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What do John Podesta and Julia Louis-Dreyfus have in common?  Both are trying to assist Women's Voices. Women Vote and their Voter Participation Center (and a cast of Clinton supporters and operatives) in a frantic attempt to put out the brush fires that are flaring up on DKos, Facing South, National Public Radio, The Economist and a few other outlets.

So what?  Julia is for Obama!  But here's where good people thinking they are doing good work get used by politicians to abet nasty and, in this case, illegal actions.

UPDATE: WVWV has this long story by Alex Koppelman at Salon on their own website.  Amazingly they are embracing the explanation that they are grossly incompetent rather than nefarious.  


This now on the front page of Huffpo "A Point of Clarification " by Julia Louis-Dreyfus:

    Recently I was part of a group of women who filmed public service announcements for an organization called Women's Voices. Women Vote. The goal of the PSA campaign is to encourage high voter turn-out amongst women, especially single women, 20 million of whom have been known to stay home on Election Day. It is an issue about which I am deeply passionate. However, there have been reports about WVWV which questioned the intention behind my PSA and which candidate I am endorsing for president. For the record, I am proudly supporting Senator Barack Obama.

   The news reports came about because there was evidence that an individual or a small group of individuals affiliated with WVWV may have issued misleading robo-calls in North Carolina designed to suppress voter turnout in African American neighborhoods. I find these activities appalling and hope WVWV will immediately disassociate themselves from such individuals and denounce such actions.

   I am not affiliated with WVWV in any way other than participating in this PSA campaign, and I debated whether to ask WVWV to pull my PSA from their website. In the end, I realized the message of the PSA is more important than the actions of some its members. Every woman, 18 or older, should exercise their right to vote for the candidate and the issues they believe in. As women, we are a powerful voting block. But that does not mean we will automatically align with female candidates.

   My spot was set in a replica of the Oval Office and entitled "Who Do You Want in Here?" This was meant as a legitimate question, not to serve as an endorsement for a particular candidate. The PSA was meant to inspire women to vote regardless of their party or their position. The PSA, like me, is not pro-Clinton, but rather pro-women. And yes, you can be both.

I don't think many (any?) people were "questioning the intention behind" her PSA.  People were, and are, calling out WVWV on their repeated attempts to suppress voter turnout.  This is classic CYA and divert attention to the facts.

Spin: "evidence that an individual or a small group of individuals affiliated with WVWV may have issued misleading robo-calls in North Carolina designed to suppress voter turnout in African American neighborhoods."

Now it's one or two "bad apples"?  And "misleading" in this case is also "deceptive" and "illegal".

Clearly WVWV/Clinton is in panic mode.

For an overview see the diary by davidkc

A less than perfect recap for those who aren't familiar with this story:

  1. A seemingly do-good voter registration organization, Women's Voices. Women Vote, with the primary stated mission of getting single women to register and vote, has been accused - and admits to - making calls using the name "Lamont Williams"

(1.a.) About the name Lamont Williams - I did a Google Image search on "Lamont Williams" and arrived at screens full of pictures of African American males.

(1.b.) WVWV has never explained why "Lamont Williams" would be representing their organization except to say that he was paid talent and that they - through the Voter Participation Center - also target black and Hispanic voters.  However, in reading through the available WVWV material and VPC information it is clear that WVWV is single-mindedly focused on the single woman voter.  That is their reason for existing and their key to financial viability.  They nowhere say that they are focused on any group other than single women and doing so would water down their carefully crafted niche area of expertise.

(2) Lamont's robo-calls were placed in predominantly African-American areas.

(3) Lamont told people that they would be receiving a voter registration packet and that all they needed to do was fill it out and return it so that they would be able to vote in the upcoming election.

(4) The organization was not identified in the call.  No identification was given.

(5) The calls were made after the registration period for the primary but before the actual primary election. Nor was there any attempt to inform voters in NC that the in-person one-stop voting period extends from 19 to 3 days before Election Day.

WVWV claims that they were intended to encourage registration for the general election.  Yet in numerous cases and in multiple states the timing has been identical.

(6) The Board and President of WVWV are overwhelmingly comprised of Clinton supporters, former operatives, contributors and high-level advisors (e.g. John Podesta and former WVWV board member Maggie Williams, currently Hillary Clinton's campaign manager).  See davidkc for details.

The presence on the WVWV Board of a 2004 contributor to Obama who claims to still be a supporter led to the claim that the WVWV board is non-partisan.  This (incredibly) seems to have stopped the MSM (including Huffpo's Ben Stein) in their tracks.  Since it was so effective at slowing down the media I suspect Julia's message was intended by WVWV to do the same.

(7) The North Carolina Attorney General placed a public call for information about this robo-call since it violated election laws.

(8) Only once the operation was "outed" did WVWV admit its wrongdoing.  It was, in the past, also called out in other states for similar tactics and promised publicly to cease and desist as far back as February.  Yet it continued to violate the law.

(9) The NC AG sent a letter to the WVWV legal counsel of WVWV - Holly Schadler, Esq. - informing Schadler of the investigation.  

(10) Holly Schadler has a long history of loyal service to the Clintons.  She was instrumental in organizing the Clinton's Back to Business Committee, an effort to mobilize public and financial support for the Clintons during the Whitewater investigations.  When Back to Business closed down Schadler partnered with James Carville to establish a similar organization aimed at working on behalf of the Clintons in their battles with their detractors and political opponents.  She is the WVWV legal representative.

(11) WVWV currently maintains that it simply made mistakes and that its sister organization, Voter Participation Center often engages in work with black and Hispanic voters and organizations to register voters.

(12) WVWV has not, to my knowledge, presented a press packet that details VPC's efforts at organizing any groups other than single women.  A search of relevant news outlets also does not link VPC to any efforts other than those aimed at single women voters.

The WVWV explanations consist mostly of vague letters of support for the mission of the group and unsupported assertions by the group.  Where is the MSM on this? Illegal vote suppression aimed at African-Americans is taking place in a southern state.  Not news?????

Originally posted to tryin to make it real on Sat May 03, 2008 at 04:58 AM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Gotta Keep This in the News (14+ / 0-)

    Keep the pressure on, with different tactics and actions, and utilize all events of the period for your purpose. Saul Alinsky, Rules for Radicals

    by tryin to make it real on Sat May 03, 2008 at 04:59:31 AM PDT

    •  probably the fulltime professional staff (0+ / 0-)

      With an organization like this, it is the fulltime paid staff, the Exec. director etc. who actually do the work. Presumably that is who is doing the Clintonista shennanigans. The board, and the celebrity talent were not invovled. proably.

    •  I'm still trying to sort all of this out (0+ / 0-)

      I just came back to daily kos after having visited the WVWV website, and read the Alex Koppelman article.

      This morning CalifSherry grabbed my attention with the following comment:

      I am seriously distressed by the circular firing squad type attacks on WVWV.

      Here we have an impressive and successful, multi state, multi year voter registration effort. Looking at their recent difficulties through the lens of presidential campaigns, we pile on with conspiracy theory analysis and speculate - gleefully - about illegal doings.

      These are our allies. We should be paying attention, but we shouldn't be undermining their ability to function. We need them to be a healthy and successful organization. The progressive-left needs it's infrastructure.

      by CalifSherry on Sat May 03, 2008

      I've known CalifSherry for many years - & know her to be a very well informed activist who is solidly supporting Senator Obama (after having supproted john Edwards).  I know her as someone who has worked tirelessly to enfranchise women.

      As I said before, I'm still trying to sort all of this out.  I called CalifSherry a couple of hours ago and was informed that WVWV has done a lot of really good work registering both unmarried women and people in minority communities.  

      And as I said - I'm still trying to sort all of this out.


      Basketball Diary - Will Obama Be the First Hoopster in the WhiteHouse?

      by peace voter on Sat May 03, 2008 at 06:23:15 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Yeah, I Understand.... (0+ / 0-)

        I, too, did research on WVWV and find there mission to be a good one that we should support.  However, I also think that organizations can shift and power dynamics can change in the heat of a contested and bitter election.  My take from this is that there are some good people at WVWV who were used by some seasoned political operatives as cover for an illegal vote suppresion scheme.  They never thought they'd get caught and no one would know.  So now the good people at WVWV have to make some moral decisions about how much they care about continuing to be good people and do the right thing by coming forward with some honest explanations.

        A good tactic is one your people enjoy. Saul Alinsky, Rules for Radicals

        by tryin to make it real on Sat May 03, 2008 at 06:54:43 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  They've done this in multiple states (5+ / 0-)

    They've robocalled bullshit information regarding voter registration to African American neighborhoods in multiple states. The Virginia Attorney's General office has a full investigation of this BS going on. What they did is illegal, and a crime. The people responsible should be thrown in jail, and they (as felons who tried to game the election system) should never be able to vote again in their lives.

    I'll write more about it eventually, but I've seen similar BS in West Virginia.

    Obama/Casey, my personal dream ticket.

    by The Bagof Health and Politics on Sat May 03, 2008 at 05:19:17 AM PDT

  •  Hillary and Bill admire Karl Rove (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    zenmasterjack, paul94611

    Winning is the only thing to all of them.  Disgusting assholes.

    McCain is the other guy at the bar, the angry dumb one!

    by realwischeese on Sat May 03, 2008 at 05:20:31 AM PDT

  •  Thank you for the diary. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    parryander, davidkc

    The activities of the WVWV are despicable regardless of the candidate on whose behalf or in support of whom they were carried out.

    Attention must be maintained on the issue, and in that view this diary is both tipped and rec'd.

    Thank you for posting.

    "Beware the terrible simplifiers" Jacob Burckhardt, Historian

    by notquitedelilah on Sat May 03, 2008 at 05:26:05 AM PDT

  •  Lots of CYA going on here (5+ / 0-)

    Julia Louis Dreyfus is being used by WVWV, whether she knows it or not.  Despite what she says, it's hard to look at her PSA and not conclude that they're encouraging women to vote for Hillary, particularly given the current political environment. Whether Dreyfus meant it that way or not, I suspect that WVWV meant it to be a pro-Hillary piece from the start.  There are many ways to encourage women to vote without urging them to put a woman in the White House.

    And as you point out, there are many, many unanswered questions about WVWV's shady dealings and voter suppression tactics that have gone unanswered to date.  Dreyfus' comments do nothing to answer any of those questions.

  •  Thanks It's A Team Effort (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ballerina X

    I gotta also give it up to stephanielanie
    for helping to get some air in the story with her personal exchange with Podesta.

    Keep the pressure on, with different tactics and actions, and utilize all events of the period for your purpose. Saul Alinsky, Rules for Radicals

    by tryin to make it real on Sat May 03, 2008 at 05:34:36 AM PDT

  •  Clarification (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    parryander, ballerina X, paul94611

    Good diary, but I suggest that you revise point number 5.  It's importnat to stress that WVWV was sending out mail-in registration packets after the mail-in registration date had passed (and of course sent them to registered voters, cuasing huge amounts of confusion).

    Critically, the deadline for in-person, one-stop registration had not passed.  This is one of the most mischievous things about the calls.  Not only did the robocalls fail to point out that people could effectively register frot he primary in person, but they implied that mail-in registration was the only way to register.  

    The Dreyfus posting is interesting because it's the first effort to blame it all on underlings (people "associated with" WVWV, as she euphemistically put it), and, most peculiarly seems to admit that the calls were intended to depress turnout.  Interesting.  

  •  For those who want more details (0+ / 0-)

    I highly recommend the Facing South link in the diary.  They have been all over these events from the start.

    This comment has been crossposted at AT&T: 611 Folsom St, San Francisco, CA - Room 641A.

    by ManahManah on Sat May 03, 2008 at 06:03:18 AM PDT

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