On CBS' Face the Nation, Karl Rove continued to defend his GOP-aligned political group from criticism that it does not disclose its donors by using falsehoods and obfuscation.
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Rove falsely claims "you don't" know sources of union revenues
Rove: "You don't" know who people funding unions are. Face the Nation host Bob Schieffer asked Rove: "Why is the public interest served by flooding our politics with money from people who don't want other people to know they've contributed?" In response, Rove claimed: "This has been going on for a long time. In fact, you left out a big player in this. Four unions alone will have, according to their own announcements, spent $222 million in money on elections this year." When Schieffer responded, "but we know who they are," Rove replied:
ROVE: No. No. No. No you don't Bob. Here's the disclosure report for the -- for one who's going to spend 87-and-a-half million dollars, the American Federation, of State, Community -- Local and Community Employees [sic: American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees]. There's their disclosure of where the money's come from, that one line right there. They're going to take in $190,477,829, and that's the extent of where you know where it's coming from.
In fact, AFSCME's money came from union members. As Politico's Ben Smith has pointed out, unions are subject to extremely rigorous disclosure requirements:
While they aren't required by the FEC or IRS to disclose donors, a separate piece of federal law, the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act, requires that unions disclose all sources of income that adds up to more than $5,000, a requirement overseen by the Department of Labor. As a result, unions disclose more than many political groups about their internal operations, and certainly more than than do 501(c)(4) nonprofits like Crossroads GPS or 501(c)(6) groups like the Chamber.
Indeed, AFSCME's 2009 report (available through this database) to the Labor Department showing that AFSCME received $190,477,829 -- the number Rove cited -- in dues from its affiliates (called a "per capita tax"). And the AFSCME constitution provides that affiliates must collect the per capita tax from the union dues of its members. A list of AFSCME affiliates is available on AFSCME's website.
Rove falsely claims progressive 501(c)(4)s previously funded ads expressly supporting or opposing a candidate "with undisclosed money"
Rove: Progressive groups have used groups "with undisclosed money for years and years and years and years and years" to attack Republicans. Defending donations to his slush fund, Rove also claimed:
ROVE: Bob, I don't remember you having a program in 2000 when the NAACP spent $10 million from one single donor running ads anonymously contributed attacking George W. Bush. The -- suddenly, everyone's gotten spun up about it this year when Republicans have started to follow what the Democrats have been doing and create 501(c)(4)s, which can use less than half their money for express advocacy. But you have the Environment America, Feminist Majority, Humane Society Legislative Front, NARAL, Vote Vets, Human Rights Campaign, Planned Parenthood, League of Conservation Voters, National Resources Defense Council, Defenders of Wildlife, and a bunch of others, which are all liberal groups that have been using 501(c)(4)s with undisclosed money for years and years and years and years and years and spending tens and billions of dollars.
And it's never been an issue until the president of the United States on the day when we have a bad economic jobs report, when we lose 95,000 jobs in September, the unemployment rate is 9.6 percent, the president of the United States goes out and calls conservatives like the Chamber of Commerce and American Crossroads GPS and says that these are threats to democracy because they don't disclose their donors. I don't remember him ever saying that all these liberal groups were threats to democracy when they spent money exactly the same way we are.
In fact, before 2009, groups were banned from using corporate money to advocate for the election or defeat of a candidate. Rove's suggestion that progressive groups have been spending money in the same way that American Crossroads GPS is spending money is false. As the Supreme Court has stated, the Federal Election Campaign Act as amended by the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act "makes it a felony for all corporations -- including nonprofit advocacy corporations -- either to expressly advocate the election or defeat of candidates or to broadcast electioneering communications within 30 days of a primary election and 60 days of a general election." Part of this ban had been in place since 1976. The Supreme Court struck down this ban in 2009 in Citizens United v. FEC by a 5-4 vote.
Therefore, before this election cycle, it would have been a crime for non-profit corporations like the ones Rove mentioned to expressly advocate for the election or defeat of a candidate.
Rove has repeatedly relied on falsehoods to defend secret donations to his GOP-aligned slush fund
Rove claimed that donations to his slush fund are similar to donations to CAP. Rove has previously suggested that anonymous donations to his slush fund are similar to anonymous donations to the Center for American Progress. However, unlike Rove's slush fund, the Center for American Progress does not run political ads.
Rove claimed that donations to MoveOn.org doesn't "report their donors." Rove has previously asserted that, in addition to the Center for American Progress, MoveOn.org does not disclose its donors. In fact, MoveOn.org funds its political activities thorugh a political action committee (PACs). This PAC, MoveOn.org Political Action is subject to the same disclosure requirements as political parties, and is required to disclose their PAC donations to the Federal Election Commission (FEC). As The Washington Post's Greg Sargent reported, MSNBC's Joe Scarborough retracted the similar claim he made about MoveOn.org Political Action.
Rove claimed that Obama campaign did not disclose its donors. Rove has also asserted that Obama "had no problem at all not disclosing his own donors, tens of millions of dollars in contributions to his campaign, that did not -- whose donor names were not revealed." In fact, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, 90.2 percent of all of the donations Obama recieved over $200 were reported to the FEC with the name and occupation of the donor.