clearly about the same Iowa poll but listing a transcription of the questions shows that this is a "push-poll,"

1) Would you like your taxes not raised and if possible cut?

2) Do you believe that frivolous and abusive lawsuits cost us all too much money?

Go read the full list.EFF push-polling shows up again at the Indiana Democratic Party News page,

INDIANAPOLIS - Voters in Indiana's Ninth District began receiving automated calls yesterday from a group supporting Republican U.S. Rep. Mike Sodrel. The call, which attacks Democratic challenger Baron Hill, was paid for by the Economic Freedom Fund, a Virginia-based 527 special interest group.

In response, Indiana Democrats today called on Attorney General Steve Carter to investigate the calls as a violation of Indiana law. Carter issued a letter in August to both major political parties instructing them that automated political calls violate Indiana's Regulation of Automated Dialing Machines Act (IC 24-5-14).

So here we have yet another extremely well-funded, nasty front group, deeply connected to the Republican Party, working to undermine our democracy.

Patriot Project will have more - much more - information on this group and its connections in the next few days. Stay tuned.


The Patriot Project is working to expose the front groups, their funding, their connections and their tactics.