What Jewish Voters Should Know About the Source of Those 'Support Israel? Fire Obama' Yard Signs
Continued from previous page
American Majority Inc., a 501(c)(3) and its affiliated 501(c)(4) political arm, American Majority Action, were founded in 2008 by sons of former Congressman Jim Ryun (r-KS) Ned Ryun, a former writer for George W. Bush, and his brother Drew Ryun. American Majority is advertised as,
"operates Liberty Headquarters in five key swing states to serve as central nerve centers for conservative volunteers. Florida staff and volunteers conduct voter targeting, outreach, advocacy, and get-out-the-vote (GOTV) activities to mobilize voters on Election Day."
American Majority's goal is to "infuse new Tea Party blood" and is advertised as having trained Tea Party candidates successful at the state and local level including school board elections, and over 20,000 activists. American Majority was the sponsor of the 2011 "I Stand with Walker" rallies countering unions and supporting Wisconsin governor Scott Walker.
One of the activist training sessions was secretly videoed by an Australian filmaker, Taki Oldham, who went undercover to determine if "astroturfing" was real. Astroturfing, as described on the film's website, is the "practice of manufacturing citizens groups for the purpose of delivering corporate messages." Oldham secretly taped an American Majority training session on instructing Tea Party members on how to manipulate online media such as book and movie reviews. The filmmaker came to the conclusion that astroturfing is indeed real and,
"on a scale greater than he could have imagined, threatening not only the health of American democracy, but that of its citizens and the planet as a whole."
A short clip from the film is embedded below.
American Majority Action's 990 IRS tax forms list grants for "get-out-the-vote" efforts to both Tea Party and Religious Right organization, including the Tampa 912, Doylestown Kitchen Table Patriots in Pennsylvania, and the Pennsylvania Family Institute, associated with Focus on the Family and the Family Research Council.
American Majority is also the founder of "Media Trackers." The Center for Media and Democracy describes Media Trackers as "an attack dog organization with scant regard for the facts." Unknown donors have provided funding to expand Media Trackers from a project in Wisconsin in 2011, to Colorado, Florida, Ohio, and Montana.
Media Trackers was the original source of the now debunked stories about Kyle Wood. Wood, a gay Republican was working as a "full-time volunteer" for Wisconsin congressional candidate Chad Lee, when he claimed to have received threatening emails from the husband of the opposing candidate Mark Pocan, who is also gay. Wood then claimed he was assaulted and choked at his home, a story that received national coverage before Wood recanted his claims to police. Media Trackers has removed the original stories, but the inflammatory claims headlined ""Mark Pocan's Husband Told Beaten GOP Operative 'You're A Marked Man,' Threatened and Harassed Via Text Message" went viral in the rightwing blogoshere. The Center for Media and Democracy has described the story as " libelous."
Publications including Mother Jones have described Media Trackers as "mangling the truth." Media Trackers claimed in November 2011 that young African American women signing the Gov. Scott Walker recall petition were underage and offered cigarettes for their participation, another claim promptly proven to be false. A November 1, 2012 Crooks and Liars post titled "Lie Until You're Caught" notes that the false claims of criminal wrongdoing appear to be a formula for Media Tracker, followed by denial if the scheme unravels.
The Squirrel Hill Office
The American Majority Action temporary storefront office in the Squirrel Hill neighborhood of Pittsburgh might have received little notice if it weren't for two incidents of spray paint vandalism, ostensibly by supporters of President Obama and caught on video. The signs were altered including changing "Support Israel, Fire Obama" to read "Hire Obama." The incidents have been fodder for Tea Party and other rightwing websites across the nation. Local press has reported the incidents with no reference to the background and other activities of the organization.