The Minnesota senate race is generating a level of heat rare in a Minnesota November. With a filibuster-proof Senate hanging in the balance, it is worthwhile looking to the fine hand of George Soros, operating through a network of fat cat leftwing money bags who have collectively funded a myriad of nonprofit political spawn. At least two entities funded by Soros and his plutocrat wannabe pals have prepared the soil for the contentious and suspicious process of tabulating and recounting the vote totals of incumbent Senator Norm Coleman and challenger Al Franken.
We have written several times the rising influence of the Democracy Alliance, a network of wealthy Democratic activists who have formed a network designed to influence the course of American elections and policies. Billionaire hedge fund manager George Soros is one of the founders of this group, but he has joined with other billionaires, such as insurance magnate Peter Lewis and Herb and Marion Sandler, founders of Golden West Financial (sold to Wachovia) Soros, Lewis, and the Sandlers form the core of a network of wealthy activists and Democrat partisans making up Democracy Alliance. The canny billionaires realized that they could magnify their power by working in unison and tapping other wealthy donors to further their agenda (the superb Boston Globe article "Follow the money" is a good primer on how money and 527 groups have come together to have a huge impact on politics in America). The Democracy Alliance has helped fund a constellation of groups, including the controversial Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) that has been mired in a series of voter fraud cases. The Democracy Alliance is a major avenue to help the left wing would-be plutocrats achieve their goals. Its growing membership roster consists of billionaires and mere multi-millionaires who collectively hope to give upwards of 500 million dollars each year to further promote a left-wing agenda. A partial roster of the Democracy Alliance membership can be found here. Directors also include union leaders with access to union funds to engage in politicking. The politically hyper-active Service Employees International Union (SEIU) is engaged in these efforts, too.
Taco Bell millionaire Rob McKay is a key figure in funding and running this effort. He is the chair of the Democracy Alliance. The vice-chair is Anna Burger of the SEIU. They are becoming important players in the world of politics.
The Minnesota Senate Election Vote Count
One part of the political strategy of the group has been a project called the Secretary of States Project. The goal has been to help elect Secretaries of State in targeted states across the nation. The SoSP was successful in, among other places, Ohio and Minnesota. Secretaries of state are crucial in elections, since these officials are charged with ensuring the integrity of the voting and counting process. They are the gatekeepers: helping to decide who is entitled to vote and who is not. In Ohio, the Democrat Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner was widely criticized (at least among Republicans) for her efforts in the last few months, which were perceived to favor Barack Obama. History seems to be repeating itself in Minnesota where that state's Secretary of State, Mark Ritchie, was also elected with the help of the Secretary of States project. He has operated in a very partisan way during the contest between Franken and Coleman, for example making statements that the Coleman campaign is "trying to win at any price" and then denying he said it.
More significant than outrageous statements being made are the actions being taken.
As the Wall Street Journal noted the "corrections" being made favor Al Franken in such a way that raises suspicions about the integrity of the process being overseen by Ritchie. The Powerline blog has had a running commentary on one suspicious action after another which give the correction process a very blue tinge. Among the "irregularities" are:
Minneapolis Star-Tribune columnist Katherine Kersten has also written about her suspicions that the integrity of the voting process may have been compromised: Let's assume the 32 disputed ballots in Minneapolis were legitimate. Let's assume the newly discovered 100 votes in Pine County -- all for Al Franken -- were just overlooked by a sleepy official, and the 100 votes found in Mountain Iron -- again, all for Franken -- were valid.
Let's suppose the trickle of votes moving inexorably in Franken's direction is just a function of a normal process, as Secretary of State Mark Ritchie's office assures us.
One fact remains troubling. The referee in Minnesota's hotly contested Senate race must act in a nonpartisan fashion, yet Ritchie came to office through a nationwide partisan strategy. He was elected in 2006 as part of a national campaign to ensure that Democrats could wield influence in precisely the sort of hair's breadth race we now have here.
Ritchie gained office with the help of the Secretary of State Project (SOS), an independent 527 group co-founded by former MoveOn.org leader James Rucker. SOS is based in San Francisco, and is funded in part by ultra-liberal kingmakers such as George Soros.
Secretary of state positions are a "new front" in the "battle for political control," the paper explained, because they are "the obscure but vital state offices that determine who votes and how those votes are counted."
"National Democratic groups ... are pouring resources" into secretary of state races in key swing states, in order to enhance their control in future tight elections, said the paper. Minnesota was one of the top six states targeted.
Now it appears that another group supported by the Democracy Alliance is stirring trouble for Norm Coleman. The "Alliance for a Better Minnesota" is a so-called 527 group, non-profit group, putatively restricted to only advocating on issues, but whose actions in fact are often geared toward or against candidates. (This is one area where we need more regulation and monitoring.)
The Alliance is calling for investigations by the FBI and the Senate Ethics Committee into allegations that a major fundraiser and longtime friend diverted thousands of dollars to Coleman's reelection efforts. Coleman denies any wrongdoing and welcomes a quick investigation to put the controversy to rest. This follows in the wake of other efforts by the same group to besmirch Norm Coleman during the campaign (it paid for ads attacking Coleman for granting tax breaks to oil companies, and connected those actions to donations made to him by "oil and gas" interests). Who is funding The Alliance for a Better Minnesota? Rob McKay, Anna Burger and George Soros are all involved in funneling money and presumably advice to a group called Fund For America, a so-called 527 political action committee. This group serves as a conduit to funnel money and support to, among a few other groups, the Alliance for a Better Minnesota. A map of the relationships has been prepared by the Center for Investigative Reporting, which is, in part, supported by George Soros's Open Society Institute.
The Democracy Alliance is also tied into the tangle: just another holding for the billionaire hedge fund manager George Soros, though this one is not involved in the stock market but in the political marketplace.
The efforts of such "527 groups" (such as Democracy Alliance, Fund for America, and the Alliance for a Better Minnesota) to influence American politics is growing. They can help elect political leaders. These may be senators, representatives and now even secretaries of state. The political food chain is all fair game for these obscure groups that all too often escape even mild scrutiny.
These groups are a way to skirt Federal limits on campaign contributions. While they are required by law to focus on issues and not candidates, this is often a distinction without a difference. In practice, their efforts all too often used to help some political candidates and harm others.
They are tools that can be used to help fix an election for favored candidates.
They are Shadow Parties, operating in the shadows and through Byzantine networks (see the above "power map") that obscure the channeling of power and money to help select and elect candidates that will hew to the policies advocated by the networks of wealthy Democratic donors.
They also a blight on our political landscape.
If Democrats were truly interested in honest government and transparency in politics, they would heighten the regulatory oversight of such groups: force more disclosure of donors, interlocking directorships (a favorite cause of Democrats when they examine corporate America), and the actions the groups take that frequently violate the law by working to elect favored-and usually-Democratic candidates.
Ed Lasky is news editor of American Thinker.