Malkin distorts facts to smear White House officials Bauer, Messina

On the May 26 edition of Hannity, Michelle Malkin leveled numerous attacks against the White House, using distorted, disputed, and baseless accusations to smear White House general counsel Robert Bauer and deputy chief of staff Jim Messina as being cronies in President Obama's “culture of corruption.”

Malkin obscures facts to claim Bauer tried to “punish” AIP “for trying to speak truth to power”

Malkin claims Bauer “tried to sic the Justice Department on AIP” “for trying to speak truth to power.” On the May 26 edition of Fox News' Hannity, Malkin attacked Bauer for his role in a dispute between Obama's presidential campaign, the American Issues Project (AIP), and its chief financier Harold Simmons, who were running attack ads against Obama by linking him to William Ayers. Malkin claimed that Bauer “exercised his own muscle during the presidential campaign to try and go after Barack Obama's opponents. An so he's very skilled at keeping the inquisitors at bay.” As evidence, Malkin claimed that Bauer “tried to sic the Justice Department on AIP as well as on Harold Simmons to punish them for trying to speak truth to power.”

In fact, Bauer asked DOJ to investigate whether AIP was in violation of its nonprofit status because “its sole purpose” was to affect the election, which would be in violation of election law. In an August 2008 article, The New York Times reported that the Obama campaign asked the Justice Department to investigate whether AIP violated its nonprofit status “because its sole purpose seems to be to defeat Mr. Obama at the polls.” From the NYT article:

In its fight against the American Issues Project, Mr. Obama's campaign is essentially arguing that the group should fall under more strict election laws because its sole purpose seems to be to defeat Mr. Obama at the polls; issue groups are allowed to run some political advertising so long as affecting an election is not their primary purpose. Under election laws, Mr. Simmons would not be able to exceed a donation of $42,000 to the group and others like it. In a second letter about the group sent to the Justice Department in the past week, Robert F. Bauer, Mr. Obama's election lawyer, accused the group of flouting “all legal obligations attendant upon political committee status.”

Election law expert Hasen: “It would not surprise me” if an investigation found “that AIP really should have been called a political committee and the contributions [were] found to be illegal.” In an August 2008 post, Election Law blogger Rick Hasen explained the dispute and wrote: “It would not surprise me that, following the election and an investigation (if we are lucky by late 2009), we will learn that AIP really should have been called a political committee and the contributions found to be illegal. The group, and perhaps Simmons, could face fines, but by then the election would be over.”

Nonpartisan campaign finance watchdog group also called for investigation into AIP. In October 2008, The Associated Press reported that Democracy 21, a nonpartisan campaign finance watchdog group, filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission against AIP. From the AP:

Democracy 21 wants the Federal Election Commission to investigate the American Issues Project, which ran a $2.8 million ad campaign against Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama, and the American Leadership Project, a group that backed Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton in the Democratic primaries and ran about $4.3 million in ads supporting her or against Obama.

The complaint argues that both groups violated the law by not operating as a political action committee, which would have restricted their fundraising to capped donations. The American Leadership Project was largely financed by unions that supported Clinton. The American Issues Project ad against Obama was paid for by Texas billionaire Harold Simmons, a McCain fundraiser.


The American Issues Project is a nonprofit 501(c)4 organization. It ran ads in August in Michigan and Ohio linking Obama to William Ayers, a Vietnam-era militant who helped found the violent Weather Underground. Ayers, now a university professor in Chicago, has worked on charity and education projects with Obama and hosted a political meet-and-greet for Obama in the 1990s.

As a 501(c)4 organization, the group must have as its main purpose a mission other than seeking to influence elections. Wertheimer also wrote to the Internal Revenue Service asking the IRS to examine whether the group violated its nonprofit status.

AIP has ties to the Swift Boat Veterans. As Media Matters for America has previously noted, the American Issues Project has ties to the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, a group that ran a campaign of false smears against Sen. John Kerry's Vietnam War record in 2004.

Malkin advances disputed claim that White House offered Romanoff a job, falsely claims he confirmed it “on [the] record”

Malkin falsehood: Romanoff said “on record to The Denver Post that he was offered a job by White House deputy chief of staff Jim Messina” to drop out of the CO Senate primary. Malkin claimed that former Colorado state House Speaker Andrew Romanoff was offered a job in the Obama administration in exchange for dropping out of the Democratic Senate primary. Malkin said: “I'm here in Colorado. Romanoff is a far-left progressive candidate who has said on record to The Denver Post that he was offered a job by White House deputy chief of staff Jim Messina.”

In fact, the disputed allegation was made by anonymous sources. The allegations were made originally in a September 2009 article in The Denver Post. The Post claimed that “Jim Messina, President Barack Obama's deputy chief of staff and a storied fixer in the White House political shop, suggested a place for Romanoff might be found in the administration and offered specific suggestions,” but that “Romanoff turned down the overture, which included mention of a job at USAID, the foreign aid agency, sources said.” The Post claimed its information came from “several top Colorado Democrats” who remained anonymous.

Denver Post: “Romanoff declined to discuss any such communications.” Contrary to Malkin's assertion, The Denver Post explicitly reported that “Romanoff declined to discuss any such communication and said the only job he's focused on is 'representing the people of Colorado in the United States Senate.' ”

The White House has flatly denied that an offer had been made. The article also reported that "[t]he White House said that no job was ever offered to Romanoff and that it would be wrong to suggest administration officials tried to buy him out of the contest. 'Mr. Romanoff was never offered a position within the administration,' said White House spokesman Adam Abrams."

Malkin invents controversy over Bauer attendance at Obama's FBI interview as part of Blagojevich investigation

Hannity, Malkin suggest nefarious motives behind Bauer attending FBI interview with Obama. Host Sean Hannity said to Malkin: “I want to go into the relationship with Barack Obama, because he also -- this guy Bauer served as President Obama's personal attorney, navigating through the [Rod] Blagojevich scandal. Now we didn't hear a lot about what the president and the role in the pay-to-play scandal might be. Are you saying that, in fact, that he's had to answer questions directly to the FBI?” Malkin replied: “Well, he had been interviewed right -- a little bit after he took office, actually. And he was accompanied by Bob Bauer. ... And that is -- that cast a long shadow, because I think it underscores something that the American public needs to understand, which is that there is a pattern here of team Obama being accused, not by Republicans, but by Democrats of using his power to offer jobs to cronies and to buy them off. ”

In fact, such practice is common; both George W. Bush and Dick Cheney were accompanied by personal lawyers in their Valerie Plame interviews. Following accusations that Vice President Dick Cheney was involved in the leak of CIA agent Valerie Plame's identity, both Cheney and President George W. Bush retained private lawyers who accompanied them to interviews with federal investigators. The AP reported that Cheney hired Terrence O'Donnell, while The Washington Post reported that Bush retained James E. Sharp for his interview.

Moreover, Obama has not been accused or implicated in any part of the Blagojevich case. As Media Matters has noted, Obama was never accused or implicated in any wrongdoing during the investigation into Blagojevich's actions.

Hannity, Malkin reference tired smear regarding Bauer's wife, Anita Dunn

Hannity: Bauer's “married to the woman who waged war on” Fox, Anita Dunn, whose “favorite philosopher is Chairman Mao.” Hannity said: "[T]he man behind the Sestak stonewall is none other than White House counsel Bob Bauer, who is an expert on ethics law and government job trading allegations. And by the way, he happens to be married to the woman who waged war on the Fox News Channel. That's former White House communications director Anita Dunn." He said to Malkin: “By the way, isn't that the same Anita Dunn who's -- one of her favorite philosophers is Chairman Mao? That one?” Malkin replied: “Yup, that very one. And that's what I think is very important here, Sean. The Sestak scandal is not merely about Sestak. It's just one more piece of the culture of corruption puzzle. And this pattern of deceit and delay and denial is something that has been a hallmark of the Obama administration. So it's no surprise that one of the key figures in building this stonewall is Bob Bauer.”

Dunn never praised Mao's ideology or violence committed during his reign. Fox News host Glenn Beck repeatedly smeared Dunn over comments she made about Mao. Beck seized on video in which Dunn called Mao Zedong and Mother Teresa two of her “favorite political philosophers” and used those comments to falsely link Dunn to the murder of tens of millions of Chinese under Mao's reign. But Dunn never praised Mao's ideology or atrocities in the video Beck aired.

Numerous conservatives have approvingly cited the tactics of Mao. As Media Matters has noted, numerous conservatives have approvingly cited the tactics of Mao, Lenin, and the Viet Cong; stated that they had used those tactics in their political work; or have otherwise highlighted their philosophies.