Category Archives: Public Policy Principles News

…And News Outlets Who Want To Be Partisan Should Give Up Freedom Of The Press

For 54 years the first amendment of the US Constitution has been suspended for a very specific cultural demographic. That group has been singled out to be effectively gagged because many group members had a voice that corrupt politicians found too difficult to overcome in election races. So the grafters cooked up a way to silence their critics in the most effective way possible. By threatening their cash flow. The crooked politicians created a clause in the tax code that required members of this special group remain silent in political matters or to lose both their own tax-exempt status and the deductibility of any donations made to them. The group whose freedom of speech has been so obviously violated is the Church. The politician who led the effort to strip churches of their right to be heard on political matters was Senator, later President, Lyndon Johnson. This information about who did this to the Church and why it was done is a well known matter of historical fact. To everyone, that is, except the Columbus Dispatch editorial writers.

Their editorial for Wednesday September 10, 2008 titled Preaching Politics; Churches that want to be partisan should give up tax exemption displays either gross historical ignorance, a terrible naivete regarding politically motivated abuses of the tax code or a blatant disingenuousness designed to hide political partisanship. Or maybe it’s a combination of all three.

The subject of the editorial in question is the Alliance Defense Fund’s (ADF) Pulpit Freedom Sunday event on Sunday Sept, 28, 2008. The Dispatch editors begin their political speech restriction rationalization tour de force with this gem-

The idea behind a 1954 IRS rule that bars tax-exempt organizations from direct involvement in partisan politics couldn’t be clearer: Tax exemption is a privilege for those organizations whose work benefits society and is nonpartisan. It preserves the resources of these groups for the good works they do, and that includes churches.

It is difficult to believe that supposedly savvy newspaper editors could be this politically naive. It is as if they allowed a high school journalism class write this section of the editorial. The idea behind the change in the tax code was to shut the mouths of pastors who were making it clear that politicians like Lyndon Johnson were crooks and unworthy of their congregations’ votes- for biblical reasons.

What is easier to grasp is that the Dispatch editors do not understand that churches are not just exempted from taxes they are immune from them. This is a key point that is being overlooked by Christians, many of whom will loudly insist that their pastor shouldn’t endorse or disparage candidates from the pulpit. Churches are immune from taxation because the Church and the state are separate and co-equal realms of Christ’s Kingdom each with a distinct non-overlapping authority sphere. The civil realm is the realm of justice while the Church is the realm of grace.

Then Jesus came near and said to them, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. (emphasis added)- Matthew 28:18

And He said to them, “Whose likeness and inscription is this?” They said to Him, “Caesar’s.” Then He said to them, “Then render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s; and to God the things that are God’s.”- Matthew 22:20, 21

As committed secularists, the editors deny that the Church has any authority whatsoever. This declaration in light of Christ’s proclamation above is futile and meaningless, like an angry man that shakes his fist at and curses the wind in a storm. Hence the false notion that tax exemption is a “privilege for those organizations whose work benefits society and is nonpartisan.” The Church is tax exempt because the state has no authority over it. The Church needs no “privileges” from the state. The Church answers to Christ alone (note that this does not mean that churches can violate civil law at will and expect no consequences).

The editors go on to proclaim from on high

…every political season, the false complaint rises anew: Pastors are being denied freedom of speech and religion because IRS rules forbid them from preaching for or against candidates from the pulpit.

Imagine it! These pastors actually believe that their freedom of speech, not to mention the free exercise of religion have been violated just because they (and their parishoners) will be punished by the IRS for endorsing candidates! This is the height of hypocrisy from a profession that proclaims itself the guardians of freedom of speech, press, expression, etc. But this pretzel logic gets worse.

The rule doesn’t prohibit members of the clergy or anyone else from espousing personal political views away from the pulpit. It doesn’t prevent any organized group from supporting or opposing a political candidate. It simply says a group engaging in partisan politics has to pay taxes.

In other words, keep the fact that a candidate is anti-Christian or a corrupt grafter to yourself or face the wrath of the federal tax authorities.

So let’s look at this from a different perspective. Lets say Congress tires of dealing with pesky newspaper editors who constantly point out the pecadillos of politicians. The politicians pass an amendment to the tax code which taxes a media outlet whenever they express an opinion about a sitting government representative or a candidate for office. It’s not really an infringement of freedom of the press because no one is prohibited from printing anything. They just have to pay the tax. How long do you suppose it would take for the Dispatch and other news outlets to begin civil disobedience under these circumstances? Instantly, perhaps?

Realizing that the case is exceedingly weak the Dispatch editors try to appeal to the Christian sense of propriety.

Politics, as anyone can see today, often is a hateful and divisive business, while churches traditionally have been devoted to peacemaking, healing and reconciliation.

Politics is a dirty business. You nice Christians need to stay out of it and leave it to us grizzled news types. This is a thinly veiled and cynical attempt to maintain the main stream media’s tenuous control of public opinion and therefore policy.

The truth is that Christians have a bad habit of bringing Christian ethics to bear when they become involved in something. Truly Christian ethics are based on absolutes; truth, right and wrong for instance. Humanistic politics often deals in situational ethics and “gray areas.” This allows opinion manipulators to often act as brokers in shady political deal making and to do this means that concessions must often be made regarding what is and isn’t true. Politics has become dirty precisely because Christians have withdrawn from it for so long. A strong Christian political ethic preached from a well-informed pulpit threatens the status quo and therefore the entrenched power structure, including the compromised media. That’s right. Well informed pastors willing to speak truth about corruption in the civil realm is dangerous!

The Dispatch editors then wander off to a sort of journalistic fantasyland where tax-exempt organizations flex their new found political muscle and dive into the deep end of the political pool, actually endorsing candidates! Apple carts might be upset! Groups could demand the freedom of speech, press and assembly that other entities have! Why, they might lose donors! People might stop giving blood! They can’t believe anyone would risk donors!

More important, if churches are released from this obligation, other tax-exempt organizations, too, could rightfully challenge the law, upsetting even more apple carts. Donations to tax-exempt organizations could rise or fall based on donors’ feelings about a group’s political activities, or simply because donors might not know a group’s viewpoint and don’t want to risk supporting a view they might oppose. Think about the complications if the Red Cross endorsed politicians. Does anyone want politics to enter into the decision of whether or not to donate blood?

This is nothing more or less than a desperate attempt to appeal to the tax-exempt groups’ pocket books and, in reality, is a thinly veiled threat. And again we see the insistence that Christ’s Church bow to Caesar, as if that was biblically required. Of course, the Church answers only to God.

The editors wrap-up with a complete misstatement of the argument.

Tax-exempt charitable organizations are given a tax break because they do good works that transcend politics. The Alliance Defense Fund’s initiative would put this fine system in jeopardy.

Of course, this statement is debatable for non-church entities which are accountable to the state, though the “transcendence of politics” statement is high-sounding but meaningless drivel. But as for Christ’s Church, it must, like Peter and the Apostles “…obey God not men”-Acts 5:29. And when there is no jurisdiction, there can be no taxes.

The Institute For Principled Policy vs. The Clermont County Public Library Board

Some of you may have read that the Institute For Principled Policy is currently one of the plaintiffs in a lawsuit against the Clermont County (OH) Public Library Board (CCPLB). Stories appeared recently on World Net Daily, which gives a good summary of the events surrounding the filing of the suit, The Cincinnati Enquirer, which gives a slightly pro-library spin to the story and also several online Christian news outlets.

The Institute along with George Vandergriff and Cathy Vandergriff are suing CCPLB for denying access to public meeting rooms for the purpose of teaching a biblically-based financial management class. Part of the Institute For Principled Policy’ s mission is to promote principled public policy through teaching individuals using biblically-based educational materials and the Bible itself. We are being represented by attorneys from the Alliance Defense Fund (ADF). The Institute and the Vandergriffs assert that the CCPLB is in violation of several sections of the first and fourteenth amendments of the US Constitution and Art. 1 Sec. 7 of the Ohio Constitution which guarantee the rights of freedom of religious practice, assembly, speech, expression and the right to equal protection under the law. Details of the lawsuit are available here and the ADF’s take on the suit here.

You haven’t read much about it on our own pages for a couple of good reasons. The volunteer staff of the Institute has been very busy preparing to teach classes in history, government, economics, etc. at Camp American. The mission of the Institute to educate marches on, even when statist bureaucrats try to stand in the way with illegal and unconstitutional “policies.” Making too much noise at the wrong time on issues like this can often obscure the original objective of the suit, which is to expose an anti-Christian bias on the part of the CCPLB and other library boards. We also believe the old saw that the hen must be the wisest of the animals in the barnyard because she only cackles after the egg is laid. Well the egg is not yet laid, but the hen has settled onto the laying box and conditions are right. As soon as we have an egg, be it fresh or rotten, you’ll know about it.

Question or comment? Head over to the forum and we’ll do our best to answer you.

Exactly What Ohio Needs…To Commit Cultural Suicide

GamblingThis story from the Des Moines Register is written in a somewhat light-hearted, wink-wink, nudge-nudge style but putting a little thought into it reveals that, like an iceberg, the dangerous part is below the surface.

The question here is about how casinos outside Las Vegas market themselves to attract customers and how those customers translate that message. The fired employee, Mr. Jorgensen, demonstrated that he understood exactly the intent of the Iowa casino’s marketers in their sales campaign. He said “The advertisement is that it’s just like Las Vegas, so I thought I was in Las Vegas.” Mr. Jorgensen was drawn by the implied promise and the belief that “what happens in Iowa City stays in Iowa City.” Obviously, this was a mistaken belief.

What Mr. Jorgensen believed was that he was being treated by the casino, his employer, to a night of drunken debauchery, complete with gambling, pornography, prostitutes, etc. What his casino bosses know and are actively trying to obfuscate is that Mr. Jorgensen’s assumption is exactly what they’re trying to sell to certain kinds of people. People like Mr. Jorgensen. But the obfuscation is in play because the casino operators know that there is a tension in their marketing efforts. If Iowans who aren’t really paying attention, having been temporarily dazed and confused by claims of giant revenues and consequent potential unlimited benefits from allowing casino gambling, begin to see the truth of what casino gambling brings to surrounding communities they will demand an end to it. And the cold reality is that casino gambling brings increased theft, prostitution, assault, broken families, bankruptcies, drugs, pornography, gambling addiction and costs to clean up the mess that far exceed the revenues.

So the trick for casino operators is to sell their non-Vegas casinos as the closest possible clone, implying that anything available in Vegas will be available in Iowa City or Wheeling or Rising Sun or wherever to gamblers and those who seek the other activities accompanying gambling while not awakening the locals to the cold reality. It’s a tight-rope walk and Mr. Jorgensen has been caught in the backdraft of casino management’s effort to show locals that they’re keeping it “family friendly.” Jorgensen, for one, gets the idea that he has been treated hypocritically. “Gamblers have been allowed to continue gambling after they’ve urinated on the blackjack table standing in full public view,” he testified. “I think there’s a little dual standard here.” Of course there’s a dual standard, but after all it’s for the common good!

Ohio needs to think very hard before allowing casino gambling, or keno machines, for that matter. Keno machines are no different from electronic slots and they have the problem of being constitutionally banned, though this little impediment doesn’t seem to bother Governor Strickland or Attorney General Marc Dann.

What Will You Do When They Come For You? (II)

Yes, they’re aiming at you.NOTE: The Youtube feeds that we originally embedded into this article have been removed from Youtube due to copyright violations. You can see them at the originating TV station, WKYC in Cleveland here and here.

These incidents are becoming far too frequent. Of course, one is one too many, And they aren’t just happening in “Hicksville” or “out west” or “down south” or wherever the knee-jerk reaction of the hearer might mentally carry them. And it’s not just happening to people who are members of the “loony right,” the “patriot movement” or whatever other cliched scapegoats the media loves to create. It’s happening to regular citizens who aren’t “properly compliant” or who aren’t behaving in a way that law enforcement officers think is “normal.” And it’s happening right here in Ohio. As close as Stark County (County seat in Canton).

For those of you who doubt this, we offer a couple of videos that we hope you find shocking. They certainly shocked us.

WARNING! These videos are violent and contain shocking footage of the brutal strip search of an apparently innocent woman by no less than 5 and as many as 7 Stark County sheriff’s deputies male and female (in violation of Stark County Sheriff’s office policy). All nudity has been blocked.


The second part of this report can be seen here


The Stark County Sheriff, who is “…charged with the responsibility of maintaining the public peace and protecting the lives and property of all citizens in Stark County…(emphasis added),” instead of protecting the rights of Mrs. Steffey, he rallied around his “troops” and claimed they were doing this “by the book.” This is obviously a lie and nothing makes that more obvious than video footage that was clearly taken but not turned over to Steffey’s lawyers (see second video) and the fact that gee, what do you know, here’s a shocker, there is no footage of any of the incidents leading up to Mrs. Steffey’s arrest. The officer “forgot” to turn on his cruiser camera. It seems that Sheriff Swanson and his deputies had hoped this incident would “just go away.” But now it probably won’t just go away and some are asking Ohio’s Attorney General Marc Dann to investigate. It remains to be seen whether or not Dann is just too busy with driving around the state personally filing suits against the focus of all evil in Ohio, underperforming charter schools, to look into it.

What should happen? This sorry excuse for a sheriff should be sent packing by the electorate either via a recall effort or at his next election. He is in violation of his oath “… to serve and protect…” which disqualifies him from further service as a law enforcement officer. The next sheriff should, as his first official act, fire all deputies involved in this incident, apologize to the Steffey’s on behalf of Stark County and agree to provide any necessary evidence or testimony in their damage suit.

If Stark County residents return this man to office then they get what they deserve.

Christian Charlatans or Swindling Senators- Which Is Worse?: Update

The Crumbling ChurchAn editorial in January’s Christianity Today reveals that, uncharacteristically, CT gets it! Surprisingly, CT asks all of the right questions about the motivations of Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley in his “investigation” into the finances of famous health and wellness gospel preachers and seems to get all of the right answers.

That is, they see that this a sitting Senator’s attempt to directly interfere in a church doctrine (health and wellness doctrine) that he does not like. We agree that the health and wellness doctrine, that teaches that monetary wealth and health are direct indicators of the measurement of a persons faith, is aberrant.

We disagree with Senator Grassley, that the federal government has any jurisdiction in the matter at all. Don’t misunderstand. We think fraud is a crime. There is no fraud involved in health and wellness doctrine teaching. We think these preachers believe what they are teaching, to their eternal peril. The first amendment to the Constitution is very clear on the subject; “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;…” Doctrinal discipline is for Christ’s Church to perform, not an overreaching federal leviathan. Grassley is attempting to make political hay by implying a threat of force to change church doctrine.

This is a very dangerous precedent. It’s time for Christians to speak out on this now!

Report: A Gathering of Eagles

It is difficult to imagine where else a Christian activist, in a single weekend no less, could-

  • Explain what’s wrong with the laughably misnamed “fair tax” to an otherwise well informed and viable candidate for Congress
  • Watch as a group of well-known pastors and Christian activists completely fail to answer the question “can you define existentialism and cultural Marxism?”… at a Christian worldview conference!
  • Engage in a spirited discussion with a candidate for the Republican presidential nomination about whether or not the President and Congress can surrender US sovereignty to the UN via the treaty mechanism described in article VI of the US Constitution (They can’t. The candidate disagrees)
  • Sell a respectable number of Reformed and Covenantal Theology themed books (not to mention having one stolen- from a church foyer) in a gathering overwhelmingly populated by self-described hyper-Arminian Open Theists, full and semi-Pelagians and Pre-millenial Dispensationalists
  • That is only some of what I recently experienced at the recent Gathering of Eagles event in Warsaw and Coshocton OH, December 14 & 15, 2007.

    While part of this meeting was a leadership summit involving several Christian groups, the Institute For Principled Policy was not a direct participant in these activities, nor were we invited to be a part of any of the leadership summit activities. Institute representatives were there as observers.

    Being both a veteran attender and teacher at Christian worldview seminars and conferences, I had rather high expectations regarding what I would see and hear. To be sure there were some excellent presentations on subjects that one would expect to see at a Christian worldview event. But also be sure that there were probably at least an equal number of presentations that could only be described as “fire and brimstone” revival sermons, complete with high-decibel (not to mention high dudgeon) bellowing for repentance and Finney-ish alter calls. Not the usual fare at worldview events.

    One excellent presentation was given by E. Ray Moore of the Exodus Mandate Project. Moore’s Power Point presentation on the rapidly fading Christian worldviews of Christian children educated in public schools vs. those educated in home and Christian schools was an eye-opening presentation. The Institute For Principled Policy is currently working to make closer ties with the Exodus Mandate. Watch for details.

    Other fine presentations in the Christian worldview category were given by Mark Harrington of the mid-western office of the Center For Bioethical Reform, who informed us of his efforts related to the GAP (Genocide Awareness Project) and his “truth trucks.”

    Pastor Joe Larson of What’s Right What’s Left Ministries also gave an all too quick survey of Christian worldview education and understanding competing worldviews.

    Another excellent presentation was given by Pastor Rick Scarborough of Vision America. It was his testimony of the circumstances which drug him into the political arena and demonstrated to him that there is no neutrality in issues which effect our homes, families, communities, states and nation. Every pastor should hear Dr. Scarborough give this testimony!

    James Hartline gave testimony regarding his journey into the depths of homosexuality, drug abuse and addiction, disease and prison followed by his salvation and his calling of God to help guide others out of the lifestyle of disease, depravity and death by the light of Jesus Christ. James has been very active in the San Diego homosexual community, managing to be a leader in closing several bath houses and other sexually oriented businesses in his community. He is also active in helping to save the Mt. Soledad Cross.

    Pastor Mark Holich gave a presentation on the use of the IRS as a gag for the mouths of pastors and para-church ministries through the abuse of the 501(c)3 “rules.”

    Finally, Dr. Alan Keyes, the headliner of the conference who also happens to be a Republican presidential candidate, gave a presentation in which he pointed out that the US is currently rapidly changing from a republic to a democracy. Unfortunately, Dr. Keyes revealed that his understanding of the definition of a republic is at least somewhat flawed. He began at the Declaration of Independence as the philosophical underpinnings of the US Constitution. In this he is correct. The Constitution cannot be understood except in the context of what is written in the Declaration. Where Keyes went astray was his insistence on quoting Abraham Lincoln, the President who, arguably, fashioned the democratic noose with which the founders’ republic has been strangled. He insisted in building a bridge between the Declaration of Independence and Lincoln’s prevarication regarding his purpose in waging the War Between The States from the Gettysburg Address

    …that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth (emphasis added).

    Can there be a better definition of government unchained from the rock anchor of higher authority and replaced with “the will of the people” in the guise of a just avenger bringing a “new birth of freedom?” Rhetoric sound familiar? Isn’t that nearly identical to the spiel coming from the current occupant of the White House about events in Iraq even now?

    We will further discuss Dr. Keyes presentations in the light of dinner conversation in a moment but we must endeavor to complete a report on the second day of the Gathering of Eagles.

    In the afternoon presentations were delivered by several well known and not so well known Christian activists. Peter La Barbera of Americans For Truth About Homosexuality talked about efforts to expose what actually happens at San Francisco’s infamous Folsom St. Festival. He explained that local, state and national authorities have worked diligently to keep the details of this sanctioned public street debauch from the public at large, knowing the revulsion that would be generated.

    Lt. Col. James Klingenschmidt gave a blow-by-blow description of his ordeal over praying in the name of Jesus Christ while in his Navy uniform. The story is quite stunning in its entirety, involving his disobedience of direct orders from superiors up to and including the Chief of Naval Operations. Klingenschmidt is currently petitioning for reinstatement. Please contact the Institute if you are interested in signing one of these petitions.

    Pastor Ernie Sanders of What’s Right What’s Left Ministries gave an excellent summary of the Marxist worldview, how it remains alive, well, active and entrenched in many institutions, both public and private. Ernie always gives a great presentation and is a perfect example of leadership by doing. He is pastor of a large congregation in Geauga County OH, is head of the Geauga County Right To Life, is a radio talk show host and is quite active in his community.

    Tom Condit, an Ohio attorney in private practice for the Rutherford Institute gave a presentation on his and the Rutherford Institute’s efforts to help protect free speech. Condit has been involved in several important cases involving suits against Planned Paenthood’s provision of abortions to minors without parental consent, defending Christians who protest against strip clubs and porn shops, etc.

    Following this presentation There were several that I listened to from our booth in the foyer. Essentially, they were the same presentation, slightly rearranged, delivered in a variety of tones, from fiery to mild. All called for repentence and a national return to Christ. The presenters included the Rev. Flip Benham of Operation Save America, author and independent presidential candidate Peter Grasso and Dr. Mark Kiser, president of Asleep kNOw More Ministries. Dr. Patrick Johnston of the Association of Pro-life Physicians gave another excellent presentation his efforts to promote the pro-life cause and educate physicians so that they will no longer perform abortions.

    What followed was one of the most interesting dinner breaks in memory. It was relatively uneventful until nearly the end. Many of the participants in the rally were seated together in a buffet style restaurant. Towards the end of the meal it became quite obvious that Dr. Keyes was becoming agitated about his participation in the recent Republican presidential debate in Iowa, and rightfully so. This exchange may shed some light on what was eating Keyes. Listen to the exchange on global warming and especially the “Doctor, heal thyself” comment beginning around the 4:00 mark. Several claim that Dr. Ron Paul made this remark while others claim it was Tom Tancredo. In any case it clearly agitated Dr. Keyes and he was still feeling the sting 3 days later.

    I was sitting with an Institute colleague in the next table. My colleague was wearing a “Ron Paul for President” t-shirt over his sweater and Dr. Keyes, who was sitting with Lt. Col. Klingenschmidt, began getting louder and louder in editorializing about Ron Paul to other members of the group. It was the standard Republican Party Ron Paul name calling mantra- “isolationist,” “foreign policy amateur,” “doesn’t understand the Constitution” and possibly the worst, that Dr. Paul was “not really pro-life” because he is a federalist on the abortion and euthenasia question. Both Keyes and Klingenschmidt insisted that Paul said he would have allowed Terri Schiavo to “starve and dehydrate” rather than to intervene based on his Values Voters Debate answers. Of course, they missed the point that Paul’s answers could only be understood in light of Paul’s legislative efforts like the “Sanctity of Life Act” which declares unborn infants to be human beings then returns the questions of abortion and euthanasia to the states and strip federal judges of the authority to hear cases on the subject, thus no longer would abortion be a constitutionally protected “right.”

    Finally, Dr. Keyes approached our table and my colleague asked him if he thought we should be in the UN and whether the UN should be in the United States. Keyes said he thought that we probably shouldn’t be in the UN but that there was nothing that we could do to get out nor were we able to evict them from US soil due to treaty obligations and the fact that treaties become the highest law of the land. I pointed out that article VI of the Constitution militated against his position, since no treaty could be legally made except that they be subordinate to the constitutional rights, duties and obligations as outlined in the Constitution itself. Dr. Keyes implied that I didn’t know what I was talking about and I asked if he’d read Madison on the subject, since Madison was clear that no treaty could supercede the Constitution (at this point, clearly out of his element, Lt. Col. Klingenschmidt beat a hasty retreat). Dr. Keyes admitted that this was true but said it was simply not a practical interpretation of the Constitution for today’s world. In other words, he adopted a “living document” interpretation of article VI of the US Constitution. Keyes constitutional interpretation gets very interesting in light of events as the evening progresses.

    Frankly, I did not listen closely to several of the speakers after the dinner break, since much of what was said was more of the same revival style presentation. I don’t have any problem with revivals. I don’t think that worldview seminars are where they should be held. I think you would have been hard pressed to find anyone in the audience that did not think that America needs repentence and a return to the message of Christ to regain God’s favor as a nation. I would be willing to wager however, that there were plenty of people in the audience who desperately needed to know how to combine efforts to spread the Gospel of Christ while being an influence in steering the culture in a Christlike manner and the biblical basis for doing so.

    I did pay attention to Dr. Alan Keyes closing speech. What made this speech so interesting was Dr. Keyes made an impassioned and complex logical argument against the income tax based on original intent of the Constitution’s framers, especially the 10th amendment. Note that I said “original intent.” During Dr. Keyes demonstration of his logical capabilities I leaned over to my colleague and pointed out that it was too bad that he had been unable to apply the same logic or constitutional hermeneutic in our discussion of the UN and article VI of the Constitution. Two diametrically opposite methods of interpreting the Constitution, original intent and “living document approach,” in a 4 hour period is pretty bad, even for an accomplished politician like Alan Keyes and it says a lot of what you could expect from him as president.

    All in all, it was a good but not a great conference, as it could have been.

Issue 1- RIP

RadarOhio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner has (finally) issued a directive to the county boards of election directing that they not count votes cast for Issue 1, the referendum on the Community Defense Act (CDA).

She based her directive on the Ohio Supreme Court’s rejection of motions from the No On Issue 1 Committee attorneys asking the court to force validation of signatures collected that were originally rejected for a variety of reasons. The court’s decision effectively telegraphed that the result of another pending suite in the Ohio 10th Circuit court would have no effect on the outcome, thus leaving Brunner no choice except to issue the directive. Had she failed to do so, and this was a possibility, Issue 1 would have been “live” meaning the votes would have been counted leaving legal avenues open for nearly perpetual lawsuits, one of the reasons that the Ohio Supreme Court ruled as they did.

We continue to urge you to vote in the strongest manner we can. VOTE ON TUESDAY NOVEMBER 6, 2007!

Strike One; “Mandamus will not issue to compel a vain act.”


RadarWe have been blogging that Issue 1, the referendum on the Community Defense Act (CDA) is still a live ballot question, despite Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner’s notification of the No On Issue 1 Committee (the Committee) that it did not meet the requirements to put the issue on the ballot. She still has not notified the county boards of election that the issue is dead so it continues to be live for the November 6, 2007 election. She claims that she has delayed making the notification because of a pending Ohio Supreme Court Case seeking to force validation of signatures.

In a decision issued today by the Ohio Supreme Court those arguments in favor of forcing validation of invalid signatures have crashed with a resounding thud. The phrase the justices used from an earlier case, “Mandamus will not issue to compel a vain act” tells the story of the decision. In reading the decision, one gets the impression that the arguments in favor of validation are not being rebuked in a polite but gentle fashion so much as being subjected to a legal smackdown.

The justices rejected several arguments by explaining that to accept them would tantamount to creating complete electoral chaos by opening large loopholes in which referendum organizers could force acceptance of bad signatures by simply forgoing challenges until time limit windows had closed. They also rejected arguments that would have required local boards of election to validate all of the signatures collected again, nearly 700,000, while validating supplemental signatures- all within a 5 day window! They also rejected arguments that signatures from county boards of election should be automatically counted as valid if the Secretary of State’s return deadline were missed. The justices were not impressed

Although some of the boards violated the five-day requirement of R.C. 3519.16, it is clear from the secretary of state’s worklog that by the time of the secretary of state’s October 17 insufficiency determination, which was only two days after the statutory deadline, she had received from the boards of elections all of their verification reports concerning the sufficiency of the signatures contained on the supplemental part-petitions. The primary purpose of the requirement in R.C. 3519.16 ─ that the boards promptly make their sufficiency determinations of supplemental part-petitions ─ was served. There is also no evidence here that the minimal additional time taken by some of the boards of elections was intended to impair relators’ referendum rights.

Now, for this last out, ninth inning rally to be brought to a close only two more strikes are necessary; Jennifer Brunner has to issue notifications to the county boards of election that Issue 1 is dead and a 10th Circuit court challenge, for forced acceptance of certain invalidated signatures from the “3 C” counties, needs to be rejected. The Ohio Supreme Court has already telegraphed in their decision that they won’t look favorably on the arguments being employed by the plaintiffs in that case. Keep watching this site.

When Not Enough Is Too Much

RadarThe Columbus Dispatch for Saturday October 27, 2007 reports that more than $1.3 million was spent on the recent effort to repeal the Community Defense Act (CDA). The Toledo Blade for the same date has a similar if more detailed report. Both articles report the same amount of money spent (which may be a low figure) but give vastly different amounts of money donated by the Buckeye Assoc. of Club Executives (BACE), a group of strip club owners and managers and General Video of America (GVA), a Cleveland based pornography distributor. The Dispatch reports that BACE put up $640,000 and GVA contributed $345,000 in cash and in-kind donations. This adds up to about $985,000 about $315,000 short of the total spending reported. The Blade reports BACE putting in $785,500 and GVA contributing $431,042. This total is about $100,000 shy of the reported total spending. Neither report indicates what earlier spending reports revealed- that substantial donations came from out-of-state pornography producers. So why is that not covered in the stories and is the reason for the discrepancy that journalists are giving the No On Issue 1 Committee (the Committee) a break (or maybe reporters just can’t add)?

The report in the Blade speculates that the only winner was the Craig Group, a Columbus political consulting and marketing company that ran the initial signature collection effort. They got a million dollars to get the job done. They couldn’t do better than to turn in signatures at a validity rate under 33%. They blame the short time frame. Frankly, we don’t buy these excuses. In 2004 signatures were gathered by a group of mostly volunteer gatherers at a rate exceeding 50% in a similar time frame. When Phil Craig, President of the Craig Group, says “…there’s no way to know what the validation rates are going to be” he is correct. You never know for sure, but you can sabotage your own effort when you engage in practices like the following:

  • Hire convicted felons to gather signatures- it’s illegal in Ohio

  • Engage in fraud to get people to sign, then get caught by media who are only too happy to expose it to the public

  • Take on an issue that would de-regulate sex businesses, businesses most people would prefer either didn’t exist or if they must exist, that they do so in someone else’s neighborhood- something which requires some form of regulation

  • Make sure everybody knows what you’re about by opening your campaign with a press conference where strippers in tight pink t-shirts give impassioned speeches which reveal how much money they are making, mostly from boyfriends and husbands of women watching from home

  • Act as agents for corporations whose leadership who have no qualms about, and in fact are proud to engage in, exploitation of a man’s natural desire to view attractive women’ bodies and women’s perceived need for income for a number of reasons, often including broken families

Phil Burress, President of CCV, put it very succinctly in the Blade article. He said

“They tried to hijack our name and then changed it…They put people on the street who lied to voters, saying the petition would close down strip bars. … They hired ex-convicts to collect signatures, which is a violation of the law …So we’re supposed to be surprised when, out of 612,000, they’ve only got 181,000 [valid] signatures?”

So we definitely disagree that the Craig Group is a “winner” in this situation. The whole effort is a “loser” for many reasons.

The Blade has a quote from Sandy Theis, a spokesman for the Committee that is a stunning revelation of her ability to twist the truth of events in order to make it appear that, somehow, her side of the issue had been presented with some unfair disadvantage. Theis says

“It shows the importance of having good-quality control to catch problem circulators and problem petitions early in the process,”

Indeed! It also shows the necessity of actually desiring to engage in quality control. Since the signature gatherers hired by the Craig Group were producing signatures by engaging in fraud, quality control was not really necessary. Only after journalists began to investigate and report on the open, obvious and illegal methods being used was some form of “quality control” begun. It consisted of firing a few of the most egregious practitioners of fraud and supposedly discarding their petitions. As we have blogged about previously, Theis claimed that petitioners had been “trained and retrained.” This didn’t stop the fraud, as several journalists reported.

Theis then goes on

“This shows what a huge favor the lawmakers did for CCV [Citizens for Community Values] by not making them go the referendum route”

Theis is completely disingenuous here. The fact is this law (the Community Defense Act or CDA) was passed in substantially its present form by the Ohio House of Representatives by a wide margin in the 2006 session and sent to the Ohio Senate. It appeared to be set for an easy passage. Then high profile lobbyists for the sex industry, the same sex industry that employs Ms. Theis, began the financial and political political wire-pulling and log-rolling in the Senate. Senate leadership caved to sex industry lobbying pressure and allowed the bill to be virtually gutted. That was the version that passed.

What followed was a CCV led ballot initiative petition drive to pass the CDA as it was originally designed. The strategy was to get signatures to authorize the collection of enough signatures to bring the law to a general election up or down vote. People were begging to sign these petitions. They wanted the law. Once the ballot initiative drive was qualified, the Ohio Legislature had a window of time in which to pass the proposed law or face the political embarrassment of being bypassed by the electorate. When it became clear that those behind the passage of the referendum were serious and that they were prepared to do the same thing that virtually the same coalition had accomplished in 2004 with the Marriage Protection Amendment, the legislature passed the law substantially intact, albeit at the last possible minute. This, despite tremendous financial and political pressure from sex business lobbyists (the same lobbyists that represent gambling interests) and political maneuvering from their allies in the legislature. Sorry, Ms. Theis. Unlike the strip clubs, CDA supporters got no special favors from the legislature.

The sex industry spent money by the wheelbarrow full, unleashed the PR hounds and engaged in fraud in order to reach the ballot. That failed. Now they are trying to get the courts to see it their way. Jennifer Brunner, the Secretary of State, whose job it is to see that elections are conducted in a fair and legal manner, is engaging in a game of electoral brinksmanship. It is notable that her husband Rick has done legal work for the strip clubs and is a registered lobbyist. Shouldn’t this mean that she should recuse herself from the process, as her predecessor, Ken Blackwell did when he had a conflict of interest? She has notified the Committee that they did not qualify for the ballot but she has not notified the local boards of election (see our earlier posting on the same subject for details). This means as of right now Issue 1 is a live ballot issue. Should this be qualified for the ballot by judicial fiat, it is imperative that the word get out that voting on Tuesday Nov. 6 is of vital importance.

Was You Ever Bit By A Dead Bee?


RadarWalter Brennan’s character, Eddie the alcoholic first mate to Humphrey Bogart’s Captain Harry Morgan, asks this seemingly non-sequitur question at random times in the 1944 movie To Have And Have Not. It may not have made much sense in the movie but there is a possibility that it has taken on a new and serious meaning in Ohio electoral politics this fall.

Jennifer Brunner, the Secretary of State, notified the No On Issue 1 Committee on October 17 that they had failed to meet the requirements to place Issue 1 on the ballot. However, to date, no such notification has been given to the parties that really matter- the local county boards of election. There is a suit currently before the Ohio Supreme Court to get the justices to force Brunner to certify enough bad signatures for the issue to be placed on the ballot (not that we think she needs too much forcing). In other words, until Brunner notifies the local boards of election that Issue 1 is officially dead, it’s a live ballot question on November 6! Yes there’s a potent odor of fish about all of this but that observation bears analyzing at a nother time.

What’s that mean? It means get out the vote! Do not, REPEAT, do not plan to sit this one out! There might be no ruling from the Supreme Court until the Friday or even Monday before the election!

So just as a reminder-

If you favor the regulation of strip clubs and adult businesses you must vote “YES”

If you favor allowing strip clubs to continue to operate with no state regulation vote “no”

Please pass the word to everyone. Do Not Forget To Vote On Tuesday November 6! This is of vital importance!

You can help pass the word. Citizens For Community Values (CCV) has church bulletin inserts on Issue 1 available. They also have built a website that is the place to go for official news and information on Issue 1.

Pastors, elders, and church board members; if you fear involving your church in the referendum, please read this letter from the Alliance Defense Fund, an organization that helps churches speak out on matters of social importance.