A few more points on Ralph Reed and the entertaining world of “astroturf” political organizing. Lobbying on the Hill is currently regulated under the Lobbying Disclosure Act of 1995. A Capitol Hill reporter tells me that when the bill was being put together, Reed was a key force, perhaps the key force, making sure that “astroturf” work (phony grass-roots organizing) would not be covered under the LDA. This of course was while Reed was still Executive Director of the Christian Coalition.
Reed’s frequent partner in “astroturf” work is Tom Synhorst. Let’s run through some of his exploits in the “astroturf” biz. Synhorst’s main shop is Direct Connect Inc., DCI. DCI did the “astroturf” work for the ‘Health Benefits Coalition,’ trying to kill the Health Care Bill of Rights back in 1998 (Nat. Journal July 11, ’98); DCI also spearheaded various efforts by the tobacco industry and the NRA; it also helped set up Americans for Competitive Technology and Americans for Technology Leadership, two Microsoft front groups agitating against the Justice Department’s antitrust suit.
Of course, Reed and Synhorst will always have a special place in my heart for that stand-up work they did ambushing John McCain in South Carolina in 2000 with their nasty, below-the-radar push-polls.