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“The idea was to create an impression that a mass movement was afoot—that everywhere Congress looked, in academic institutions, in the business community, in religious groups, in ethnic groups, everywhere, people were talking about [campaign finance] reform.”

Sean Treglia, architect of the campaign finance reform scam for the Pew Charitable Trust

     Sean Treglia, a former high-ranking operative of the Pew Charitable Trusts, a foundation worth more than $4 billion, last year openly admitted that passage of the McCain-Feingold campaign finance law—which bans political free speech in the 60 days leading up to an election—was engineered, planned, funded and executed by several lavishly wealthy, anti-gun foundations.
     In other words, it was not a grassroots movement of people throughout the country. It was a big scam. A fraud. A con job. Or, to be more exact, a midnight assassination hit on America’s First Amendment.
     In an explosive videotape obtained by the New York Post, Treglia is shown bragging to a conference of professors and so-called “journalists” at the University of Southern California about how he and his co-conspirators completely hoodwinked the u.s. Congress and the American people into buying the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act (bcra) atrocity.
    I’m going to tell you a story that I’ve never told any reporter,” Treglia says on the tape. “Now that I’m several months away from Pew and we have campaign finance reform, I can tell this story.”
     According to Ryan Sager, the New York Post reporter who first broke the story, Treglia told of an elaborate and expensive scheme whereby these foundations funded non-profit front groups that in turn, waged a jihad by proxy against free speech.
     Nearly $140 million was spent to lobby for changes to u.s. campaign finance laws. Of that amount, $123 million—nearly 90 percent of the total—was spent by just eight foundations.
What did they do with the money?
     Here’s how the shell game works:
     Under the law, charitable foundations may not legally lobby Congress. Instead, they grant funding to non-profit groups—groups often ginned up specifically for that purpose—who can spend the money on lobbying and other activities that foundations are barred from doing.
“Now that I’m several months away from Pew and we have campaign finance reform, I can tell this story.”
—Sean Treglia
     During debate on campaign reform, non-profit groups with innocent-sounding names like the Center for Public Integrity, the Center for Responsive Politics and Democracy 21, used their foundation grants to commission so-called research, to create supposedly unbiased studies to bait politicians and the press, and to plant their stories and spokespersons in media across the country as supposed non-political, honest brokers.
    “The idea,” Treglia said, “was to create an impression that a mass movement was afoot—that everywhere Congress looked, in academic institutions, in the business community, in religious groups, in ethnic groups, everywhere, people were talking about [campaign finance] reform.”
     In other words, it was all just smoke and mirrors, just a carefully choreographed fraud perpetrated by political groups who pretended not to have an agenda—but whose true agenda was to destroy the First Amendment right to free speech.
     What’s truly remarkable is just how much they got away with, so cheaply, with so few people and so fast.
     It’s as if all our gold at Fort Knox walked off overnight—yet somehow no one ever even noticed a truck.
     Who were the eight groups behind this assault on political speech?
     The chilling answer is that they include some of the richest and most powerful anti-gun organizations in America—or for that matter, the world.
     One of them was George Soros’ Open Society Institute, a primary source of funding for the global gun-ban machine now working within the United Nations to eliminate your Second Amendment Right to Keep and Bear Arms.
     The Open Society Institute is also a major donor for gun-ban efforts within the United States. According to the Capital Research Center, a watchdog group that monitors foundations, the group gave some $400,000 in grants to the anti-gun Violence Policy Center in 1999 alone.
     Another group behind the campaign finance puppet show was the $600 million Joyce Foundation, which has a long history of supporting anti-gun causes.
     In 2003 alone, Joyce poured some $1.25 million into anti-gun efforts. In 2004, its grants included $700,000 to the Illinois Council Against Handgun Violence and $125,000 to the San Francisco-based Legal Community Against Violence—the same group that has been recruiting cities across America to use its outlandish legal theories to sue the American firearms industry into bankruptcy.
     A third major group funding the campaign finance juggernaut was the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, whose $4.4 billion in assets makes it one of the 10 largest “philanthropies” in America. Over the years, it too has funded anti-gun groups including the Violence Policy Center, the “Handgun Epidemic Lowering Plan Network” and the Legal Community Against Violence.
     It should be no surprise that the groups pushing bans on free speech would also support gun bans. After all, several members of Congress openly admitted that the whole point of “campaign reform” was to silence gun owners like you.
     Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky, d-Ill., said, “If my colleagues care about gun control, then campaign finance is their issue so that the nra does not call the shots.”
     U.S. Representatives Rosa DeLauro, d-Conn., and Marty Meehan, d-Mass., and u.s. Senator Dick Durbin, d-Ill., also referred to the nra’s pro-Second Amendment political communications as a problem to be solved by campaign “reform.”
     To sell their scheme to the American public, the press, politicians and groups behind it lied about the “crisis” in American politics and how their law would solve it.
     They said their speech ban would take “special interests” out of politics and give political power back to the common man on the street.
     In reality, their ban did exactly the opposite: It took the common man out of the political arena. And it greased the skids for the consolidation of political power by those who had plenty already —politicians and the press.
     Think about it. Under the law those groups stampeded through Congress, ordinary Americans like you and me are effectively barred from engaging in political speech in the 60 days before an election.
In other words, the people who are still allowed to speak out in those
60 days—the candidates themselves and the national media—have a virtual monopoly on free speech.
     Yet multi-billion-dollar foundations responsible for imposing that moratorium on free speech are free to operate as they always have:Setting up subsidiary non-profit groups. Funding grants for anti-gun “research” and activism. Encouraging their non-profit flunkies to do their lobbying for them. And throughout it all, behaving as if their actions are above question, their motives above reproach and their integrity unassailable.
     Consider the height of that hypocrisy—and the depth of the duplicity—of the national media, which allowed it to happen without so much as a sound.
     If anyone should recognize and rally to stop attacks on freedom of speech, you’d expect it to be the national networks, newspapers and so-called mainstream media.
     After all, whenever anyone questions their abuses of that right, they band together and self-righteously squeal “First Amendment!”
Yet when McCain-Feingold and its “charitable” cheerleaders in these shadowy organizations attempted to shut down the machinery of political debate in the United States, the media were unaccountably silent.
     Could it be because the foundations and non-profits pushing campaign “reform” were wining and dining the media with political hush money?
     According to New York Post writer Sager, they’ve already invested millions in grants to the media, including:
    » More than $1.2 million given to National Public Radio (npr), including about $400,000 that paid for a program called “Money, Power and Influence.”
    » $132,000 to underwrite a special “Checkbook Democracy” issue of the liberal magazine The American Prospect. The magazine never mentioned all the money it had received to turn public opinion against the use of money to influence public opinion.
    » $935,000 to the Radio and Television News Directors Foundation to “help journalists provide better coverage of the influence of private money on electoral, legislative and regulatory processes.”
     Of course, in the eyes of the media, these contributions didn’t add up to chump change when compared to the awesome increase in influence they’d enjoy as soon as campaign “reform” shut ordinary Americans out of the political process.
     And really, the distinction doesn’t matter: Even if the media weren’t completely in cahoots, then they were ignorant and negligent to the point of criminality. Either way, I believe they’re directly indictable.
     You want proof? Go onto the Internet. Do a few searches on Treglia and Pew and “campaign finance reform” and see how many national news stories you find.
     The day that story came to light, it should have been on the front page of every newspaper and the lead story on every network. Yet as of this writing, you could count the number of national newspapers covering the scandal on the fingers of one hand.
     That’s a crime.
     Try it for yourself and you’ll see what I mean. Cut out this story and take it to your local newspaper or network affiliate. See if they’ll suddenly decide that the wholesale destruction of free speech is worth a 30-second segment between the local dog show and high school sports. You can bet they won’t.
     Now, what does all of this really mean? Why is it so important?
First, forget the marketing moniker of “campaign finance reform.”
Clear away all the confusion, distractions and mish-mash minutia about money, spending limits, reporting requirements, disclosure decrees and all the rest of the tax-code lawyerese in the Supreme Court’s multi-page, 5-to-4 decision upholding McCain-Feingold.
     Forget Republican or Democrat, liberal or conservative, or which team wins, which benefits from this or that provision in the law.
     This is infinitely more important than the partisan wrangling of politics or the contemporary tactics of legal jousting.
     This is about freedom.
     Your freedom has been stolen.
     So let’s not mince words.
     There can be no freedom of speech when political speech is specifically forbidden before an election to corporations, unions and a host of advocacy groups.
     If there’s anything the Framers of the Constitution wished to protect when they penned the First Amendment, it was political free speech as a balance beam for elections.
     If it weren’t for free speech, Thomas Paine and those colonial pamphleteers would have been jailed. Our Revolution never would have been fought. And our Bill of Rights never would have materialized.
     A cornerstone of constitutional democracy has been knocked out from under us by a hit-and-run driver in the middle of the night with his headlights off and his license plates hidden.
     If they can prosecute you as a felon for engaging in free speech in the 60 days before an election—in other words, precisely when it counts—what’s to stop them from prosecuting you for influencing elections in any way?
     And why do I have to be the first one to stand up and say so?
It’s only a matter of time before they come back for more. In fact, they’re already asking for more.
     For proof, just ask the Federal Election Commission (fec), which has been sued by some of these leftist pro-“reform” groups to begin regulating free political speech on the Internet—and is now under court order to do just that.
     Indeed, Bradley Smith, a commissioner of the Federal Election Commission, has warned that, “It is very likely that the Internet is going to be regulated” under the McCain-Feingold free-speech ban. In fact, the fec already has draft regulations to do so, including:
    » An effective ban on some online news and commentary Web sites;
    » An effective ban on banner and “popup” political promotions;
    » An effective ban on the use of company-owned computer equipment for political communications.
     You can bet this is only the beginning of a tortuous and tragic journey whose ultimate destination is obvious to anyone who’s ever read history.
     From the point of view of our constitutional freedoms, the McCain-Feingold campaign “reform” law is the most dangerous and destructive legislative atrocity to come out of Congress in decades, maybe ever.
     You shouldn’t have to retain a team of attorneys, hire a high-priced accounting firm, register yourself as a political action committee or live in eternal fear of going to jail for a federal felony simply for engaging in free speech.
     That’s not freedom.
     The people responsible for this wholesale abrogation of our First Amendment, I believe, are guilty of a capital crime against our Constitution.
     By denying freedom of speech to entire classes of persons, surely it must qualify as discrimination.
     Is it a violation of the equal protection clause? Could you call it conspiracy to violate civil rights?
     Whatever the determination, I believe that those who misused freedom of speech to destroy freedom of speech in the United States are guilty and should be punished.
     I need your help to right the wrongs they’ve committed.
     The individuals and groups responsible for this should be rooted out and identified for all Americans to see.
     At the nra, we’re going to expose their backroom dealings.
     We’re going to expose their dirty million-dollar deals.
     Because if we allow this crime to stand, it puts these anti-freedom foundations above the law.
     It frees them to spend mountains of money to cripple our democracy and permanently silence those who stand in their way.
And it gives them a blank check to destroy not just the First Amendment, but also the Second Amendment and our entire Bill of Rights forever.
     In the months ahead, I’ll be calling on you to join me in this fight. Because this is a fight we dare not sidestep nor surrender. This is a fight for our most precious freedoms.