Browse By

Unity08 and GOP Plagiarism Stories Converge

It is not really a small world overall, but the “world” inhabited by the rich, the powerful and their lackeys can be very small indeed.

Take, for instance, two articles I posted yesterday: one on the continuing problem of Republican plagiarism, and one on the fake-populist claims made by Unity08 about the nature of their donors.

I spent a bit of time trying to find out who was running the Republican websites back in 2005, when this now-two-year-old surge of letter to the editor fraud began. And I found out that the eCampaign Director for the Republican National Committee and the engineer behind the development of was one Michael Turk. Turk is responsible for developing the website that began spreading fraudulent letters to the editor.

I thought I’d heard that name before, and I checked my e-mail. Michael Turk promised to call me two weeks ago to clear up the whole suing-the-FEC-to-be-able-to-take-unlimited-donations thing. He never did call. Why was Michael Turk promising to give me a call to make the whole we-want-big-money-donations-more-more-more debacle clear? Oh, that’s right: Turk is now a member of the Unity 08 Rules Committee, when he’s done with his day job as the Vice President of Industry Grassroots for the National Cable and Telecommunications Association. His job description there is to “oversee NCTA’s efforts to generate support for public policy issues at the federal and state levels.”

Two stories converged in yellow wood, and I, I was awfully surprised. But I shouldn’t have been.

9 thoughts on “Unity08 and GOP Plagiarism Stories Converge”

  1. Turk says:

    As I had mentioned at the time we discussed a call, I was away from home serving as the best man at my best friend’s wedding. I apologize for forgetting to call you.

    However, it’s good to see that you chose the adult response and sent me (since you have my personal e-mail address) a message to remind me.

    Oh wait! You chose not to do that, and instead took cheap shots at me via your blog. I guess that should be a lesson to me and to anyone attempting to interact with you.

  2. Jim says:

    You told me you’d be gone over the weekend, weeks ago. I waited quite a while for your call. You didn’t call, and I noted it, again after quite a while.

    I know I’m rude. I’ve even been told that I’m a “Jackass.” Probably true. But I find that if I worry about rudeness with powerful people, I tend to get walked over or (hmmm) ignored.

    I’d love to know how you feel about those letters still being published that refer to the 2005 battle of Tal Afar as occurring “earlier this year.” Would you like to talk about your work in setting up a plagiarism machine? I’m guessing not.

  3. ConcernedAboutUnity08 says:

    Another link between two people in Unity08 leadership positions: Nicco Mele and Michael Turk. It’s not shocking or really that significant – just thought I’d point it out.

    They both are involved with Personal Democracy Forum. Check it out here:

    There could be more Unity08 ‘leaders’ listed on the site, I didn’t cross-reference everyone, but I happened to recognize Mele on the Advisory Board.

  4. anonymous says:

    I’m not quite sure how I would respond, but if I did I would just wish everyone the best, learn from the mistakes/painful heartaches and quietly retreat back to a place that no one that I have ever met really knows it truly exists.

  5. Turk says:

    Again, I apologize for failing to call. I had made a note to do so on a hotel pad and left the pad on the desk. The wedding was the last week in January, and I saw your post referenced on a technorati feed that pulls instances of my name (call it an ego thing or call it paranoia, I like to know when people are talking about me).

    As soon as I saw your post, I came here to respond. Had you simply said, I was promised a call, and it never came, I would have imediately called. Since you decided to attack me instead, I felt compelled to address your post.

    My forgetfulness hardly justifies cheap personal attacks instead of a quick e-mail reminder. I would sincerely hope that all of your readers would give someone the courtesy of a reminder before castigating them on a blog.

    As for the website, I’d be glad to address that. If you will note, the page specifically states that the text provided is a “sample letter” and directs users to fill out a blank form with their own letter. We have allowed the user to add blocks of that sample letter to the form so they can edit and rephrase points with which they agree. It is a) unfortunate that some people copy the text verbatim and submit it in their name and b) not as common as people writing original letters.

    Having used this tool at and a similar tool on the Bush-Cheney re-election site, I can tell you the number of personal letters vastly outnumbered the instances of writers simply pasting all the sample points.

    Finally, Nicco and I are both contributing editors at PDF, and are both listed on the Unity08 website, but have never met. I left a message for him by phone once about a project where we might have worked together, but we never spoke.

    Any other questions?

  6. Anonymous says:

    I have re-read this piece several times and I don’t see the “cheap personal attacks” Mr. Turk is refering to. Was he NOT the e-director for RNC? Was he NOT the engineer behind the develpment of Did he NOT say he would explain the FEC lawsuit thing? Where is that explanation, by the way?

  7. ConcernedAboutUnity08 says:

    I agree with Anonymous. Where is the ceahp personal attack in Jim’s post?

  8. Jim says:

    You are a person. It is an observation about what you’ve done. If observing what you’ve done as a person is a “personal attack,” then by gum, I’m guilty. But if that’s what qualifies as a “personal attack,” then by gum, more people should be doing it, especially of people in positions of wealth, power and influence who are part of an effort to so fundamentally change our political system. As for “cheap” — doesn’t “cheap” in a “cheap attack” mean pathetically easy and obvious?

    No, Michael Turk, the tool on you seem to be responsible for does not “direct users to fill out a blank form with their own letter.”

    There is a blank form. But there is no text whatsoever — whatsoever — asking people to write “their own letter.” There is no paraphrase of that text either.

    You know, The Democratic Party also has a letter to the editor section on its website, and I’ve criticized the Democrats as well for the resulting letters that ended up on the op-ed page with fraudulent claims of authorship. But I could only find less than a handful of letters to the editor with the DNC’s text. The Republican text has led to buckets and buckets full of fraudulent letters. Why? What’s the difference? It could be that most Democrats don’t need talking points to write a letter to the editor. It could also be that the Democratic letter to the editor machine contains the following text:

    “# Most newspapers will only print original letters. Use talking points and sample letters as a starting point for your own message.

    # Letters with a personal angle are always compelling. Ask yourself how this issue affects you and your family.”

    That doesn’t excuse what the Democrats have done. But it does explain why the plagiarism machine you are responsible for has been ever so much more efficient.

  9. Ralph says:

    So how DO you feel about those letters that are still appearing on editorial pages across the country, referring to the battle of Tal Afar happening “earlier this year?”


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Psst... what kind of person doesn't support pacifism?

Fight the Republican beast!