CallToConscience by huffpostpol

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                                            February 27, 2012

Dear Publisher and Editorial Page Editor:

We write to you about what we regard as an existential threat to the integrity of the American political

First, however, we wish to make clear that although the signers of this letter are members of Newt
Gingrich’s leadership team our immediate concern is not to seek your endorsement of his candidacy for
the presidency, however much we might recommend and hope for such a result. Instead, our reason for
this letter transcends any one candidate or election.

Over recent decades numerous voices have been raised about the dangers of massive amounts of money
spent in the service of negative or false advertising, much has also been said about the threat that this
might pose to voters’ right to accurate information about issues and candidates as well as to the civil
discourse so essential to democracy.

And while obviously abuses of this sort have occurred, the fact remains that over time the truth has
power and does tend to prevail. Furthermore, freedom of speech means having to sometimes tolerate the
abuse of that right, any robust democratic system is by nature going to be flawed or untidy and unfair
practices or untruthful claims sometimes have to be endured.

Still, when abuses of the democratic and electoral process happen that does not mean the voice of
conscience shouldn’t be heard and heeded. Speaking out against attempts to corrupt the democratic
process is historically a role that America’s newspapers have seen as their own. And it is in this capacity
– your role as democracy’s watchdogs -- we appeal to you now.

As you are aware Feb 7th saw a series of setbacks to the Republican front-runner Governor Romney.
Indeed, the returns in Colorado, Minnesota and Missouri were historic in nature. Never before had a
GOP front-runner lost so badly this far into the nomination process, let alone in three states and on the
same day. In Colorado, Governor Romney was not only defeated by 5 points in a state he won with
60% four years earlier but this setback came at the hands of a candidate whom he had outspent by 40 to

These results were widely interpreted as voter rejection of Governor Romney’s ―scorched earth‖
campaign tactics -- tactics that has meant $20 to $25 million spent in attacks on our own candidate,
Speaker Gingrich. As you also know, these advertisements and a spending advantage of 5 to 1 are
widely credited with having eliminated wide Gingrich leads both in Iowa and Florida. Moreover, as the
graphic shows in Attachment A, Governor Romney’s tactics have deeply depressed voter turnout, with
the only exception South Carolina where Speaker Gingrich’s victory in breaking through Governor
Romney’s paid media storm resulted in a 22% increase in turnout. (So too, counties in Florida where
Speaker Gingrich won showed an increase in voting while Governor Romney had the opposite effect.)

Now if these television advertisements had been an attack on the Gingrich record that would be one
thing. Instead Governor Romney chose to run and temporarily profit from blatantly untrue TV spots,
with one spot that Romney publicly defended drawing four ―Pinocchios‖ from the Washington Post for
false charges (e.g. Gingrich was ―fined‖ for ethics violations as Speaker) or making claims
like ―Speaker Gingrich had to resign in disgrace‖ cited by the Wall Street Journal as false. (We include
extensive documentation of these numerous falsehoods in Attachments B and C.)

Governor Romney’s negative attack mentality, unfortunately, is a reflection of his own persona. We
include documentation of numerous instances of Governor Romney resorting under pressure to the use
of falsehoods – five of them are from a single presidential debate in Jacksonville on Jan 26. Please
understand, we believe that if you closely examine the record you will see that we are not discussing
here lapses of memory. We are saying that the evidence is clear that Governor Romney has a near
Pavlovian reflex of lapsing into falsehoods in order to rearrange reality to his liking. The record shows
that when publicly challenged or at a loss for an answer, Governor Romney shows a deeply engrained
habit of mendacity.

Nowhere is this better seen than in Governor Romney’s decision to follow the course suggested by
attack-ad maestro Stu Stevens and opposition researcher Matt Rhoades and secure the nomination by
means not of energizing party conservatives with policy positions but attack ads aimed at rivals and
predicated on the politics of personal destruction.

As you are also probably also aware the Romney forces are purchasing massive amounts of advertising
time in your own state to continue their false attacks.

Thus the purpose of this letter is to ask you to look at the facts we include and if you agree about the
threat they pose to the integrity of the electoral process we ask that you use the mighty voice of
America’s newspapers to warn voters about Governor Romney’s attempt to use money and mendacity to
secure the Republican nomination.

We ask you to speak out against a candidate with a great sense of entitlement and very little sense of
accountability. We ask you to protest a candidacy and a campaign without a conscience. We ask you to
censure and thwart a way of politics that if left unchallenged could corrupt our electoral process and
democratic system for a generation.


U.S. Congressman Robert Walker (Retired)
U.S. Congressman J.C. Watts (Retired)

                                                                   Attachment A

 Turnout Down Dramatically in Areas Won By Romney But
Flooded by Negative Ads by Romney Campaign and Romney

  Source: Special Report, Fox News

        Source: Nate Silver, FiveThirtyEight, The New York Times

                                                                                    Attachment B

                       Recent Romney Falsehoods in Debate
Falsehood #1 Failing to Protect Conscience Rights of Catholic Hospitals
In the Phoenix debate, Governor Romney was asked whether it was true that he had required Catholic
hospitals to provide emergency contraception to rape victims. In response, Romney said ―No, absolutely
not. Of course not. There was no requirement in Massachusetts for the Catholic Church to provide a
morning-after pills to rape victims. That was entirely voluntary on their part. There was no such

Romney’s response is simply not true. In December 2005, a Massachusetts public health board had
concluded that the Catholic Church was exempted under long standing law from a new requirement that
all Massachusetts hospitals to provide abortion inducing drugs. Initially, Governor Romney agreed with
the public health board’s ruling, but then two days later explicitly overrode the state health board and
insisted on his own interpretation that private hospitals no longer had conscience rights protections
under the new Massachusetts law.

As the Boston Catholic Insider reported: ―For [Governor Romney] to suggest to the citizens of the
United States on national television that Cardinal O’Malley and the Catholic Church would
―voluntarily‖ provide morning-after pills is an egregious misrepresentation of Catholic Church teachings
and an egregious misrepresentation of what actually happened in this situation.‖

Falsehood #2: Voting Democrat.
in the CNN Jacksonville debate, Governor Romney said, ―I’ve never voted for a Democrat when there
was a Republican on the ballot…. I have always voted for a Republican any time there was a Republican
on the ballot.‖

This is false. In March 1992, during the Massachusetts primary, he had the opportunity to vote for
George HW Bush or Pat Buchanan in the Republican primary, but chose instead to vote for Democrat
Paul Tsongas in the Democratic primary.

Furthermore, as the Boston Globe reports, this is yet another in a series of shifting explanations for
Governor Romney about why he made the vote for Tsongas.

       ―When first asked as a 1994 US Senate candidate about records showing him voting in the 1992
       Democratic primary, Romney said he couldn’t recall for whom he voted.

       Then Romney told the Globe he voted for Tsongas because he preferred his ideas to his then-
       opponent for the nomination, Bill Clinton. Later, he added that it was proof he was not a partisan

       Yet in 2007, while making his first run for president, Romney offered a new explanation: He said
       he voted for Tsongas as a tactical maneuver, aiming to present the ―weakest opponent‖ possible
       for Bush.‖

                                                                                      Attachment B
Falsehood #3: Blind Trust.
In the CNN Jacksonville debate, Governor Romney said, in response to the revelation that he profited
off of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, ―my investments for the last 10 years have been in a blind trust,
managed by a trustee.‖

This is false. As National Journal reports, at least one fund in which Governor Romney made between
15K and 50K in interest from investments, was not a blind trust and included investments in Fannie and

Governor Romney also flip-flopped on whether blind trusts are an appropriate explanation for not being
able to exercise influence over them. In 1994, he criticized Senator Kennedy for using the exact same
defense he used in the second Florida debate.

Falsehood #4: Gutter Politics of “Ghetto”.
When asked in the CNN Jacksonville debate about an ad being run by the Romney campaign which
falsely accuses Speaker Gingrich of saying ―Spanish is the language of the ghetto (Newt never
mentioned Spanish and was making a point about the importance of learning English to succeed in
America, saying that immigrant children are failed by bilingual education because they do not learn
adequate English skills to succeed), Governor Romney claimed, ―I haven’t seen the ad, so I’m sorry. I
don’t get to see all the TV ads.‖

Yet in the ad, Governor Romney says (in Spanish) that he approves the message. So was he lying
during the debate or was he lying about approving the message?

Falsehood #5: Hiding Romneycare’s Cost To Taxpayer.
In the CNN Jacksonville debate, Governor Romney said of those who got healthcare coverage after
Romneycare was passed who did not have coverage before, ―Half of those people got insurance on their
own. Others got help in buying the insurance.‖

This is false. In fact, 81.3% of the additional people insured after Romneycare was passed have it paid
for or subsidized by the federal government or Massachusetts government. Of the 412,000 additional
people who had health insurance in 2010 who did not have it in June 2006 (pre-reform), only 77K of the
412K (18.7%) had unsubsidized health insurance. The rest were covered through Medicaid,
Commonwealth Care, or a program of subsidized care for the unemployed.

Falsehood #6: Massachusetts Citizens for Life letter.
During the Fox News/WSJ debate in South Carolina, Romney said "The Massachusetts Citizens for Life
have just written a letter last week describing my record and saying this is a solid record of a very pro-
life governor.‖ Except they didn’t. Edwin Shanahan, the executive director of Massachusetts Citizens for
Life, told BuzzFeed that the organization "has not taken a formal position.‖

                                                                                       Attachment B

Falsehood #7: Hiding Romneycare’s Impact on Every Citizen of Mass.
Speaking about the impact of Romneycare during the CNN Jacksonville debate, Governor Romney said
―92 percent of the people in my state had insurance before our plan went in place. And nothing changes
for them.‖

This is false. Romneycare has increased the price of healthcare premiums for every citizen of
Massachusetts. Premiums have increased by 55 percent since Mitt Romney became Governor, a rate 13
points higher than the national average and the third highest growth rate among the states. So every
Massachusetts resident has been affected by this destructive law. In addition, the plan gives incentives
to employers to drop their healthcare coverage, so many of those with healthcare coverage from their
employers are now at greater risk of losing it.

Falsehood #8: Work with the government.
At the NBC News debate in Florida, Romney said that during his time at Bain Capital ―we didn`t do any
work with the government.‖ This is false. Romney sat on the Board of Directors of a company called
Damon Corp., a medical testing company. And during that time, the company committed millions of
dollars in Medicare fraud from the federal government.

Falsehood #9: Super PAC ads.
During the NBC News/Facebook debate in New Hampshire, Romney tried to distance himself from his
dishonest Super PAC ads, claiming: "With regards to their ads, I haven't seen them." But seconds later,
in the same response, he says ―In the ad I saw…‖ and starts to repeat verbatim the contents of the ad.
Watch this rapid reversal here.

                                                                            Attachment C

          Representative Sample of False Romney Team Ads
               Against Fellow Republican Candidates

Falsehood #1 - Romney Super PAC Ads Says Newt Supported Bill to Fund China’s
Brutal One Child Policy. (False ads here, here, here.)

The Truth – The Washington Post fact-checker gave this claim “Four Pinocchios.”
The bill in question specifically prohibited any funds to be used for China’s one child
policy. (More details here.)
Falsehood #2 – Romney Super PAC Ad Says Newt was paid $30,000/hour by Freddie
Mac (False ads here, here, here, here, here, here)

The Truth – Newt’s consulting firm was paid for consulting work, which went to
support the company, not Gingrich, and the fee was $30,000 per month, not per hour.
(More details here.)
Falsehood #3 – Romney Super PAC Ad Says Speaker Gingrich Was Fined for Ethics
Violations (False ads here, here, here, here, here, here.)

The Truth – There was no fine. 83 of 84 politically motivated ethics charges
dismissed. A single charge dealt with conflicting statements by one of Newt’s lawyers.
Newt agreed to reimburse committee for the cost of the investigation into the error. The
ethics committee report specifically noted the payment was a reimbursement, not a fine.
Three years later, the IRS cleared Gingrich of all charges that he had violated any tax
laws, leading renowned CNN Investigative Reporter Brooks Jackson to remark on air ―it
turns out [Gingrich] was right and those who accused him of tax fraud were wrong.‖
(More details here.)

                                                                          Attachment C

Falsehood #4 - Romney Ad says Newt Called Spanish a Ghetto Language. (False ad

The Truth Newt never referred to Spanish language in a speech talking about the
importance of everyone learning English to succeed in American society. (More details
Falsehood #5 – Romney Ad Says Newt Resigned in Disgrace as Speaker of House.
(False ads here, here.)

The Truth – Newt did not resign in disgrace as, Rep Mark Souder, who opposed
Gingrich’s Speakership at the time, has openly acknowledged. Newt felt that he would
not be able to effectively run the Republican Caucus and advance the conservative
agenda due to the two sets of groups against him: the hard-right class of ’94 and the
institutionalists, whom he had displaced from committees. The day he stepped down, his
Republican colleagues gave him a number of standing ovations for his service.

Falsehood #6 – Romney SuperPac Ad Says Newt Opposed Reagan (False ads here,

The Truth – Newt has been a stalwart supporter of Reagan and Reagan conservatism.
In the 1980s he was referred to by Democrats as one of ―Reagan’s Robots.‖ Nancy
Reagan has asserted that President Ronald Reagan passed the ―torch‖ of Reagan
conservatism to Newt Gingrich and the Republican Congress. Michael Reagan has also
endorsed Newt and said "Newt exemplifies the conservative principles my father
championed — strong national defense, lower taxes and smaller government.‖ (More
details here, here, here.)
Falsehood #7 –Romney Super PAC Ad and Romney himself distort Rick Santorum’s
record on fiscal conservatism.

The Truth – According to, Romney’s ad was ―false‖ and a ―whopper.‖
See ad and analysis here.

                                                                           Attachment C
Falsehood #8 –Romney Super PAC Ad distorts Rick Santorum’s position on giving
felons the right to vote.

The Truth –See ad and analysis here.


Falsehood #9 - False Romney Super PAC Ad says Gingrich supports amnesty for
illegal immigrants (False ads here, here, here.)

The Truth – Newt has never spoken in favor of citizenship for people who have entered
America illegally. Newt’s bold plan for illegal immigration includes securing the border
by January 1, 2014, creating a 21st century VISA and guest worker program, and
immediately deporting illegal immigrants who partake in any criminal activity or gang.
(More details here, here.)


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