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Campaign Finance Nutpicking: Ron Paul and Stormfront
Posted by: Jon Henke on Thursday, November 15, 2007

I understand the point McQ has made about candidates needing to distance themselves from unsavory supporters, and I understand the point Dale has made that "neither Mr. Paul, nor anyone else, has any responsibility to seek out and repudiate endorsements from whackos." I agree with both of those points. Politicians shouldn't have to disavow every crank...but it is sometimes helpful to do so, despite the fact that these stories are mostly just a contrivance...a fake ad hominem story. I understand why a politician should have to return a contribution if there is a substantial appearance of quid pro quo or some inappropriate influence. But if there is no substantive reason to believe that is the case, why do we demand that politicians return the money?

For instance, The American Thinker criticizes The Ron Paul Campaign and its Neo-Nazi Supporters over a $500 donation from a Neo-Nazi racist at Stormfront.
Most politicians are quick to distance themselves from such disreputable donations when they are discovered. Not [Ron] Paul.
Why are Ron Paul critics demanding Ron Paul donate $500 to a Neo-Nazi?

This is the campaign finance equivalent of Nutpicking. Nobody is seriously suggesting that Ron Paul actually promotes Neo-Nazi policies, or that he will do so as a result of the donation. Critics are simply demanding that the Ron Paul campaign give $500 to a Neo-Nazi to make a symbolic point.

Is symbolism so valuable that we would enrich Neo-Nazis to make that point? As far as I'm concerned, the less money Neo-Nazis have, the better off we are.

[Disclosure: I work for an opponent of Ron Paul]
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Previous Comments to this Post 

I wouldn’t say that he needs to return the money, after all they would be getting the equivalent of money from Rep. Paul. In his case, I don’t believe that such money would make an effect on his beliefs. I would suggest that Rep. Paul play up the beliefs of his that conflict with these questionable groups, which should immunize him from criticism. If they still want to give money to a man who makes it clear that he will vote against their particular interests, why should I care?

Btw, I am not a Ron Paul supporter, though if by some chance he did get the R nomination, I might consider voting for him as my normally Libertarian protest vote. He would not win, but I think we should support ideas in that general direction.
Written By: anomdebus
URL: http://
He can donate the money to charity.

Like I said in the other post, taking & keeping the money from such a group makes it an OK practice. Even if Ron Paul never takes his marching orders from a Neo-Nazi, he makes it easier for the next politician to take the money. When enough money is involved, those politicians will start taking their marching orders from them.
Written By: jpm100
URL: http://
A better action, if one wanted symbolism, would be to give those ’tainted’ donations over to the ADL.

That would probably make the neo-nazis think twice about giving to Paul.
Written By: Keith_Indy
I wonder whether my general antipathy toward the source of the money, combined with the fact that I don’t necessarily agree with the donee, is related to my antipathy toward accepting matching funds for election expenses from the federal government. In a perfect world, I would not want it to happen, but face it, right now you need piles of money to win an election. Even underfunded underdog winners still spend lots of money. If there is any chance of changing things, it may have to come at the cost of abridging short term principles regarding public monies.
Written By: anomdebus
URL: http://
It’s the nature of the beast, Jon, and Paul’s been around long enough to know that. What’s the old proverb, ’Truth is 90% perception.’?

No one is seriously saying, or even hinting at, that Ron Paul is a Neo Nazi. But these are problems that could have easily been non-issues if Paul had handled it properly when they first happened.

I wrote in Bruce’s thread that this situation isn’t unique to Paul: Republicans and Democrats all have their fair share of nutcases. But if Mitt Romney received money from Phelps or abortion clinic bombers or if Barack Obama received money from The Black Panthers or the United Communist Party, they’d be out there returning the money, condemning them and distancing themselves from them faster than you can blink.

When it comes to ideas, you’re going to have unsavory people who sometimes agree with a few of your positions, like Paul or anyone else does. The question then is how you handle it.

Ron Paul has illustrated that he does not have the wherewithal to play the game, and if this non-issue becomes a tsunami for him without his candidacy being seriously considered just imagine what it could have turned into if he were a serious contender (’serious’ meaning he had a chance).

Again: the easy, simple way to handle this would have been to donate that money to the Holocaust Museum Fund or other such charity, so when the day comes that he’s invariably questioned in this perpetual game of ’Ah-ha! Gotcha!’ the media plays, he would be ready with a good reply.

He has no one to blame but himself.
Written By: Joel C.
URL: http://
Why are Ron Paul critics demanding Ron Paul donate $500 to a Neo-Nazi?
I think this characterization of giving back the money is kinda lame, personally. There’s stronger points to be made than playing games with rhetoric. For one, it was just $500. Also, given the absurd number of people who’ve donated to him, if he gave back this money, then the pile on starts and people find all kinds of reasons for him to give back money donated by other people. No campaign has the time or manpower to do a background check on every person that donates. Third, Paul isn’t running on any racist positions or beliefs as far I as can tell.

Of course Keith is right, it would be brilliant for him to give the money to the ADL.
Written By: ChrisB
URL: http://
I think every politician should take money that neo-Nazis want to give them, and not do jack in return.

Everyone wins, except the neo-Nazi, and isn’t that the ideal outcome in any case?

(Though, yes, donating the money to charity, and especially a Jewish or anti-Nazi one, is better politics and at least as morally acceptable.)
Written By: Sigivald
URL: http://
You know what’s at the heart of the dilemma?

If he wants to stay true to his principles, like the good Libertarian that he is, he’d keep the money.

If he wants to get elected, he should return or donate it.
Written By: Keith_Indy
To the point of ’perception’... Let’s try a thought experiment... a little ’what if"...

Replace Ron Paul’s name with Fred or Rudy. Now, replay the whole scene.

Does anyone suppose that the left wouldn’t be screaming bloody murder over the connection? Ask yourself; Why is Ron Paul comparatively getting a pass, here from both the MSM and the Democrats?

More; Does anyone suppose, that in our hypothetical scenario, Fred or Rudy wouldn’t be going to some lengths to disassociate themselves from such groups by way of deep sixing sich contributions? Ask yourself: Why doesn’t Ron Paul consider that he needs to ditch these contributions and assocociations?

It all makes one wonder.

Written By: Bithead
Why is Ron Paul getting a "pass"? That’s simple. The MSM is pretty much treating him like a joke. Only the net is really taking him seriously because of his unusual presence online. The MSM would make a big deal about Thompson or Giuliani or McCain taking this donation because of their higher poll numbers; Ron Paul only has poll numbers in the single digits, and that’s in the low single digits outside of New Hampshire. If Ron Paul starts to earn some higher poll numbers, this story will be a big deal in the press as well; I’m not saying that he might not be able to defuse it, but that’s when they’d start making a big deal about it.

Try your thought experiment with "replace his name with Tom Tancredo or Dennis Kucinich" and see if the result is any different from what you get if you replace it with Fred Thompson or Rudy Giuliani. They won’t bother to pay attention to a candidate until they think there’s a chance the candidate will be elected. This is like the difference between Kramer from Seinfeld making a racist comment versus some dude from a local cable-access show.

Don’t look for conspiracies when there’s another obvious explanation.
Written By: Ron Paul’s Pass
URL: http://
One idea you’ve not considered... Ron Paul also is thought to be worth about a 10% split of Republican votes in the general election. They give him a pass to the extent that they do because he’s useful to the cause of electing Democrats.

Which is pretty much the Perot situation, if you will but recall.

Written By: Bithead
That’d be a bit more convincing if Paul weren’t on record saying that he will not run as an Independent or a third party candidate in the general election. Maybe he’s lying about this, but we’ll have to wait and find that out in the summer of 2008.

For your suspicion of the MSM’s plan to really be the case, we need to believe:

1. The MSM is making enough of Paul’s candidacy to think of him as even being a spoiler to the Republicans. Considering the poor poll results (at most 4-5% nationwide or 7% in NH), this seems unlikely.

2. Paul will actually run as an Independent or Libertarian in the general in direct contradiction of his statement that he will not. (The MSM also has to have a good reason to believe that he will do this.)

3. The MSM believes that he will run as some sort of spoiler campaign and doesn’t expect him to draw more anti-war vote from the Democratic candidate than he does votes from the Republicans. He is certainly a more anti-war candidate than Clinton and Edwards and arguably than Obama as well. Assuming that the Democrats don’t nominate Kucinich or Gravel, Ron Paul has some chance of taking away votes from Democrats on an issue that really seems to matter to some of them.

You could be right; all three of these things might be true and this might be the actual MSM plan. However, again, I think I’ll take the more obvious guess and say they aren’t paying attention to him or his possible screw-ups because they don’t think he matters.
Written By: Ron Paul’s Pass
URL: http://
That’d be a bit more convincing if Paul weren’t on record saying that he will not run as an Independent or a third party candidate in the general election. Maybe he’s lying about this, but we’ll have to wait and find that out in the summer of 2008.
It’s true, but it’s beside the point. Look, do you not suppose that when Paul doesn’t get the nomination, there isn’t going to be a lot of noise from that 5-7% of people, about how the republicans ’let us down’, who will then go back across the street where they came from? Momentum is part of perception, you know?

Written By: Bithead
Look, do you not suppose that when Paul doesn’t get the nomination, there isn’t going to be a lot of noise from that 5-7% of people, about how the republicans ’let us down’, who will then go back across the street where they came from? Momentum is part of perception, you know?
I doubt that the 5-7% you’re talking about would vote Republican (other than for Paul, were he to be nominated), whether or not Paul was in the race as an Independent. The Libertarian anti-war vote is probably something that neither Giuliani, Thompson, Romney, nor Huckabee (nor probably McCain) would be able to get, regardless. Unless you are talking about the disaffected liberals who are for Paul right now, whose votes are also completely un-winnable for any other Republican (and maybe, in the end, even for Paul himself).

As for the rest of the Republicans, I’d have to believe the complaints of some disaffected Libertarians and liberals for Paul would make a difference in the Republican base support in the general election. I’d also need to believe that the MSM understands this and is actively trying to whip up serious-enough complaints to stir up Republicans from the barely more than Kucinich-level support Ron Paul has almost a full year away from the general election. I also have to believe that they think they can do this not by offering up a bunch of pro-Paul stories or other free advertising - just by offering silence on a $500 donation. I mean if Alan Keyes supporters or Tom Tancredo supporters complain that the Republicans let them down, no one will bat an eye, because in the end, they’re minor candidates with virtually no support. If Paul’s supporters could cause more consternation than that among Republicans in general, he wouldn’t be a minor candidate with his small poll numbers.

All of this is an unbelievable level of craftiness to attribute to reporters, who, honestly, are not so bright. I have to call Occam’s razor on this one.
Written By: Ron Paul’s Pass
URL: http://

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