Quarter 4 2010 Report by AmericanIndependent



                                           QUARTERLY IMPACT REPORT
                                                       JANUARY 2011

        Congressman's chief of staff resigns

        In a series of posts, Luke Johnson revealed many examples of extremist rhetoric by South
        Florida right-wing radio host Joyce Kaufman, who was selected by Rep. Allen West (R-
        Fort Lauderdale) to serve as his chief of staff. Picking up on a short post that announced
        the hire, Johnson combed through Kaufman's background and laid out her history of big-
        oted and violent rhetoric. For instance, she said of illegal immigrants, “If you commit a
        crime while you’re here, we should hang you and send your body back to where you came
        from." She also said that the United States was “this close” to moving towards “fascistic
        and tyrannical rule.” Monitoring Kaufman's show the following day, Johnson fleshed out
        his portrait of Kaufman and broke the news that Kaufman would continue broadcasting
        her show remotely from Washington, D.C. e evening that Johnson's work posted,
        MSNBC's Rachel Maddow raised concerns about Kaufman's statements, as well as her
        proposed dual role as Hill staffer and conservative pundit. As word of Kaufman's com-
        ments spread she was forced to resign from the position, accusing critics of wanting to
        "lynch" West, an African-American.
             “Cong.-elect Allen West taps South Florida right-wing talk show host as chief of
             staff” (11/9/10)
             “Allen West’s chief of staff selection Joyce Kaufman will continue radio show from
             Washington” (11/9/10)
             “Allen West’s controversial chief of staff resigns” (11/11/10)

        Group demands Bob Vander Plaats disown ‘feminization of medal of honor’ statement

        Jason Hancock was the first to point to the blog of the American Family Association’s
        Bryan Fischer, on which he claimed that the Medal of Honor awarded to Iowa native
        Army Staff Sgt. Salvatore Giunta “feminized” the prize, because it honored the soldier for
        saving lives instead of killing the enemy. Fischer and his group donated more than
        $140,000 to the successful campaign to oust three Iowa Supreme Court justices over their
        same-sex marriage ruling. In response to Fischer’s argument, the state’s largest LGBT-
        rights group, One Iowa, joined with a group of veterans to publicly call on Bob Vander
        Plaats — a former gubernatorial hopeful who led the campaign against the judges in Iowa


        — to denounce Fischer and his statements. Vander Plaats refused, saying Fischer and AFA
        “do not speak for me … and [I] don’t speak for them.”
             “AFA’s Fischer says America has ‘feminized’ the Medal of Honor” (11/17/10)
             “Iowa vets call on Vander Plaats to denounce statements about Medal of Honor”
             “Vander Plaats: Bryan Fischer doesn’t speak for me” (11/19/10)


        Equality groups demand that Michigan enact HIV-prevention policy

        Todd Heywood reported that the Michigan Department of Community Health (MDCH)
        has still not finalized a set of guidelines for doctors, hospitals and clinics in the state to
        administer nPEP medications for those who are thought to have been exposed to HIV. In
        late 2009, in response to Heywood's previous reporting on the subject, the MDCH agreed
        on the need for such guidelines and promised to have them in place by early 2010. As the
        year came to a close, there was still no policy in place. Medical experts told Heywood that
        the lack of guidelines will inevitably mean that some exposed to HIV will not be treated
        quickly enough, putting their lives at far greater risk. In response to Heywood's article, the
        National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, Get Equal and Equality Michigan all issued public
        statements demanding that the MDCH expedite the process and get the nPEP policy in
        place. Michigan Equality further called on its members to email and call the agency to put
        pressure on them to act.
             “MDCH fails to set state nPEP policy” (11/23/10)

        Group pressures Florida officials to release dying inmate

        Todd Heywood reported on yet another case of HIV criminalization, this time involving
        an HIV-positive Hatian-born woman in prison in Florida for assaulting a police officer by
        spitting on him. e Florida Department of Corrections was refusing to release the
        woman, who is dying from cancer, and also refused to give her nutritional care that would
        keep her alive. e woman's mother, meanwhile, was trying to get officials to release her
        before she died. Heywood’s story brought the issue to the attention of the Michigan Peace
        Team, which sent a notice to members and supporters urging them to pause from year-
        end holiday celebrations to call Florida officials on behalf of the dying woman. e Peace
        Team’s membership includes more than 1,000 people all over the world. e woman was
        eventually released from prison to a secure wing in a Miami hospital and has since been
        able to return home to her family in Indiana, where she passed away on January 31, 2011


             “UPDATE: Indiana mother wants dying, HIV-positive daughter released from
             prison” (12/23/10)
        Latino Republican group takes aim at Democratic Senator’s blocking DREAM Act vote
        Lynda Waddington was the first to report on U.S. Sen. Ben Nelson’s pledge to block any
        vote on the DREAM Act, a bill designed to allow undocumented students, brought to this
        country as children, a path to citizenship if they entered college or signed up for military
        service. In direct response to Waddington’s story, Somos Republicans, a national Latino
        GOP organization, announced that Nelson was the first Democrat to be placed on its “un-
        friendly to Hispanics” list. In addition, the group encouraged its members to work to de-
        feat Nelson and “remind Hispanics how Sen. Nelson punished their children should he
        decide to run again in 2012.”
             “Nebraska’s Ben Nelson vows to block vote on DREAM Act” (11/30/10)
             “Ben Nelson named first ‘unfriendly’ Democrat on Hispanic Republicans’ list”

        Protest held at Rep. King’s office over Native American vote

        In July, e Iowa Independent was the only local media to report that U.S. Rep. Steve
        King voted against the Tribal Law and Order Act, a bill that bolstered Native American
        law enforcement power to investigate rape and other crimes committed on tribal lands.
        King was one of only 92 Republicans, and the lone member of Iowa’s delegation, to vote
        against the measure. Pointing to e Iowa Independent’s reporting, a group of Native
        Americans protested outside King’s Sioux City office, demanding an explanation from
        King on his “no” vote. King refused to offer an explanation, however, telling KCAU-TV
        that the protesters “don’t even know what law they’re talking about.”
             “King refuses to explain vote against bill combating rape on tribal grounds” (11/1/10)

        Women's group releases ad pressuring Ken Buck

        Covering Ken Buck's ultimately unsuccessful run for U.S. Senate, reporter Scot Kersgaard
        revisited a 2005 rape case that Buck, then Weld County District Attorney, refused to
        prosecute. In a conversation with the alleged victim that she had recorded, Buck said, "A
        jury could very well conclude that this is a case of buyer’s remorse." Kersgaard's story,
        which featured an exclusive interview with the victim, propelled Buck — and his stances
        on women's issues including abortion — into the national spotlight, culminating with
        questions about the case during Buck's interview on Meet the Press. e independent
        Women’s Voice campaign cited Kersgaard's coverage in an ad that called out Buck on his
        stance on reproductive rights and on the 2005 rape case; the political site Colorado Pols
        later named Kersgaard's story the second biggest of the year."


             “Buck’s refusal to prosecute 2005 rape case reverberates in U.S. Senate race”
             “Buck’s Meet the Press takes on rape, homosexuality draw steady fire” (10/18/10)
             “Women’s Voices campaign ad underlines Buck’s ‘women problem’” (10/20/10)
             “Colorado Pols names Ken Buck rape story second biggest story of the year” (1/1/11)


        Lack of action on alleged MSU assault charges sparks action against District Attorney

        Todd Heywood reported on allegations of sexual assault by two high-profile basketball
        players at Michigan State University, garnering enormous attention from the mainstream
        and sports media. e following day he published the police report in the case. Following
        the revelations, a group of students, some of whom counsel and work with rape victims
        regularly on campus, held a protest outside the offices of Ingham County Prosecutor Stu-
        art Dunnings III over his refusal to bring charges against the basketball players.
             “MSU basketball players accused of sexual assault” (9/29/10)
             “MSU sexual assault: e police report” (9/30/10)
             “Students, community activists plan to protest Ingham County Prosecutor” (10/1/10)


        Reporting on pulpit politicking generates IRS complaint

        Minnesota Independent's Andy Birkey, the first reporter to cover plans by two Minnesota
        pastors to endorse candidates from the pulpit in defiance of IRS laws governing tax-
        exempt organizations, attended a church service by one of the pastors. Brad Brandon of
        Berean Bible Baptist in Hastings, Minn., went through with his endorsements, giving the
        nod to 11 conservative candidates, including nine Republicans. He printed take-home
        sheets listing the candidates. Following Birkey's report, the group Americans United for
        Separation of Church and State wrote a complaint letter to the IRS, urging the agency to
        investigate the church. e complaint — which was covered by major media including the
        Star Tribune, Pioneer Press, the AP and WCCO TV — cited Birkey's reporting multiple
        times. “I believe this evidence indicates that the church violated federal law — and did so
        knowingly,” wrote the Rev. Barry W. Lynn, executive director of AU. “In fact, Pastor Bran-
        don — the top official at the church — does not deny this and seems eager to be investi-
        gated by the IRS.”
             “Minnesota pastors plan to endorse candidates from pulpit” (10/15/10)
             “Hastings pastor endorses Emmer from pulpit” (10/18/10)
             “Americans United files IRS complaint against church that endorsed Emmer”




        Donor’s rape joke prompts Governor Susana Martinez to donate $20,000 to rape crisis

        Trip Jennings was the first to report that Governor Susana Martinez's biggest contributor
        (at $20,000) was oilman Clayton Williams. As a Texas gubernatorial candidate in the
        1990’s, Williams infamously joked that bad weather is like rape: "As long as it’s inevitable,
        you might as well lie back and enjoy it." Following Jennings' report, Democratic Lt. Gov.
        Diane Denish called on Martinez to return the money. Within eight hours of Jennings'
        initial report, Martinez announced she'd donate the $20,000 to a rape crisis center.
             “Texas oilman who joked about rape is one of Martinez’s biggest contributors”
             “Denish camp demands Martinez return Clayton Williams’ contribution” (10/13/10)
             “Martinez donates Williams’ contributions to rape crisis center” (10/13/10)

        Iowa Independent reporting leads to FEC complaint against American Future Fund

        In September, Jason Hancock was the first to report that the Des Moines-based American
        Future Fund was spending $4 million in 13 congressional campaigns across the country,
        including $500,000 against Mark Schauer in Michigan, $325,000 against Mike Oliverio
        in West Virginia and $250,000 against Martin Heinrich in New Mexico. All the ads were
        identical and spent most of their time attacking Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi for
        the federal stimulus and health care reform legislation, Hancock noted. Several weeks later,
        three groups — Public Citizen, Protect Our Elections and the Center for Media and De-
        mocracy — cited e Iowa Independent in a letter to the FEC urging an investigation
        into whether American Future Fund should register as a political action committee for its
        huge expenditures.
             “American Future Fund targeting 13 Congressional races” (9/27/10)
             “American Future Fund accused of violating campaign finance law” (10/20/10)

        Tea party group’s partisan activity sparks ethics complaint, litigation

        Following through on his investigation of Houston tea party spinoff King Street Patriots,
        Patrick Brendel found and posted video footage of Texas House candidate Jim Murphy
        giving a political speech at KSP headquarters; Murphy's opponent, Democratic Rep. Kristi
        ibaut was not invited, making it an activity that non-profit watchdog Texans for Public
        Justice called a blatant violation of state prohibitions against corporate campaign contribu-


        tions. A few days later, the non-profit filed an official ethics complaint that cited Texas In-
        dependent reporting several times. "ey are violating the 100-year-old prohibition against
        corporations playing in politics,” said the watchdog's director, Craig McDonald. Addition-
        ally, Brendel's reporting caused the Harris County Democratic Party to announce that it
        was adding KSP to an ongoing high-profile suit concerning efforts to put Green Party
        candidates on the Texas ballot. e complaint against King Street Patriots alleges that the
        non-profit has engaged in direct electioneering to support Republicans candidates without
        properly registering with the Texas Ethics Commission or disclosing their donors to the
        IRS. “King Street Patriots, much like the Green Party affair we learned of a few months
        ago, evidently believes the law doesn’t apply to them,” said Texas Democratic Party Gen-
        eral Counsel Chad Dunn.
             “Video evidence of King Street Patriots breaking Texas campaign finance laws, ac-
             cording to watchdog group” (10/14/10)
             “Texans for Public Justice files ethics complaint about King Street Patriots and KSP/
             True e Vote” (10/18/10)
             “State Democratic Party files lawsuit against King Street Patriots” (10/18/10)


To top