Swifboat backer bankrolling new campaign against Dems

The Republican donor who helped bankroll the Swift Boat attacks on Democratic Sen. John Kerry’s war record has given $5 million to a new group targeting Democratic candidates.

Bob J. Perry, a Texas homebuilder with close ties to White House advisor Karl Rove and former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, recently made the hefty donations to the Economic Freedom Fund, a newly created California group.

The group is a so-called 527 that is not subject to conventional campaign finance restrictions and can spend unlimited amounts on election advocacy, similar to the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth. In the 2004 presidential race, the group of Vietnam veterans made unsubstantiated allegations challenging Kerry’s record of wartime heroism.

So far, the new group — which lists Perry as its sole donor — has spent slightly more than $500,000 on television ads and mailings criticizing Democratic Reps. Jim Marshall of Georgia and Alan Mollohan of West Virginia, according to a disclosure form filed last week with the Federal Election Commission.

According to its Web site, the group also is distributing mailing supporting Republican Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue’s re-election campaign and Jim Nussle of Iowa, a Republican congressman running for governor.

Anthony Holm, a spokesman for Perry, declined to comment. Charles H. Bell Jr., a Sacramento attorney listed as the fund’s contact, did not return repeated phone calls. On its FEC filings, the group lists as its address the same Sacramento office as Bell’s law firm, Bell, McAndrews & Hiltachk.

The West Virginia and Georgia races are considered among the GOP’s best shots at picking up seats in an election year where some experts believe the party is in danger of losing its majority in Congress.

Perry’s $5 million donation, made in two payments on Aug. 18 and Sept. 5, is among the largest individual donation to any 527 group this year, although contribution records are still being filed. It exceeds the nearly $4.5 million that Perry gave the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth in 2004.

According to its Sept. 8 disclosure, the Economic Freedom Fund has spent $337,753 on the West Virginia race, where Mollohan, a 12-term Democrat, faces Republican state delegate Chris Wakim. The group has spent $163,599 in Georgia, where two-term incumbent Marshall is being challenged by former Republican congressman Mac Collins.

The West Virginia ads address recent allegations regarding Mollohan’s ethics, citing news reports that he is the subject of a federal investigation into whether he steered government money to nonprofit groups that donated to his campaigns.

The Georgia ads portray Marshall, a conservative Democrat, as a liberal linking him to Democratic Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton and Ted Kennedy and Rep. Cynthia McKinney, who lost her seat in a Democratic primary after a highly publicized scuffle with a Capitol Hill police officer.

Marshall spokesman Doug Moore said voters in the district are familiar enough with Marshall’s record to know the ads are off base.

"Getting out there and calling Jim Marshall a liberal in the Macon media market isn’t going to be effective," Moore said. "Everybody here knows Jim, and they know he’s conservative."

Unlike with Kerry and the Swift Boat group, the Economic Freedom Fund has not questioned Marshall’s Vietnam War service. A former Army Ranger platoon sergeant and recent inductee into the Army Ranger Hall of Fame, Marshall was awarded two Bronze Stars and a Purple Heart for his service in Vietnam.

"Jim Marshall has a great military record, and I hope they bring that up because we would love to make that an issue in this campaign," Moore said.

According to its filing, the Economic Freedom Fund was formed to "promote policies and issues favoring economic freedom, growth and prosperity of the economy."


On The Net

Economic Freedom Fund

Copyright 2006 The Associated Press


  1. liz

    First this money could be donated back to the cause AMERICA because America is the rich and famous ain’t noticed…. is falling apart. All these dollars could have: bought amour vests for our troops without the proper equipment, healthcare for people who have had limits placed on insurance and also healthcare for people without care, how about houses for the homeless giving lots more hope than empty Republican political promises. Why do rich people hate America? Why do they only want their way… not the American way anymore? Why do we let this fascist pseudo Americans NeoAmericans run the show> It is way past time to rally for the cause and come out fighting for what is right. So far, under Bush, we have seen all of what is WRONG in America. He is the elitist getting his way and his way is VERY detrimental to this country. He is not the decider as he labled himself but the DIVIDER.

  2. what did the heroic Mr. Perry do during the vietnam war? Was he serving alongside George W. as a drunk cocaine head in Alabama – or was he sitting next to Dick Cheney in college while others died?

  3. Why are these types of groups legal? How is it they can circumvent the campaign finance laws? The loopholes are outrageous! Thanks for the story, I am linking to it this morning.

  4. Cathy

    Power is like a drug. The Republicans will do anything and I mean anything to stay in power.

    How else can you explain why the Republicans are hell bent on destroying our once great country so they can stay in power?

    We have no balance in our governement and what Bush and Cheney have been able to get away with just proves it.

  5. Lucy Davis

    Wonder what lies they’ll spread this time! Hard to believe they call themselves “Christians”. Can’t figure out why the evangelists associate with the republicans. Must be they never read the Bible.

    Aside from that – isn’t it amazing how the price of gas is dropping dramatically – JUST WHEN NOVEMBER ELECTIONS ARE COMING UP! And the price will go right back up just as soon elections are over.

  6. Cathy

    People have sit back and turned a blind eye till it is almost to late. We have let the government walk over us and do just what they wanted.

  7. Honesty Now

    Liz – did you say the same thing about the hundreds of millions that George Soros invested in trying to buy the White House in 2004 ?

    Where is your complaint about HIS money ‘being better spent on armored vests and free healthcare and free homes’ and such ??

    I guess you don’t count HIM as one of your ‘rich people who hate America’, huh ?

  8. Judy Bodnar

    Why is it so hard to demand honesty from all parties when it comes to accusations made during elections? Its because of
    the greedy,power- hungry
    politicos that will allow anything to get them elected or re-elected. We need to have those responsible for the lies told, punished for their part in dishonest election
    campaigning. Look what was done to McCain in the 2000 Prsidential campaign
    as well as those swift boat
    smears in 2004…Lies have made it impossible to believe anything you hear and everyone should look to the motives & the money trails of those supporting such endeavors. I would think that the media could & should expose all of the dishonesty,and be found guilty if they contribute in any way to the these unfair tactics.