Citizens United

Sounds like a wonderful thing, doesn’t it? It’s created more divisions among people than can be counted. What is it?  A PAC formed to produce propaganda, which became a Free Speech lawsuit upheld by a Supreme Court decision in 2010 and made way for “Dark Money”, or anonymous campaign contributions and effectively unlimited corporate donations.

SUMMARY OF CITIZENS UNITED V. FEDERAL ELECTION COMMISSION March 2, 2010 2010-R-0124

Court decision opens floodgates for corporate cash Politico 01/21/2010
Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right” by Jane Mayer  Presents the Issues and History of the Koch Brothers
December 12, 2018 “The U.S. Senate on Wednesday narrowly approved a resolution to overthrow a new Treasury Department policy that no longer requires some 501(c) tax-exempt nonprofits — including politically active 501(c)(4) “dark money” groups — to disclose donor names and addresses in tax returns submitted to the IRS.” Open Secrets

Wikipedia: “The Political Action Committee (PAC) Citizens United was founded in 1988 by Floyd Brown, a longtime Washington political consultant, with major funding from the Koch family (industrialists who own “the second largest privately owned company in the United States”). The group promotes corporate interests, socially conservative causes and candidates who advance their mission.

President David Bossie, Catholic and Lenin-loving Steve Bannon, and Bannon’s propaganda producer, and Lawrence Kadish, wealthy real estate investor and founding Chairman of the Republican Jewish Coalition, whose Victory Film Group pushes Tweets that work with Breitbart News Anti-Muslim stories. Funded by the Koch Brothers and the Mercers.

FRIENDS: Kellyanne Conway, Newt Gingrich, Michael Reagan, nationally syndicated radio show host and chairman of Citizens United’s Faith and Family Project. The Mercers funded Citizens United in later years.

FOES: Obama, Clinton, John McCain, NY Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.

A Closer Look at Chief Strategist Stephen K. Bannon from Wall Street on Parade: “Three of the men associated with Citizens United, the right-wing organization that took the legal case to the U.S. Supreme Court that ushered in today’s unprecedented era of unlimited corporate money in U.S. elections, took key posts in the Donald Trump campaign beginning this past summer.

One of the men, Stephen K. Bannon, has been named by President-elect Trump to be his Senior Counselor and Chief Strategist in the White House. While Bannon is widely cited for his executive role at Breitbart News prior to joining the Trump campaign, he is also the long-tenured, right-wing filmmaker for the Citizens United organization. A number of the films made by Bannon list Lawrence Kadish as Executive Producer and Victory Film Group as an affiliated entity involved in the documentaries.

When the U.S. Supreme Court issued its decision in the Citizens United Case in 2010, David N. Bossie, then President of Citizens United (who also joined the Trump campaign this year) had this to say about Lawrence Kadish:

“First and foremost, I would like to thank Mr. and Mrs. Lawrence Kadish who have been incredibly generous from the very first day of this process. We would never have been able to reach the Supreme Court without their support. I also need to thank the thousands of donors who exercised their right to free speech to support Citizens United and this defense of the First Amendment.”

What the Citizens United decision effectively did was to drown out the voice of millions of average Americans while hedge fund titans and Wall Street billionaires can now individually contribute over $3 million, $5 million, $7 million and more to Super PACs supporting pro-corporate candidates.

Kadish is a wealthy real estate investor and founding Chairman of the Republican Jewish Coalition. He has prominently backed a series of neoconservative pro-Israel groups. Kadish’s full-throttle support for Israel and his involvement in numerous Bannon films for Citizens United, suggest that the heavily distributed rumors of Bannon being anti-Semitic are peculiar charges at best.

The Victory Film Group that is associated with the Bannon/Kadish movies has a Twitter page that plants the seeds of distrust of Muslims and appears to be a form of co-branding with Breitbart News, frequently promoting news stories on the Breitbart web site. One reTweet reads: “Judge Who Ended Interrogation Of Boston Bomber Has Ties To Muslim Brotherhood.” Another reTweet states: “57 Million New Immigrants to Enter America.”

 

Positions and advocacy

Citizens United is known for its support of conservatives in politics. The group produced a television advertisement that reveals several legislative actions taken by John McCain, which aired on Fox News Channel.[5]

On October 2, 2006, in reaction to revelations of a cover-up of inappropriate communications between Republican Congressman Mark Foley and United States House of Representatives Page, Citizens United president David Bossie called on Dennis Hastert to resign over his role in covering up the scandal.[6]

The group sued New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman over Schneiderman’s demand that it disclose all its donors. Citizens United lost the case.[7]

Citizens United campaigned against Michael Moore‘s 2004 film Fahrenheit 9/11, advocating for government limits on how much advertising the film received.[8] It simultaneously made advertisements attacking the film,[9] and produced a film called Celsius 41.11, meant to counter Moore’s film.[10]

Citizens United’s best known campaign centered around a documentary film it produced that was highly critical of Hillary Clinton.[11] It has also produced and screened advertisements attacking other Democrats, including Bill Clinton,[8] John Kerry,[12] and Al Gore.[11] In the 1988 US presidential election, Citizens United ran an ad that used Willie Horton to attack Democratic nominee Michael Dukakis. The ad was described as racist by commentators such as Mother Jones.[11]

The group has produced a film criticizing the United Nations.[10]

Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission 558 U.S. 310 (2010) is a landmark U.S. constitutional law and corporate law case dealing with regulation of campaign spending by organizations. The United States Supreme Court held (5–4) on January 21, 2010 that freedom of speech prohibits government from restricting independent political expenditures by nonprofit corporations, for-profit corporations, labor unions and other associations.[2][3]

In the case, the conservative non-profit organization Citizens United wanted to air a film critical of Hillary Clinton and to advertise the film during television broadcasts shortly before the 2008 Democratic primary election in which Clinton was running for U.S. President. This would violate a federal statute prohibiting certain electioneering communications near an election. The court found the provisions of the law that prohibited corporations and unions from making such electioneering communications to conflict with the U.S. Constitution.

However, the court upheld requirements for public disclosure by sponsors of advertisements. The case did not affect the federal ban on direct contributions from corporations or unions to candidate campaigns or political parties.

The decision was highly controversial when announced and remains a subject of much discussion today.[4]

Citizens United and the Trump Administration

In 2016 the Donald Trump presidential campaign enlisted Citizens United president David Bossie as deputy campaign manager.[13] During the campaign, Bossie made regular television appearances on behalf of the Trump campaign.[14] Bossie is a close friend and longtime acquaintance of Trump administration officials Stephen Bannon and Kellyanne Conway,[15] having introduced Bannon to Trump in 2011.[16]

Citizens United Productions

Citizens United Productions, headed by president David Bossie, has released 25 feature-length documentaries. The following is a list of films produced by Citizens United Productions.

Ezra Cohen-Watnick

Former White House National Security Council

Ezra’s Wife, Rebecca Miller, has worked for Ketchum PR “trying to make Russia look better”Schoenblog  

Senior director Ezra Cohen-Watnick out at National Security Council

“A White House official said ezra cohen-watnick, who was hired during the brief tenure of former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, “has left the National Security Council [NSC].”

Cohen-Watnick’s departure is the latest in a string of exits from the National Security Council under H.R. McMaster, who has reportedly sought to purge Flynn appointees.

Another Flynn hire, retired Army intelligence officer Derek Harvey, was ousted from the NSC last week. He had been working as a senior Middle East adviser.

Cohen-Watnick’s removal is the second significant personnel change at the White House since Retired Gen. John Kelly took over as chief of staff.

A few hours after Kelly was sworn in on Monday, the White House announced the departure of Anthony Scaramucci as communications director.” The Hill


He’s a 30-year-old Jewish, Anti-Muslim, Anti-Iran, Neocon Frank Gaffney fan /intern, trained spy and recruiter, Russian advocate via his Putin PR agent wife, and disliked within the DIA for being a “leaker”. Ret. Gen. Michael T. Flynn brought Ezra Cohen-Watnick to the White House. Flynn was disliked in the DIA, and fired. Flynn and his son Michael Flynn Jr. promoted anti-Clinton conspiracy theories, Benghazi, Pizzagate, Podesta and led the “Lock Her Up!” chants.

Flynn’s replacement after failing to disclose conversations with Sergey Kislyak, H.R. McMaster, tried to fire him first thing, but his appeal to Kushner and Bannon influenced Trump and forced McMaster to work with him –NY Times. This has people asking why, “with apparently only a single, allegedly trouble-filled, junior-level tour of duty with the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) in Afghanistan on his résumé, managed to secure one of the most consequential jobs in the White House: coordinating all of the U.S. intelligence community’s operations with the Oval Office and Congress. In less than a year, Cohen-Watnick had been raised from the equivalent rank of an army captain to a three-star general.” Newsweek  April 13, 2017  

When McMaster replaced Flynn, he tried to fire Ezra, but Kushner and Bannon persuaded Trump to reinstate himNY Times

Ezra Cohen-Watnick: Inside the rise of Trump’s invisible man in the White House  “White House National Security Council official at the center of a bizarre backdoor maneuver to provide House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes with top-secret documents on government surveillance. Cohen-Watnick reportedly retrieved the documents from a classified CIA terminal in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building next to the White House and gave them to Nunes, a California Republican who had been a member of Trump’s transition team. They were intended to prove that former President Barack Obama was “wire tapping” Trump during the 2016 campaign. The documents did no such thing, other members of the panel concluded after studying them. What they actually showed is that U.S. intelligence agencies did have Trump’s associates on their radar—but only because they were tracking Russian agents.” Newsweek  April 13, 2017   


Russiagate Diversion

2 White House Officials Helped Give Nunes Intelligence Reports  NY Times  March 30, 2017

“A pair of White House officials helped provide Representative Devin Nunes of California, a Republican and the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, with the intelligence reports that showed that President Trump and his associates were incidentally swept up in foreign surveillance by American spy agencies.

The revelation on Thursday that White House officials disclosed the reports, which Mr. Nunes then discussed with Mr. Trump, is likely to fuel criticism that the intelligence chairman has been too eager to do the biddingof the Trump administration while his committee is supposed to be conducting an independent investigation of Russia’s meddling in the presidential election.

The officials who detailed the newly disclosed White House role said that this month, shortly after Mr. Trump claimed on Twitter that he was wiretapped during the campaign on the orders of President Barack Obama, Mr. Cohen-Watnick began reviewing highly classified reports detailing the intercepted communications of foreign officials.

There were conflicting accounts of what prompted Mr. Cohen-Watnick to dig into the intelligence. One official with direct knowledge of the events said Mr. Cohen-Watnick began combing through intelligence reports this month in an effort to find evidence that would justify Mr. Trump’s Twitter posts about wiretapping.

But another person who was briefed on the events said Mr. Cohen-Watnick came upon the information as he was reviewing how widely intelligence reports on intercepts were shared within the American spy agencies. He then alerted the N.S.C. general counsel, but the official said Mr. Cohen-Watnick was not the person who showed the reports to Mr. Nunes.

That person and a third official said it was then Mr. Ellis who allowed Mr. Nunes to view the material.”NY Times


“Ezra Cohen-Watnick’s unlikely journey from Chevy Chase’s liberal cocoon to backroom shenanigans in the Trump White House was less a straight shot than a dotted line. It may well have begun with Frank Gaffney, a former Ronald Reagan administration official who has emerged as a leading conspiracy theorist and believes that Muslim militants have infiltrated the U.S. government and even the Republican Party. At Bethesda–Chevy Chase High, Cohen-Watnick was close to Gaffney’s daughter. As the years went by, he gravitated to Gaffney associates, who eventually took him into the White House…In 2007, he helped organize a campus “Terrorism Awareness Week” (originally called “Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week”) in concert with David Horowitz, a close Gaffney ally whose crusade against “liberal elites” on campus has been supported by top Trump aides Kellyanne Conway and Steve Bannon. At some point, a close family friend recalls, asking for anonymity in exchange for talking about personal matters, Gaffney offered the budding young hawk internships at his D.C. think tank, the Center for Security Policy. (Gaffney tells Newsweek in a brief telephone interview that he barely recalls Cohen-Watnick from as a high schooler and has had no contact with him since.) …In 2012, he was accepted into a training program with the Defense Clandestine Service, the undercover overseas spying arm of the DIA. It was there that he met a mutual friend of Gaffney, General Michael Flynn…

Cohen-Watnick’s DIA career did not go well, except in one regard: his bond with Flynn.

In 2013, the DIA assigned Cohen-Watnick to “the Farm,” the CIA training facility outside Williamsburg, Virginia, to learn the rudiments of recruiting and managing foreign spies, according to two intelligence sources. During his time there, his reputation among his classmates “was poor,” says a former CIA employee. “He was not a team player and would also ‘leak’ denigrating information about his fellow trainees…(Didn’t want to go to the Middle East, but)…Two sources tell Newsweek he was eventually assigned to Afghanistan, with the rank of GS-12, equivalent to a captain in the army…Flynn was already creating turmoil at the DIA with his impulsive management style and fervid embrace of conspiracy theories, such as his conviction that Iran was behind the attacks on the U.S. Embassy in Benghazi, Libya. “Flynn facts,” his aides snickered, according to a profile in The New Yorker. Years earlier, he had co-authored a widely publicized paper excoriating the conduct of U.S. intelligence operations in Afghanistan, and he was particularly critical of the CIA for its support of Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s notoriously corrupt brother Ahmed Wali Karzai

In 2014, Obama fired Flynn, and since then administration officials have dumped on him in the press. But the surprise election of Trump in November 2016 gave Flynn a chance for redemption—and revenge. With his rising prominence in the Trump campaign, Flynn’s adversaries recycled stories about his DIA ouster, but now there were also questions about Kremlin-financed trips to Moscow and ties to Turkish lobbyists. And Flynn was swimming in ever deeper conspiracy waters, now with activists who alleged that the Orlando Pulse nightclub shooter did not act alone, and that Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager John Podesta was involved in a pedophile ring run beneath a Washington, D.C., family restaurant. Cohen-Watnick joined him in the so-called “Pizzagate” fray, tweeting about “Podesta’s obsession with the occult.” In another tweet, he referenced “the disgusting and potentially criminal behavior of the Clinton crime syndicate.”

In January, Cohen-Watnick swept into office with Flynn and other associates from Gaffney’s circle, including Bannon, Conway and Sebastian Gorka, another anti-Muslim hard-liner with ties to a Hungarian Nazi party. Meanwhile, Cohen-Watnick was getting married to a woman who, like Flynn and several other Trump aides, had ties to Russia. Rebecca Miller, four years younger than Cohen-Watnick, had worked on the Russian account in the D.C. office of Ketchum, the global powerhouse lobbying and public relations firm, according to her mother, Victoria Fraser, head of Washington University’s Department of Medicine in St. Louis. During a 2014 event at the State Historical Society of Missouri, Fraser said her daughter’s “big challenges right now are, Ketchum is responsible for providing PR and marketing to try to make Russia look better, which is particularly difficult when they’re invading other countries and when Putin is somewhat out of control.” Ketchum took a public relations blow when ProPublica reported that it had “placed pro-Russia op-eds in American publications by businesspeople and others without disclosing the role of the Russian government.” The following year, it drew flak for placing an op-ed purporting to be written by Russian President Vladimir Putin in The New York Times arguing that Syrian rebels, not President Bashar al-Assad, were responsible for chemical attacks on civilians. According to a Ketchum spokesperson, Miller’s work on the Russia account ended in September 2012. The company severed its ties with the Russian Federation in March 2015.

Cohen-Watnick and his wife have been reluctant to acknowledge anything about their professional lives or their history together. On November 11, 2016, the Ohr Kodesh Congregation, a conservative synagogue in Chevy Chase, held a kiddush, or small social ceremony, in honor of their “upcoming marriage.”…

Cohen-Watnick’s principal credentials seem to be ideological. “He’s a 30-year-old version of Michael Flynn, from an affection for the Russians to hatred of Iran,” a senior former intelligence official who has worked with him asserted. And right from the start, he wore his enmity for the CIA like a badge of honor, the official says.

“There’s no question that during the transition that he was airing his antipathy to the CIA,” the senior former intelligence official who worked with Cohen-Watnick says. “I got the impression he had an ax to grind, and this was an opportunity to demonstrate who was in charge.” He also “was very clear that he was entitled…, that he had access…and a voice in policy meetings.

“He made it very clear,” the former official adds, “that he was speaking on behalf of Flynn.” Adding to his value, says a former high-ranking Defense Department intelligence official: “His parents knew Jared Kushner,” the Trump son-in-law and confidante who was emerging as a major force in the administration. “Flynn saw that as extremely valuable.”

Flynn would soon be gone from the White House, sunk by his undisclosed conversations with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak. But his departure failed to end Cohen-Watnick’s tenure. When Flynn’s successor as national security adviser, H.R. McMaster, tried to get rid of him, Cohen-Watnick went straight to Bannon and Kushner, who in turn persuaded Trump to tell McMaster to back off, according to reports.

Since Flynn’s departure, Cohen-Watnick has moved to tame the CIA by taking away its primacy in covert action operations, handing some to the Pentagon, and pulling the decisions on who does what and when inside the NSC. “He was looking to get the military into the space where CIA operated,” says a former intelligence official who worked with Cohen-Watnick during the transition. And taking the fight to Iran—“tightening the pressure points,” as this person puts it—is high on his agenda.

All of which portends trouble, former national security officials say, pointing to calamities that befell previous administrations that politicized the intelligence process. The George W. Bush White House put pressure on the CIA to report that there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. And it found ideological bedmates in the Pentagon to produce WMD reports to help gin up the case—false, as it turned out—to justify the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Decades earlier, an attempt by officials in the Reagan White House to get around congressionally prohibited aid to anti-communist Contra guerrillas fighting to overthrow the leftist Nicaraguan government ended in disaster.” Newsweek  April 13, 2017    Additionally, there are no public records of their marriage.

“Ezra interned at his think tank…Frank Gaffney was in the Reagan Administration and promoted the Star Wars Program, has worked for and closely associated with the Neocon Project For The New American Century, all of whose founders had prominent roles in the George W. Bush administration and were the architects of the 9/11 Middle East Imperialist spread of Democracy with Zionist ideology.” …More about Frank Gaffney in the Washington Report’s Neocon Superhawk Frank Gaffney Earns His Wings In Port Flap, September 1, 2009

THE BUSH-ERA NEOCONS