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Was "Stolen Honor" a reunion of the Willie Horton gang?

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starroute Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-25-04 11:17 AM
Original message
Was "Stolen Honor" a reunion of the Willie Horton gang?
I've recently been doing research on a number of threads digging out information on right-wing dirty tricks. It's getting clearer and clearer that the Republican dirty tricksters and direct-mail scam artists all know each know each other and form a network with extensive cross-connections.

One of the most striking findings that has emerged is that a small subset of this network -- consisting of people who were involved in the production of the Willie Horton ad during George H.W. Bush's 1988 campaign against Michael Dukasis -- has multiple links with a man who was closely involved in the production of "Stolen Honor."

There are many similarities between "Stolen Honor" and the Willie Horton ad. Both are smear-jobs. Both were produced on behalf of a Bush campaign but in such a way that they could not be tied directly to the campaign. And the elder Bush's campaign manager, Lee Atwater, was a long-time friend of Karl Rove. (In fact, it was Rove who first introduced Atwater to Bush.)

The man who links the producers of the Willie Horton ad to "Stolen Honor" is Charlie Gerow, a small-time politician in Harrisburg, PA. Gerow is named in various sources as a spokesman or publicist for "Stolen Honor," but he is clearly more than that. For example, the only address ever given for Red, White and Blue Productions, which made "Stolen Honor," is c/o Gerow's public relations firm, Quantum Communications. Also, Gerow has connections in the Republican Party and among anti-government groups that Carlton Sherwood of Red, White and Blue Productions lacks.

When Gerow ran unsuccessfully in a Republican congressional primary in 1998, he was helped by a few prominent figures on the right, such as Grover Norquist, who may have been attracted by his anti-government agenda. However, when Gerow ran again in 2000, his list of contributors included several notable out-of-state figures with no obvious reason for taking an interest in a two-bit conservative from rural Pennsylvania. The names in question are Lewis Lehrman, Jack A. Abramoff, Frank J. Donatelli, and Ronald Robinson.

I've been puzzling over those names for a month now, and I finally think I've found the common denominator. It turns out that all four men have ties with one or another of the major figures behind the Willie Horton ad -- David Carmen, Craig Shirley, and Floyd Brown. Floyd Brown was the political director of Americans for Bush, which commissioned the ad. David Carmen is CEO of the Carmen Group, which produced the ad. Craig Shirley handled the public relations. (Brown and Shirley were also later connected with the anti-Clinton smears of the 90's.)

Lew Lehrman has a long history of involvement in right-wing Republican causes (including investing in George W. Bush's failed Arbusto Energy in 1977), but he is probably most notable as the founder in 1983 of an important pro-Reagan lobbying group, Citizens for America. Jack Abramoff became executive director of this group in 1984, while David Carmen played a major role as head of its Policy and Communications Group.

Ron Robinson has been a leading figure in two different right-wing groups along with Floyd Brown. He was director of Brown's own organization Citizens United, and he was president of Young America's Foundation, of which Brown was executive director.

Frank Donatelli is an old acquaintance of Ron Robinson's, going back to their Young Americans for Freedom days in the 1970's. (Young America's Foundation was originally a spin-off from Young Americans for Freedom.)

Donatelli has some other interesting connections. According to an official summary of his career, "He served on White House Chief of Staff James Baker's team that negotiated presidential debates in early 1984 and ran Baker's 1978 campaign for Attorney General of Texas. He also assisted Baker in the 2000 Florida recount on behalf of the Bush-Cheney team. Frank was a senior advisor to Bob Dole in 1996 and previously worked in the presidential campaigns of George Bush and Ronald Reagan."

In 2003, Frank Donatelli, Craig Shirley, and a man named George Terwilliger formed an organization called Americans for a Better Country, dedicated to re-electing George W. Bush. It was this group that recently pressured the FEC to interpret the guidelines for Section 527 non-profit groups in a way that would have radically limited their effectiveness: "According to People For the American Way, 'The chilling effect of the proposed rules on free speech cannot be overstated. Merely expressing an opinion about an officeholder's policies could turn a nonprofit group overnight into a federally regulated political committee with crippling fund-raising restrictions.' "

(For more on Donatelli and Terwilliger, please see my posts on the DU thread at )

Now, none of this proves that, say, Frank Donatelli and Craig Shirley were the actual instigators of "Stolen Honor." Even the fact that the National Rifle Association, rumored to be a possible source of funding for the film, is a client of Shirley's does not constitute proof. ( )

However, the density of the network of connections is, at the very least, highly suggestive and warrants further research.
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Bozos for Bush Donating Member (821 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-25-04 02:51 PM
Response to Original message
1. Wow, you were really onto something last night
Edited on Mon Oct-25-04 02:53 PM by Bozos for Bush
Outstanding summary starroute. No doubt your research is strong enough to at least support a lawsuit of some kind. I need to get back to work, but later tonight I'll pitch in on this new thread and see if I can find any financials.


(you have a wonderful writing style, btw)
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evilqueen Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-25-04 03:40 PM
Response to Original message
2. Quantum Communications
Edited on Mon Oct-25-04 03:51 PM by evilqueen
Quantum's biggest client? AccuPoll, maker of electronic voting machines -- and coincidentally, they make the only electronic voting machines on the market which create a paper record for the voter.

Charlie Gerow, the CEO of Quantum Communications

"It is still not clear who financed the $250,000 documentary. Charlie Gerow, president of Quantum Communications, a Harrisburg, Pa.-based public relations and marketing firm that represents the documentary's producer (Carlton Sherwood and Red, White & Blue Productions), says the film was initially financed by "a dozen, maybe 13," veterans from Pennsylvania, but he declined to disclose their names.

The Swift Vets group and the POWs in the film are represented by Creative Response Concepts, a public relations firm that also works for Progress for America, a group that will announce its own $12 million-plus anti-Kerry ad buy next week." - WaPo, 14 Oct 2004

I'm wondering where the SBVT are getting all their money. $14-$15mil raised, according to several different articles.

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evilqueen Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-25-04 03:59 PM
Response to Reply #2
3. Progress for America
527 Profile: Progress for America
List of Top Contributors, 2004 Cycle
Republican group that plans to raise tens of millions of dollars for issue-advocacy efforts, particularly TV ads, in support of GOP candidates. Will form "issue truth squads" that respond to Democratic attacks on President Bush. Seen as the Republican equivalent of The Media Fund, which aims to raise close to $100 million for pro-Democratic issue ads.
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Bozos for Bush Donating Member (821 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-26-04 02:11 AM
Response to Reply #2
5. ask and you shall receive...Swift Boat Liars info
Edited on Tue Oct-26-04 02:11 AM by Bozos for Bush
What is the Contran Corp? So much for bed :(

Contributors of at Least $10,000 Amount Raised
Contran Corp. $3,000,000
Perry Homes $2,900,000
T. Boone Pickens $1,500,000
RBC Dain Rauscher Corp. $250,200
Chesapeake Energy Corporation $250,000
Crow Holdings $125,250
Courson Oil & Gas $100,000
Yancey Brothers Co. $50,000
Clements, O'Neill, Pierce, Wilson & Fulkerson, LLP $25,000
Sam and Charles Wyly and associated businesses $20,000
Daniels Manufacturing Corp. $10,001
J. W. Childs Associates $10,000
Hunter Engineering Co. $10,000

Recipients of at Least $10,000 Amount Spent
Mentzer Media Services, Inc. $11,717,321
Creative Direct LLC $586,761
The Richard Norman Co. $204,000
Stevens Reed Curcio & Company $128,905
Wachovia Bank $10,109
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Bozos for Bush Donating Member (821 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-26-04 02:13 AM
Response to Reply #5
6. Contran Corp. is Harold Simmons - $3 million, what a nice guy NOT (nt)
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starroute Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-26-04 11:20 AM
Response to Reply #5
8. The Wyly Brothers were behind the anti-McCain ads in 2000
Merrie Spaeth -- now with the Swiftboaties -- was associated with those ads as well.

'Republicans for Clean Air'-Smells Rotten

So who are Republicans for Clean Air? On Thursday, no one knew. The organization was so new, so rushed that they misspelled "Republican" on their letterhead. But that's the virtue of soft money-with it you can create an 'interest group' out of thin air, on the fly, endow it with a charming name, and send out issue ads in no time flat.


In response to the ads, the McCain campaign filed a complaint with the FCC about the anonymity of Republicans for Clean Air, and some television stations expressed concern about its sudden appearance in a closely contested race. On Friday the financial backers of Republicans for Clean Air stepped forward to identify themselves as Charles and Sam Wyly, investment bankers from Texas. They announced that they had purchased 2.5 million in ads in California, Ohio, and New York.

The Wyly brothers are well known in Texas, though not for environmental issues, having donated $210,273 to Bush's gubernatorial campaign. Charles Wyly is a Bush 'pioneer,' one of an elite group that raised $100,000 for the Governor for his presidential campaign. One of the Wyly brother's businesses, Maverick Capital Fund, has a million-dollar a year contract to invest 96 million dollars of the University of Texas' endowment fund.

Such close connections arouse suspicion that Republicans for Clean Air are connected to the Bush campaign, which would be illegal under campaign finance laws. Appearing on CBS, Bush defended his supporters: "That's part of the American process. That's what free speech is about. The allegation that I'm somehow involved with this is just ridiculous. It's uncalled for. There is no truth to it."

(Maverick Capital and UTIMCO is a story inself, involving Bush benefactor Tom Hicks, now of Clear Channel, but not one that needs to be retold here.)
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starroute Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-26-04 02:05 PM
Response to Reply #5
9. Perry Homes is Robert J. Perry -- a high-up CNP member
In fact, the first I ever heard of CNP was last summer when I went Googling on Perry's name.

The 1982-1983 officers of the Council for National Policy (CNP) were: Thomas F. Ellis, pres; Nelson Bunker Hunt, vice pres, Bob J. Perry sec-tres; Rep. Louis (Woody) Jenkins, exec dir; and Dr. Tim LaHaye, immediate past pres.
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starroute Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-26-04 02:23 PM
Response to Reply #5
11. A few more Swiftboat donor names

"Swift Boat Vets and POWs for Truth reported raising $3,820,475 for the period 10/15 to 10/21. Major donors were Bob Perry (TX) $1,500,000; Boone Pickens (TX) $1 million; William Lyon (CA) $500,000; Robert Linder Sr. (sic) (OH) $250,000; George Matthews Jr. (GA) $250,000."

This site seems to have some other interesting info. For example, there's this: "The Club for reported raising $250,000 for the period 10/16 to 10/19, including $50,000 from K. Earl Durden, (FL); $100,000 from Jackson Stephens (AR) and $50,000 from Joseph Dimenna (NY)."

That would be the Jackson Stephens who was up to his ears in BCCI and Harken Oil. Daniel Hopsicker also ties him to the PROMIS software scandal and the drug-running through Mena, Arkansas. Interesting to know he's still around -- and supporting the Club for Growth, no less.
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starroute Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-26-04 02:28 PM
Response to Reply #5
12. Chesapeake Energy is Aubrey McClendon and Tom Ward

The top two executives of Oklahoma City-based Chesapeake Energy Corp. have contributed $500,000 to a group running a statewide television ad criticizing U.S. Senate candidate Brad Carson.

Aubrey McClendon and Tom Ward each donated $250,000 within the past month to a recently formed group affiliated with Club for Growth.

Club for Growth has been helping raise money for Republican Senate candidate Tom Coburn and sponsoring media ads for him.


Price said McClendon and Ward gave money to Club for Growth, which is based in Washington D.C., because of "the agenda that they have, which is increased prosperity through lower taxes and lower regulation."
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starroute Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-26-04 02:33 PM
Response to Reply #5
13. Crow Holdings is Harlan Crow -- get a load of his resume!

The son of Dallas real estate magnate Trammell Crow, Harlan Crow is the owner of Crow Realty Investors, as well as the president of another real estate concern, Crow Holdings. ... For his generous contributions to the George Herbert Walker Bush Presidential Library, Crow was named a trustee. Other trustees include such Republican luminaries such as Florida governor Jeb Bush and former Secretary of State James A. Baker III .

Harlan Crow is also trustee of the American Enterprise Institute and a major patron of Associate Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. In 2002, Justice Thomas reported receiving a gift of a "Frederick Douglass Bible," valued at $19,000, from Harlan and Kathy Crow, whom he described as "personal friends."

Crow has an unusual hobby of collecting statues of both past and present tyrants, including Adolf Hitler and Fidel Castro. His home in Dallas purportedly contains one of the world's largest statuaries on its grounds, with 20 statues ranging up to 20 feet tall.

"Crow is a member of the founders committee of the Club for Growth , a conservative political group that raises money uses it to influence public policy and elect political candidates who advocate the 'Reagan vision of limited government and lower taxes.' "
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starroute Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-26-04 02:38 PM
Response to Reply #5
14. Disinfopedia page on the Swift Boat Vets

This has a lot of useful connections, but it's mostly aimed to show tie-ins with the Bush campaign. I think I'm more interested at the moment in finding links to the broader right-wing agenda, particularly Club for Growth.
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starroute Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-26-04 02:55 PM
Response to Reply #5
15. Progress for America Voter Fund

This page is just a list of names. (The direct link is , but it's easier to look at through the Google cache, since the direct link brings up a messy text file.)

Most of the names on the list are unfamiliar to me, but they include Contran Corporation, Boone Pickens, Harold D. Courson (of Courson Oil & Gas)

Also Richard DeVos, Amway Founder and CNP member.

Progress for America is a conservative advocacy group that seems to be in the business of running pro-Bush ads:

Here's another listing on Progress for America that shows they also received money from Robert Perry. Like the Swiftboaties, they deal with Mentzer Media Services. And they gave $12,000 to United Seniors Association.
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starroute Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-26-04 04:46 PM
Response to Reply #15
16. James E. Stephenson of Yancey Brothers another contributor

And here's somebody down in Atlanta who doesn't like him much:

Ladies and gentlemen, meet Stephenson, president and CEO of Yancey Brothers Co., a construction equipment supply company. Most of the big yellow bulldozers you see plowing over trees and digging up stream banks come from Stephenson's shop. Same goes for the pavers you see squirting out fresh layers of asphalt.

Stephenson also sits on the Georgia Regional Transportation Authority board, where he does his best to make sure that any effort to address the region's horrible traffic involves the construction of more roads -- the type of projects from which he derives a very comfortable income.

About a month ago, Stephenson took his local scalawaggery prime time. As first reported in the AJC's Political Insider column, he gave $50,000 to Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, the group bankrolled by Bush contributors that attacked John Kerry's Vietnam war record through TV ads and a book, Unfit for Command.

Stephenson also wants to make clean-air standards more "flexible":
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starroute Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-26-04 04:48 PM
Response to Reply #5
17. Clements, O'Neill, Pierce, Wilson & Fulkerson is John O'Neill's firm
'Nuff said.
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starroute Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-26-04 04:57 PM
Response to Reply #5
18. George Daniels (Daniels Manufacturing) -- another Club for Growth guy

Also Small Business Leaders for Bush-Cheney '04 Steering Committee

Seems like kind of a small fry, though.

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evilqueen Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-26-04 02:22 PM
Response to Reply #2
10. Creative Response Concepts
Excerpted from: (day pass required)

Swift Boat flacks attack CBS
As the controversy over Bush's military record builds, a right-wing firm that works for the RNC pitches in.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
By Eric Boehlert

Sept. 10, 2004 |

Creative Response Concepts, the Arlington, Va., Republican public relations firm run by former Pat Buchanan communications director Greg Mueller, with help from former Pat Robertson communications director Mike Russell, sent out a media advisory Thursday to hawk a right-wing news dispatch: "60 Minutes' Documents on Bush Might Be Fake." Creative Response Concepts has played a crucial role in hyping the inaccurate, secondhand Swift Boat allegations, with Russell serving as the group's official spokesman. A company spokesman could not be reached for comment.

Throughout the Swift Boat smear campaign, the veterans involved asserted they had no political agenda and were unaffiliated with any political party. But Creative Response Concepts, which was obviously paid some undisclosed amount for its Swift Boat work, has many links to the Republican Party and the conservative movement. Among its clients are the Republican National Committee, National Republican Congressional Committee and National Republican Senatorial Committee. Its client list also includes the Christian Coalition, National Taxpayers Union, Media Research Council and Regnery Publishing. Regnery is the firm that published "Unfit for Command," the SBVT screed against Kerry's military record.
In the release, Creative Response promoted a Web site called Cybercast News Service, one of several groups directed by Brent Bozell, a longtime right-wing activist who has devoted years to attacking the "liberal bias" of the mainstream press. His Media Research Center and other similar efforts have been heavily funded by conservative billionaire Richard Mellon Scaife.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - Excerpt:

PR Week reported on September 20, 2004: "Creative Response Concepts (CRC), the VA-based agency promoting the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, used right-wing blogs and news sites to turn a CBS report casting doubt on President George W. Bush's National Guard service into a potential black eye for both the network and the Democrats. A CRC client, the Cybercast News Service (CNS), was among the first to voice suspicion that documents suggesting Bush had received preferential treatment in the Guard were forgeries. ... 'After the CBS story aired, (CNS) called typographical experts, got them on the record that these papers were fishy, and posted a story by 3pm Thursday,' said CRC SVP Keith Appell. 'We were immediately in contact with Matt Drudge, who loved the story.' CRC worked with CNS and the Media Research Center, another media watchdog client, to push the story into the mainstream press." -- (Subscription required to view: )

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evilqueen Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-25-04 06:22 PM
Response to Original message
4. Carlton Sherwood
Edited on Mon Oct-25-04 06:32 PM by evilqueen
"Stolen Honor" is produced by Carlton A. Sherwood, a journalist and former Reagan administration appointee.


Sherwood is a decorated Vietnam veteran who served as a Marine in Vietnam's De-Militarized Zone. Sherwood formerly worked for Pennsylvania governor Tom Ridge, whom George W. Bush later appointed as the first Secretary of Homeland Security. The Bush administration has selected Sherwood to create and manage a new federal website aimed at first responders (police officers, firefighters, etc.). While working as a Ridge administration official, Sherwood directed then-Gov. Ridge's award-winning broadcast TV and radio operations in Harrisburg.

Sherwood currently serves as Executive Vice President and Director of Communications of the WVC3 Group, Inc., an anti-terrorism, security firm headquartered in Reston, VA. By its own account, WVC3 is most likely benefitting from the ongoing 'war on terror'. Its website describes the "fields of homeland security, domestic preparedness, and the global war on terror" as "burgeoning".

Public relations for 'Stolen Honor'

Carlton Sherwood and his film are being represented by two separate public relations companies.

According to PR Week USA, the well-connected Republican PR firm Shirley & Banister Public Affairs "has been handling PR efforts for the documentary and its producer". It quotes VP Diana Banister as saying of the Sinclair boycott campaign, "I don't think we can squash it. People have as much right to complain about Sinclair broadcasting as we do about any station that would broadcast Michael Moore's documentary... The Stolen Honor folks have as much right to be aired as anyone else, and even more so." <12>

A September 8, 2004 press release for the movie's DC premiere was issued by Amber Nettles of Shirley & Banister <13>.

The president of Shirley & Banister Public Affairs is Craig Shirley, who helped produce the infamous, race-baiting Willie Horton ad during the 1988 Presidential election campaign <14>.

The much smaller and less well-known public relations firm Quantum Communications is also handling PR for the movie <15>. Quantum's CEO is Charles R. Gerow, a member of the Republican National Lawyers Association <16> and a delegate to the 2004 Republican National Convention <17>.

Also dug up this odd tidbit from The Daily Kos... it's about the Vietnam Vet's Memorial and Sherwood having a hissy fit over the costs.

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starroute Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-26-04 11:07 AM
Response to Reply #4
7. So Craig Shirley *is* directly involved -- that's wonderful to know
I'd picked up some suggestion he was, but hadn't been able to confirm it. Thank you so much for finding this.

Yes, Carlton Sherwood has quite a history. There was extensive discussion of him in a thread that is now archived and thus unavailable until after the election. He had his one moment of glory in 1980 exposing a scandal involving the Pauline Fathers of Doylestown, PA. (That's just down the road from me -- I vaguely remember when the story broke.) And he's spent the last 24 years looking for another big scandal to crack open, and finding nothing but trouble instead.
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