Religious Right's Ralph Reed Field-Tests Plan for Beating Obama
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In 2004, Reed was implicated, though not charged, in the Jack Abramoff lobbying scandal when his role as a lobbyist on behalf of the gambling interests of a Choctaw Indian tribe was disclosed in a damaging Senate investigation. While the revelations derailed his attempt to win the Republican nomination for lieutenant governor in the State of Georgia, the very religious-right friends he snookered in the Abramoff scandal appear to have forgiven him, according to Sarah Posner of Religion Dispatches.
Once again cloaked in the cape of a Christian crusader, Reed is back on the trail, doing what he does best: getting religious right-wingers to the polls.
Back at the Faith and Freedom Coalition gala, and with an eye to the media, perhaps, Reed issues what sounds like both a promise and a warning. "We're not just playing around," he says. "We're not shadowboxing; we are playing for keeps. We're playing for the most valuable prize in the history of the human race and that's the United States of America -- and we are not going to lose."
Eyes on the Prize
For Reed, however, there may be another prize to collect, win or lose. It may be wrapped up in the old Red, White and Blue, but this prize comes in a distinctive shade of green. AlterNet was told by a member of the Faith and Freedom Coalition leadership team that, in order to identify and make its 600,000 voter contacts in Wisconsin -- many of them by text messaging and e-mail subscriptions -- Faith and Freedom Coalition “used” Millennium Marketing, a division of Century Strategies, a political consulting firm whose CEO happens to be Ralph Reed.
AlterNet contacted Billy Kirkland, FFC's national field director, by phone on June 29 to inquire about FFC's use of Millennium. "We did use them and they were a big help in Wisconsin," Kirkland said. "It was one of those things where any time you can use a new technology to reach voters and educate voters on issues that are important to them -- we're trying to be on the forefront of that, so I'd be more than happy to respond by e-mail, but I've got a 4:00 [meeting] I've got to walk into."
So I e-mailed him a few questions, including: "How much did FFC pay Millennium Marketing for what appears to be a broad array of services provided in the campaign against the Wisconsin recall?" At press time, he had yet to respond.
For billionaires willing to stake nice little chunks of their fortunes on the outcome of the 2012 races -- presidential, Senate and gubernatorial -- the Faith and Freedom Coalition offers an ideal vehicle, allowing them to engage the expertise of Ralph Reed, one of the nation’s top political consultants, without fear of disclosure, through Faith and Freedom Coalition, a 501(c)(4) non-profit under the U.S. tax code. This type of organization is not required to disclose its donors to the general public. Even if FFC chose to hire Millennium, it would not be illegal because of a loophole that allows non-profits to purchase services from for-profit entities owned by staff members of the non-profit, as long as the cost falls into the realm of fair-market value. UPDATE: More than two months after this article was first published, AlterNet received a letter from attorneys for Millennium Marketing and Ralph Reed. Through attorney J. Randolph Evans of the law firm McKenna, Long and Aldrich,; Millennium Marketing said that it did not receive payment for any "work" performed for FFC, a narrow disclaimer that does not preclude the possibility of Millennium or Century Strategies receiving consulting fees. The letter states that Millennium "played no role whatsoever in the voter-contact activities undertaken by FFC's third-party vendors," LSN Mobile and the Mobile Sports Group, whose executives, at an FFC event, distributed materials presenting those services as having been provided by Millennium Marketing. Accompanying the letter was a testimonial by MSG's Rick Furr and LSN Mobile's Scott Foernsler saying that they had not been authorized to use the Millennium name or logo, and that they had done so in error.