Ed Martin, co-founder of the American Issues Project, which made a television and Internet ad questioning Sen. Barack Obama’s ties to William Ayers, is wondering whether the Democratic presidential nominee actually wants a “totalitarian” state.
“The attacks … from the Obama camp on the American Issues Project calling upon the Justice Department to shut us down and calling on stations to succumb to boycotts reminds me of a kind of place we’ve been blessed not to know – a kind of a totalitarian, or worse, state,” Martin said.
Obama spokesman Tommy Vietor has characterized the ads, which raise questions about Obama’s links to Ayers, a founder of the Weather Underground organization responsible for bombings at the U.S. Capitol and Pentagon, as “false, despicable and outrageous.”
Martin says, however, the ad’s accuracy was checked carefully.
“We took the time and effort to back it all up – 168 pages of research documents backing up every word in the ad about William Ayers, his past, the bombs he built, the people who died because of his efforts. He actually had a terrorist group he formed and some of the people that he trained, that he helped, became part of the Weather Underground who went on and actually killed police officers. And you really get a sense this isn’t a guy who kind of smoked a little weed and was upset about the draft. This was a guy who said ‘I’m going to bomb the Capitol, bomb police stations, I’m going to kill people.’ He was a fugitive from justice, in part because he had planned a big bombing of an Army office in New Jersey and the bomb blew up and killed three of his own gang, so he had to go on the lam for ten years. It just goes on and on, it reads like a movie,” Martin said.
See the American Issues Project ad:
The controversy that erupted as the result of the TV ad placed by the American Issues Project is now in legal hands. WND has reported Obama has warned TV stations and asked the Justice Department to intervene in an attempt to block the ad from airing.
Martin said he and his board members didn’t take that action lightly.
“You can’t just blow it off, so we had our lawyers write back and say ‘Look, as to whatever is being said, we’ve seen the letter, it’s not true and here’s why and we’re happy to discuss it.’ Frankly, this kind of slash and burn tactic where the Obama campaign is threatening boycotts – first of all, that’s a page out of John Kerry’s book, he did that in 2004 where they’re going to threaten boycotts and complaints. That’s one thing.
“But the Department of Justice letter, we responded and said we’re doing everything according to the law, we’ve been very careful, spent a lot of time and a lot of resources to comply with what are very difficult, sometimes complicated-beyond-belief laws around these things and we’re just going to plow ahead,” he said.
“If these aren’t going to be discussed in any meaningful way by the media, issues like William Ayers and ones we’re going to bring up, then we think we’re doing a service, and again our goal is to get as much information out there as possible so that people can make informed decisions. We’re paying to put the ad on in places like Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, other key states. We’re also talking to the press and getting lots of calls, lots of interest in spreading the message.
“We have yet to decide if we’re going to continue to run the ad, do some more of that ad in other states, or if we’re going to stop and decide to do a different ad. We’re moving slowly but we’re moving methodically, and again hopefully getting lots of people talking about important issues like this one,” Martin said.
The questions arose over Obama’s links to Ayers and whether that sheds light on his character or judgment.
“The facts are simply this – and no one has disputed these facts,” Martin said. “Sen. Obama began his career not 50 years ago, not 30 years ago, not 20 years ago, but maybe in the last five or 10 years. His career began with an unrepentant terrorist named William Ayers in Chicago. Now, I’m not from Chicago, I’m from St. Louis, Missouri. Maybe in Chicago you have to get a sponsor to get into politics that includes unrepentant terrorists or mobsters, I don’t know. But in this case, William Ayers is an unrepentant terrorist who bombed the Capitol and helped bomb police stations and killed police officers. And not only did Sen. Obama have his opening kick-off for his state senate campaign in this guy’s home, but then the guy gave him money, he served on a board with him for years.
“If I served on a board with a guy that said things on 9-11 like, ‘I wish we’d done more when I was a terrorist like in the ’70s’, I wouldn’t stay on that board. I would have turned to my fellow board members and said ‘Guys, what are we doing here? I got a reputation. I got a wife and kids I care about’.”
Ayers told the New York Times at one point several years ago, “I don’t regret setting bombs. I feel we didn’t do enough.” He is married to fellow Weather Underground founder Bernardine Dohrn, who once was on the FBI’s Top 10 Most Wanted List and described by J. Edgar Hoover as the “most dangerous woman in America.”
“No one has said from the Obama campaign, ‘Ed Martin from the American Issues Project, your facts are wrong, this isn’t true.’ And maybe there are worse parts of this story that we’re not hearing yet. So, it’s a very strange response from the Obama campaign, but I’m very grateful because it’s created an incredible amount of interest across the country, and that was our goal from the beginning.”
Martin established the American Issues Project with Ed Feilor, Jr., executive vice president for Iowans for Tax Relief, to push back against what they say are heavily funded attempts by special interests to control the public conversation.
“It came from a lot of reaction from myself and other conservatives talking about what was going on, and our own fear that people are not being able to understand or pay attention to what Sen. Obama really has done in his life,” Martin explained.
“Sen. Obama literally has hundreds of millions of dollars that he will spend along with the unions and other left-wing groups that have said they’re going to spend hundreds of millions of dollars. And in the midst of all that, me and some of my colleagues said, ‘Wait! There are some things that are not being discussed! They don’t appear to be discussed in the mainstream press, they don’t appear to be noticed. Let’s get together and try to get these issues out there.’ And one of them is this friendship mentor relationship with an admitted terrorist,” he said.
“We recognized as conservative activists that there was a coming-together of some really powerful forces that were going to dominate and will dominate the discourse.” Martin pointed to Planned Parenthood, labor unions, MoveOn.org, and ACORN as groups that have publicly said they will spend hundreds of millions of dollars in this election to put their issues out there. Labor groups have pledged $300 million for ad campaigns and get-out-the-vote efforts between now and November. Planned Parenthood and NARAL together will spend over $20 million,” he said.
“Barack Obama has decided to bypass public financing, therefore he will have hundreds of millions of dollars and access from donors. So the sky is the limit at this point,” Martin said.
“What we’re saying is, ‘Hey, we think that there’s room for a few million dollars to put out some conservative ideas, and I believe one of the reasons the Left thinks we’re coordinated so often is that frankly, the Left is coordinated. And they do a better job of getting on the same page and using each other to promote one effort to move things forward. So that’s really one of the reasons we decided we had to do this.”
AIP is designated a 501(c)4 under IRS rules, and is required to disclose its donors when making direct expenditures like the TV ads. Texas billionaire Harold Simmons is underwriting a large portion of the $2.8 million ad buy.
“These major campaigns are very expensive,” Martin said. “Harold Simmons is someone who is so wealthy that he gives a lot of money to a lot of causes, philanthropic, charitable and others. He is someone that has seen the effectiveness of bringing up some of the issues of the past, and was interested in doing that again. A large chunk of our money and time will be spent on issue advocacy, and a smaller portion on this direct advocacy work that we’re doing now. Mr. Simmons has been very generous and so have so many others, and we’re very grateful.
“We accept contributions from individuals only, not corporations, Martin explained. “We’re up front, we disclose who gives to us as we’re required to by the FEC.”
The Obama campaign’s response to the TV ad triggered more reaction in the press than the ad initially did, resulting in even greater exposure than originally anticipated, despite the refusal of two cable news networks to air it.
“We’re running the ad in a lot of the battleground states. We actually went to two of the national stations – CNN and FOX to run the ad and both refused. Now, we didn’t get a straight answer why, but it seemed like they were disinclined to run it during the conventions, although I can’t say we got a straight answer. But it’s running in all those local stations that run Fox and CNN in the local buys.
“A lot of the press wanted to look the other way which is frankly, what the media has done on a lot of issues for a long time. But the Obama response, which was threatening Department of Justice action and boycotts, caused people to sort of say ‘Well, now it’s news. The fight is news. Let’s cover it.’
“I love America and I love these moments,” Martin reflected. “We’re very pleased that Sen. Obama has overreacted and gotten a little hysterical about the charges, because we think this will get a lot of attention on the issue and we’ll be able to talk a lot about who William Ayers is and why Sen. Obama thinks its OK to spend time and work with the guy who’s an admitted terrorist.
He said Obama could calm the issue down quickly, if he chose.
“He could say, ‘I was young. I hung out with a guy who was my mentor. Then I realized he was wrong and I walked away. But he didn’t walk away, or he hasn’t answered that, so we’re going to find out.”
“And there are more things to come, I suspect,” he said.