David Keene And The American Conservative Union Scandal: Before FedEx, There Was Immigration

Also by Ellison Lodge:



Can Tancredo Make Immigration A
Litmus Test For GOP?



“[
I]it is now undeniable that the American Conservative Movement, the flower
of Free World and the true hero of the

Cold War
, has ended in utter failure”
, wrote
VDARE.COM`s
Peter Brimelow
in his

reflections
on this year`s Conservative Political
Action Conference. He added:


“None of this was remotely in evidence at CPAC (except
unofficially in

ancillary gatherings
and down

in the Exhibit Hall
). The leadership appeared fat
and happy. Quite literally—down in the audience, I was
astonished at the
lateral
expansion
of old friends up on the podium whom I`d
not seen for some years, like the host, the American
Conservative Union`s

David Keene
…”


Well, we now know more about what might have been
driving Keene`s lateral expansion. To

paraphrase
social philosopher Eric Hoffer:
"Every great
cause begins as a

movement
, becomes a

business
, and eventually

degenerates
into a racket."
Any doubt that the
America`s conservative movement isn`t well into Phase
Three has been dispelled by the news that CPAC`s
sponsor, Keene`s
American Conservative Union
, recently attempted
pay-for-play with FedEx.


Currently UPS and FedEx are

at war over some minor legislation
involving union
regulation. Conservatives shouldn`t have a stake in this
fight one way or the other. Neither company cares about
the free market. They support and oppose regulation
based on what suits their bottom line, and harms their
competitor, at any given time. Turns out the same can be
said of the ACU.


The Politico webzine broke the story July 17 by
publishing a leaked letter from ACU vice president
Dennis Whitfield offering support FedEx`s legislation
for the modest sum of $2,147,550. [
Exclusive:
Conservative group offers support for $2M
, By
Mike Allen
]


Among the services offered in the letter:




  • “Leading a coalition of center-Right organizations and
    think-tanks in support of FedEx`s issues and concerns to
    maximize resources, efforts and impact.”




  • “Producing op-eds and articles written by ACU`s Chairman
    David Keene and / or other members of the ACU`s Board of
    Directors. (Note that Mr. Keene writes a weekly column
    that appears in The Hill.)”





  • “Emailing the identified voter activists, in 5 rounds,
    in order to educate them on the issue(s) and to urge
    them to call their Senators based on key dates. The ACU
    would include the phone number of their personal
    Senators directly in the correspondence.”


In fact, the $2.1 million was just the basic package.
Other services from the ACU went up to $3.4 million.


FedEx did not respond to the offer. And two weeks later
ACU Chairman David Keene`s name
with ACU`s logo appeared on a

letter
directed to FedEx president Fred Smith,
telling him he supported rival UPS`s position and asking
the company to stop its anti-UPS
“Brown Bailout” campaign with the painfully cheesy conclusion,
“To

paraphrase
the

words of Ronald Reagan
, `Mr. Smith, tear down this
website.`”


Caught red-handed, the ACU quickly issued a

press release
claiming that David Keene was only
signing on as an individual, not a representative of the
organization, and that its own support of FedEx—based
wholly on conservative principles, of course, not
financial contributions—was unchanged.


Keene`s letter did indeed include the disclaimer
Affiliations
are listed for identification purposes only”
.
There`s only one problem:
Op Eds by Keene
were part of the package deal offered to FedEx!


In the last few years, after the Republican Party began
losing elections, all the D.C. conservative movement
leaders began talking about how the movement had to get
back to principles, blah blah blah. But of course the
corruption endemic to the GOP went straight to the
conservative movement.

Jack Abramoff
would

pay op-ed columnists
like

Doug Bandow
to write about his pet causes, and show
up to

Grover Norquist`s

“Center Right”
Wednesday morning meetings offering goodies to
organizations who supported his clients.


Despite the talk about getting back to principles,
nothing was changing. At one of Norquist`s meetings last
year, a former ACU vice president turned

corporate lobbyist
gave a long lecture on how giving
a tanker contract to Northrop Grumman was a conservative
cause.


A charitable cynic might say that the pay-for-play
lobbying in the conservative movement is just smart
politics. We might not care about the feud between FedEx
and UPS or

Abramoff issues
like

trade relations with the Marshall Islands
or the
tax-exempt status of the

Choctaw
Indian tribe, but the money we get for
promoting these causes helps fund important advocacy on
issues like immigration enforcement.


This, however, is like the high-class call girl who
begins by whoring herself through

med school
, but ends up walking the streets for
crack. Abramoff`s causes

included
Puerto Rican

statehood
—and even worse teaming up with
Grover
Norquist
and Ralph Reed to

sabotage
the Jordan Commission`s immigration
reforms. When Congressman Mike Pence introduced his
amnesty, hand-written by

horse farmer and conservative donor
Helen Krieble`s
minions, David Keene was quick to jump on, writing a

column
in The
Hill
—the same one he offered to sell to
FedEx—endorsing Pence`s amnesty as
“an alternative that could attract support from reasonable men and women
on both sides of the debate”


At the same time, Keene was sending
direct
mail letters
asking for money from patriotic
Americans who
"think the government should be deporting

illegal lawbreakers
instead of rolling out the
red
carpet
for them.”


In February, the Federation for American Immigration
Reform [FAIR] produced an important

study
analyzing immigration lobbyists. [
Who`s
Lobbying on Immigration?


by Eric Ruark,

pdf
.
]
In addition to the Amnesty Bills of 2006 and 2007, it
also looked at bills dealing with E-Verify and
enforcement. A whopping 98% of 521

businesses
and

organizations
who lobbied on immigration opposed
enforcement and supported amnesty. The pro-amnesty
groups spent a grand total of 345 million dollars on

lobbying
(though in fairness, not all of that money
went to promoting amnesty directly.) Only ten lobbyists
opposed amnesty and they were not corporate lobbyists
but member-funded patriotic immigration reform advocacy
groups like FAIR, US
Border Patrol,
Numbers USA, and the

American Legion.



The closer the conservative movement`s ties to
lobbyists,
the less we can

expect from them
on immigration.


In 2003, ACU Vice Chairman Don Devine
did
not give enough standing ovations

 at then-President
George Bush`s

address to the organization.
David Keene wrote a

public letter
to Devine claiming "you have done
incalculable damage to ACU and I hope you will have the
good grace to resign your position as Vice-Chairman. If
you don`t, I can assure you that I will ask the Board to
consider removing you at our June meeting"
.
To add insult to injury he added “I

no longer
consider you…a personal friend”
.


Don`t expect Keene to resign over the FedEx fiasco. At
the most, V-P Whitefield might have to take the fall,
with a generous severance package, and go back to his
old job as a corporate lobbyist.


But it goes without saying that Keene and Whitfield
committed much more
“incalculable
damage”
to the ACU and the conservative movement as
a whole than Devine`s decision to stand up (or sit down)
against George Bush and for conservative principles.


More specifically, the FedEx fiasco confirms Peter
Brimelow`s speculation, in his article on the ACU`s 2009
CPAC mentioned in my first sentence, about why the
Conservative Establishment as presently constituted can
never deal with America`s mounting immigration disaster:
as he put it bluntly,
pressure
from funders
.



Ellison Lodge (
email
him) works on Capitol
Hill.