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Unity08 Drops Mention of Small Money Donations and Lobbying

For the first year of its existence, Unity08 maintained the following paragraph on lobbyists and the corrupting influence of large donations on its “What We Believe” page. The Wayback internet archive for July 7, 2007 preserves it:

Unity08 strongly believes the corrupting influence of special interest money is a major cause of today’s fundamentally broken political system. Lobbyist money plus pandering to the intense ideological bases by both parties yields the blame-game partisan bickering that has destroyed voter confidence. No other issue will get solved until this one does.

Unity08 intends to fix this broken system by electing a bipartisan “Unity Ticket” to the White House in ‘08 funded solely by small-dollar donations from everyday Americans. As a result the Unity08 President and Vice President will enter office not with favors owed to lobbyists and special interests but with a clear mandate from the American people to cooperate and provide courageous leadership on the most crucial, complex issues facing our country.

Of course, Unity08 never implemented these beliefs in its actions. It actually did the contrary. While railing against lobbyists, Unity08 quietly brought professional lobbyists into key leadership positions. Unity08 has sued the Federal Election Commission for the right to take loans and contributions of unlimited size. Analyses of Unity08′s 2006 and Jan-June 2007 donations reveals an overwhelming reliance on large donations, not small donations, for the bulk of its money. And the bulk of Unity08′s money in the first half of 2007 came in the form of massive loans on undisclosed terms from just three individuals.

A review of the “What We Believe” page on Unity08 today reveals that the paragraph has been deleted. The paragraph has not been relocated — searches reveal it has been removed altogether from the website and stuffed down the memory hole.

Is it better for Unity08 to be hypocritical but still mouth nice words? Is it better for Unity08 to embrace consistency and ditch the railing against lobbyists and big money? Or is it better for you to simply steer clear of Unity08? Hey, it’s a free country — that’s for you to decide.

11 comments to Unity08 Drops Mention of Small Money Donations and Lobbying

  • Joseph

    Of course that’s taking a stretch on the interpretation of what Unity08 said. The more common and easier interpretation is that CANDIDATES are corrupted by special interest money, getting into office owing favors, and therefore Unity08 CANDIDATES will be funded by small donations and not special interest/lobbyist money.

    Unity08, as long as i’ve been a supporter, never implied that they would restrict their funding methods. And quite honestly, how the hell could they? Hardly anyone will VOTE for a 3rd party, why would anyone expect everyday Americans to give MONEY to them without them first being a lot farther along than starting up?

    The desire that Unity08 not receive large donations while starting up is stating a desire for Unity08 to fail. The Democrats and Republicans have entrenched organizational structures, with millions upon millions of dollars. To develop an online voting system and get it out to the public, Unity08 will need money to do so. I’ll be pissed if the candidates that voters pick for Unity08 start taking lobbyist money, but until then, I’ll hold off judgment. After nominated, I dont think there’s a reason why Unity08′s candidates need to support anything that Unity08′s leadership has requested (for good or ill)

  • Jim

    Sure they did. They said outright that they would accept the FEC’s ruling about their PAC status. They said they’d abide by legal PAC restrictions. Then, when the FEC ruled the way they didn’t like, they took that back and sued the FEC instead.

  • Joseph

    Where/when was this series of events published? It must have happened well before I heard about Unity08, and if so, it’s certainly not a gigantic deception to adjust their status. I never saw it on their website, so it’s highly possible that it wasn’t about them wanting to but either:

    1. Stuff their legal team was doing which then shifted to give them more freedom.
    2. That maybe they intended to only take small donations, then they realized that they would be unable to raise the money and that only candidates should be required to take only small donations (as per the statements quoted in the above blog post that I remember seeing).

  • Anonymous

    Why don’t you follow the links, Joseph and see for yourself. I didn’t see it on their website either, but I followed all of Jim’s documentation and it’s all there. As usual, he has dotted all the i’s and crossed all the t’s. Instead of acting clueless, why don’t you check out the Unity08 Watch link in the upper right sidebar or google this site for Unity08 and inform yourself before you come on here acting ignorant and inventing scenarios for something you have no real information about–unless you DO have some reason to have inside information….

  • Ralph

    Where is this documented?

    Where Jim told you it was documented.

    Quit playing dumb, Joseph. It’s annoying.

  • Joseph

    Please read past the first paragraph of my posts? I didn’t ask where it was documented, I asked where it was PUBLISHED. My point is that if it wasn’t published in a place where people looking to support Unity08 would be likely to look (such as on their website) they probably weren’t trying to mislead or dupe the public. If they were, they would have put such links on their website. Therefore, I’m guessing that the changes were due to either:

    “1. Stuff their legal team was doing which then shifted to give them more freedom.
    2. That maybe they intended to only take small donations, then they realized that they would be unable to raise the money and that only candidates should be required to take only small donations (as per the statements quoted in the above blog post that I remember seeing).”

    Unless it was published in a way that was clearly meant to deceive us poor lowly citizens, or there’s another theory as to their motive that is supported with the lack of such publishing, I don’t really see what the problem is. They changed their mind on donations to the court. So what?

    I mean, I agree with Jim that the quote posted above being removed is a bad thing (that Unity08 candidates wouldn’t owe special interests money upon taking office), as I would hope that whoever Unity08 nominates would be free of lobbyist/special interest money, but at the same time it only makes sense that it was removed. I mean, assuming Unity08 actually nominates a ticket for the White House next year, what would they do if the candidate then started taking lobbyist money? Ignore all the voters and arbitrarily place someone else in the slot? Stop supporting the candidate and forget the whole idea? I mean, really, it seems almost pointless to have the clause. The best way for us to stop Unity08′s candidate from taking special interest money is to make THEM pledge to not take the money, and then not vote for them if they refuse to take that pledge.

  • Ralph

    But see, Jim’s post told you exactly where it was published: On the Unity 08 “What We Believe” page.

    i.e. on the Unity 08 website.

    i.e. “in a place where people looking to support Unity08 would be likely to look.”

    Yet you’re rambling on about some “point” as though there were no way to know where this was published.

    Your argument simply has no relationship to the evidence.

  • Iroquois

    Joseph, please read the first paragraph of Jim’s post. This tells you exactly where it was published.

    Ralph is correct. Unity08 never posted anything about their lawsuit against the FEC that I saw, but their “What we Believe” statement was very prominently displayed. In fact if you click through to the rest of it that Jim didn’t paste, it goes on to say:

    Want to better understand why Unity08 feels so strongly about this subject? Click here…

    and when you follow their link, it says:

    Being a strong voice on lobbying and corruption

    Americans just weathered a midterm election that was the most expensive, possibly ugliest election in history.

    The flow of money highlighted what is broken with our political system. Unity08’s founders believe that ending corruption in Washington is central to restoring politics with clear purpose. So Unity08, with your help, will raise its voice ever louder on this issue because all Americans deserve better.

    Here is why every American should be concerned about lobbying and corruption:

    * Most incumbent campaign money comes from D.C. lobbyists, not the incumbent’s congressional-district constituents. Therefore the lobbyists get access to the member of Congress, not the constituents.
    * The number of lobbyists in Washington has doubled in just six years.
    * The number of appropriations “earmarked” as special favors has gone from 150 a year under President Reagan to 6300 last year under President Bush.
    * Those earmarked favors are generally paybacks to the lobbyists.
    * Members pressure lobbyists to hire former staffers who turn around and lobby for favors in return.
    * The spouses and children of Members are hired by lobbying firms.
    * Members retire to high-paying lobbying jobs.
    * Members spend more time raising money than reading the laws they vote on – money that deters quality opponents from running.
    * Members also perpetually gerrymander their districts, re-shaping them for advantage in future elections.
    * Often the only real danger to incumbents is a primary in their own party, which is why they coddle their their “base” with polarizing issues.
    * Idealistic new Members come to Washington intent on changing things but within a single term the system has sucked them in and down.

    Many of our elected leaders in both parties are well-meaning and honest people who cannot see the forest for the trees – cannot sense the cesspool for the cash. Only by united action from the leaders of both parties will the swamp be drained. Unity08 will call for and demand this united action from our Unity Ticket candidates in 2008.

    Imagine that. They were so sure about the corrupting effect of lobbyists they built their whole philosophy around it.

    If you don’t believe what is pasted here, stop making excuses and pretending you don’t see it. FOLLOW THE LINKS AND READ IT FOR YOURSELF.

  • Joseph

    MY GOD. IM NOT REFERRING TO THE QUOTE. Read the SERIES of comments.

    What I’m asking is about the suing the FEC. And shifting positions. Not about removing the mention of lobbyists. I ADMIT that *that* was removed from their website. Look, here’s where I admit to it:

    “I mean, I agree with Jim that the quote posted above being removed is a bad thing (that Unity08 candidates wouldn’t owe special interests money upon taking office), as I would hope that whoever Unity08 nominates would be free of lobbyist/special interest money, but at the same time it only makes sense that it was removed…” and I continue on with my POINT IN REGARD TO IT. See above, I read the point, and I even say that it was removed (inferred from the website)

    What I’m talking about being published is when Jim says “Sure they did. They said outright that they would accept the FEC’s ruling about their PAC status. They said they’d abide by legal PAC restrictions. Then, when the FEC ruled the way they didn’t like, they took that back and sued the FEC instead.” in response to my comment one. In my first comment I pointed out/argued that the quote being removed from the website is just a quote saying that Unity08 candidates won’t take money from lobbyists. Since Unity08 has no FEASIBLE WAY of stopping Unity08 candidates from taking lobbyist money after elected (unless they want to disenfranchize voters), it only makes sense they removed the quote. I hope that people don’t nominate someone who takes lobbyist money, but Unity08 won’t be able to stop them after the fact.

    After that, I responded to Jim’s comment by asking where that was PUBLISHED, pointing out that Unity08 didn’t seem to be trying to GAIN ANYTHING through shifting around their legal position and such. I wasn’t asking where the “anti-lobbyist” stuff was published, since I already recognized that it was published and interpreted it as not wanting Unity08 candidates to take lobbyist money, but where the FEC ruling stuff was published on Unity08′s site, in order to try to gain benefit for Unity08. And, apparently, it wasn’t. Or maybe everyone’s been too busy not reading my posts to realize that I’ve been responding to Jim’s comment and not the main post, since I already responded to the main post with the FIRST COMMENT. Which no one bothers to read anymore.

  • Jim

    Well, they’ve DELETED that part. The page I’ve linked to in the past to demonstrate that to you has been altered.

    Hang on.

    OK. Here’s a link using the Wayback Internet Archive to show Unity08.com as of December 16, 2006. Read the page, especially the part that says:

    The FEC will determine whether or not we are a political committee for FEC purposes. Obviously we will follow their opinion.

    But I wonder if you knew that already.

  • Joseph

    Thanks. I hadn’t remembered reading that anywhere.

    Now I’m wondering if it’s bad that they changed their mind and are suing the FEC to get reclassified so they can take more money?

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