If you fail to win hearts and minds, try intimidation:
Nearly 10,000 of the biggest donors to Republican candidates and causes across the country will probably receive a foreboding “warning” letter in the mail next week.
The letter is an opening shot across the bow from an unusual new outside political group on the left that is poised to engage in hardball tactics to prevent similar groups on the right from getting off the ground this fall.
Led by Tom Matzzie, a liberal political operative who has been involved with some prominent left-wing efforts in recent years, the newly formed nonprofit group, Accountable America, is planning to confront donors to conservative groups, hoping to create a chilling effect that will dry up contributions.
“We want to stop the Swift Boating before it gets off the ground,” said Mr. Matzzie, who described his effort as “going for the jugular.”
The warning letter is intended as a first step, alerting donors who might be considering giving to right-wing groups to a variety of potential dangers, including legal trouble, public exposure and watchdog groups digging through their lives.
……Mr. Matzzie recently served as one of the leaders of Progressive Media U.S.A., a group that was intended to lead a left-wing media effort in the presidential election, but the group folded several months ago after it failed to raise enough money, partly because of signals from the Obama campaign that donors should not give to outside groups.
……Accountable America has singled out some major Republican donors, including Sheldon Adelson, a billionaire casino mogul, and Mel Sembler, a former ambassador and real estate magnate, both major donors to Freedom’s Watch, a conservative group.
Calls to Mr. Sembler and Mr. Adelson were not returned, but Ed Patru, a spokesman for Freedom’s Watch, scoffed at Mr. Matzzie’s plan.
“This idea sounds even more sloppily thought out than his last venture, which, of course, went belly-up for lack of financial support,” Mr. Patru said.
“I doubt anyone will be intimidated by him,” he said, “but if it gives anyone pause, they are always welcome to give to Freedom’s Watch — all of our donors are entitled to complete anonymity by law.”
Indeed, anonymity is a potential obstacle to the group’s efforts. Outside political groups organized as 501(c)4 entities, including Accountable America, do not have to disclose the names of their donors.
Chris LaCivita, a Republican strategist who helped organize the Swift Boat effort, said Mr. Matzzie’s group was likely to have the opposite effect on potential donors, firing them up instead of discouraging them.
“They’re not going to be intimidated by some pipsqueak on the kooky left,” Mr. LaCivita said.
Oh yeah, let them send one of those threats to MY mailbox, and their worst nightmare will come true.
Some background on Matzzie:
Prior to this position, Matzzie was Washington Director for MoveOn.org….Prior to joining MoveOn Tom was Director of Online Organizing for the Kerry-Edwards campaign….he was Online Mobilization Director at the AFL-CIO building the union movement’s Internet program….He has appeared on network television, on syndicated radio and is cited by The New York Times, the Associated Press, The Washington Post and other major daily publications.
I bet he was a Red Diaper baby, too.
In a February 9, 2008, blog posting on The Nation’s website, professor and activist Tom Hayden wrote: “Tom Matzzie, leader of Americas most well-financed anti-Iraq organization, has resigned his position and dissolved the organization, Americans Against Escalation in Iraq.” However,after posting this blog Hayden the wrote: “Minutes after this story was posted, Mattzie sent an e-mail to me claiming ‘the story is wrong.’ He said, ‘We haven’t quit,’ but are in transition. But the story is based on Mattzie’s own February 7 e-mail response to a question from me: ‘I’ve essentially quit anti-war organizing and gone into politics.’ ”
Translation: Your lame attempt at anti-war/pro-terrorist fundraising failed miserably, so you’re trying your hand at a more ‘lucrative’ venture; i.e. “politics”.
“Accountable America” needs to be investigated for stalking, and violations of the RICO statute.
Tom Matzzie should be slapped upside his fat head for concocting such a laughable, ridiculous attempt at political blackmail.
Don’t look now Matzzie, but the floor’s about to meet your face.
Judicial Watch has a response:
Judicial Watch, the public interest group that investigates and prosecutes government corruption, announced today that it is launching an investigation into a nationwide effort by a liberal activist group to intimidate supporters of Republican and conservative causes. According the August 8 edition of The New York Times, Accountable America, a liberal group, plans to send a letter “to confront donors to conservative groups, hoping to create a chilling effect that will dry up contributions…The warning letter is intended as a first step, alerting donors who might be considering giving to right-wing groups to a variety of potential dangers, including legal trouble, public exposure and watchdog groups digging through their lives.
The group is also hoping to be able to respond if an outside conservative group broadcasts a television advertisement attacking Senator Barack Obama, or another Democratic candidate, by running commercials exposing the donors behind the advertisements.”
Attempts to intimidate individuals from participating in the presidential campaign can be a violation of federal law. A key federal civil rights law (42 U.S.C. § 1985(3)), popularly known as the Ku Klux Klan Act, may be applicable if “two or more persons conspire to prevent by force, intimidation, or threat, any citizen who is lawfully entitled to vote, from giving his support or advocacy in a legal manner, toward or in favor of the election of any lawfully qualified person as an elector for President or Vice President, or as a Member of Congress of the United States; or to injure any citizen in person or property on account of such support or advocacy.”
“Threats and intimidation have no place in our democratic elections and are a violation of the law. This new front group, Accountable America, seems to have crossed a legal line,” stated Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton.
Give ’em hell!