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Posted at 8:54 AM ET, 02/27/2011

What IS Alliance for Justice?

By Jennifer Rubin

On Friday, I delved into the left's "Koch derangement syndrome," the effort to run the 2012 campaign against the two mega-wealthy brothers who donate to conservative causes, rather than the individuals who will be on the ballot. As I explained, a left-wing outfit, Alliance for Justice (AFJ), has been one of the cheerleaders for the part of the Koch vendetta that is focused on attacking Supreme Court justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas, who ruled in favor of the primacy of the First Amendment in the Citizens United case.

Who is involved in AFJ, and what does it do? It is actually a coalition of 74 member groups including some prominent left-wing groups such as the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF), NARAL Pro-Choice America and the National Lawyers Guild. Its most visible role is in judicial nomination fights. It has -- long before the Citizens United case -- gone after Supreme Court justices nominated by Republican presidents. AJF's executive director, Nan Aron, is invariably among the shrillest voices in these Supreme Court battles. As The Post reported in 2005:

Aron, Ralph Neas of People for the American Way and Wade Henderson of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights have been a close-knit and consistent team of opposition to conservative judicial nominees. They led the movement that sank Robert Bork in 1987, and they've never looked back.

The names of the justices may change but the lines are remarkably similar. "Roberts court protects the powerful," she proclaimed. Sam Alito, she told us, "pursued a very consistent agenda that favors government intrusion into our personal lives and sides with powerful interests over ordinary Americans."

You would think that when, for example, Aron and AFJ line up in favor of "a code of conduct" for justices that their leftist affiliation and track record would at least be revealed.

And -- no shock to those who've been reading Right Turn -- the financial backers of AFJ are many of the same characters we've seen on donor lists of other left-wing front groups (e.g., J Street, Common Cause and Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, or CREW). Six-figure donations come from George Soros's Open Society Institute, the Joyce Foundation, the Arca Foundation, the Tides Foundation). And the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) is there, too.

But, as with many of these left-wing groups, it's hard to find an accurate accounting of about AFJ's donors. There is no list on its Web site. I asked AFJ a series of questions. Where I can find a complete list of AFJ's donors? Did any organization that funds AFJ participate in the Citizens United case? Did any group that received funds from AFJ participate in Citizens United? No responses were forthcoming.

From our brief inquiry into some left-wing groups, we've learned a few things. First, they share many of the same donors. Second, they often pursue the same agenda ("Get the Koch brothers!") And, while they talk an awful lot about "transparency" and the menace of "anonymous donors," their own disclosure is limited, at best.

Don't get me wrong. Rich people and foundations have every right to operate in this fashion. But it's rank hypocrisy for them to go after the Koch brothers for funding lots of conservative groups. Moreover, the mainstream media and Congress should stop pretending that these left-wing front groups are high-minded independent watch dogs. In fact, these groups are highly partisan and selective attack dogs.

A mix of diverse ideological organizations conducting pitched battles on the political playing field is a vital part of our democratic system. Let's just be honest about who the players are and who owns the teams.

By Jennifer Rubin  | February 27, 2011; 8:54 AM ET
Categories:  law  
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Next: Obama on Libya: Very little and very late


The bottom-line is that those with the most money control the political agenda for BOTH sides of the aisle...and that is wrong! Nowhere in that equation is there room for Mr., Ms., and Mrs. Average American. Abraham Lincoln who noted that "a government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the Earth," must be rolling in his grave.

~ Halli Casser-Jayne

Posted by: PolitiHAL | February 27, 2011 9:26 AM | Report abuse

Hopefully, sometime today, someone from the left will finally answer the questions that have been posed numerous times on similar posts: Why are the Koch's viewed as the Devils Incarnate while Soros is seen as Santa Claus? What's the difference between them? How can the Koch's be primarily responsible for the buying politicians and affecting policy to suit their own interests when left-wing groups, led by labor, totally dominate the list of political donors? Bueller? Bueller?

Posted by: paco33 | February 27, 2011 10:58 AM | Report abuse

"Moreover, the mainstream media and Congress should stop pretending that these left-wing front groups are high-minded independent watch dogs."

This is what drives me crazy. Thankfully, alternative media such as blogs, talk radio and Fox News now exist to penetrate this barrier.

Posted by: gord2 | February 27, 2011 11:56 AM | Report abuse

The Obama administration is seeking to widen the scope of its proposal to overhaul the corporate tax code, urging Congress to also change rules that allow some businesses to take advantage of tax laws governing individuals.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner told the Senate Finance Committee Feb. 15 that Congress should “revisit” long- standing rules that give businesses a choice of paying taxes as a corporation or through a structure such as a partnership through which they can report business income on individual tax returns.

The recommendation, which Geithner repeated in a meeting with reporters this week at Bloomberg News in Washington, would affect income earned by the nation’s largest law firms, investment partnerships and so-called S corporations. It would more than double, to about $3 trillion, the amount of business income potentially affected by tax-law changes.

So, now the lawyers may actually have to put their money where their beliefs are, I wonder if they'll go quietly? He is The Won, after all.

Posted by: gopthestupidparty | February 27, 2011 12:03 PM | Report abuse

Oh, my! J. Rubin plays connect-the-dots between left-wing front groups and their financiers.

If I didn't know better, I'd think this post was written by Glenn Beck.

Posted by: kbash33 | February 27, 2011 4:25 PM | Report abuse

kbash33 –
Er, so you have no substantial criticism of JR’s piece? She reported the facts straightforwadly, her analysis is logical, her conclusions sound?

Good, we’ll mark you down as agreeing. FWIW, I do too!

I;m not sure where Beck stands on this issue. If you have the time, would you mind calling in to his radio show tomorrow to find out? I gotta work -- real busy time -- so I can't.


Posted by: SCMike1 | February 27, 2011 7:15 PM | Report abuse

I was merely noting the substantive similarity between this piece and the kind of stuff I've seen Beck do on his TV show. I don't tune him in often, but when I do he seems to be talking about Soros and SEIU and the Tides Foundation and their connections to other lefty/progressive groups. This is stuff we all need to know more about, and I'm happy to see JR bring a thoughtful conservative voice to this topic.

Posted by: kbash33 | February 27, 2011 8:05 PM | Report abuse

PolitiHAL: In fact, ample opportunities exist for ordinary citizens to affect the political process. One way is through contributions to organizations that advocate for positions they favor. One example, in my own case, is the National Rifle Association, which is a very effective advocate for Second Amendment rights. It aggregates funds donated by like-minded citizens, and does not rely extensively on fat-cat support. Another way would be to participate
in a grassroots movement like the Tea Party.

Posted by: jaodonnell | February 27, 2011 8:15 PM | Report abuse

Keep whacking at it, JR.
The "nonprofit" Left is much larger than the straight political Left. Even the "nonprofit" RIGHT is probably larger than its corresponding political party.
Why is that? Because the dirty secret money needed someplace to hide, and where better than in charitable, tax-sheltered slush funds?
This is why campaign finance is a joke. The only way to pull the wool off is to require full disclosure in real time of any political activity. Let Heritage, Brookings and everyone else fully reveal their donors and let the chips fall.

Posted by: daskinner | February 28, 2011 12:56 AM | Report abuse

The fact that Clarence Thomas has to defend his wife, is like watching him defend his bench on the Supreme Court. Justice Clarence Thomas should step down if his wife is going to be reckless with his position as a United States lawmaker.

Thomas Chi

Posted by: ThomasChi | February 28, 2011 3:48 PM | Report abuse

The Koch Brother actually EMPLOY people at the companies they own. Soros is a Wall Street robber baron, he gobbles up companies STOCK, causing layoffs and bankruptcies. Soros DESTROYS, while Koch Brother EMPLOYS.

I would ask - how many Americans are employed by Koch Brothers and how many are employed by Soros.

Posted by: Cornell1984 | March 1, 2011 7:34 AM | Report abuse

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