The pertinent line reads:
05/03/06 | Arizona FLS | Phone Bank | $1,451.60
What does a Madison School Board race have to do with Karl Rove?
In yet another odd case of politics making for very strange bedfellows, it turns out that School Board candidate Maya Cole hired a telemarketing company called Arizona FLS, also known as FLS Connect and FLS-DCI, during her 2005 campaign. FLS has a rather exclusive clientele, and it's not exactly what you would associate with a Madison progressive. Their customers include the Bush/Cheney campaign, the Republican National Committee, the Republican Governors Association, Exxon, the NRA, the rather repressive military government of Myanmar (Burma), and, closer to home, the Republican Party of Wisconsin and Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce.
But what really got me was this quote prominently featured on the FLS homepage:
“I know these guys well. They become partners with the campaigns they work with. From designing the program to drafting the scripts; from selecting targets to making the calls in a professional successful way, they work as hard to win your races as you do.” - Karl RoveOne of FLS-DCI's specialties is creating astroturf groups, fake grassroots organizations that are actually paid PR and lobbying campaigns. They've been tied to Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, the group that attacked Kerry in '04, and Voices for Choices, a front group that lobbies for AT&T (check out this previous post for a little local AT&T intrigue). One of FLS-DCI's more interesting exploits was creating this flash video mocking Al Gore's movie "An Inconvenient Truth":
It created quite a stir on YouTube, and fooled a lot people until The Wall Street Journal exposed it as a paid political hit piece.
So why would Maya give her money to an outfit that's basically trying to destroy everything she claims to believes in? My guess is that she didn't have a clue about FLS-DCI, and was just told to use them by one of her campaign advisors.
One of the reasons I'm supporting Maya's opponent, Marj Passman, is that in both her current and previous campaigns Maya has chosen to surround herself with people who represent the exact opposite of the progressive values she claims to stand for. To be fair to Maya, and I do believe she really is a progressive, I know she felt forced to do so because she's been largely locked out of the Madison political machine. But you're known by the company you keep, and I wouldn't be caught dead with some of Maya's current buddies.