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Small SuperPACS: American Principles SuperPAC Funded by Questionably Principled Principals

BOCA RATON, FLA – The SuperPAC disease on the American body politic isn’t just for big national funders like the Kochs. Poorer cousin, tall-hat, no cattle types with an axe to grind, particularly in swing states, are getting into the act too.

The American Principles SuperPAC made news during the final presidential debate after the national media got a gander at dozens of Anti-Obama billboards that the organization sponsored. The group’s funders include some very questionably principled ‘patriots,’ including the owners of a company convicted for mail fraud, wire fraud and money laundering; a millionaire lobbying the government for favorable regulations of the auto industry for a particular fuel source; and a Florida pain clinic fighting tighter regulation imposed after  the exposés of the infamous pill mills of South Florida.

Best known recently for Mitt Romney’s 47% debacle, Boca Raton is no longer just the home of hedge funder and Romney pal Mark Leder’s infamous party that showcased Williard’s withering view of the American electorate.

The final presidential debate turned it into the epicenter of a mini SuperPAC’s billboard distortion curve.

Floridians driving the I-95 corridor between Martin on the North, and Miami-Dade county 35 miles to the South, are being visually assaulted by at least 30 bright yellow anti-Obama or pro Allen West billboards, many of which feature a President Obama-like figure bowing before an Arab king with gas prices showing Obama’s first day as $1.89/gal, and today at $3.89.

Quickly, to shred that bit of propaganda, energy expert Frank Verrastro in a CNN.com op-ed debunks the myth:

“Critics of the administration are quick to note that when Barack Obama took office, gasoline prices were $1.95 a gallon. But they neglect to note the U.S. economy was in a virtual depression. For purposes of comparison, when President George W. Bush took office in 2001, gasoline sold for an average of $1.55 a gallon. In the summer of 2008, his last year in office, prices exceeded $4.25. In reality, presidents have little to do with near-term fluctuations in gas prices.”

AP SuperPAC took out a smaller number of  “Friends  Don’t Let Friends Get Nuked” ads aimed at the large South Florida population of Jewish voters, more than 80% of whom support Obama.

The opinion expressed by the billboard  is more commonplace in extremist-Right and more racist circles of that community, that gossip about Obama and Muslim Brotherhood conspiracy theories,  in spite of numerous  prominent Israelis and Middle East analysts calling President Obama’s positions in line with those of past administrations and Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak’s July comment that the Obama administration had done “more than anything I can remember in the past” to defend Israel’s security.

The topper, though, mostly only found in the more rural and Northern parts of Palm Beach and Martin Counties, are their Rep. Allen West billboards, which label him, with unattributed quotes, the “Most Common Sense Congressman.”

This would be the same flame-throwing Congressman West who was held at arm’s length by the GOP caucus after making the outrageous claim that 81 members of the Democratic Party were secret or actual communists.

Politico potboils down West’s greatest hits, including his flaming of Democratic National Committee chair Debbie Wasserman Shultz, whom he tagged from the House floor as ““the most vile, unprofessional, and despicable” member of that body; His collaborative challenge to the President and the Democratic leadership to “get the hell out of the United States of America;” and his broad-minded  thinking in  his remark: “I must confess, when I see anyone with an Obama 2012 bumper sticker, I recognize them as a threat to the gene pool.”

This is what American Principles claims passes for common sense:

The group announced Sunday that they will also be taking out newspaper ads in key battleground states in ten newspapers.

Nancy Watkins

Who is American Principles SuperPAC, which has spent $232,565.50 to date opposing President Obama, and a little under $20,000 to re-elect West?[1]

It is just one of a slew of GOP SuperPACs that gatekeeper Nancy Watkins, the early Bachmann campaign treasurer, and GOP fixer has registered to bombard swing-state Florida with propaganda.

“Nancy Watkins’ accounting office on a leafy street in Tampa may be one of the scariest addresses in Florida — for Democrats.

“Inside, Watkins guides millions of dollars in fundraising and spending that flow through dozens of murkypolitical committees backing Republican candidates and causes.”

Who are the people who back this PAC?  Its spokesman, Eytan Laor, said that most of the donors are pro-Israel Republicans [2].

Its biggest givers, with $75,000 to the SuperPAC and $10,000 to the American Principles PAC are Daniel and Renee Kaufman  from Lighthouse Point, FL.

Mr. Kaufman is the owner of a Republican-themed cellphone company, aptly monickered for the GOP Jesus as “Reagan Wireless,” currently of Deerfield Beach, Florida.

“Common Sense” congressman Allen West visited the company in Mid-September, 2011, as an example of a “green” business that did not take any government money.  He said:

“This is a perfect example of how a small green business can flourish without government intervention,” West told Liberty Linked. “Reagan Wireless is a shining light of entrepreneurial success in our district.” [3]

The government did intervene though.

In 2006, as part of a plea agreement, Reagan Wireless paid out $5M to the United States Treasury to the Treasury Forfeiture Fund, after they resold cell phones that they had been contracted to destroy, and had sent proof of the destruction to the companies contracting them. A Treasury circular describes the deal:

“The $5,000,000 forfeiture is pursuant to a plea agreement between Reagan Wireless Corporation and  the United States Attorneys Office whereby Reagan Wireless agreed to plead guilty to conspiracy to commit mail fraud, wire fraud and money laundering and forfeit $5,000,000 to the United States.”

Reagan Wireless’ website sports a “We Built This Business Without Government Help” banner across the top of its  red-white-and-blue-clad cellphone solicitations.  The company currently receives an “F” rating from the Better Business Bureau.

Daniel Kaufman gave $50,000 to American Principles Super PAC. Wife Renee Kaufman gave $25,000, according to giving records and OpenSecrets.org.  Mrs. Kaufman lists herself as “Homemaker.”

This is not the Kaufmans’ first foray into PAC and SuperPAC slush funding. In 2010, they gave at least $101,800 to far Right politicians and PACs.

$84,000 made them the largest contributors to pre-Citizens United anti-Democratic Party, Obama-hating group called We Love USA PAC, discredited by Politfact,  which helped elect Allen West in 2010. Their conspicuous giving to this regionally-focused PAC groups even caught the notice of the Washington Post.

The Kaufmans also gave $6,200 to West in 2010, and they’ve given thousands to Romney, and embattled Republican candidates Scott Brown of Massachusetts and newbie Teahadi Josh Mandel running against Sherrod Brown in Ohio. [4][5]

“Retired” Boca multi-millionaire Marc Goldman, a friend of Sheldon Adelson  and a contributor to both APSuperPac and the American Principles PAC, is another of the key funders of the billboard campaigns according to recent FEC filings.

Goldman has dropped $250,000 on Republican candidates, PACs, and Super PACs in this election cycle.  He’s been a big giver to the two American Principle slush funds, with $75,000 into theSuperPAC in 2012 and $5,000 to the PAC in 2011 and 2012.[5]

Goldman sold his family-owned Farmland Dairies in New Jersey to Parmalat and, while he lists himself as “retired,” he appears to be making a play in alternative energy.

According to Sourcewatch.org, Goldman spent $150,000 on D.C. Lobbyist Artemis Strategies [3] to back a bill called the  Open Fuel Standard Act of 2011, known in the House as H.R. 1687 sponsored by Rep. John Shimkus [R-IL19] and in the Senate as S. 1603 sponsored by Sen. Maria Cantwell [D-WA]. [6][7][8]

The bill calls for fast-tracking alternative energy sources like ethanol and natural gas-based methanol. It requires all vehicles to be flex-fuel capable to enable fuel competition.

Goldman was also a smaller donor in 2010 to We Love USA, and he gave $5,000 to Tea Party whack-job Michelle Bachmann during the Republican primaries.

When the Boca debate drew attention to the billboards, the Palm Beach Post reported Goldman’s beef with the Presdient:

“Goldman says Obama has been too friendly with the Muslim Brotherhood and groups who are hostile to Israel. He faults Obama for making overtures to the Muslim world in 2009 but not visiting Israel — a criticism leveled by Mitt Romney in the last presidential debate.”

The Joint Action Committee, a Jewish affairs group, though, debunks and roundly condemns remarks like these for being gross distortions of fact.

Chipping in  another $25,000 is Florida Pain & Rehabilitation Associates, PA, a six unit pain clinic run and co-owned by Dr. Jeffrey Zipper.

Zipper, in other political lobbying, is opposing the government crack-down on the infamous pain pill mills of South Florida.  Zipper is suing the state to overturn the law set up to prevent the rampant drug dealing that has made Florida the epicenter of prescription drug abuse. He is also working with state Rep. Ellyn Bogdanoff, R- Fort Lauderdale. Bogdanoff, according to Florida State campaign finance records  Bogdanoff is a darling of health care and big pharma.

Dr. Paul Tartell, a physician who owns a chain of South Florida allergy clinics, gave $25,000 to the American Principles Super PAC and $10,000 to the American Principles PAC.

Stan Weinstein, an investment advisor with Global Trend Alert of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, gave $1,000 to the billboard SuperPAC and $300.00 to American Principles PAC.

Americans have an inalienable right to free speech, to say what they will.  They can even lie on a billboard, if they choose.  What has been more difficult, throughout the long presidential campaign cycle, has been getting up-to-date information on these astroturf groups run by a handful of the well-heeled that pose as much larger groups of outraged citizens, rather than the small, wealthy, powerful few that can afford to buy billboards in four counties of Florida to amplify their negativity, racism, and fear, all wrapped around hidden agendas that have little to do with good wishes for the American public, and everything to do with personal greed and ambition.

We have an equal right to know who is speaking, evaluate the truth of their words, and their credibility and standing in the community based upon their past acts, good, bad or otherwise.

My shiny two.

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About Brian Ross

Brian Ross is a writer, screenwriter, political satirist, documentarian and short filmmaker who blogs for Truth2Power, the Huffington Post, and the Daily KOS, among others.

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