The Right-wing, pro-war, lobbying organization Freedom's Watch,has recently hired a new Communications Director, Ed Patru. Patru, a former spokesman for the National Republican Congressional Committee(NRCC), proves to be a rather elusive kind of guy as noted by Brenden Calling in his Blog piece,Who is Ed Patru? With all of Freedom's Watch ties to the Whitehouse and Dick Cheney, I think it's safe to compare him with Rove in his new duties as Right-wing Spinmeister.
Freedom's Watch, for those who haven't heard yet,is the Rights answer to Moveon.org. Founded and run by President Bradley Blakeman(a former assistant to GW Bush), Mel Sembler(a millionaire and former ambassador to Italy),Ari Fleischer (former Bush Press Secratary) and bankrolled by many rich Republican donors like Sheldon G. Adleson(a Las Vegas casino executive for the Sands corp.,and one of the richest people in the world.)
"Idealogically", Fleischer stated, "Freedom's Watch was inspired by much of Ronald Reagan's thinking: peace through strength, protect and defend America, and prosperity through free enterprise."
More liberal thinkers have described them as:
"a covert-cut out organization" and an "outfit dedicated to keeping the war industry thriving."from Congresspedia
The organization was hatched last winter at a Florida meeting of the Republican Jewish Coalition which has been described as a big money, pro-Israel lobby group, linking Jewish American Neo-cons to the Christian Right and Israel's Lukid government. Among the key note speakers was none other than Dick Cheney.There has been some speculation as to how much he really has to do with this group. According to NY Times Don Van Natta Jr.:
Freedom's Watch "denies coordinating it's activities with the White House."
Also, according to Congresspedia
In Sept. 07, "it emerged that Cheney had asked a number of Right-wing think tanks to start building the case for war with Iran"
And from Jim Kuhnhenn Associated Press Sept.07:
Freedom Watch's "inner circle of strategists and donors are close to Cheney or held high posts at the White House."
Well looking at their agenda, I think it's fairly plain to see Cheney's influence.According to their websitethe organization's core issues are:
1.The dangers of radical Islam and the emerging Iranian threat.
2.Advancing a conservative agenda and market-based solutions to pressing domestic problems.
3.Standing up to Big Labor's radical agenda.
4.Preventing the degeneration of our society by stopping the legalization of controlled substances.
One thing is for sure they have lot's of money.According to The Washington Post article A Conservative Answer to MoveOn
"While initial reports suggested a budget of $200 million,people who have talked to the group in recent weeks say the figure is closer to $250 million, more than double the amount spent by the largest independent Liberal groups in the 2004 election cycle"
More great information on Freedom's Watch HERE AND HERE
So what do we know about Ed Patru, the answer is not a whole heck of alot. I'm assuming he's fairly young, his linked-in profile says he attended Andrew's University from 94-97. Before becoming Communications director for the NRCC he was the Communications Director for the American Automobile Dealers Association. Quite a step up wouldn't you say? Most of what we know about him is from the 2006 election. When challenged on robo calls being made by Republicans posing as their rival Democratic candidates so they wouldn't vote for them, NRCC spokesman Ed Patru denied any illegal intent.
"All of our political calls are in compliance with the law," Patru said.
Then there was the Mike Arcuri attack ad where he was accused of billing tax payers for a call to a phone sex line placed while he was in a hotel. These accusations turned out to be untrue as he had obviously dialed the wrong number. When Patru was asked about it he stood by the 30 second message and insisted that it was "totally true".
Last year, when he was still spokesman for the House Republican Conference, he attacked Patrick Murphy, Pa Democrat and Iraqi war veteran.Following are Murphy's and Patru's quotes:
Patru;Mr Murphy said in a speech on the House floor Tuesday;"I served in Baghdad from June of 2003 to Jan.2004, walking in my own combat boots, I saw firsthand this administration's failed policy in Iraq"
That is true. Mr Murphy according to his website, served with the 82nd Airborne in Iraq.
Also in Patru's circulated memo there was the quote dug up to discredit Mr. Murphy from Widener University Law Magazine, Fall 2004:
"We are really making a difference here in Baghdad. These people haven't had a sense of justice in such a long time. We're rebuilding schools and parks, and I am working with the Baghdad judiciary on rebuilding their court system...For those of us who joined the legal profession to make a difference,this sure is the place..."
Seems he's not afraid to play dirty. Trouble for the Dems in 2008? This gives me some hope...
The National Review asked Patru back in Dec. 2005 if the Democrats could take back the house:
Patru:"Trying to take back the House running on Duke Cunningham or running on Abramoff or any other issue may sound good inside the beltway. But in the real world, House races are local phenoms...voters have good relationships with their members...most of our incumbents are battle tested...if the issue is ethics here..it's a losing battle for Dems because we're more than happy to point the finger at them. Nancy Pelosi is the only leader in Congress to have been fined by the FEC for having too many PACS. Rahm Emanual went to Chicago to campaign for Richard Daley...llok at Congress and the approval level drops as an institution."
I hope the Dems will be underestimated again and that they will indeed play dirty tricks that will most likely backfire.I hope. The ravings of a used car salesman? I think so. I'm sure we'll be hearing much more from Freedom's watch and Ed Patru.