Wingnut welfare goes global
There's a reason why they went to the right wing for this. It's the first place you'd look for that very special combination of corruption and authoritarianism:
Several conservative bloggers repeated talking points given to them by a proxy group for the Ukrainian government — and at least one writer was paid by a representative of the Ukrainian group, according to documents and emails obtained by BuzzFeed.Maybe I'm out of the loop but I've never heard of any "special interest" much less a foreign government approaching liberal bloggers with offers of payola. I suppose it might have happened, but it sure hasn't happened to me.
The Ukrainian campaign began in the run-up to high-stakes Ukrainian parliamentary elections last year, and sought to convince skeptical American conservatives that the pro-Russian Party of Regions, led by President Viktor Yanukovych, deserved American support. During that period, articles echoing Ukrainian government talking points appeared on leading conservative online outlets, including RedState, Breitbart, and Pajamas Media.
The emails and documents, which include prepackaged quotes from election officials and talking points that some writers copied nearly word-for-word, offer a glimpse into how foreign governments dodge tight Justice Department regulations on foreign propaganda to covertly lobby in the United States: The payments were routed through a front group in Belgium to an American consultant, who has urged writers not to cooperate with a reporter investigating the campaign.
The model resembles a recent stealth campaign in which bloggers were paid by the Malaysian government to write favorable stories, though the Ukraine campaign appears to have involved smaller sums of money.
This little gambit was reportedly cooked up by someone Buzzfeed calls a libertarian named George Scovill. That link leads to the Leadership Institute which is not a libertarian outfit --- it's a conservative movement institution that's been around for decades:
The Leadership Institute is a 501(c) non-profit organization located in Arlington, Virginia that teaches "political technology.".I suppose there are people who call themselves libertarians among the graduates. But they serve the conservative movement. As do most libertarians for reasons that can only be explained by their mutual love of money over human beings.
The Institute was founded in 1979 by conservative activist Morton C. Blackwell. Its mission is to "increase the number and effectiveness of conservative activists" and to "identify, train, recruit and place conservatives in politics, government, and media."
The Leadership Institute offers 40 types of training seminars at its Arlington headquarters, around the United States, and occasionally in foreign countries. In 2009, the Institute trained more than 9,500 students. Since its 1979 founding, the Leadership Institute has trained more than 91,475 students. Notable alumni include Grover Norquist, Ralph Reed, Jeff Gannon, Senator Mitch McConnell, Congressman Mike Pence, James O'Keefe, and seven new members of the 112th Congress.
But lest anyone get the idea that the progressive side of the dial isn't implicated in this sort of thing, let's just say they keep it in the civilized elite circles where the big money plays:
An email from October 26, 2012 shows Scoville inviting writers to join a conference with Mikhail Okhendovskyy of Ukraine’s Central Election Commission. The call was organized by the European Centre for a Modern Ukraine, a Brussels-based group headed by Leonid Khazara, a former senior member of parliament from the pro-Russian Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych’s Party of Regions. According to its website, it is a “a unique ‘Modern Ukraine’ organisation based in Brussels and operating internationally as an advocate for enhancing EU-Ukraine relations.”
In practical terms, the ECFMU exists to promote Yanukovych and the party — but its nominal independence means that its representatives in Washington do not need to register as foreign agents and make the extensive disclosures required under that program. Instead, the only evidence of its activity comes in the far more relaxed domestic lobbying disclosure law, which shows that the Brussels-based group employs two well-connected Washington lobbying firms, The Podesta Group and Mercury/Clark and Weinstock.
See, one thing the Village liberals understand it's that you don't get the riff-raff involved in these things. They just don't have enough to lose.