A Maine Beacon on Blue Astroturf

If you doubted that I am a nationally recognized White Supremacist, now you have proof.  The Maine Beacon says not only am I nationally recognized, I am the evil genius bringing “White Supremacist Troll Storm tactics” to Maine.  Since the Beacon “features rigorous reporting, political analysis and smart, progressive voices from across the state,” I presume they are a reliable source.  Hopefully this will put any arguments to rest.

I can’t complain about Dan Neumann‘s fact-checking.  I do indeed live in New Jersey and have published several books on Paganism and Vodou.  (Neumann could have mentioned my book on the history of poppies and opiates, but word counts are what they are).  The screen shots he posted are accurate and I apologize again to Ana Rothschild for the nose jokes.  As for the rest, Mr. Neumann was too kind.  The Hallowell “troll storm” involved some angry messages to Mackenzie Swift’s workplace.  A police investigation revealed no threats and nothing which rose to the level of a crime.  As Hallowell police chief Eric Nason put it:

It was just a lot of drama is what it is. People are expressing opinions back and forth, and people feel strongly about a particular subject, and that’s when Facebook kind of blows up.

Compare this to Tanya Gersh’s account of her experience with Anglin.

The post on the Daily Stormer last December … had a photograph of me and contact information: phone numbers, email addresses, and links to social media profiles for me, my husband, my friends, my colleagues. It had my son’s Twitter handle. He is 12 years old.

“Are y’all ready for an old fashioned Troll Storm?” Andrew Anglin, a neo-Nazi internet troll, asked his followers, talking about my family and me…

Since December, I’ve received more than 700 threatening, hateful, harassing, antisemitic communications from Anglin’s followers at all hours of the day and night, and it hasn’t stopped.  I’ve been told: “You really should have died in the Holocaust with the rest of your people.” Sometimes, when I answered the phone, all I heard were gunshots.

I’ve received emails, texts and voicemails threatening my life. I was told I would be driven to the brink of suicide. There were endless references to being thrown in the oven, being gassed. There were even suggestions: “Call her up, get her to take you on a real estate tour and get her alone.”

I was reviled across the Internet as a troll before becoming a nationally recognized White Supremacist.  As troll storms go, this was barely a troll sunshower:  I’m not fit to hide from Andrew Anglin’s process server.  If Neumann sweet-talks prospective lovers as enthusiastically as he flatters me, I’m sure he has no problem keeping his dance card full.  But though they be bouquets or brickbats, I was always taught to consider the source.  And since the Beacon has cast its spotlight on me, it seems only fair to return the favor.

Neumann’s first article for the Beacon was an attack on Republican Bruce Poliquin.  A few weeks later he targeted Poliquin over “harsh and unworkable” requirements for SNAP benefits.  His second article was an announcement that Maine People’s Alliance (which owns the Maine Beacon) endorsed Democrat Jared Golden in the race for Poliquin’s seat.  Other Neumann articles targeted incumbent Republicans like Amy Volk and Paula Sutton and Republican candidates like Shawn Moody and Rich Donaldson.   When the race between Poliquin and Golden was contested, Neumann wrote a stinging piece quoting an elections expert who claimed “Poliquin’s lawsuit is baseless and harmful to democracy.” (Somehow, amidst all his rigorous reporting, Neumann missed that Anna Kellar was not only the director of the “non-partisan Maine Citizens for Clean Elections and League of Women Voters of Maine” — she was a Democratic candidate in 2016).

If you look closely at the Beacon‘s front page, you’ll find a blurb stating “Beacon is a project of the Maine People’s Alliance.”  Maine People’s Alliance accepts donations through ActBlue, a Democratic fundraising platform. As described in 2014 by the New York Times:

ActBlue’s roots lie in the fund-raising strategies employed by Howard Dean in the 2004 presidential campaign. And in its early years the site often was used by candidates and committees using the “progressive” label…

Originally, left-leaning groups and sites like DailyKos used ActBlue as a way to send money to a slate of endorsed federal candidates they called the “Netroots Candidates,” but users from a broader spectrum within the Democratic Party have since adopted its tools.

Jesse Graham, director of the Maine People’s Alliance, also runs the Maine People’s Resource Center (MPRC).  MPRC is a 501(c)(3) corporation: as the Foundation Group explains:

501(c)(3) organizations are highly regulated entities… [L]obbying, propaganda or other legislative activity must be kept relatively insubstantial5. Intervention in political campaigns or the endorsement/anti-endorsement of candidates for public office is strictly prohibited.

5Some lobbying, both direct and grassroots, is allowable, but should not represent more than 10-20% of the organization’s activities, nor consume any more than 10-20% of the resources of the organization.

MPRC’s sister organization, MPA, is organized under 501(c)(4): while MPRC is a “Charitable Organization,” Maine People’s Alliance is a “Social Welfare Organization.”  Nonprofit lawyer Gene Takagi notes:

501(c)(3) organizations are prohibited from engaging in any political campaign intervention activities.

501(c)(4) organizations may engage in political campaign intervention activities so long as such activities do not represent their primary activity. Interpreting the limitation with a high risk tolerance, some 501(c)(4) organizations spend 49% of their resources on electioneering and assert that because 51% of their activities are in furtherance of their exempt social welfare purpose, they are primarily operated for the promotion of social welfare.

Maine People’s Resource Center earns a great deal of its income through polling.  During the 2014 gubernatorial election Mike Tipping (who is currently employed as MPA’s Communications Director) complained in the Portland Press-Herald:

 [T]he campaign for Republican Kevin Raye that took issue with party identification numbers in two surveys from the Maine People’s Resource Center (for which I work) showing their candidate down 16 and 19 points against U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud, a Democrat. Raye campaign consultant Kathie Summers-Grice called the results “preposterous.” On Election Day, Raye lost by a 17-point margin…

Eight public polls have been released in the last nine months in the race for Maine governor, and together they show a relatively stable contest, with Michaud consistently about 3 or 4 points ahead of LePage. Those numbers may not be as exciting as polls showing big swings in one direction or another, but they’re more likely to be true.

Tipping failed to note a 2012 report by Jim Ellis which found that an MPRC senate poll was “tilted in favor of the Democrats, and the methodology description admits the result data is not weighted to reflect an accurate political party dispersion.” Nor is it clear how Michaud’s consistent 3-4% lead turned into a five-point loss.  Tipping also failed to mention the use of “push polls” in negative campaigning or the ways in which polls can be used to create an illusion of support.

There are many other ways in which a “nonpartisan” organization which relies on the Democratic Party for much of its income can work toward the Party’s ends.  Through the use of a 501(c)(4) sister organization it can dedicate itself to promoting Democrats and attacking Republicans.  (And because a 501(c)(4) does not have to disclose its donors, it can also serve as a convenient way to move money around quietly).  Save for chiding Democratic legislators who balked at the National Popular Vote initiative and failed to push through a vote to expand Medicaid coverage of dental care, Neumann has been remarkably silent on Democratic excesses or corporate contributions to Democrats.

Maine is home to many environmental activists, old hippies, NPR listeners and New England liberals.  The Democratic Party loves their votes almost as they love their donations.  The Democratic Party also loves the opportunity to raise national money on local controversies — and vice versa.  At the Beacon Neumann has missed no chance to hang the Kavanaugh albatross around Collins’ neck. A plurality of stories during Neumann’s year-long tenure at the Beacon have focused on the sins of Susan Collins and on how important it is to get her out of office.  Meanwhile the Maine People’s Alliance, along with the “grassroots” group Maine for Accountable Leadership (another ActBlue client) have collected over $4 million to support the Democratic candidate who will challenge Collins in the next election.

four million dollars

Am I implying the Maine Beacon is removed from the Democratic Party only by layers of deniability? Do I suggest Neumann’s primary job at the Beacon is to write hit pieces against Republican opponents and keep the progressives donating with feel-good puffery and “racism” exposés?  Am I insinuating much of Maine’s “grassroots” political scene is bought and paid for by the same people who own the Democratic Party?

No, I’m outright stating it.  And if you like bizarre conspiracy theories — and who doesn’t nowadays? — stick around.  I have more.

 

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