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Propaganda and the money trail

- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 22, 2005

In a lecture last year before a group of journalism students at the University of Southern California's Annenberg School for Communications, Sean Treglia, a former program officer for the liberal Pew Charitable Trusts, claimed credit for co-coordinating a multi-year effort to secure the passage of the political-speech-curtailing McCain-Feingold campaign-finance bill.

Make no mistake: Pew and other liberal foundations successfully avoided any transparency in their financial dealings with propaganda organizations like National Public Radio (NPR) and the American Prospect (a left-wing magazine). Their funding of campaign-finance "reform" groups like Democracy 21, the Brennan Center for Justice, the Center for Public Integrity and People for the American Way also managed to avoid exposure.

According to a recent report by the nonpartisan Political Money Line, Campaign Finance Lobby: 1994-2004, Pew spent an average of $4 million a year over 10 years promoting reform. Seven other foundations -- including the Carnegie Corp. ($14 million), the Joyce Foundation ($13.5 million), George Soros' Open Society Institute ($12.6 million) -- cumulatively ponied up another $83 million over 10 years for the same purpose. In his March 2004 lecture at USC, curiously titled "Covering Philanthropy and Nonprofits Beyond 9/11," a tape of which was recently uncovered by Ryan Sager of the New York Post, Mr. Treglia explained how he operated. "The strategy was designed not to hide Pew's involvement," he said, "but most of Pew's funding." To accomplish that goal, "I always encouraged the grantees never to mention Pew," whose tactics were evidently copied by the others. Sure enough, the American Prospect neglected to mention a $132,000 payment from the Carnegie Corp., which financed the magazine's special issue, "Checkbook Democracy," which focused on campaign-finance reform. Meanwhile, NPR, which collected $1.2 million from the liberal foundations, failed to disclose that that money was funding a program called "Money, Power and Influence." John Fund of the Wall Street Journal reports that NPR used some of the money to hire Peter Overby as its campaign-finance reporter. Mr. Overby was a former editor of a magazine published by Common Cause, which aggressively promoted "reform."

In reality, on the road to campaign-finance "reform," there were two indispensable men, neither of whom was Mr. Treglia and both of whom were presidents. Through his pervasively corrupt 1996 re-election campaign, which attracted hundreds of thousands of dollars in illegal contributions from the likes of Chinese military intelligence and Indonesian gardeners named Wiriadinata, Bill Clinton did his part for reform. Even first lady Hillary Clinton received money from Johnny Chung, who got his money from the Chinese. The second indispensable man was George W. Bush, who actually broke a campaign promise by signing the free-speech-stifling McCain-Feingold bill in his first term.