Wednesday, June 3, 2009


I hate rotten campaigning from Right or Left!
by Charlie Leck

A millionaire – more than 400 times over – out in Colorado is having a big impact on state election races around the country and some of his work is pretty rotten. Now, we’ve gotten use to this by renegade Republicans in things like the Swiftboat ads and in the work of the bastard himself, Karl Rove. But I get really upset when I find out this is happening in the Democratic Party, too.

Tim Gill is a political activist from Denver. He’s in his mid-fifties and established his wealth through a company called Quark, the publisher of a very successful desktop publishing software.

Atlantic magazine calls him the nations “biggest gay donor.” That’s shaky grammar, but it really means that Gill is gay and donates more to political campaigns than another other known gay. So far I’ve got no problems with that.

Gill has done some politically clever thinking and built some interesting strategies to take out known opponents of gay legislation at the state levels. This is a remarkable strategy. Gill believes he get more value for his dollar at the state level, where a few thousand dollars can have a big impact on a state legislative race. He affected his game-plan very well here in Minnesota in 2006 by spending a small amount of dough against a State Senator from one of our northern St. Paul suburbs. Somehow the winning candidate has attracted campaign money from pretty alluring locations like New York City and Boston – from Hollywood and Coral Gables – and from Tim Gill. The results, knocking off a Republican State Senator I didn’t care for, but the methods suck. I don’t think there’s room for this in politics.

A lot of people credit Gill for being behind the stunning switch of Colorado from the red column in the Presidential election to the blue column.

To this point, still no problem.

Here comes the problem
Gill’s organization used clear Swiftboat kind of tactics to knock off this State Senator, picturing her in one TV ad stripping a watch off a dead body and pointing out that the Senator had voted to allow nursing homes to charge residents’ estates to collect past expenses after their patient had died. You can watch the sleazy ad below!

If that’s not enough, Gill’s money and political organization also ran another ad against the Senator, depicting her pick-pocketing a soldier on the battlefield. It seems she had voted a one-time bonus for battlefield soldiers. Again, here’s that video if you want to watch it.

There were also a number of false allegations against the Republican State Senator that came, interestingly, out of Colorado.I feel strongly that both the State Democratic Farmer Labor Party and the national party organization should take a stand against this kind of advertising. We hate it and decry it when it’s used against us and we shouldn’t use it against our political opponents.If you want to read this revealing article about Tim Gill, you can find it in this issue of the Atlantic Monthly Magazine. As you would expect from this outstanding magazine, the article is long and thorough. In this case, it is also downright fascinating. Here’s a tease from the article by Joshua Green:

“Gill’s idea was to identify vulnerable candidates like Danny Carroll and move quickly to eliminate them without the burden of first having to win the consent of some risk-averse large organization or board of directors. Another element of this strategy is stealth. Revealing targets only after an election makes it impossible for them to fight back and sends a message to other politicians that attacking gays could put them in the crosshairs. Independence also allowed Gill to pursue an element of his philosophy that chafes many national gay organizations: the belief that enduring acceptance can be won only with Republican support. “If you want a majority, you have to change people’s minds,” he said, noting that in Colorado, Republicans outnumber Democrats. ‘Just because you’re conservative doesn’t mean you’re antigay.’”

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