6 Questions Bob Barr Needs to Answer Before He Gets Your Vote
From the diaries, by Erick.
Bob Barr is running to return to Congress.
Over the past few weeks, I’ve been tweeting many questions to Barr about his past. I genuinely think he needs to answer these questions. But he’s not very happy with me for doing so.
He has never engaged with me or answered these questions. In fact, one of these questions was asked just this week by a reporter for Business Insider. Barr also refused to provide an answer to him, as well. I’ll address that below.
Of note: I am a voter and resident of Georgia’s 11th District, of which Barr is running for. Although Barr claims I am an “operative” for Barry Loudermilk, I am in fact just a donor to his campaign. I have proudly given Loudermilk $250, but I’ve never even been to a campaign event or volunteered with the campaign. I just believe in Loudermilk — Erick does too.
1. Who did Bob Barr lobby for?
In between his time as a Congressman and his 2014 campaign, Barr ran a consulting firm called Liberty Strategies. The firm, according to an internet-archived version of its website, engaged in direct lobbying.
Barr should release a list of the groups, associations, people, causes, and legislation he lobbied for. He should account for every dollar he accepted on behalf of promoting policy or people. The voters deserve to know how Bob Barr influenced Washington, D.C. as a lobbyist.
2. Why did Bob Barr represent a former dictator from Haiti? Why did he travel to Haiti to meet with him?
In 2011, Barr went to Haiti to represent and consult for former Haitian dictator ‘Baby Doc’ Duvalier. Duvalier has been accused of murdering 30,000-50,000 Haitians during his reign. He is one of the most well-known dictators. You can read more about him and his actions here from an organization that is trying to prosecute him. Duvalier has still not been brought to justice — and Barr consulted and represented him. Why would Barr help a dictator escape justice for crimes against humanity?
Business Insider reported on this story just this week. Barr’s response:
“I’m trying to run a campaign for the 11th district here. Jean-Claude Duvalier is not in the 11th district. … Print that, print whatever you want. All I’m saying is this is 2014. … If you think that’s important then you really have no earthly idea what’s going on in the 11th district of Georgia.”
Barr further excuses this in the Business Insider piece by saying he wasn’t hired by Duvalier. Even if this were true (no evidence that it is) — why did he WANT to be hired by him? Why would you take the call and travel to Haiti to be with someone who ruled like Duvalier did?
Barr went on CNN to defend Duvalier in 2011. Click here for the clip.
In the interview, when asked if it was uncomfortable or if he had any concerns with representing Duvalier he said there was “no conflict at all.”
3. Did Barr represent controversial Dr. Salomon Melgen? If so, how?
Dr. Salomon Melgen has been in the news recently as being the highest-billing doctor to medicare. He is under federal investigation and is a big-time donor to Democrats.
This article from Republic Report is the only source I could find, but it states that Barr has represented Melgen. Simple question here: Did he represent him and if so, how?
4. Why did Barr endorse Eric Holder? How close are they? Why did he not denounce him until he was running for Congress again?
If you don’t already know, Barr endorsed Attorney General Holder for his spot in the Obama Administration in 2009. It’s a pretty gushing endorsement. You can read the full endorsement letter here. Why would Barr endorse a man who was so at-odds with the 2nd Amendment in Washington, D.C. and claim that he would uphold the Bill of Rights? Barr knew that Holder had extensively fought for gun control — but he still gave his full support.
Barr contends that anyone who says he supported Holder is simply “selective-editing” and cutting out the parts where he said he opposed Holder. You can read the letter — that’s all of 1 sentence where he notes they have some policy disagreements. Big whoop. But Barr is clinging to this argument.
The worst part is that Barr continued to defend Holder until after his newest run for Congress had begun. This op-ed on Townhall.com in September 2012 defended Holder from Fast & Furious.
Barr’s candidacy for Congress launched on March 28, 2013, according to his Facebook page. Since then, he has written three articles denouncing Holder — June 5, 2013 / Feb 5, 2014 / May 14, 2014 — none of them mention his prior support for him.
And we don’t know how close they are or were. Or why Barr waited until he was running for Congress to speak out against him.
5. Why is a 501(c)(4) organization paying off Barr’s Presidential committee debt?
Barr’s presidential committee from 2008 still has a lot of debt — just over $149,000. Each recent filing period shows contributions from Liberty Guard, a 501c(4) that Barr runs, as the only contributions the committee receives. Liberty Guard on their homepage asks for people to “invest in liberty” by giving to them. Can you say it’s “investing in liberty” when you are giving money that is later paid to a failed presidential campaign?
Over $66,000 has been given from Liberty Guard to the presidential committee. While I don’t know if it’s legal for a 501(c)(4) to contribute that much to a campaign in general, at the very least Barr should answer to whether donors to Liberty Guard know where their money is going. If they knew, why wouldn’t they be donating directly to the presidential committee instead?
Also – the 2008 campaign is still paying for Aristotle data services. Surely there’s no overlap there between presidential campaign data and this year’s campaign data, right?
6. Why did Barr’s Leadership PAC give less than 5% of the money it raised to candidates?
The Bob Barr Leadership Fund from 2000-2012 raised over $4.8 million from donors across the country. It gave less than 5% of the money it raised to candidates (the primary function of a Leadership PAC is to support other candidates).
You can see what it spent its money on here: https://www.opensecrets.org/pacs/lookup2.php?cycle=2008&strID=C00340190
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported on these questionable financials on May 18, 2008. The story can no longer be found on ajc.com, but I was able to track the story down from someone at the AJC. I have pasted the article in full, because Barr likes to accuse people of “selective-editing”.
On April 1, former Congressman Bob Barr wrote to rally conservatives across the country to stop liberals from solidifying control of Congress.
“If we don’t act fast — I’m afraid conservatives may well lose out again!” he implored in a letter sent by his political action committee.
The Bob Barr Leadership Fund, he wrote, has played a “tremendous role” in helping conservative Republicans defeat liberal congressmen. Since 2003, Barr’s PAC has raised $4.3 million with similar mailings.
But only a small portion of that money has made its way to Republican campaigns.
In the last five years the fund has given $125,200 — about three cents of every dollar raised — to federal candidates and other campaign committees, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has found in a review of reports filed with the Federal Election Commission. Another $81,875 went to state and local campaigns.
The fund spent more than $710,000 in that period on administrative costs, including office expenses, $41,109 in salary for Barr’s son Derek and a $500 political consulting fee for his son Adrian. It also paid $865 for travel for Barr’s wife, Jeri.
Most of the fund’s spending — $3.3 million, or about 78 percent of all gifts from donors — paid forraising more money, including mailing lists, postage and telemarketing.
“It costsmoney to raisemoney, ” Barr said.
In the letter, Barr told potential donors the fund played a “tremendous role” in ousting Sen. Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) in 2004 and provided “critical funding” in 2006 for freshman Rep. Michele Bachman (R-Minn.). But records show the fund made modest donations in those races: $1,000 to John Thune, Daschle’s opponent, and $1,500 to Bachman.
The letter states he also raised tens of thousands of dollars in 2002 for Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.). The organization, however, donated nothing to Chambliss that year; a fund official wrote in an e-mail that Barr, not the fund, helped raise about $20,000 for that race.
Over the years, the federal candidate who received the most contributions from Barr’s fund has been Barr himself — $10,000. The fund gave $12,000 to the Libertarian National Committee.
The letter made no mention of Barr’s recent campaign for the Libertarian Party’s nomination for president, in which he has criticized many Republicans in Congress. Libertarians will choose their candidate at a convention this week in Denver.
Barr, a former federal prosecutor, defended the fund’s solicitations and expenditures in a telephone interview. He declined to answer questions about individual donations and the letter’s characterization of their importance.
“I won’t be cross-examined” about the fund’s finances, he said.
In an e-mail, the fund’s treasurer, Paul Kilgore of Athens, wrote that the letter was “in production well before the decision to form an exploratory committee was reached. … [T]here is certainly no requirement that we mention anything specifically in our letters.”
The fund “is designed to further conservative and libertarian ideals that I espouse, ” Barr said. That includes some travel expenses, he said, as he speaks at political gatherings, universities and law schools.
Barr brushed aside questions about high fund-raisingcosts and the number of direct donations to candidates and causes.
“Fine, it doesn’t operate the way other PACs operate, ” he said. “Next question.”
‘Just sustaining himself’
Federal law requires a committee like Barr’s, once set up, to donate money to at least five candidates for federal office, and to limit donations to any one candidate or committee to $5,000 per election cycle.
Otherwise, “they can spend their funds as they want, as long as they report it, ” said George J. Smaragdis, spokesman for the Federal Election Commission.
Barr’s group is a so-called “leadership fund, ” a type of political action committee used by current and aspiring party leaders to collect money and disperse it to candidates and committees.
Political action committees have become an integral part of the money side of American politics. Businesses, unions and others use them to raise and distribute millions of dollars and thereby influence politicians and policy.
Barr’s use of donations for fund-raising and his own expenses is unlike most leadership funds, said Sarah Dufendach, chief of legislative affairs for Common Cause, the Washington-based nonpartisan public-interest advocacy group.
“It’s not supposed to be for the benefit of that particular person, ” she said. “The leadership PACs are supposed to be for the support of other candidates. He is just sustaining himself.”
Kilgore, the PAC treasurer, said direct mail is “a very expensive proposition” forraisingmoney.
He would know. Kilgore operates two political consulting firms: Capitol Hill Lists LLC, which provides lists of potential donors for direct mail, and Professional Data Services, which handles campaign record keeping. Barr’s fund has paid $293,652 to those companies since 2003.
Barr’s fund “doesn’t do gangbusters, ” he said, but brings in enough “to allow Bob to speak and spread his word.”
Democrat funded, too
Barr, 59, represented northwest suburbs of Atlanta for four terms in Congress after his election in 1994. He gained national attention for his role in President Clinton’simpeachment proceedings.
In 2002, Barr left his district, moving to the district of a popular Republican colleague, Rep. John Linder. Barr challenged Linder in that year’s primary and lost.
Once out of office, Barr dramatically increased fund-raising by the leadership committee, originally known as the American Sound Conservative PAC.
It raised $436,143 in 2003. Last year’s donations of $1.17 million made it the second-largest federal PAC based in Georgia.
While most of its federal donations have gone to conservative Republicans, its state and local contributions have been mixed. Recipients include Georgia Secretary of State Karen Handel, a Republican, and Attorney General Thurbert Baker, a Democrat, as well as a Libertarian running for the government of the Potawatomi tribe.
Since leaving Congress, Barr has promoted Libertarian causes in speeches and writings, including regular columns in Creative Loafing and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. After Barr set up a presidential exploratory committee last month, the AJC suspended publication of Barr’s column and blog.
Last week, Barr declared the Democratic and Republican parties to be failures as he formally announced his Libertarian candidacy.
His April 1 fund-raising letter disparaged “do-nothing Republicans” who let liberals dominate Congress. But, in discussing donations and the fund’s work, it only mentioned contributions to conservative Republicans.
Barr bristled at questions about the letter.
“I suspect you can take any letter of a candidate or political organization, and you can parse it six ways to Sunday and find something wrong in it, ” he said. “I fail to see the relevance in that.”
Donors taken aback
Some donors contacted by the AJC said they did not expect their donations would pay forBarr’s travel, office expenses or fund-raising.
“I thought it was going to benefit the Republican Party, ” said Edith Fogleman, 85, of Burlington, N.C. “I thought it was going for a good cause. I didn’t know he was switching [to Libertarian]. I don’t quite understand what he’s doing.”
Fogleman, who gave at least $145 since 2006, said she stopped after learning Barr might run as a Libertarian.
Dolphus Compere, a retired doctor in Fort Worth, Texas, said he is a lifelong Republican who strongly supports a strict immigration policy.
He said he gave the fund $285 since 2006 because “I thought he was going to help people who promoted conservative causes.”
Compere recently stopped giving money to Barr.
“I’m 90 years old and I’ve decided this country’s going to pot and I can’t help it, ” he said.
Others, such as Susan Kado, 87, of Vista. Calif., said Barr could use the donations however he wanted.
But Kado said she recently decided she couldn’t afford to give more on her fixed income.
She has written to the fund about her decision, saying she is sorry, but the form letters still arrive.
“They don’t seem to read my letters, ” she said.
The primary is this coming Tuesday.
Will Bob Barr answer my questions? He’ll call it negativity. But if he doesn’t combat it, then there must be quite a bit of truth here.