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:
- 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?????