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Who Funded GOPUSA?

I haven't written anything about the Gannon/Guckert scandal because this is a very high-minded blog. No, actually -- having received complaints about profanity recently -- it's not that we're so high-minded here, just what is there to say? I almost wish he weren't a gay prostitute, because the basic question of why the White House needed some unqualified plant to ask softball questions is a scandal in itself. They used to manage their press briefings well enough just by calling on foreign reporters who were certain to ask some totally irrelevant (or irrelevant to U.S. voters) question. When did that tactic stop working?

But for all that seems to be known about Gannon/Guckert, his watch and his abs, one piece of information seems -- at least on a quick scan of the likely sources -- to be elusive: Who paid him? (I mean, paid him to be a journalist, not for his main vocation, about which I am too high-minded to even be curious.) That is, who funded GOPUSA? They seem to operate as a for-profit, so they don't solicit for donations on their site, but the only thing they sell is some shirts and crap with their lovely logo.

All the available information about GOPUSA seems to have been collected here on DailyKos. This includes info about the board of directors, which has been deleted from the GOPUSA site itself. This includes one man who was a policy advisor to Texas Governor Rick Perry, and a woman who ran the State Policy Network, one of the most important components of the right-wing machine.

Someone was funding this. Most likely, given its Texas base and connections to Perry and others, it was part of the Texas operation that includes DeLay's Texans for a Republican Majority PAC and others. But that's just an educated guess. It's remarkable that there's zero information on this.

In addition to Houston prosecutor Ronnie Earle, a number of organizations have been tracking the DeLay money machine for several years now. These include the diligent Texans for Public Justice and the Center for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington. But a particularly interesting angle has been developed by the Center for Political Accountability. They have been tracking political or quasi political contributions that come from major public corporations, and go through committees such as DeLay's indirectly to groups such as Rev. Louis Sheldon's hate-mongering Traditional Values Coalition. Then they have been placing proxies on corporate shareholders ballots asking the companies to disclose their contributions, their policy on such contributions, and the business purpose.

It's an ingenious strategy and likely to help close down some of this system with a simple gesture. First, big public companies don't like controversy and don't need questions like this. Second, many of these companies pride themselves on providing domestic partner benefits and basically being good citizens. They don't want to be associated with groups like the Traditional Values Coalition. It's not worth it, just because their Washington lobbyist is telling them they have to do whatever DeLay tells them.

More recently, the Center issued a report which they call the Green Canary. The argument is fairly complicated, but basically what they are saying is that shareholders should be concerned about companies that make heavy contributions like this, because often they are using their political connections to cover up for mismanagement, citing the examples of Westar Energy and Enron, among others.

If GOPUSA is like other outposts of the Texas money machine, it's very possible that some of this corporate money flowed into it, not directly but through one of the other "soft money cutouts." If someone can get to the bottom of this, raising questions at the corporate level about why they funded Gannon/Guckert is likely to be highly embarassing, even if the company's executives are conservative. These companies in the future will probably exercise some oversight on their contributions to make sure they know where they are going. And that will significantly cut down DeLay's extortionary power. Similar questions should be raised with the companies that funded USA-NEXT and their anti-gay anti-AARP ad.

I hope we begin to see some answers about who funded GOPUSA soon. Again, all this is speculation -- maybe they made enough money selling GOPUSA-logo t-shirts and trucker caps to pay Gannon and maintain Talon News. I suppose that's possible.

Posted by Mark Schmitt on February 23, 2005 | Permalink


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Texas is a big enough place that it can have several only tangentially related pools of rich people willing to fund political slurs. It's my understanding, though I can't recall the cite, that the GOPUSA draws on the Swift Boats funding rather than the Delay funding - primarily the homebuilders, tort reform advocates, and anti-tax crowds. It's another Perry - Bob, I think - that funded Swift Boats; as a shoddy home builder (who would no doubt sue me for saying that, if he read the Decembrist), he has drizzled millions of dollars throughout texas politics to innure himself from lawsuits from his customers. Much like the bigger "green canary" corporations, I suppose...

Posted by: Dave M | Feb 23, 2005 7:46:30 AM

Ronnie Earle is the Austin, TX DA isn't he?

Posted by: Zach | Feb 23, 2005 10:02:51 AM

Ditto what Zach said...he's the D.A. of Travis County which is mostly Austin, TX.

It's an honest mistake if you're not from here!

Posted by: Patrick | Feb 23, 2005 2:23:28 PM

Well, GOPUSA is run by Bobby Eberle, as I'm sure you all know. This guy is not a middle class GOP supporter, but a very wealthy political hack. He surely has enough money on hand to retain as many whores as he needs.

I'm guessing that GOPUSA was not highly funded, as that would not be necessary to run an operation like that. I'm thinking no more than a hundred grand, max. According to its website, it is staffed mostly by volunteers. The people there are looking out for other interests that do pay well, and GOPUSA is merely a conduit for that, not an end in itself.

Posted by: Bruce | Feb 23, 2005 6:53:54 PM

To continue, the real question is not really who funded GOPUSA, but why. I'd like to know if Bobby Eberle stands to profit from GOP legislation or some other GOP related activity.

Posted by: Bruce | Feb 23, 2005 6:57:45 PM

Josh Marshall, by way of a reader, sheds some light on the matter, at least by association.


Posted by: cafl | Feb 23, 2005 9:02:37 PM

Billmon, someone else inclined
to follow the money, has an item worth noting.
It refers to an interesting Houston Chronicle
piece I first saw mentioned in a comment
in another blog that's pursuing the story
closely. Bruce Eberle seems to be hardly
a distant relative of the "Texas branch
of the family," as he implied.

Posted by: downtown | Feb 24, 2005 1:00:51 AM

A wealthy Washington socialite is offering a $10,000 reward for proof that Jeff Gannon (pictured), an allegedly gay kinky-sex prostitute / escort / white house reporter / GOP operative, has had sexual relations with top-ranking government officials.


Posted by: Zelph | Feb 24, 2005 12:14:16 PM

I have to agree with Bruce. I can't see any evidence that GOPUSA.com is funded based on their site. The web is cheap, and the site is cheap, too. Perhaps I am missing something, but nothing there leads me to believe these guys needed any outside funding to create their little e-zine, if you want to call it that.

Posted by: grover | Feb 24, 2005 12:19:15 PM

But was Gannon boinking McClellan to get a WH press pass, that's what high minded folks like me want to know.

Posted by: Zelph | Feb 24, 2005 1:05:19 PM

"...was Gannon boinking McClellan..."

How's about boinking Bush?

Another high minded reader wants to know!

Posted by: susan | Feb 24, 2005 2:23:10 PM

Could that be what Bush meant when he said he had a man-date?!!

Posted by: Zelph | Feb 24, 2005 5:37:14 PM

maybe they made enough money selling GOPUSA-logo t-shirts and trucker caps to pay Gannon and maintain Talon News.

While we're being high-minded here in the comments thread, we should remember that at least one Talon employee was experienced in a higher-margin business than GOPUSA apparel. Perhaps Talon did make all that money by, um, accepting contributions from members.

Posted by: Ethical Werewolf | Feb 25, 2005 5:25:06 AM

The web is cheap, and the [GOPUSA] site is cheap, too. Perhaps I am missing something, but nothing there leads me to believe these guys needed any outside funding to create their little e-zine

Rent and living expenses on Capitol Hill, though...

Still, Bruce and Grover may be right. It's entirely possible that "savings" from the escort business were enough to fund Guckert. Beyond him and a cheesy website, there doesn't seem to be much to it that costs money. But I'm open to learning otherwise.

To me, the story is how G. came to be allowed to show up day after day, and the use of the fake news org as part of the smear and dirty tricks transmission belt (Thune, Plame, Mapes as recipient of CBS forged docs).

Posted by: eb | Feb 25, 2005 11:54:37 AM

The people there are looking out for other interests that do pay well, and GOPUSA is merely a conduit for that, not an end in itself.

I'm really beginning to think that Guckert's #1 purpose for being where he was, was to be a prostitute for someone in the Administration. I'm thinking that the tossing-softballs thing was purely cover-up, not the end at all- purely just camoflage to have this guy coming into the WH all the time, and not have people ask questions & wonder who he is.

GOPUSA may have it's own ends, but w/ regard to the Gannon thing, they were just doing someone else a favor by providing this spot for Gannon, and may not have even known that he was a prostitute.

Posted by: Swan | Feb 26, 2005 7:21:15 PM


When? In early 2003, when we commenced the unjustified war in Iraq and the foreign press had the caligones to question it. Which (not so) coincidentally is around the same time
GG got his WHPC gig.

Posted by: malanois | Feb 26, 2005 10:28:26 PM

If this is just speculation, why write an article ? when we don't know, we dont talk or it is misleading people with false information that could just be wrong.

Posted by: Fred | Jun 14, 2006 10:44:44 AM