Notorious Smear Merchants Launch Super PAC

The conservatives behind some of the worst political smear campaigns have started a super PAC.

Takeover Super PAC is backed by a team that includes Joseph Farah, founder of the fringe conspiracy site WND; Jerome Corsi, a leading member of the Swift Boat and birther campaigns; and Floyd Brown, producer of the racist Willie Horton ads.

The group says it will “win elections and take our country back from the liberals and socialists” and exhorts potential donors, “If you're tired to [sic] putting your money to work for turncoats and traitors, join us.” Takeover claims liberals want to eliminate the right to privacy, the Second Amendment, religion, want to “permanently enslave the American people” with Obamacare and entitlements, and ultimately desire “a tyrannical dictatorship.”

In a fundraising email announcing the PAC, Farah stated that he's “not giving my money to the RNC any longer. I'm not giving a dime to Karl Rove's Tea Party-hating PAC, and I'm not supporting spineless Republicans who lead us down the same liberal roads. I'm giving my money to Takeover Super PAC.” Farah and other conservatives have been feuding with Rove, a fight that intensified when the former Bush adviser launched an effort to protect Republicans against tea party challengers.

The group is the latest in a large field of conservative political organizations, many of which are spending vast amounts of money on consultants and fundraising instead of support for candidates.

The section of Takeover's website for supported candidates is currently empty. Several navigation buttons on its website, such as links to its Facebook (which links to “ [sic]”), Twitter (which links to “ [sic]”), and YouTube pages do not work -- and a page devoted to the "Takeover Store" is also blank. 

Takeover's advisory board indicates the group will be heavily intertwined with professional consultants.

The super PAC's executive director and treasurer is “Internet marketing and communications entrepreneur” Thomas Freiling. He previously headed Patriot Super PAC, which paid him $78,239 during the 2012 election cycle, according to Federal Election Commission data via Freiling's consulting firm Fairfax Technologies also received $18,044. Patriot Super PAC paid $374,976 to Internet communications consulting firm Grassroots Action Inc. Grassroots is headed by Steve Elliott, who also sits on Takeover's advisory board. Patriot Super PAC raised $922,266 during the 2012 cycle, and spent $163,418 on independent expenditures.  

Board member Floyd Brown is president of Excellentia Inc., a conservative marketing firm. Another board member, Richard Viguerie, pioneered the use of direct mail fundraising.

The toxic background of the group's board members may actually end up hurting any supported candidates. Here's a closer look at three of the group's advisors. 

Joseph Farah. Farah, the Chairman of Takeover's Advisory Board, is the founder and CEO of conspiracy cesspool WND. Under Farah's leadership, WND probably did more than any other outlet to popularize and promote conspiracies about President Obama's birth certificate (while simultaneously selling a variety of “Where's the birth certificate?” swag). The site has also hosted columns alleging, among other things, that the Obama administration may have "orchestrated" the terror attacks in Benghazi; that the mass shooting at Sandy Hook elementary school may have been staged to help pass gun control legislation; and, from Farah himself, the suggestion that President Obama is hoping to “foment armed rebellion.”

WND has also been a repository for venomous anti-gay commentary, including from Farah, who thinks marriage equality might cause God to angrily destroy the planet.

Jerome Corsi. Takeover board member and WND senior staff reporter Corsi -- author of Where's the Birth Certificate? and Where's the Real Birth Certificate? -- broke into politics last decade when he helped lead conservatives' Swift Boat smear campaign against John Kerry. He has for years been the driving force behind WND's never-ending quest to prove that President Obama has a fraudulent birth certificate. 

Corsi's “reporting” got increasingly convoluted after Obama produced his long-form birth certificate, relying on laughable theories about Da Vinci Code­-style clues hidden in the document, like a supposed “smiley face” embedded in the “A” of the Hawaii state registrar's signature. “Why would the Hawaii DOH allow the document issued to the president to contain an obvious smiling face hiding within the first letter of the state registrar's signature?” Corsi pondered. “Or, could it be the work of a forger leaving his mark, laughing at those who take the document seriously?” 

Corsi has also suggested Obama may be secretly both gay and Muslim; that the president's real father might be “some Indonesian” or possibly Communist poet Frank Marshall Davis; and that he and fellow conspiracy theorists like Alex Jones were destined to be killed or sent to “thought education camps” if Obama was reelected in 2012.

Floyd Brown. Board member Brown serves as Chairman of the Board for conservative group Citizens United and also runs the Western Journalism Center, which spawned WND in the late 90s. Brown has been active in conservative politics for nearly three decades, notably having been the mastermind behind the infamous “Willie Horton” ad targeting Michael Dukakis in the 1988 presidential election. His bio on the Western Journalism Center website credits the Brown-led Citizens United with having “launched the movement that led to the impeachment of Bill Clinton.”

More recently, Brown spent the months before the 2008 election trying to convince voters that Obama was soft on terrorism and released an ad claiming “Obama was enrolled in school as a Muslim while living in Indonesia.” Brown has unsuccessfully sought to kickstart a movement to impeach Obama, whom he thinks “is a Muslim” that “hates Christianity.”

Brown and Western Journalism Center have also, like WND, repeatedly promoted conspiracies about "brazen criminal" Obama's birth certificate, which Brown thinks is “forged.” To give some idea of Brown's output for WJC, his most recent column for the site is about whether Obama is “Covering Up The Truth About [Malaysian Airlines] Flight 370” and features the following image: