Today is Inauguration Day for Unity08 Watch, a web page with two purposes:
1. To provide a “Big Picture” vision of Unity08’s behavior, with hyperlinks to documentation.
2. To provide access to documents regarding Unity08 in raw form so that others can examine Unity08’s behavior directly.
The following is the the “Big Picture” story that I think characterizes the most central concerns regarding the behavior of Unity08 now:
Unity08: The Big Picture
Unity08 is a registered corporation with plans to nominate its own candidates for president and vice president in the world’s first national secure online convention in the spring of 2008. But what kind of organization is it?
Full documentation for the following claims is available on the full Unity08 research thread, from which this “big picture” summary is drawn. There are many curiosities regarding Unity08 that you can find on the thread. But the following six points are the most important.
- In its initial filing as a corporation, and in its first six months’ original filings, Unity08 claims a primary business address exactly identical to the business address of Peak Creative Media, a political public relations firm in Denver, Colorado. Unity08’s websites (see left) are also registered to Peak Creative Media. Peak Creative Media’s CEO is one Jim Jonas, who was part of the leadership of two Republican presidential campaigns, who has consulted for numerous Republican Senate and House candidates, and who served as an adviser to Roger Ailes of FOX News. Jim Jonas is listed in initial documentation for Unity08 as the President and CEO of Unity08.
- The organization loudly proclaims its opposition to the influence of lobbyists in politics, but has quietly brought former and current lobbyists into leadership positions, with the justification that “You have to have been in it to know what’s wrong with it.”
- Unity08 says that it will grow its “people’s movement” using only small donations from “everyday Americans,” “people like you,” yet it is suing the Federal Election Commission (with the apparently unpaid help of a lawyer/lobbyist) in order to evade current law and take contributions of unlimited size.
- Unity08 has released a “Clean Money Pledge” in which it has challenged members of the public to sign on to a statement in which they committed to the following plan of action: “I will only vote for a presidential candidate who has raised more than half of his/her funds through small contributions of $250 or less.” It further sent out letters to presidential candidates in the Republican and Democratic parties, challenging them to commit to take a majority of their funds from donations of $250 or less. Yet an analysis of Unity 08’s 2nd, 3rd, and 4th Quarter 2006 IRS disclosures reveals that a full 82% of Unity08â€™s 2006 donation money came from donors of more than $250. Unity08 appears to have violated its own Clean Money Pledge.
- Thomas Collier, Robert E. Jordan, John J. Duffy, and Anthony A. Onorato are both lawyers and lobbyists. They are working for Unity08 in its lawsuit against the FEC. Yet they are not listed in any disclosures to the IRS available as of February 12, 2007 (link | link | link) as having received compensation. Similarly, public relations executive Anya T. Harris is the Chief Operating Officer of Unity08, and yet she also has no record of compensation for her work. It is unclear whether these individuals will receive any reward for their work. If so, when, in what form, and from whom?
- Unity08 has not disclosed the amount or the source of any loans provided to it from personal or corporate sources. The terms of such loans are also undisclosed. Such disclosures are legally required if, as the FEC ruled in its Final Advisory Opinion, Unity08 is a political action committee.
There are three important questions one ought to ask regarding Unity08 (or any other ambitious political organization, for that matter):
1. Does the organization live up to its rhetoric? Does it practice what it preaches?
2. Is the organization capable of attaining its own stated goals?
3. If the organization is successful, will the organization improve the current state of politics, degrade the current state of politics, or leave the current state of politics unchanged?
Given the current state of knowledge regarding Unity08, how would you answer these questions?