Fox News' payola problem: Dick Morris pushed GOP group after they paid him

Dick Morris used his position as a Fox News “political analyst” to tout and solicit donations for the Republican-aligned group Americans for New Leadership weeks after they began paying him thousands of dollars. During his appearances, Morris did not disclose that he was receiving money from the group.

To the contrary, Morris appears to have significantly misled Fox News viewers about his financial ties to Republican entities. On Wednesday's O'Reilly Factor, Morris said he is working hard for the Republican Party and then added, “without compensation.” Morris did not reference ANL or any of the numerous other Republican entities that have been padding his bank account.

According to its October quarterly report for the Federal Election Commission, Americans for New Leadership, an independent expenditure political committee organized to defeat Sen. Harry Reid, paid Morris' Triangulation Strategies a total of $25,228.18 for “fundraising email expense.” Triangulation Strategies is Morris' firm: the company and Morris share the same address, and past payments for Morris' political services have been sent to Triangulation Strategies' New York address. ANL paid Morris $9,728.18 on July 28, $8,500 on August 31, and $7,000 on September 21.

While getting paid, Morris went out of his way to tout Americans for New Leadership three times, and suggested that viewers donate to the group (video at the bottom of this post):

  • On the August 26 edition of On the Record with Greta Van Susteren, Morris praised the group's purported effectiveness, stating: “Angle was seven or eight behind with Reid still at 44, 45, 43. But then she put on an ad with the independent expenditure group Americans for New Leadership put on ad rebutting Reid's attack over Social Security and Medicare. And now in the polling I just saw Angle is three points ahead. Sharron is going to win that race and she's going to win it by more than 10 points.”
  • On the August 30 edition of Hannity, Morris suggested viewers should help the group because they're doing “good” work, stating: “If there are two places where I think money and assistance is needed it's Wisconsin, it's Illinois and Nevada. In Nevada, there's a group called that's been doing some good independent expenditures.”
  • On the September 27 edition of Hannity, Morris said that “support” for ANL would help defeat Reid. Morris said: “I think that in the Senate race we have eight states where Republicans are leading in districts -- in states now represented by Democrats. The 9th is Nevada. And I'm working that race intently. And I guarantee you, Sean, that Harry Reid isn't coming back. One of the big reasons is the support that your viewers have given that's been funding that race.” Morris again highlighted the purported effectiveness of the group later, stating: “And then this group put on the full quote of Sharron Angle where she said she wanted them not to raise the lockbox. And when people saw that Reid was lying in his ad, they just turned off and he hasn't budged above 45 in seven weeks.”

Morris has sent seven emails through his email list from ANL: June 23, June 28, July 14, August 4, August 25, September 4, and September 24. The emails contained the footer, “Paid for by Americans For New Leadership.”

Fox News' current ethics problem with Morris isn't an isolated incident. In fact, it closely follows an incident during the 2008 cycle in which Morris received payments from another Republican-aligned group then touted and fundraised for them on Fox News.

Between October 27, 2008, and November 17, 2008, Morris mentioned during at least 13 Fox News appearances and asked viewers to “give funds to,” the website of the National Republican Trust PAC, without disclosing that the organization paid him $24,000 from the beginning of October 2008 to November 24, 2008, mostly for “Email Communication.”

The Politico's Ben Smith and Glenn Thrush reported at the time that a Fox News spokesperson referred to questions about Morris to him, and National Republican Trust PAC head Scott Wheeler “claims that Morris told him he had no knowledge the group was paying for ads on his site.”

In February, the Republican Federal Committee of Pennsylvania paid Morris $10,000 for speaking at its 2010 Lincoln Day Dinner. Following the payment, Morris repeatedly appeared on Fox News to discuss Pennsylvania politics, and shill for Pennsylvania Republicans and causes -- without disclosing his payment.

Morris has also received payments from New York State Senate candidate Greg Ball, the Alabama Republican Party, and the Christy Mihos for Governor campaign (MA).