Committee for Truth in Politics

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This article is part of the Center for Media & Democracy's spotlight on front groups and corporate spin.

Learn about corporate "speech" and other "rights" v. people's rights. And help put Americans before corporations.

The Committee for Truth in Politics is a right-wing 501(c)(4) political group that raises funds with anonymous donations and runs attack ads to influence political elections. Founded in 2008, the group is headed by attorney James Bopp, Jr., who steered the 2010 Citizens United case that overturned restrictions on corporate and union spending on political campaigns, as well as the 2007 FEC v Wisconsin Right to Life case that allowed 501(c) groups to run "issue-oriented" political ads (ostensibly attacking a candidate's position on an issue, but obviously telling viewers to vote against the candidate) without disclosing the identities of the individuals and corporations who fund their efforts.


Despite its name, the Committee is not truthful about its donors, and is hardly truthful in its ads. The group does not identify the sources of its funds, and has been repeatedly criticized for its "absurdly wrong" attack ads.[1]


As of September 2010, the Committee has spent $7 million on attack ads to influence the 2010 midterm elections; of course, the source of the funds have not been disclosed. [1] Approximately $1 million of that money has been spent opposing Wisconsin Democratic Senator Russ Feingold.[2] [3]

History and Leadership

The Committee was incorporated as a 501(c)(4) non-profit in North Carolina in September, 2008 by William W. Peaslee, also known as "Bill Peaslee." Peasley was formerly the chief of staff, legal counsel and political director for the North Carolina Republican Party (and has also registered the organization name "Committee for a Balanced Congress"). The Committee is incorporated as a manager-managed LLC,[4] and because it is registered under the 501(c) section of the tax code, is not required to disclose its donors.

James Bopp, Jr.

The group is represented by James Bopp, Jr., who wants to "pretty much dismantle the entire regulatory regime that is called campaign finance law." [5]

"Bopp may be the nation's most experienced lawyer in challenging campaign finance laws," according to NPR. [6] In addition to guiding Citizens United through its lawsuit to overturn restrictions on corporate and union spending on political campaigns, and Wisconsin Right To Life through its case permitting anonymous donations to political groups organized under the 501(c) section of the IRS tax code, Bopp is involved in a variety of other cases to dismantle the "regulatory regime" (including those mentioned below). [6]

Bopp is a veteran member of the Republican National Committee, and drafted the Republican National Committee's Purity Resolution "to deny party support to any candidate who fails to affirm at least 8 of 10 principles, including opposition to “government-run health care,” “amnesty” for illegal immigrants and “Obama’s socialist agenda.”"[5]

Bopp has pushed Republican National Committee Chairman Michael S. Steele to embrace use of the word "socialists" in referring to Democratic legislators. [7][8]

Political Activities

Ads opposing 2010 Financial Reform

In early February, 2010, the "Committee for Truth in Politics" started running television ads that frame proposed financial regulatory reform as, paradoxically, “one big bailout” for banks. The idea is to link public anger over the big banks bailouts started by the Bush administration to financial reform that would enact more consumer protections and help prevent banks from damaging the financial system in the future. The ads are running in Connecticut, Iowa, Pennsylvania, Montana, North Dakota and Colorado, Illinois, Arkansas, Virginia, and Wisconsin, and they build on an attack that House Representative Michele Bachmann (R-Minnesota) made against the House’s version of reform, passed in December: she portrayed financial reform was a “permanent bailout bill” because it would create a closely-regulated fund that could be tapped for future bank emergencies. FactCheck.org The anti-financial reform ads utilize language proposed by discredited Republican pollster Frank Luntz in a memo he wrote to Republicans that suggested phrases they could use to get the public to oppose financial reform. [9][10] [11]

2008 Political ads

The Committee spent $1.2 million attacking Obama in the 2008 Presidential campaign. Most of that money went towards two TV ads, one falsely accusing Obama of supporting early release for sex offenders, and another criticizing his stance on abortion. [12][13]

The former ad was called "absurdly wrong" by FactCheck.Org. In the 2008 ad, the Committee for Truth in Politics accused then- Presidential candidate Barack Obama of favoring early release for child molesters, based on Obama's accidental vote on such a bill while in the Illinois Senate. The transcript and Senate journal shows that Obama recanted his vote immediately, saying that he pushed the wrong button. [14]


Current Legal Challenges to Campaign Finance Rules

Bopp and the Committee have several pending suits against the FEC challenging campaign finance rules "designed to keep big donors, corporations and undisclosed contributions from having undue electoral influence."

Koerber v. FEC, was filed in October 2008 to avoid having to disclose what the group spent on anti-Obama ads in 2008. The suit alleges the reporting and disclaimer requirement for electioneering communications as unconstitutional. It has been stayed in the Eastern District Court of North Carolina until the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals decides The Real Truth About Obama v. FEC, which contains similar issues. [1].


Lack of reporting records

The group has failed to file any paperwork with the Federal Election Commission (www.fec.gov) and it has sued the government on the grounds that it should not have to file any spending reports with the agency since such reports violate its first amendment rights to freedom of political speech.[15] The group has also failed to file Internal Revenue Service (IRS) reports. [16]

Sourcewatch resources

External resources

Contact

The group's registered principal and mailing address is:

The Committee for Truth in Politics
102-K Commonwealth Court
Cary, North Carolina 27511

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 September 9, 2010, FactCheck.Org, accessed October 5, 2010.
  2. Felicia Sonmez, At "Governing across the Divide" roundtable, solutions are elusive, Washington Post, October 6, 2010.
  3. Brody Mullins, Unnamed Donors Play Bigger Role, Wall Street Journal, October 5, 2010.
  4. North Carolina Department of the Secretary of State Committee for Truth in Politics, Corporation registration information, accessed February 10, 2010
  5. 5.0 5.1 David K. Kirkpatrick, "A Quest to End Spending Rules for Campaigns", New York Times Jan. 24, 2010, accessed October 6, 2010.
  6. 6.0 6.1 Will Evans, "Jim Bopp's Fight to Liberate Political Money," National Public Radio, October 4, 2008, accessed October 6, 2010.
  7. John Tomasic RNC’s Jim Bopp authors purity resolution for Republican candidates, The Colorado Independent, November 23, 2009
  8. What They Don't Want You To Know, National Public Radio, The Secret Money Project, November 7, 2008
  9. John Tomasic RNC’s Jim Bopp authors purity resolution for Republican candidates, The Colorado Independent, November 23, 2009
  10. Mary Bottari Desperate Times, Desperate Measures: Luntz Backs the Big Lie, PRWatch.org, February 3, 2010
  11. David Weigel Is the Committee for Truth in Politics Legal? Washington Independent, February 3, 2010
  12. New York Times Advertiser: Committee for Truth in Politics Ad spending record, accessed February 9, 2010
  13. North Carolina Department of the Secretary of State Corporate filings for William L. Peaslee, PDF, accessed February 9, 2010
  14. Jess Henig, The Momentary No, FactCheck.Org, October 8, 2008.
  15. United States District Court Holly Lynn Koerber and Committee for Truth in Politics, Inc., v. Federal Election Commission (pdf), Court filings, accessed February 9, 2010
  16. Dan Boniface, 9News Denver TRUTH TEST examines bank bailout ad, February 9, 2010


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