Rod D. Martin
A new group seeking to become the “conservative MoveOn.org” is backing Hollywood entrepreneur Peter F. Paul in a complaint to the Federal Election Commission that asks the agency to re-open an investigation into illegal contributions to Sen. Hillary Clinton and to probe alleged continuing violations of the law by the Democratic presidential candidate.
Rod D. Martin told WND his public interest group will highlight Paul’s case as it launches an organization based on the business model of the left-wing MoveOn.org but rooted in the principles and political philosophy of former President Reagan.
Martin, a Republican activist and technology entrepreneur, believes Paul’s case – centered on a civil lawsuit alleging Bill Clinton destroyed his entertainment company to get out of a $17 million deal – points to “a pattern of corruption that is vast and pervasive and right under the noses of everybody – and yet conveniently hidden by the major media.”
“We think that’s wrong, and it has to be dealt with, and this is the time,” said Martin, who was involved in the startup of the successful Internet commerce company PayPal.
The complaint by Paul asserts the FEC let the Clintons off the hook when it made a conciliation agreement with Sen. Clinton’s campaign in 2005 in which a finance aide was fined $35,000 for filing false reports on a Hollywood gala and fundraiser to which Paul contributed more than $1.2 million.
Paul contends Clinton has continued to file false reports – a total of four – in an attempt to distance herself from him after a Washington Post story days after the August 2000 fundraiser reported his past felony convictions. Clinton then returned a check for $2,000, insisting it was the only money she had taken from Paul. Clinton, Paul asserts, continues to hide from the public false statements about his contributions and her relationship with him, made to the Post through her spokesman Howard Wolfson. Clinton vowed publicly she would not take any more money from Paul, but one month later, she demanded another $100,000, to be hidden in a state committee using untraceable securities.
Paul says that unless the FEC sets aside the agreement and rescinds immunity granted the senator, the agency itself will “have aided and abetted in the commission” of a felony.
Martin said that whether or not the FEC intended to protect the Clintons, “that is absolutely the effect of their actions.”
“I’ll guarantee you, if it had been Barack Obama, or Mike Huckabee, or Fred Thompson doing these things, he’d be in jail,” Martin said. “But because it’s Hillary Clinton, she gets a pass, for the 5 millionth time.”
In May 2005, Sen. Clinton’s former finance director, David Rosen, was acquitted for filing false campaign reports that later were charged by the FEC to treasurer Andrew Grossman, who accepted responsibility in the conciliation agreement. Paul points out the Rosen trial established his contention that he personally gave more than $1.2 million to Clinton’s campaign for the fundraiser that his contributions intentionally were hidden from the public and the FEC.
Martin said his group – in its “pre-launch” mode under the name TheVanguard.org – is “on track” and already has raised several million dollars.
The organization might have a different name when it’s launched in the early spring, Martin said.
He clarified that the aim is higher than simply seeking to “answer” MoveOn.org.
“There are all these groups talking about answering MoveOn,” he said. “Well, OK, if you want to react to what somebody else is doing, that’s fine, and there may be a place for that. Our purpose is to be the conservative MoveOn.”
Martin, who was special counsel to PayPal founder Peter Thiel, said he admires MoveOn.org’s “great business model,” which sets them apart from traditional political organizations.
“They’ve just impressed the heck out of me,” he said. “It’s not just the technology – a lot of people have a good website. It’s knowing what to do with it. What they’re doing at MoveOn is in many ways strikingly similar to things that our team did at PayPal,” Martin said.
Rather than the traditional methods of face-to-face contact with an army of volunteers on the ground and direct mail, Moveon uses the Internet as a “people aggregator,” he explained, similar to Facebook or MySpace, and is able to “slot people into areas in which they would like to be effective.”
“But in addition,” he continued, “the really crucial thing they do is they have the attitude necessary to earn these people’s trust. They don’t care who they hack off, and they are perfectly happy to get up there and hack off somebody different every single day and really be an authentic voice for their ideology.”
Many, he points out, have wished Republicans had something similar.
“So, that’s exactly what we’re aiming to be. We want to take everything we learned in the dot.com world, apply it to politics and be faithful and true to conservative principles in a world very sadly devoid of people who are,” he said.
“We want to give people real hope and a real way to konk Washington over the head and make people sit up and listen and act on what the people voted for them to go and do.”
Martin said the organization is designed to fall apart if it doesn’t “live and die by our fidelity” to conservative principles.
“We are all too cognizant of the number of conservative and allegedly conservative organizations which have drifted over time, and we have constructed a business model that we think will implode if it drifts,” he said. “And we think that the conservatives of this country deserve no less.”
Martin described it as an organization of “social, economic and foreign policy conservatives” who will “stand up for the 90 percent of Republicans and other conservatives who are always sound on the same issues year after year after year, whether it’s life, border security, Islamofascism, stem cells, taxes – whatever you want to pick.”
Martin said he believes the “Reagan coalition” can be “entrenched” for half a century and sees his group as one of the “tools” to help do that.
“I believe that that is a victory that we can have,” he said. “Conservatives should be hopeful, and this is a cycle in which we can win some historic victories.”
Paul expects to begin the discovery phase of his civil lawsuit soon, in preparation for a trial. A trial was scheduled for last March, but it was delayed due to an appeal of a lower-court’s decision to dismiss Sen. Clinton as a defendant. The California Supreme Court this month upheld the decision, but Sen. Clinton, nevertheless, will be required to testify under oath along with her husband and a host of Hollywood luminaries Paul says were witnesses to a broken deal.
The state high court, in 2004, upheld a decision to deny the Clintons’ motion to dismiss the case.