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angelatc
07-19-2007, 10:03 PM
Only in a Republican campaign could something as simple as the magazine and newspaper subscriptions itemized in a campaign expenses disclosure become oddly creepy and metaphorically incestuous.

T. W. Farnam at TPM's Election Central made an interesting post yesterday, revealing the money spent by presidential candidates on periodical subscriptions. But Farnam was baffled by Ron Paul's $1280 expenditure for F.R.E.E.. It is surprisingly hard to figure out what F.R.E.E. even is, once you realize that Google searches treat it the same as "free". Yikes. But a little digging reveals the acronym stands for the Foundation for Rational Economics and Education, a 501(c)(3) "non-profit, non-partisan, educational foundation" founded in 1976. It has everything you could want from a dodgy charity, including a catchy Christian pledge: "With a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our Sacred Honor." Its founder? Ron Paul.

It gets much, much stranger.


In fact, the education that F.R.E.E. is engaged in seems to be limited to educating people about Ron Paul's viewpoints in exchange for huge stacks of (tax deductible!) cash. This lovely order form let's you trade a meager thousand dollars for Gold, Peace, and Prosperity by Ron Paul, Ten Myths About Paper Money by Ron Paul, Challenge to Liberty by Ron Paul, Ron Paul's Farewell Address to the US House, Ron Paul's Petition to the 103rd Congress, and Freedom Under Siege: The US Constitution after 200 Years (which, despite the lack of credit on the order form, is also by Ron Paul). Okay, let's be fair. It also has a newsletter called "Freedom Report". Subscription information wasn't obvious on the current site, but the original home of F.R.E.E. let you subscribe for another thousand dollars. What's that? Oh, yes, the newsletter is also written by Ron Paul. A third order form is associated with N.E.F.L. (the National Endowment for Liberty). For yet one more thousand they'll ship you video tapes: "Fire Power" and the "At Issue" series. N.E.F.L. is a subsidiary of F.R.E.E., and, you guessed it, all that media is by Ron Paul.

As far as I have been able to determine, the Foundation for Rational Economics and Education does nothing at all except publish and distribute of the writings of Ron Paul. Which means Ron Paul's campaign paid over a thousand dollars to Ron Paul's non-profit for stuff written by Ron Paul. That's the creepy, mock-incestuous part, but there's more.

But while there certainly isn't much forthcoming about what else, if anything, F.R.E.E. does with its time and money, there's plenty about where its money comes from. And, no, its certainly not just from selling books, although quotes in support of those books come from the Ludwig von Mises Institute. The website itself gives a partial list of donors. And what a list it is! Heritage Foundation, Competitive Enterprise Institute, Cato Institute, National Center for Policy Analysis, and lots more!

Big names backing what is ostensibly a libertarian educational non-profit that seems to serve as Ron Paul's bookstore. Heritage is best known as "Reagan's Favorite Think Tank". NCPA and CEI are both relentlessly anti-environmental global-warming deniers, despite CEI apparently being named "the best environmental think tank in the country" by the Wall Street Journal. Personally, if I were handing out that title, it wouldn't go to a group that said that reducing greenhouse gas emissions would "result in the deaths of more people in the U.S. than global warming would worldwide". Hardly surprising, though, CEI and NCPA are both well-supported by Scaife and big oil. Fun fact: CEI adjunct scholar Steven Milloy was canned from Cato over a conflict-of-interest scandal involving payouts from ExxonMobil. His other job? Ethically-challenged Foxnews.com columnist. And the Mises Institute? Fingered by the Southern Poverty Law Center as having "neo-Confederate themes" and ties to the secessionist Leage of the South. Good times.

By the way, back to the actual F.R.E.E. content, has anyone taken note that some of these videos are on the wacky side of Libertarianism? "At Issue" volume 6 is "an entire program on the Tax Gestapo". I didn't make that up. That's how Ron Paul's non-profit describes Ron Paul's video. The rest aren't much better. Just in the synopsis list, the US government is called "the Central Planners" and "Big Brother". I'm amazed this guy is a member of Congress, much less a major-party presidential candidate.

I struggle to explain why anyone would spend large sums of money for their own writings. I don't pretend to be an expert on campaign finance law or on the regulations that apply to 501(c)(3) non-profits. Maybe he's somehow able to take advantage of what seemingly amounts to giving tax-deductible donations to himself. Maybe the non-profit has a more active role in advocacy than just shilling his books. The website comes with a disclaimer, that "[n]othing on this Web Site is intended to aid or hinder the passage of legislation before Congress." It doesn't say anything about aiding or hindering a campaign for president. It might be a worthy endevour to request disclosure documents from F.R.E.E. and find out where all that money goes.

(don't click here unless you have to. Don't give them the traffic: http://snipurl.com/1ojeq )

Kuldebar
07-19-2007, 10:06 PM
B===o DailyKo..?

Well, I'll look into it deeper when my spidey sense gets triggered.

angelatc
07-19-2007, 10:14 PM
Yeppers.

jblosser
07-19-2007, 10:25 PM
It has everything you could want from a dodgy charity, including a catchy Christian pledge: "With a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our Sacred Honor."

...the mind boggles. The call to arms of the Declaration of Independence is a "catchy Christian pledge" and the mark of a dodgy charity? How did their brains learn human speech?

mtmedlin
07-19-2007, 10:27 PM
YAAAAYYYYYYY,

He referred to RP as a major Presidential candidate. I knew we were catching on. :D

In all honesty he probably was getting video copy or some other sources of video or writings that his non-profit has and if FREE had given it to them, then it would have been considered an in-kind donation and if not reported....illegal.
$1280.00 is a minuscule amount of money.

jblosser
07-19-2007, 10:31 PM
The simplest explanation is they were just book copies they used for PR and the like. His campaign is not his "bookstore", there's nothing nefarious about paying for the books.

angelatc
07-19-2007, 10:46 PM
YAAAAYYYYYYY,

He referred to RP as a major Presidential candidate. I knew we were catching on. :D

In all honesty he probably was getting video copy or some other sources of video or writings that his non-profit has and if FREE had given it to them, then it would have been considered an in-kind donation and if not reported....illegal.
$1280.00 is a minuscule amount of money.

Probably illegal even if reported, because aren't 501(c)3's supposed to stay out of politics?

Bradley in DC
07-19-2007, 11:13 PM
Probably illegal even if reported, because aren't 501(c)3's supposed to stay out of politics?

c3s can produce and sell educational materials but cannot endorse candidates.

jon_perez
07-19-2007, 11:42 PM
Ron Paul's detractors are just so desperately grasping at straws...

Spirit of '76
07-20-2007, 12:26 AM
Those witless stalinist morons don't even recognize what is perhaps the most memorable line from the Declaration.

'Useful idiots' indeed...:rolleyes:

angelatc
07-20-2007, 01:25 AM
c3s can produce and sell educational materials but cannot endorse candidates.

Would that include donating to a candidate? I was thinking that if they gave them the books, it would be a donation, which they wouldn't be allowed to do.

jblosser
07-20-2007, 08:25 AM
Those witless stalinist morons don't even recognize what is perhaps the most memorable line from the Declaration.

'Useful idiots' indeed...:rolleyes:

Yeah... I've been morbidly watching the comments to see if *anyone* points it out, and so far the only reference to it has been someone claiming this is proof he's a racist who wants to be king(!).

That *has* to be satire, doesn't it? Please? A little help?

mtmedlin
07-20-2007, 08:31 AM
Probably illegal even if reported, because aren't 501(c)3's supposed to stay out of politics?

Selling copies isnt endorsement nor is it agaisnt any of the rules of a c3. If they had just given it to him, it would be considered an "in-kind" donation. This type of donation is anything given to the campaign that has a minimum worth but it is not cash. For example, one of our candidats had a friend supply lunch for 100 supporters. It had a market value of around $1000. He had to list this as an In-kind donation.

angelatc
07-20-2007, 08:50 AM
Yeah... I've been morbidly watching the comments to see if *anyone* points it out, and so far the only reference to it has been someone claiming this is proof he's a racist who wants to be king(!).

That *has* to be satire, doesn't it? Please? A little help?

Sadly, no. The site is dedicated to the election of Democrats for office. Yes, that's right - no independent thought allowed. Every one of those people believe exactly what they're typing.
" 'I don't like taxes' means I don't want black people to get any of my money! Prove me wrong!"

Well, it is hard to argue with logic like that....I'll give him that.

Cindy Sheehan was recently removed from blogging on their site because she threatened to run against Pelosi.

jblosser
07-20-2007, 09:42 AM
Yeah, I know who they are. I didn't think much could shock me from those types anymore and I really shouldn't be surprised they don't recognize the Declaration, but something about it has me dumbfounded. Maybe that they didn't just not recognize it, that they categorized it as partisan authoritarian schlock. Jefferson was a Deist writing an apologetic for raising arms against tyranny, for pete's sake.

I wonder what they'd do with this one:



Contemplate the mangled bodies of your countrymen, and then say 'what should be the reward of such sacrifices?' Bid us and our posterity bow the knee, supplicate the friendship and plough, and sow, and reap, to glut the avarice of the men who have let loose on us the dogs of war to riot in our blood and hunt us from the face of the earth? If ye love wealth better than liberty, the tranquility of servitude than the animated contest of freedom — go home from us in peace. We ask not your counsels or arms. Crouch down and lick the hands which feed you. May your chains sit lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that you were our countrymen!


Probably would think it was a crazy person trying to justify the war in Iraq...

Mesogen
07-20-2007, 01:35 PM
YAAAAYYYYYYY,

He referred to RP as a major Presidential candidate. I knew we were catching on. :D

In all honesty he probably was getting video copy or some other sources of video or writings that his non-profit has and if FREE had given it to them, then it would have been considered an in-kind donation and if not reported....illegal.
$1280.00 is a minuscule amount of money.

I think he was referring to the GOP as a major party, unfortunately.

Mesogen
07-20-2007, 01:46 PM
At least one commenter doesn't let Dems off the hook.
http://www.dailykos.com/comments/2007/7/19/22400/3900/33#c33

Others are there defending Paul, too.