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Elections & Voting Last Updated: Aug 13th, 2009 - 00:30:25

Newly released RNC emails show Repubs breathlessly pumping up �Democrat scandals�
By Margie Burns
Online Journal Contributing Writer

Aug 13, 2009, 00:10

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At exactly the same time the GOP was circulating an illustrated flier on a purported �Democrat Ethics Breakdown,� excoriating Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman among others, behind the scenes, the GOP was acknowledging its own difficulty in appropriately reporting financial contributions.

Emails circulating in late April 2006 show Jonathan Felts at the Republican National Committee hastily having to add �transfers other authorized committees� [sic] to the record of financial contributions to Republican candidates:

Email April 24, 2006, 5:26 p.m. from Jonathan Felts [Dick Cheney assistant who later replaced Sara Taylor as GW Bush�s WH political director] to Sara Taylor and Scott Jennings:

� . . . I think I figured out the problem -- the number MEllis [Michael Ellis] is using does not include the transfer from the JFC [transfer from the Joint Finance Committee]. So, that would also mean that all of our candidates who had a JFC last quarter would not have those totals listed.�

Email April 24, 2006, 5:27 p.m. from Sara Taylor to Felts, Jennings and Michael Ellis:

�What do you mean? If someone wrote a check to a candidate -- even a JFA, it would have to be listed on their disclosure.� [INTERESTING, IN LIGHT OF THIS EXCHANGE, THAT SARA TAYLOR IS THE ONE WHO GOT BOOTED OUT, AND JONATHAN FELTS IS THE ONE WHO GOT PROMOTED]

Email April 24, 2006, 5:33 p.m. from Michael Ellis to Taylor, Felts and Jennings:

Apparently (as I�m finding out now), those funds were counted as �transfers other authorized committees� and not as �contributions.

�I can go back and change the number on our sheets -- it would only affect the Q1 [first-quarter] raised column, not the cash on hand.�

Email April 24, 2006, 5:33 p.m. from Sara Taylor to the others:

�Please do. Thanks.�

This little error had to be corrected. Not only was it a matter of law, but the party was releasing its weekly broadside, headlined �Democrat [sic] Ethics Breakdown,� offering a precis of Democratic officeholders around the country facing problems in the justice system. Needless to say, the broadside for the coming week conspicuously featured the indictment of Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman, indicted and (on the GOP prosecutors� second try) imprisoned on trumped-up and hyped-up charges. (See Scott Horton�s reporting on Siegelman in Vanity Fair and elsewhere.)

Note: View and download, from PROJECT SAVE JUSTICE: short video pamphlet available on YouTube; more here. The work done by the collection of groups, concerned lawyers and others in Project Save Justice, collecting material on political/selective prosecutions around the nation under the GW Bush DOJ, is invaluable.

The Dem-ethics broadside linked above, featuring the unjustly treated Siegelman, is found among RNC documents released and posted today by the House Judiciary Committee, part 9. The email exchange precedes it by a single page (pages 97-100).

A Rove memo dated Sept 14, 2006, and titled �PRESIDENTIAL SPEECHWRITING FORM� -- from Karl C. Rove to Bush White House speechwriter Wm. J. McGurn -- includes data referencing Siegelman�s political effectiveness. In the document, which concerns a photo op and ceremony to benefit Alabama GOP Gov. Riley photo op (at a GOP Governors Association reception at convention center in Birmingham, with GW Bush speaking), Rove notes that Riley �narrowly� defeated incumbent Gov Don Siegelman in 2004, with 49.1 percent of the vote to 48.9 percent, and that Riley is only the second GOP gov in AL since Reconstruction. (tho GW Bush won AL w/ 62+ percent) [emphasis added]

Rove�s suggested talking points for Alabama Republican pols predictably include the scandal in the Dem gov�s office, and note that the winner of the Democratic gubernatorial primary in Alabama was assisted by Siegelman�s being indicted.

For the record: Gov. Siegelman was indicted Oct. 26, 2005 -- a happy time for the local GOP, including Alabama�s federal prosecutor, to fly under the national radar, since it coincided nearly with the indictment of Scooter Libby.

Siegelman�s trial was scheduled to start May 1, 2006, with jury selection scheduled to begin April 19, 2006 -- just when the Democratic primary was coming up. An email in RNC documents part 1 dated April 19, 2006, emphasizes Siegelman�s legal difficulties in handicapping the Alabama gubernatorial election.

Neither the national nor the state (Alabama) GOP disclosed publicly the correction of the previous quarter�s financial reporting to include transfers from the GOP�s central finance committee to individual candidates.

Margie Burns, a freelance writer in the Washington, DC, area, can be reached at

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