The new head of the U.S. pardon office, Deborah Leff, is a lifelong far-left activist with deep ties to radicals. She may also serve as a case study for how such activists are either able to infiltrate the establishment news media or are deliberately appointed to top news media positions.
For much of 1980s and 1990s, Leff worked in several major news media capacities. She was senior producer for “ABC World News Tonight With Peter Jennings” and also held the senior producer title at ABC’s “Nightline” and “20/20.”
Before that, she was a news writer at WJLA-TV in Washington and a producer for WLS-TV.
Leff, who graduated Princeton’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs in 1973, came to ABC with a decidedly activist résumé.
In 1971, she took off a semester from undergraduate school to work as a staff aid with the National Women’s Political Caucus, eventually writing her thesis on the attitude of women in the media.
In 1975, she spoke at feminist events, calling herself an “information specialist on the women’s movement.”
From 1980 to 1982 she was director of public affairs for Jimmy Carter’s Federal Trade Commission.
Leff may have showed her more radical colors after she ended her media career, leaving her job at ABC to go on to serve as president of the Joyce Foundation, an anti-gun activist group.
WND reported last week that at Joyce, Leff was the key point person in connecting President Obama to former Weather Underground terrorist Bill Ayers.
Obama served on the Joyce Foundation board from 1994 to 2002. He was named to the board by Leff.
While Leff served as Joyce’s president, the non-profit provided critical start-up capital to the Chicago Annenberg Challenge, or CAC, an education reform group founded by Ayers.
Obama worked closely with Ayers at the CAC and was appointed in 1995 as chairman of the organization’s board.
Obama would later cite his CAC position as evidence of his qualification for public office.
Leff told the New York Times in 2008 that she was the one who first suggested Obama as Annenberg Challenge board chairman.
WND also reported last week, Leff is tied to Ayers’ wife, Bernardine Dohrn, a co-founder with him of the domestic terrorist group.
Last week, the Justice Department announced Leff, currently a senior adviser to Attorney General Eric Holder, will take over the Office of the Pardon Attorney.
Also last week, the Justice Department announced six new guidelines for presidential pardons that will drastically broaden the number of those eligible among the prison population of non-violent offenders.
The new guidelines will make it easier to pardon offenders convicted of long drug offenses under laws that were stricter at the time of conviction.
Deputy Attorney General James Cole told reporters the new guidelines will focus on shortening sentences for those imprisoned under previous rules that saw little disparity between powdered cocaine and crack cocaine.
In 2010, Obama signed the Fair Sentencing Act, which lowered the amount of crack and powdered cocaine that would violate federal law from a 100:1 weight ratio to 18:1 while eliminating a five-year mandatory minimum sentence for possession of crack cocaine.
Major news media reports covered the new pardon guidelines as well as the appointment of Leff to her new position. However, entirely unreported was Leff’s previous relationships with Ayers and Obama as well as her anti-gun activism.
Funded ACORN, other radical groups
Besides her work at Joyce, Leff utilized another former position to steer money to the controversial Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, or ACORN, WND reported.
An extensive review of the grants made by a major progressive foundation run by Leff also found financing to the Marxist-oriented Sojourners, an activist group that claims to espouse Christian social justice, and funding to a group run by radical Van Jones, President Obama’s former “green” jobs czar.
Also financed by Leff’s foundation is the Herndon Alliance, a marketing outfit that was the driving force in branding Obamacare. WND first reported Herndon recommended a series of phrases, some deceptive, that the White House and Democrats used to sell the health-care law to the public.
From 2006 until she came to the Justice Department in 2010, Leff served as president of the Public Welfare Foundation, a progressive funding group that describes itself as supporting “efforts to advance fundamental rights and opportunities for people in need.”
A WND review of the foundation’s grantees during Leff’s tenure as president finds support for a litany of radical organizations.
In 2009, the foundation gave $160,000 to the In These Times blog, where both Ayers and Dohrn served on the editorial board.
The foundation gave $15,000 that year to Sojourners, run by Jim Wallis, who has been described as a spiritual adviser to Obama.
Wallis, once a member of the Obama White House “faith council,” is a socialist activist who has championed communist causes and once labeled the U.S. “the great captor and destroyer of human life,” as WND reported.
Wallis’ Sojourners publishes a magazine that actively lobbied for communist regimes that seized power in Latin America in the late 1970s, including the Sandinista dictatorship in Nicaragua. Sojourners in the 1980s was a fierce opponent of the U.S. nuclear buildup, claiming the policy was “an intolerable evil” irreconcilably at odds with Christianity.
Meanwhile, the Public Welfare Foundation under Leff donated $50,000 in 2007 to the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, an anti-police organization run by Van Jones.
Jones resigned as Obama’s adviser for “green” jobs after it was exposed he founded a communist revolutionary group and called for “resistance” against the police and the U.S. government.
Leff’s fund in 2007 also financed the Marxist-oriented Institute for Policy Studies.
WND counted at least $245,000 steered from Leff’s center to various ACORN offshoots, including Florida ACORN, Minnesota ACORN and the ACORN Institute.
In 2008, the foundation gave $55,000 to the Herndon marketing firm, with 2009 seeing another $100,000 grant.
The little-known Herndon Alliance has been behind the marketing of Obamacare since the inception of the legislation. It was the group that crafted President Obama’s false claim that Americans can maintain their “choice” of doctors and insurance plans.
WND previously reported Herndon’s radical ties, including its partnership with the George Soros-funded Center for American Progress. Van Jones works at the highly influential group.
Other Herndon partners are the AFL-CIO, MoveOn, National Council of La Raza and the socialist-oriented SEIU union.
Yet another Herndon partner is Citizens Action of Wisconsin, an arm of the Midwest Academy. Midwest is dedicated to teaching the tactics of radical organizer Saul Alinsky
With additional research by Brenda J. Elliott..