Fact-Check Follies

Brent LawsonIn the long list of things that people don’t like about politics, slinging “mud” is pretty close to the top. In my earlier article deconstructing accusations against U.S. Congressional Candidate John Ratcliffe it was observed that there is a difference between pointing out the negatives about a political candidate, and simply trying to raise clouds of doubt about that candidate for the sake of political expedience. It was predictable that the article would not be well received by the author of the accusations being deconstructed, but the extent of the doubling down on those positions was a little surprising.

Bearing in mind that the accusations have been emphatically proclaimed to have been fact checked, the purpose of today’s article is simply to demonstrate the level of credibility with which these charges should be viewed. The internet is sometimes both a blessing and a curse. There is a nearly infinite amount of information at our fingertips, but that information still has to be processed and analyzed. Collecting lots of data is pretty simple. Analyzing it is not always so simple. We can easily connect dots that really have nothing to do with each other. That can be done intentionally, but it can also be done by accident. This is one reason that it is imperative to first be committed to the truth when we set out on a course to tear down a political foe.

Case in point, the following quote is an excerpt from the “official response” to my previous article:

“Chris Christie, the former underling of John Ashcroft’s DOJ but now Governor of NJ, had hurricane Sandy destruction to fix. There was money put in a “Relief Bill” to pay for damaged property and infrastructure. So hold this thought while I add in the Ashcroft group. The Ashcroft(sic) is the listed Lobbying firm for the Rockefeller Fund, a non profit that was building a new project in NJ. The Rockefeller Fund project was not in any way damaged during the hurricane. I think you already know what happened and why Chris Christie is being investigated again. Yes, as you might expect, Chris Christie, a former DOJ crony of Ashcroft and fellow US Attorney to Ratcliffe and Sutton, handed the Rockefeller Fund a gift of $6,000,000 dollars from the Sandy Relief money (tax dollars) as a grant. Again for review, the Ashcroft group is the Lobbying firm that the Rockefeller Fund hired.”The text above is part of the official response that has been posted on the internet, and emailed to political organizations throughout northeast Texas. In at least one case, the email that accompanied the article contained the following disclaimer: “Make your own conclusions, do your own fact checking by all means.” There is something basically wrong with throwing out an accusation, and then telling people to verify it themselves. Of course we do need to verify things for ourselves, but we also have a duty to make certain that accusations like this are valid before we make them.

So what do we find when we do our own “fact checking” regarding the above charges? First there is some liberty taken with the name of the “Rockefeller Fund”. There are two distinct organizations intertwined in this tale – “The Rockefeller Family Fund” (RFF), and the “Rockefeller Group” (RG). Both organizations trace their origins to the famous American Rockefeller family. The second issue with the accusation is that both groups have taken dramatically different paths since they started. The RFF is a philanthropic organization that the Ashcroft Group did indeed do some lobbying for. The RG is a real estate development enterprise run by CEO Atsushi Nakajima, and 100% owned by Mitsubishi Estate Co. Ltd. The third noteworthy item is that the $6 million grant at the heart of one of Christie’s scandals was not made to a project developed by either of these Rockefeller enterprises. The confusion seems to stem from RG involvement in another Christie misadventure that we shouldn’t be surprised to see become the focus of future “fact checking” by Mr. Hall’s new BFF. The $6 million grant from the Sandy relief fund was directed toward building the Franklin Manor senior center, and the developer for that project was Mill Street Development Urban Renewal LLC.

So just what do an American philanthropic organization and a Japanese owned real estate development group have in common? They have similar sounding names that make good fodder for conspiracy theories. There is no reasonable excuse for throwing out accusations of collusion between either Rockefeller organization, Christie and Ashcroft over the Hurricane Sandy relief controversy. I was a little surprised to see Ratcliffe’s detractor make a very specific accusation in another recent article: “…the Ashcroft group lobbied Chris Christie to give money to the Rockefeller Family fund from(sic) Hurricane Sandy relief fund even though there was NO hurricane damage to their project.” The only problem is that the RFF didn’t have a development project, damaged or undamaged.

So finally we see that we have a political attack on a Texas congressional candidate who doesn’t work for Ashcroft’s lobbying group, which did not lobby for the Rockefeller Group, which is a 100% Japanese owned company not connected to the Rockefeller Family Fund that a part of the Ashcroft business that the candidate is not part of did lobby for. Not to mention the fact that the entire accusation was based on the completely false premise that the Rockefeller Group was the developer for Franklin Manor. How many degrees of separation need to be established between the accusation and the accused in order to reveal this accusation for the politically expedient act that it was? Is it really reasonable to just cherry-pick some google results to throw out an accusation like this and expect everybody to go unravel the threads for themselves?

Unfortunately, there are other conclusions in the “official response” that are off the mark, or simply wrong. The data that was gathered for most of the accusations is not necessarily bad, as far as it goes. The analysis that was applied to that data is another story entirely. Did the misguided accusations quoted above stem from honest mistakes or malice? What matters is simply that the accusations don’t represent the truth.

0 thoughts on “Fact-Check Follies

  1. Oh the thought of mixing up one Rockefeller entity with another. I guess that absolves Ratcliffe of all the other corrupt connections? Well, not in the eyes of most NE Texas voters. In fact, 71% of them Rejected Ratcliffe in The primary.

    The bottom line is that this group of Former US Attorney are corrupt beyond our imagination. Starting with Ashcroft who is Ratcliffe’s partner, to Christie, Johnny sutton (who jailed the 2 border guards) and more.

    This is a band of co conspirators who never cease to amaze when finding ways to bilk the american people out of their money using Government.

    The “Rockefeller Family Fund” is a left wing cap and trade pushing entity that hired the Ashcroft Group and this “Corrupt band of US attorney” to do their bidding. NONE of which is Conservative in principle or actions.

    So the mix up is understandable but not condoned but it seems that Lawson is making more of an issue about the single name mixup than the Corruption within this group of Former US Attorneys.

    The $52 million no bid contract handed to Ashcroft by Christie, The congressional investigation into that, the joining of the Ashcroft Group by Ratcliffe and Sutton–All ignored but not the mix up of the Rockefeller Named entities?

    The fact is that there has been a corrupt pattern amongst these former US Attorneys and somehow we are supposed to focus on a name mix up as a distraction to the Clear Corrupt Group of US Attorneys and Ratcliffe’s position with this group? I heard it said that “Ratcliffe only drves the “Get away car so he is not really a bank robber” Really??

    Ratcliffe’s loyalty will be with his partner John Ashcroft and the Ashcroft Group and clearly NOT with the people of the 4th district.

    It is a disservice for Lawson to attack me while ignoring the corruption that the whole group has been involved in.

    Well, You can if you wish, but a smart person would not.

    Lou Gigliotti


    ***Browse issuesBrowse registrantsBrowse lobbyistsBrowse clientsGo
    Ashcroft Group for Rockefeller Family Fund (RFF)

    Date received: July 1, 2009

    Issues: Environment/Superfund

    Specific issue: The CLEAR ACT: Cap and refund Bill

    Lobbyists: Ashcroft Group,
    GAYNOR, WILLIAM Charles Thomas II
    Henke, Tracy
    Weiss, Juleanna Glover (covered positions: CONSULTANT )

  2. Among the most controversial agreements entered into by Christie involved a $311 million settlement with Zimmer Holdings of Indiana involving kickbacks of manufacturers of knee replacements. Among Christie’s five handpicked monitors appointed to oversee the agreement was former U.S. Attorney General, and former Christie boss, John Ashcroft, whose Washington, D.C.-based law/lobbying firm stood to make over $52 million, one of the largest such contracts ever awarded a federal monitor. Zimmer Holdings objected to the Ashcroft Group’s high fees which included a $750,000 per month charge designated specifically for John Ashcroft and two other executives. Christie refused to intervene. The Ashcroft no-bid contract did not go unnoticed in Washington, and Christie was called upon to explain to Congressman John Conyers to explain why “there was neither public notice of the contract nor any public bidding for the assignment.” Instead of providing answers Christie simply walked out of the hearing .

    source: http://www.opednews.com/populum/printer_friendly.php?content=a&id=175023

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