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What happens when a TV journalist who fiercely defends Barack Obama on the Internet and an attorney from the law firm defending Obama in eligibility lawsuits nationwide team up to form a supposedly public-interest, non-profit organization dedicated to “free speech” and open government?
Though it claims to value transparency, this particular non-profit has done everything possible to ridicule legitimate attempts to see original 1961 Obama birth records.
WND has learned that Morgan Loew of KPHO-TV in Phoenix, a persistent and outspoken critic of WND and Sheriff Joe Arpaio in Maricopa County, Ariz., has joined forces with Dan Barr, the Phoenix representative of Perkins Coie, the Seattle-based law firm that continues to represent Obama on eligibility law suits. They’ve formed The First Amendment Coalition of Arizona, a free speech organization that claims it’s dedicated to obtaining transparency in government.
Watch the live stream of Sheriff Arpaio’s most recent press conference on Obama’s eligibility. When you sign up for access, you’ll receive a copy of the official press release distributed at the conference.
Loew is currently listed as the group’s president, with Barr as the registered agent legal contact for the group.
Examining the public record, Loew and Barr have established themselves not as unbiased advocates for good government, but as Democratic Party partisans willing to use Saul Alinsky-like tactics to demonize opponents. Their foes include WND, Arpaio and Republican Party presidential candidate Mitt Romney, who they view as threats to the re-election of Obama.
In the bag for Obama
Loew is the reporter who waited through Arpaio’s July 17 press conference in Phoenix, not to ask questions about evidence presented that Obama’s long-form birth certificate is a forgery, but to attack WND and the Arpaio investigation as “conspiracy theory peddlers.”
Yet, Loew seems to detect no hypocrisy when he levels accusations in articles on his TV station’s website.
In a July 11 story, Loew charged the “real driving force” behind the Arpaio investigation was Joseph Farah, the founder of WND. Loew charges this reporter and author Tom Ballantyne – associated with the Western Center for Journalism, another website Loew attributes to Farah – gave speeches to the Tea Party in Surprise, Ariz., that sparked the investigation. The speeches, he says, led both to the original petition that prompted the investigation and to a subsequent petition that prompted Arizona Secretary of State Ken Bennett to ask the Hawaii Department of Health for verification of Obama’s published birth certificate.
Farah responded with an editorial July 18 in which noted the Western Journalism Center was always a tax-exempt, nonprofit charity that no one “owned” as such.
Farah further pointed out that Loew’s published comments “could easily serve as a press release for the Arizona Democratic Party or an editorial column in the ‘progressive’ weekly in Phoenix, which actually picked up on it.”
Barr has display his partisan bias in a series of anti-Arpaio and anti-Romney comments he continues to post on Twitter.
Two Twitter comments Barr posted in June attacked Romney over his experience as an equity manager, equating him with a professional gambler.
On the day Arpaio held his second press conference on his investigation, Barr suggested in demeaning terms, with an ethnic reference that Arpaio was “out to sea,” that the sheriff was not mentally balanced and that biased anti-Arpaio news coverage of the event would be somehow appropriate.
WND called the headquarters of the Perkins Coie law firm in Seattle to inquire whether the firm would endorse or disavow Barr’s Twitter posts and whether or not the firm supported the First Amendment Coalition of Arizona that Barr endorsed as a representative of the firm.
After discussion with the public relations office of Perkins Coie in Seattle, no comment for publication was forthcoming.
WND also contacted KNXV-TV in Phoenix and KVOA-TV in Tucson to ask if the station management, as members of the First Amendment Coalition of Arizona, also endorsed the partisan political accusations and pronouncements made by Loew and Barr.
Neither channel responded to WND with comments for publication.
What does the coalition do?
WND interviewed Ken Bunting, the executive director of the National Freedom of Information Coalition at his office at the Reynolds Journalism Institute in the Missouri School of Journalism in Columbia, Mo.
Bunting insisted the First Amendment Coalition of Arizona was a member in good standing.
“I don’t involve myself a lot in Arizona politics,” Bunting explained to WND in a telephone interview.
“But I do think Sheriff Arpaio’s campaign to invalidate a birth certificate from another state – a border county in Arizona – is unusual, strange, and silly. I also think the effort to disqualify President Obama from the ballot in Arizona is controversial and silly. And I though Governor Jan Brewer wagging her finger at the president on the tarmac was unusual and inappropriate. It’s a delusional premise to think these things are controversial because one of our board members criticized them.”
Bunting said he saw nothing inappropriate in Barr’s tweets, although he was unaware that Perkins Coie had represented the 2008 Obama presidential campaign and subsequently the White House in defending Obama in eligibility court challenges.
The National Freedom of Information Coalition describes itself as “a nonpartisan alliance of state open government groups and freedom of information supporters.
The 2008 federal income tax filed on Form 990-PF by the First Amendment Coalition of Arizona Inc. showed the group had $35,831 of revenue for the year, coming from contributions, grants and gifts; in 2009, $35,093; and in 2010, $35,504 total revenue.
Among the few activities listed on the First Amendment Coalition of Arizona website was the sponsoring of a speech in Phoenix in June by Dave Cuillier, the director of the School of Journalism at the University of Arizona in Tucson. The article explained how journalists and private citizens can gain access to public records, including police reports, court documents and school records, by overcoming denials and without paying exorbitant fees.
Not surprisingly, there is no discussion anywhere on the First Amendment Coalition of Arizona website describing tactics that might be effective in getting Obama to release a long list of sealed documents, including his school admission records and grades from kindergarten through Harvard Law School, his passport records and his medical records.
WND reported in June 2011 that White House counsel Bob Bauer resigned from Perkins Coie less than two months after the White House released Obama’s long-form birth certificate. The firm has continued to represent Obama on eligibility court challenges, however.