A couple of days ago, a group called Citizens United Not Timid filed papers with the IRS as a “527” organization. Then we saw that Roger Stone had signed on as the group’s “assistant treasurer.” Uh oh.
Stone, regular TPM readers know, is a Republican operative who prides himself as something of an elder statesman of GOP dirty tricks. He went to work for Richard Nixon at age nineteen, making him the “youngest Watergate dirty trickster.” He continues to idolize the man, even sporting a tattoo of Nixon’s face between his shoulder blades. On his website, the StoneZone, he proudly touts Nixon’s endorsement of him as “one of the very few excellent political professionals.”
His career with the GOP took off from there, leading to spots with Ronald Reagan’s campaigns, Bob Dole’s presidential campaign, two of Sen. Arlen Specter’s (R-PA) campaigns (Specter reportedly counts him as a friend), among others. James Baker tapped him to lead street protests in Florida to shut down the recount in 2000. Most recently, he was hired by New York Republicans for their battle with Gov. Elliot Spitzer (D), a gig that exploded when he was accused of making a threatening phone call to Spitzer’s 83 year-old father (Stone denied it).
So what’s Stone up to? Fortunately, he laid the whole scheme out to The Weekly Standard.
It’s this simple: it’s all about the group’s acronym, which, used in conjunction with Hillary Clinton, is supposed to be irresistibly humorous. That is the beginning and the end of it. The group will not be running ads in any form and will not be making any robocalls. They’ll be making T-shirts. That’s it. You can buy them for $25 on their website:
In addition to this website being blast-emailed to hundreds of thousands of addresses that Stone and [another GOP operative] have accumulated over the years (working off over 170 different email lists of everyone from opinion-makers to political activists to industry associations), Stone is counting on T-shirt sales to further serve as “billboard education.” He figures the whole thing will end up taking on a viral nature, thanks to the yuks factor….
“The more people go to the site, the more people buy the T-shirts,” Stone explains…. “The more people buy the T-shirts, the more people wear the T-shirts. The more people wear the T-shirts, the more people are educated. Consequently, our mission has been achieved.” Though neither the word itself nor even the acronym is ever mentioned, “it’s one-word education. That’s our mission. No issues. No policy groups. No position papers. This is a simple committee with an unfortunate acronym….”
Presumably Stone learned this gimmick from working on Nixon’s 1972 Committee to Re-Elect the President (CREEP).
Yes, that’s it. That’s the stroke of genius from the man whom Tucker Carlson insists on calling “legendary Republican strategist Roger Stone” every time he appears on his show (twice this month). The Standard explains that Stone is “trying to tap into deep-seated sentiments about Clinton that pundits and rival candidates can’t articulate.”
There is, nonetheless, a valuable lesson here. Stone walks the Standard‘s Matt Labash through how he set up his 527. All that’s needed is a name. He chose Jeff “Noodles” Jones, a local bartender/DJ in Miami, to serve as the group’s chairman. It doesn’t matter that Noodles doesn’t have much of a clue about anything — in fact, that’s the point. As long as he doesn’t have a criminal record (a mistake Stone almost made when selecting a chairman), he’s OK. Voila! Attack group. Stone explains:
“A 527 doesn’t have a wife,” Stone explains. “It doesn’t have a brother-in-law who knows a lot about politics, or a union president who calls and doesn’t like the color of the suit, or bimbo eruptions. It’s the perfect candidate, because it has no personal characteristics.”
No personal characteristics indeed. The group’s IRS filings are studiedly anonymous, disclosing their purpose as âTo educate the public about the importance of moral character and integtiry [sic] in those who hold public office.â
Labash writes that Stone wants Democrats to know that “if Hillary is the nominee, a hard 527 rain is going to fall.” And already the anti-Hillary groups are getting themselves crossed up. No sooner had Stone filed his organization’s papers than Citizens United, a group headed by David Bossie that’s been attacking the Clintons for nearly twenty years and recently released Hillary: The Movie, sent a cease and desist letter to Stone, alleging infringement.