One more time- ACCOUNTABILITY NOW WAS NOT FORMED AS A REVENUE STREAM FOR CANDIDATES. IT WAS FORMED TO FIND CANDIDATES TO HOLD BAD ONES, GET THIS- ACCOUNTABLE NOW.
I would seriously wish if everyone discussing this issue would understand that the mission statement of the PAC was not to fund candidates. It was to find them.
Now if you want to know what they have done to find candidates or what role they had in Halter, that is a decent question. Declaring they gave no money to candidates just makes you look stoopid with two o’s.
You can see the Accountability Now website here (EDIT: and the focus is explicitly on candidate recruitment). So I was wrong to declare it a financial failure based on the fact that it didn’t bank or disburse money in 2009. (People can quibble as they like about the details of the FEC disclosure, of course. I’ll stay out of that for now.)
I think it would be great to see a post or statement clarifying all of this from Accountability Now itself.
You’re trying to set a record for most comments on a non-election day, right?
General Egali Tarian Stuck
I just wonder what is involved with finding candidates to run against their own party. Lots of cell minutes for sure, like for calling and asking “would you like to run” other than that, I can’t think of a whole lot else to spend money on in this endeaver.
No, I think this stuff is important. It goes to the central issue of trust between bloggers and readers.
Feels like piling-on to me.
They sold themselves as a left version of the Club for Growth.
What does the Club for Growth do: a) they find candidates AND b) they financial support candidates (even ones they didn’t originally find).
case in point. The Club for Growth didn’t push Pat Toomey to primary Spector. But the did support him financial once he entered the race.
Put it this way, why hasn’t “Accountability Now” lent any support to Marcy Winograd, who is desperately trying to hold conservadem Jane Harman “accountable”???
A left version of the Club for growth, which to me, sounded great. But what do we have to show for it, for our contributions—zilch. They haven’t found one candidate, nor have they supported one candidate, not one. Instead they took the money themselves.
This is the biggest scam since Saint John Edwards paid his mistress off with campaign donations.
@randiego: sniffle, poor Jane, she’s such a delicate flower.
Face it, Jane and Glenster have sold you out!
While I don’t believe Accountability Now is a scam or fraud, I do see it as a pretty worthless way to spend one’s money if you’re interested in promoting progressive causes. From what I gathered reading GOS diaries about the AR Senate race, Bill Halter’s primary challenge was almost all, if not completely all, due to Lincoln’s pissing off Democratic groups in Arkansas not to mention unions, abortion rights groups, and pro-environment groups like the Sierra Club. Perhaps Accountability Now added a grain of sand to the mountain of dissatisfaction with Blanche Lincoln; I just haven’t seen any evidence of it.
I would be more interested in learning the details of Hamsher’s alliance with Grover Norquist than in analyzing the financial statements of a useless, though harmless, PAC.
@Arkon DougJ: But you have got to see the problem with this. Someone can post something about anyone – including you and John – supplying plenty of innuendo and nothing like evidence of wrongdoing, and say, “It goes to the central issue of trust between bloggers and readers.” You’ve gotta call a smear job a smear job.
@Arkon DougJ: I know; I just couldn’t resist given how quickly the other thread was ballooning in size.
Edit: More serious point: When the PAC does fundraising, do they use language like “Help us find a challenger for $BLUE_DOG”, or is it more along the lines of “Help support $GOOD_GUY’s challenge of $BLUE_DOG”? Given their mission statement and disbursements, the former would be reasonable, but the latter would be a tad deceptive
@General Egali Tarian Stuck: Oh, stop with the brazen hippie punching, you brute.
They at least should have taken some potential recruits to strip clubs.
Otherwise they would just get boring people to run.
The only real potential for scandal here is either 1) a show of malfeasance from Accountability Now, or 2) [way, way, way more likely] evidence that Accountability Now is getting a lot of money from the right wing.
With a mission hellbent on losing democratic seats, and multiple high-profile acts of cooperation between Hamsher and the far right, frankly I’d be shocked if Accountability Now wasn’t funded by the right.
@jl: Or they could have put a dungeon in the garage and Jane could have spanked that old chick with the face-lift who runs Talk Left.
@max hats: Good Point!
Follow the Money.
It certainly didn’t go to finding candidates or funding seed money to existing primary challengers like Marcy Winograd
Demand the long form birth certificate from Accountability Now.
@LT: you’re 100% correct. Jane is a smear merchant.
General Egali Tarian Stuck
@LT: I wouldn’t call it a “smear job” since we have passed that failsafe point of civility long ago. It’s more like internecine pol warfare at this stage. They, think we are a Obot cult, or something, as GG has said many times, and Jane makes hay with the bitter enemy that cannot be washed off. For me, and I think quite a few others here, there are no prisoners to be taken in this little brewhaha.
And Cole is the voice of reason around here, concerning Jane and GG. Many of the rest of us think they are at best self serving wankers, and at worst, hell bent on electing a republican for POTUS in 2012.
Smear in the offense of that is no vice.
How does one determine if a candidate is viable? EG Tamyra D’Ippolito for US Senate (Indiana) or Bill Halter for US Senate (Arkansas).
One has a chance of removing a pretty bad D. The other would guarantee Senator Dan Coats or John Hostettler.
I’m curious about polling expenditures of Accountability Now – FDL put out polling data in Arkansas… was that paid for by FDL Action PAC, Accountability Now PAC or an FDL affiliated 527 organization? It seems to me that polling is the type of expense one would expect from Accountability Now.
Disclosure: I gave to Accountability Now as part of the FISA money bomb – I was very disillusioned by Obama’s cloture vote on FISA amendments and felt my donation made a statement… I also promoted it via blog posts at my.barackobama.com where I urged other Obama campaign activists to send the same message.
I resumed donating to Obama’s campaign after Labor Day 2008. And went back to GOTV volunteering in the final 2 weeks of the campaign.
From the site:
It’s fair to expect that at least a few donations would go out to candidates given that mission, don’t you think?
How much of this is a result of the distaste the B-J community has for Hamsher? Or Glenzilla for that matter?
For my own sake I dislike the former and count myself as a fan of the latter.
This isn’t meant as flame-bait, I don’t make it a habit of reading the comments, and opaque issues like this make it kind of hard to start.
@mistermix: oh stop, with you hippie punching.
@Mike Kay: Not sure that is quite the same things as what I had in mind. That would attract a different sort of crowd.
Hey Mike Kay – go fuck yourself. I don’t have to defend my post to you, jackass.
Nothing in my simple post, did I say anything about Hamsher. I said it feels like piling on, and it does.
There was a commenter early on in the previous thread, who said that the information presented is incapable of leading us to conclusions, which was correct.
Which was then followed up by a mea culpa from DougJ – and good on him for admitting that he was wrong.
Whatever Hamshers transgressions, and I agree there are some, making mountains out of molehills because it looks sexy doesn’t help make the case.
Oh, Arkon, the flames were dying and you just HAD to go get the gas can, dincha? DINCHA!?
… sobs quietly to self in kitchen while making a martini
Another thing to be noted:
PACs can’t give all that much to a candidate, either cash or in-kind donations.
I don’t think it was a smear job, the original post that Oliver Willis linked to. I’m not sorry that I linked to it. I shouldn’t have said what I said about financial failure, though.
Nothing screams “I didn’t RTFA” more then this.
I like Glenn Greenwald’s blog a lot.
@furioso ateo: I’m pretty sure I’ve spent the last couple threads DEFENDING Jane and Glenn.
And Mike Kay- take a hockey puck sized valium. You don’t have to be every other comment to let us know you hate Jane.
Arkor, Maybe it’s time for another Jesus post.
@wmd: I hope Jane and Glenser thought of you as they spent you hard earned money on themselves.
Alas, you were punk’d
@John Cole: No, I wasn’t talking about the originating blog posts. Those seemed pretty even-handed to me. I meant the back-and-forth between the commentors.
How the fuck do you get here?
Doesn’t even make sense. Except for the smear part.
Please link to a candidate in 2009 that they Identified as being supported by ANPAC? If they didn’t identify a candidate they were going to ‘support’ who were they supposed to donate to?
@Mike Kay: I don’t really have any animus towards FDL. I don’t read the blog, but I also don’t read a lot of other blogs.
I disagree with some of what Jane Hamsher said during the HCR debate, but that’s her right and she can go for it. I don’t think she’s a scam artist. And I don’t see any evidence of fraud in the way she set up her PACs. It costs money to run a PAC.
However, as with her FDL posts, I think it’s fair to ask whether her PAC is accomplishing its mission. From what I’ve read, the answer is “maybe” and worth a calm, rational discussion. I haven’t seen much of that in the two threads today.
I think FDL made some very good points about the health care reform bill, and performed a useful service there. We are seeing some of the results of the bill’s problems emerge already, as we see the insurance industry try to wriggle out of what seems to be plain language requirements to provide a better product.
Exactly what the provision to stop exclusions for pre-existing conditions in children is a good example.
The question was, whether the reform bill should be passed in its current form as the only feasilbe first step towards a good health care system, or it should be stopped as a bad bill that will cause more problems than it solves.
I think honest people can differ.
As for the accountability now thing, that is a good question too. How do we hold weak Democrats accountable if they do not follow good policy and defy the wishes of those who voted them in. Whether it is a step in the right direction or a counterpart to the teabaggers primarying of everyone to the left of Attila the Hun depends on how it is done.
The FDL alliance with Norquist was a bridge too far in my view, though.
I feel my donation did what I wanted it to do:
My dismay at Obama’s FISA cloture vote did get expressed through that small donation.
NB: I still worked to elect Obama – over 500 phone calls to GOTV and more $$ than I gave to Accountability Now.
@John Cole: I’ll take a pill. But could you respond to @mistermix: post about AN’s stated goals included “support” which obvioulsy meant financial support.
plus John, when BTD comes here and engages in a flame war and fills up every other comment, do you ask him to dial it down? Cuz, I haven’t seen that. Of course, BTD is part of the blogariatti, so the rules are different.
@mistermix: I was being sarcastic. Seems anything you question Jane, someone runs in and screams “hippie punching”.
@General Egali Tarian Stuck:
Remember that this didn’t start here. It was written by Rogers Cadenhead (I don’t know who that is – he has about six comments at his place) yesterday and was immediately posted to DKos, where it got about 8 gazillion recommends by people who regularly call Hamsher a “snuff-film producer” and “bitch” and the like. I think it smells of smear job. And, again, it doesn’t provide anything like evidence of wrongdoing, it just posts numbers. It may as well have started with “Some people say…”
I really appreciated the fund raising that balloon juice does for candidates. It is clearly stated who you want the money to go. I would also donate to a fund raiser to cover expenses for this site to cover the expenses and food for Tunch and Lily but if this site were to set up a misleading PAC, I would be pissed.
Glenn Glenwald still lied though when he commented here.
@Cat: Fair point. However, looking at their EOY summary at the FEC:
You’ll notice that they had a total of $9,649 cash on hand. Given that they’re paying consultants and PAC leadership, it would be very difficult for them to provide much in the way of support in Q1 2010, assuming steady fundraising, if they had identified multiple candidates.
I really am trying to be fair. Disclosure: I like Glenn Greenwald and read every post.
Let me see:
1. the PAC was opened with the specific mission to RUN AND support candidates.
2. the grand total of candidates they’ve run = 0
3. all the money they raised went to mostly Jane, but Glenn and their friends got a cut.
4. money spent on candidates = 0
How is this not a breach of promise with the PAC’s donors?
The Boramander You Know
@Mike Kay: The only way to get that knucklehead to “dial it down” is by stuffing him into a 55-gallon drum, filling it with concrete, and hurling it into the depths of the oceans.
Where he will argue with fish until his oxygen runs out.
The whole point of accountability is that you know where the money is going.
When the news about Palin’s wolf killing proclivities broke, I went nuts, and sent my discretionary funds and some grocery money to the Wildlife Fund. They promised to put out more television ads, and I saw more television ads.
I never donated to FDL, but if I did, I would expect the money to go to furthering FDL’s goals. Whatever one thinks of those goals, this is simply not the egregious scam Hannity & North were pulling. They declared every cent went to scholarships. Whether they stole 1% or 100%, it’s still stealing. (And it sounds like very little actually went to the cause people were donating for.)
Just so it’s clear, here is verbatim Greenwald from January 17th’s epic:
I call bullshit, however one parses this.
Hey can somebody help me find a couple comment threads where people are cursing each over out over absolutely nothing? That would be awesome. Maybe if it could include some arbitrary numbers that don’t signify much of anything?
I didn’t really read the thread, but the whole thing is simple
AN, basically come across as yet another bunch of consultants. The progressive online netroots left whatever the fuck you want to call us.
We don’t like consultants. There are a few that are acceptable. (Obama really had some good ones during the campaign). We think that by and large they’re a waste of money, and almost by self-design fraudulent.
Maybe I’m the only person who STILL feels that way. But that was the common talk during the campaign.
I believe you.
* Getting some weird blockquote action here.
@ Corner Stone
I get there because it’s the same MO that happened with the Nader and the Green Party. Hamsher goes from solid progressive to putting out statements from Nordquist, and chairs a PAC dedicated to losing democrat seats – I’m not saying Hamsher is in on it (a la Nader) but if you’re in the business of giving out money to support the right wing, I would think Accountability Now is a good investment. First you notice Hamsher and her PAC exist because she’s working with your allies, then you look into it and find her PAC corresponds very well with your own partisan interests. Just as on the flipside, giving money to those guys who are trying to bring down moderate northeastern republicans is a good move for progressives.
O/T, but Fox&Friends figure out that the entire CBO is nothing but a horrible fraud and they’re estimating from inside the house!
Clearly if the CBO doesn’t duplicate the work of the Census and work entirely with chalkboards and abacuses, they’re a FRAUD with their pointy-hed “maff” and stuff.
Told you so.
As I walk away smugly.
@El Cid: There’s a Fox business analyst for ya. I’ll bet they don’t set ad rates by those silly Nielsen numbers…
@mistermix: I may have been misunderstood, my original question wasn’t aimed at the B-J Pantheon of Gods (i.e. John Cole et al).
I meant more the community of dunderheads like myself that comment, who at times seem to have words that are… less than nice for Hamsher and Greenwald.
Can we get some Tunch, please?
Trying to divine whatever the fuck it is that screeching Harpy Hamsher is doing with her blog is about as exciting as reading Red State. Other than post after post declaring all and sundry Democrats who disagree with her as nothing more than closet Republicans she’s about as compelling as a severe case of scabies.
I have no idea why people have such a hate-on for Hamsher on BJ, of all blogs. It’s a mystery.
I don’t hate Jane Hamsher. I just think that she’s on some weird jihad against an administration that she doesn’t consider liberal enough for her tastes. To which I would answer (not that I’ve been asked) that this administration is as liberal as the President had pretty much always indicated he would be when he was running. I think that what she’s doing doesn’t particularly help the left as a whole or even her stated goals, and there is no way anyone on the left can legitimately link with Grover Fucking Norquist.
And now we find out that her PAC isn’t doing any of the things they claimed or implied they would do, and that all of the money donated to same is wasted, and quite a bit of it found its way into her bank account. Like I said earlier, Grover Norquist’s student has learned well.
Calvin Jones and the 13th Apostle
@max hats: How is Hamsher dedicated to losing Democratic seats? How did she force Bayh to quit? How did she force Blanche Lincoln to act like a complete jackass?
@soonergrunt: I don’t even think it’s a jihad. I just think she gins up outrage to generate contributions and page views.
Calvin Jones and the 13th Apostle
@El Cid: Which is funny because Elmendorf is a protege of Pete Peterson.
Calvin Jones and the 13th Apostle
@Mike Kay: Some could say the same thing about DougJ’s posts about FDL.
@Calvin Jones and the 13th Apostle: well, she has threaten to primary Bernie Sanders because he voted for HCR.
She did freak out against Kucinich.
She did threaten to primary dems from the progressive caucus if the voted for HCR.
She did call on Lynn Woolsey to resign.
She did join with Grover Norquist to pump a conspiracy theory that Rahm stole money when he was a director of Fannie Mae 10 years ago.
From the links on display thus far I see exactly zero evidence of anything illegal, and zero evidence of any hints that something might come out later along those lines (i.e. smoke, fire). If there is anything to this dustup at all, it would be a disconnect between what donors thought they were supporting and how the PAC spent their money. That is a rather subjective matter of interpretation which is between the donors and the PAC. If donors are ticked off or have questions, let them speak. To everybody else: what is the basis for your beef, if it wasn’t your money?
Having said that, blog wars between BJ and FDL have become something of an internet tradition of which I am aware. And I’ve grown weary of reading stuff from commentors who are obviously visitors here (not regulars) and who immediately wade in right off the bat by insulting folks, engaging in mind reading, shitting on people’s motivations on the basis of little to no evidence, and generally raising the temperature without shedding any light on the issue under discussion. Way to make a good first impression!
In case it hasn’t sunk in yet, here’s a protip for the visitors: you are being trolled by some of the regulars (Mike Kay, I’m looking at you). If you want to leave a better impression, try bringing a thicker skin next time. Some of us (e.g. me) are on the fence in some of these discussions, because I (we?) come here (sometimes) to listen and learn. You might want to put on your Sunday best and try to act like you are here to persuade somebody who is persuadable rather than just flinging scat. Or not, if that isn’t the reason why you are commenting here. I don’t know, because I can’t read minds.
@soonergrunt: My theory is that she believes that you can’t influence an administration unless you frighten them, and that she tried her hardest to get scary. Didn’t work, sadly (and largely, perhaps, for the same reason that progressives don’t have much leverage in Congress), and she maybe painted herself into a corner. Haven’t read FDL in a long while, but if we’re diagnosing via videotape, that’s my guess.
The fact that the millions went into her bank account strikes me as pretty irrelevant. She was doing all the heavy lifting on this, even if it came to nothing. This reminds me of the ‘Al Gore Lives in a House with Running Water’ stuff.
@Calvin Jones and the 13th Apostle: but he’s not asking for contributions. that’s the main difference.
@Guster: what heavy lifting?
@El Tiburon: That is some serious bullshit. I was there every day for 5 years. The venom there in insane. Ratfood, Nomolos, eCHANOMICS, I could go on and on. My opinion is that there is a hard core there that wants to push things to get so bad that people will get hurt. I saw them in the 60’s and I see em now. Fucking armchair revolutionaries that will be no where to be found when the shit starts.
@Mike Kay: Well, do you remember Mike DeFranco’s attempts to pressure to Obama administration?
@ThatLeftTurnInABQ: If your so weary of it why are you here?
Reading these threads, I have learned quite a bit about the commenters here. It is not so much which side of the issue you come down on. It has more to do with the ability to understand and weigh counterarguments, then respond appropriately.
I’m not sure what your point is? They have paid employees who could easily have helped on the two elections they have said they were focusing on and the cash laying about would be enough to give $5,000 worth of cash ‘support’ and cap their contributions to each of the campaigns.
Everyone keeps insinuating paying themselves and their employees to ‘support’ a candidate is tantamount to fraud. A PAC isn’t a huge slush fund of cash they can give candidates $50,000. The PAC has to support a candidate indirectly.
This is all very premature, They’ve only been around a year and just have started to work on two elections. Feel free to condemn them when they don’t actually do any supporting of their candidates. They only had one candidate starting March 01,2010.
And Another Thing...
@Guster: Grover Norquist.
Your a jerk and I shouldn’t respond, but I will because your poor logic drives me batty.
They didn’t say ANY old candidate. They didn’t say they were going to throw a dart at a map of the US have at it. They planned on supporting alternative democrats to the incumbent democrats whom they didn’t like in congress.
Given 2009 had no elections where incumbent democrats were up for re-election is it really to hard to get your mind around the fact they wouldn’t donate ANY money to specific candidates or be working with specific progressive democrats to unseat these non-existent incumbent democrats?
He is getting paid by the PAC he co-founded and helps raise money for. He is paying himself. The checks could be signed by the ghost of Adolf Hitler and he’s still be getting paid by himself and not Nazi’s.
I’m complaining about some of the trees, not the whole forest; neither the posts nor the commentariat are monolithic, beyond the outlines of a general “house style”. And to answer your question directly, I come here because of (a) the snark, and (b) despite the food fight atmosphere the signal-noise ratio here is still pretty good w/ regard to issues. While I’ve read plenty of more policy focused blogs which are better in terms of pure information, they also tend to have more groupthink in the comments than you get here; as a result I learn a lot from both the top-level posts and the back and forth in the comments here. I don’t see why that should preclude me from calling out folks who are degrading (b) without contributing enough to (a) to even out the scales.
@And Another Thing…: Ah! That explains why we hate Arnold Schwarzenegger even more.
I’ll say exactly what I said in the last thread; I see no evidence whatsoever AN did anything illegal or violated any campaign finance laws, but in my opinion, any PAC that isn’t going to spend money on candidates (especially when their mission is billed as supporting progressive primary campaigns) should explicitly say as much in their fundraising pitches. Not doing so is unethical IMO, but YMMV.
For this charge to stand up you have to point to primaries where there was a corpro-dems being challanged by progressive dem who would fit ANPAC’s standards.
Given their staff, funding, and being barely a year old they probably can only two one or two of these elections. They’ve staked out one election. Lets see how they do before calling them unethical.
And Another Thing...
@Guster: Your Arnold response is obscure. But perhaps mine was too. Grover Norquist is one of the loudest and most effective right wing campaigners who slander everything government, and seriously poison the well of public discourse and civic cooperation. Alliances of convenience are an important part of getting legislation and civic improvement done. It’s wise practice. Allying oneself with Norquist is sleeping with the devil. It’s allowing yourself to be used, as in “even Jane Hamsher, liberal activist…” It’s like going on Hannity or Rush and badmouthing your own team. There are plenty of venues where lefties can and should criticize lefty initiatives or performance. Teaming with Norquist to attack the Obama administration makes her poison.
I don’t have much of an opinion of Jane or FDL. The one thing I remember them for was being the best source for all things Plame-related. In my limited exposure to her since, I’ve definitely seen some things that pissed me off, but not really enough to investigate.
But Glenn is another story. Even when I disagree, or just don’t have the endurance to get through another post, I have immense respect for the guy. So this potentially bothers me.
I understand the logic of your argument and it has a legalistic ring of correctness. Just reading the quote over again… not a penny from Jane, FDL, or any of FDL’s sources of funding. So, yeah, good point, he definitely left out the category of “sources of Jane’s funding”.
I mean let’s face it, it just doesn’t really have the spirit of a sentence that perhaps ought include “though we did found a PAC together that has paid me”. Or, “but, yes we do business together”.
It ain’t a lie, but it still kinda sucks.
Any candidate who wants to get elected in 2010, much less unseat an incumbent during a primary, needed to have announced and started raising money last year. (Halter is at an immense disadvantage having announced so late and not every candidate can count on the netroots dropping a couple million for their campaign.)
So the calendar excuse doesn’t hold much water here.
@marrus: I don’t know the original context of the quote.
He could have been responding to a quote about being a paid shill rather then being asked if he has any political or financial ties with JH.
The former question would be correctly answered by the quote while as an answer to the latter would be untrue.
I just spent a couple hours reading the FDL and Accountability Now PAC 2009 reports. If y’all can handle a post with some numbers in it, here you go:
The two PAC’s had a combined income a hair under $350K last year.
Over 40% of that revenue went to four executive recipients and Hamsher’s FDL company. Hamsher and Greenwald each received a direct payment of $24K, $65K was spent paying two executive directors, and $30K went to FDL Inc. to buy a list and for shared administrative expenses. (The latter is on top of thousands in itemized administrative expenses for the two PAC’s.) None of this includes payments for political consultants or campaign services.
That’s a ridiculous amount of executive overhead for a group with such small revenues. Just the “shared administrative costs” with FDL Inc. as a percentage of revenues were almost as great as Act Blue’s total overhead.
If they’re doing this out of avarice or incompetence doesn’t matter to me – this is a horrifically mis-managed organization. If you donate a dollar to FDL’s PAC’s, no more than half of that is going to go towards getting work done on the ground. Even a bad health insurance company manages to only waste 30% of their revenues on non-provider costs.
Donors and potential donors deserve to know that. Hamsher and Greenwald painting themselves as the victims in this doesn’t help them or their causes.
DougL (frmrly: Conservatively Liberal)
GG’s a lawyer and I am sure that he will shoot your unassailable logic down in 5, 4, 3…
While I am no donor to Glenn & Jane’s Fun Club I wish someone who was would ask them exactly what the word “support” means in their mission statement on finding candidates to run against incumbent Democrats.
I have a feeling I would just get the definition of what ‘is’ is. That’s what lawyer-speak does to ya… ;)
Ooooh, big boom outside! Thunder boom! CaveObot quakes in fear…
Better get the generator ready for a possible power outage. Nothing like a late winter storm to shake things up a bit.
@tomvox1: As far as I’m concerned, that qualifies as a “lie”.
How funny is that. We need a public option!