Supplemental Letter to FEC Complaint Against Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition and Steve Scheffler

Mar 14, 2011

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March 14, 2011

Office of General Counsel

Federal Election Commission

999 E Street, N.W.

Washington, D.C.  20463

Re:  MUR 6459

I am in receipt of your letter of March 7, 2011 regarding my complaint (MUR 6459) against the Iowa Faith & Freedom Coalition’s (IFFC) Presidential Forum.  Now that the IFFC Forum is over, I would like to submit supplemental evidence to my original complaint that further proves that the Iowa Faith & Freedom Coalition was not acting in accordance with the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971.

The five potential candidates who attended the IFFC March 7, 2011 Forum were not chosen using “pre-established objective criteria,” the event did not meet the broad FEC definition for a debate and the non-profit hosting organization clearly supported certain potential candidates for Federal Office above others.

Large Media and Public Turnout

The Iowa Faith & Freedom Coalition held its Presidential Forum on March 7, 2011.  An audience of between 1,000 – 2,000 were reported to have attended, plus “150 state, national and international media representatives covered the event.” (Attachment 1)   The format was not a true debate, but the format was separate speeches where “each of five candidates had 10 minutes to make an impression on an eager audience.”  (Attachment 2)

The Iowa Faith & Freedom Coalition constantly referred to the participants as “candidates.” It stated on its own website, “Don’t miss the most exciting political event ever held in Iowa’s presidential caucus history!” (Attachment 3)  Its Press Release continues, “This collection of speakers marks the first event of its kind in the 2012 race.” (Attachment 3)  “There will be candidate and issue-oriented literature tables for you to browse.  There will be opportunities for you to interact with the candidates.” (Attachment 3)

Governor Terry Branstad of Iowa opened the evening by telling the audience: “This is the first significant event of the caucus season,” He referred to those attending as “valuable” potential supporters.” (Attachment 4)  In his speech, Gov. Branstad stated, “I want you to know, these people of Faith & Freedom here tonight are people who show up at caucuses.” (Attachment 2)

Steve Scheffler, President of the Iowa Faith & Freedom Coalition, reiterated that point in his speech, “This is the start of the 2012 presidential caucus process,”  (Attachment 4).  Ralph Reed, National Chairman of the Faith & Freedom Coalition, warmed up the audience with: “Are you ready to begin the process of choosing Barack Obama’s successor here in Iowa?” (Attachment 5)

Attendees used this opportunity to evaluate the “candidates.”  “I thought he (Herman Cain) was a very charismatic, dynamic gentleman,” said Kay Quirk, a Republican who drove three hours down from Storm Lake, in northwest Iowa.  Quirk said she had “signed up for Cain’s emails and would consider caucusing for him.” (Attachment 4)

Attacking Other Potential Candidates

The Iowa Faith & Freedom Coalition did not act as an unbiased staging organization of an educational forum, but allowed speakers and even Ralph Reed to attack other potential candidates. “One potential candidate who might not have done a fledgling candidacy any good at this event was Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels. His call last month for a truce on social issues was roundly mocked by speakers (Rick) Santorum and Ralph Reed, national chairman of the Faith & Freedom Coalition.” (Attachment 2)  Along with mocking Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, Mr. Reed’s opening call to choose Barack Obama’s successor violates the neutrality guidelines of the FEC: “Nonprofit organizations… which do not endorse, support, or oppose political candidates or political parties may stage candidate debates” (Attachment 13).

News Coverage

Press reports generally referred to the IFFC Forum as the kick-off of the 2012 Republican Presidential Primary season:

The Washington Post: “The 2012 Republican Presidential race for conservative Christian hearts and minds and votes got off to an unbelievable start yesterday.” (Attachment 6)

Real Clear Politics:  “The 2012 presidential nominating season officially began last night as five potential Republican contenders appeared at a forum outside Des Moines hosted by the Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition.” (Attachment 7)

Salon:  “The 2012 Iowa caucus campaign kicked off in a church on Monday night” (Attachment 8)

CBS News: “Organizers cast as the kickoff to the nominating contest in the key first-in-the-nation voting state.”  (Attachment 9)

The Des Moines Register:  “It was the first group appearance of the developing campaign for the Iowa caucuses and an opportunity for a first impression with an active and loyal segment of the Republican caucus electorate.” (Attachment 1)

Politico: “The state’s first big event of the presidential campaign season, the Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition forum” (Attachment 16)

NPR: “The 2012 Republican primary kicked off in earnest. The occasion was an Iowa forum sponsored by Ralph Reed’s Faith and Freedom Coalition” (Attachment 17)

My Complaint Received Widespread Coverage

News of my complaint received extensive coverage in Iowa and throughout the country, including: Associated Press, Chicago Tribune,  Des Moines Register, Sioux City Journal, CBS News, The San Francisco Chronicle, Mother Jones, the Daily Caller, The Atlantic, WHO-TV, KCCI-TV, WHO Talk Radio, KGAN-TV Cedar Rapids and dozens of other television, radio, newspapers, magazines and blogs which covered my initial complaint against the Iowa Faith & Freedom Coalition, Steve Scheffler and his Iowa Christian Alliance.  (Attachment 14).

Objective vs. Subjective Criteria

After my complaint was filed (MUR 6459), Steve Scheffler stated “Potential candidates were invited based on an objective criteria of viability, fundraising ability, and prior electoral success.” (Attachment 10)  This is vastly different than the reason Mr. Scheffler gave reporters before the complaint was filed on why I was not invited to participate.  Originally Mr. Scheffler said: “Karger’s focus on gay rights makes him a marginal candidate… He’s got one issue and in my opinion that does not make him a serious or legitimate candidate” (Attachment 15).

Mr. Scheffler later claimed he used viability as a measure, which was purely subjective on his part, without some quantitative measure.  Since no one has engaged in fundraising for a Presidential race, he could not have used that.  He could not have used elective history as he claimed, because not everyone invited had one.  So, what were those “objective” criteria and how did he apply them?

Drew Klein, organizational director the Iowa Faith & Freedom Coalition, told the Des Moines Register, “sexual orientation was not a criteria for the invitations. He declined to specify why Karger wasn’t invited.” (Attachment 12)

Mr. Scheffler said, “it’s nonsense to consider an invitation to the group’s event as amounting to an in-kind contribution, because the invitation has no monetary value.” (Attachment 11)  Mr. Scheffler’s assertion that the Presidential Forum had no monetary value is untrue.  With 150 reporters attending and a live broadcast on CSPAN, the in-kind contributions to the five speakers was worth millions of dollars.

Please accept my supplemental complaint to the MUR 6459 file.  It contains further evidence that the Iowa Faith & Freedom Coalition’s sponsorship and financing of its March 7, 2011 Presidential Forum constitutes illegal contributions to the potential candidates who spoke.  They were clearly not chosen using “pre-established objective criteria,” the event did not meet the broad FEC definition for a debate and the non-profit hosting organization did support and oppose certain candidates for Federal Office above others.

I hope this helps in furthering my original complaint.  Thank you very much for your prompt attention.

Sincerely,

Fred Karger

1278 Glenneyre, #20

Laguna Beach, CA 92651

cc:  Distribution

Attachment 1:

Beaumont, Thomas.  “GOP Presidential Hopefuls Push Moral Code at Iowa Forum.”  The Des Moines Register.  March 8, 2011. http://www.desmoinesregister.com/article/20110308/NEWS09/103080376/Speakers-woo-GOP-faithful-at-Iowa-forum?watchdog

Attachment 2:

Obradovich, Kathie.  “Not in Iowa Tonight?  GOP No-Shows Missed Out.”  The Des Moines Register.  March 7, 2011.

http://blogs.desmoinesregister.com/dmr/index.php/2011/03/07/not-in-iowa-tonight-gop-no-shows-missed-out/

Attachment 3

“Iowa Faith & Freedom Coalition Annual Spring Kick-Off March 7.”  Iowa Faith & Freedom Coalition Press Release.  March 6, 2011. http://ffciowa.com/

Attachment 4

Haberman, Maggie.  “Iowa Blastoff: 2012 Candidates say Social Issues are Job No. 1.”  Politico.  March 7, 2011. http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0311/50824.html#ixzz1G2lDahou

Attachment 5

Crowley, Michael.  “Religion, the Economy and “Weird and Kinky” Lifestyles at a GOP 2012 Forum in Iowa.”  Time Magazine.   March 8, 2011.

http://swampland.blogs.time.com/2011/03/08/social-issues-the-economy-and-weird-and-kinky-lifestyles-at-a-gop-2012-forum-in-iowa/

Attachment 6

Berlinerblau, Jacques.  “Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition:  Five Republicans Fight for the Faith(ful) in Iowa.”   March 8, 2011.

http://onfaith.washingtonpost.com/onfaith/georgetown/2011/03/republicans_fight_for_god_at_the_iowa_faith_and_freedom.html

Attachment 7

Bevan, Tom.  “Potential 2012 GOP Candidates Convene in Iowa.”  Real Clear Politics.  March 8, 2011.

http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2011/03/08/potential_gop_candidates_convene_in_iowa_109152.html

Attachment 8

Kornacki, Steve.  “The Roots of the GOP’s Crackup.”  Salon.  March 8, 2011. http://www.salon.com/news/politics/war_room/2011/03/08/iowa_cattle_call/

Attachment 9:

Montopoli, Brian.  “GOP Presidential Contenders Make Case to Iowa Faithful.”  CBS News.  March 8, 2011. http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-503544_162-20040386-503544.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+CBSNewsPCAnswer+%28PC+Answer%3A+CBSNews.com%29

Attachment 10:

Kinkade, Tyler.  “Karger files FEC complaint against conservative Iowa group” The Iowa Independent.  February 24, 2011. http://iowaindependent.com/52879/karger-files-fec-complaint-against-conservative-iowa-group

Attachment 11:

Glover, Mike.  “Man Says Iowa Forum Excluded Him Because He’s Gay.”  The Chicago Tribune.  February 25, 2011. http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:lwtLIatLrk4J:www.chicagotribune.com/news/chi-ap-ia-kargercomplaint,0,4024339.story+chicago+tribune+%22fred+Karger%22&cd=2&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us&client=firefox-a&source=www.google.com

Attachment 12

Clayworth, Jason.  “5 Potential GOP Candidates to Converge at Forum.”  The Des Moines Register.  March 5, 2011. http://www.desmoinesregister.com/article/20110306/NEWS10/103060328/5-potential-GOP-candidates-to-converge-at-forum?Register%20Staff%20Blogs

Attachment 13

FEC Section 110.13 http://edocket.access.gpo.gov/cfr_2010/janqtr/11cfr110.13.htm

Attachment 14

“Candidate exclusion based on ‘bigotry,’”  Eastern Iowa Gorvernment.  February 23, 2011. http://www.easterniowagovernment.com/2011/02/23/candidate-exclusion-based-on-%E2%80%98bigotry%E2%80%99/

“Fred Karger Responds to Exclusion from Candidate Forum.”  IowaPolitics.com   February 23, 2011. http://www.sourcews.com/view?v=fred-karger-responds-exclusion-from

Hayworth, Bret.  “Obama DOMA Decision Ensures Gay Marriage as Presidential Campaign Issue.”  Sioux City Journal.  February 23, 2011. http://www.siouxcityjournal.com/app/blogs/politically_speaking/?p=5474

Jones, Michael. “Dear Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition: Why are You Afraid of Fred Karger?” Change.org  February 24, 2011. http://news.change.org/stories/dear-iowa-faith-and-freedom-coalition-why-are-you-afraid-of-fred-karger

Beaumont, Tom.  “Karger Complains Officially He was Left Out of Forum.”  The Des Moines Register.  February 25, 2011. http://blogs.desmoinesregister.com/dmr/index.php/2011/02/25/karger-complains-officially-he-was-left-out-of-forum/

“NOT INVITED: California Businessman Fred Karger says He’s Filed a Complaint with the Federal Election Commission.”  WHO-TV.  February 25th, 2011. http://www.whotv.com/news/who-story-openly-gay-candidate-left-out-20110225,0,5562605.story

“Karger Files Complaint about Caucus Debate Lineup.”  KGAN CBS News.  February 25, 2011. http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:cVwpPX9cr8YJ:www.kgan.com/template/inews_wire/wires.regional.ia/22df3b9b-www.kgan.com.shtml+KGAN+Fred+Karger&cd=1&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us&client=firefox-a&source=www.google.com

“Presidential Hopeful Fred Karger Files Complaint with FEC, Says Exclusion from GOP Forum is Because He’s Gay.”  Towleroad.  February 26, 2011. http://www.towleroad.com/2011/02/presidential-hopeful-fred-karger-files-complaint-with-fec-says-exclusion-from-gop-forum-is-because-h.html

Glover, Mike.  “Man says Iowa Forum Excluding him Because He’s Gay.”  San Francisco Chronicle.  February 25, 2011. http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/n/a/2011/02/25/state/n141706S47.DTL&feed=rss.news_politics

Glover, Mike. “Man says Iowa Forum Excluding him Because He’s Gay.”  San Jose Mercury News.  February 25, 2011. http://www.mercurynews.com/news/ci_17483683?nclick_check=1

Gieseke, Winston.  “Fred Karger Files Complaint with FEC Following Iowa Exclusion.”  The Advocate.  February 26, 2011. http://www.advocate.com/News/Daily_News/2011/02/26/Fred_Karger_Files_Complaint_with_FEC_Following_Iowa_Exclusion/

Sullivan, Adam.  “Republican 2012 Contender: ‘I Will Not Be Bullied’ by Iowa Conservative Group.”  Iowa Watch.  February 26, 2011. http://www.iowawatch.org/?p=3297

Mencimer, Stephanie.  “Gay GOP Presidential Contender Shut Out of First Iowa Debate.”  Mother Jones.  March 1, 2011. http://motherjones.com/mojo/2011/03/gay-gop-presidential-contender-shut-out-first-iowa-debate

Carey, Amanda.  “Upcoming Iowa Presidential Forum Excludes Gay Republican Candidate.”  The Daily Caller.  March 7, 2011. http://dailycaller.com/2011/03/05/upcoming-iowa-presidential-forum-excludes-gay-republican-candidate/

Rahn, Will.  “Five Possible Republican Candidates for President to Attend Iowa Forum.”  The Daily Caller.  March 7, 2011. http://dailycaller.com/2011/03/07/five-possible-republican-candidates-for-president-to-attend-iowa-forum/

Attachment 15

“A dozen GOP presidential prospects invited to March 7 Iowa forum.” Tom Beaumont.  The Des Moines Register.  January 4, 2011.
 http://blogs.desmoinesregister.com/dmr/index.php/2011/01/04/a-dozen-gop-presidential-prospects-invited-to-march-7-iowa-forum/

Attachment 16

Haberman, Maggie.  “Iowa’s New Generation Gap.”  Politico.  March 9, 2011. http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0311/51001.html

Attachment 17

Kilgore, Ed.  “New Republic: In Iowa, Did the GOP Prove Worthy?”  NPR.  March 9, 2011.  http://www.npr.org/2011/03/09/134389310/new-republic-in-iowa-did-the-gop-prove-worthy