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Friday, March 18, 2005

Is a Supreme Court Opinion Worth $39 million?

Here are some of the most disturbing quotes from Sean Treglia on the Pew Trust's funding of an effort "to create the appearance of public support" for campaign finance reform and the success of that effort in influencing the Supreme Court's decision upholding McCain-Feingold's abridgement of free speech.

Did Pew get a good return for its money?
"The money from Pew led directly to key provisions of McCain-Feingold."
"If you look at the Supreme Court decision on McCain-Feingold, you will see that almost half of the footnotes there came from Pew-funded research."

Transparency for who?
One of the attendees questioned Treglia sternly, noting that at the outset of his presentation he noted that he always asked grant recipients to keep Pew "in the background," which contradicted his emphasis throughout his presentation that a main purpose of campaign finance reform was transparency.
Treglia response:"We disclosed who was receiving Pew funding. We complied with the 990 disclosure requirements. We just didn't issue a press release announcing what we were doing ... If any reporter had wanted to know, they could have connected the dots. The fact is they didn't."

So where was the MSM?

When asked what Pew would have done if the media had reported what he was doing he said:
"We had a scare. As the debate was progressing, and getting close, George Will stumbled across a report we had done and attacked it in a column. Some of his partisans were becoming more aware of what we were doing and were feeding him information. He started to reference the fact that Pew was playing a large role in it, that it was a liberal attempt to hoodwink Congress.

"But you know what? The good news, from my perspective, was that journalists just didn't know the sector, the journalists just didn't care and nobody followed up. There was a panic there for a few weeks because we were afraid the story would grow. But nobody picked it up."