Right Wing Nut House



Filed under: Blogging, Ethics — Rick Moran @ 6:06 am

Dan Riehl is singlehandedly trying to change my mind about bloggers replacing the mainstream press.

In a series of stunning posts that deserve a helluva lot more attention than they seem to be getting, Mr. Riehl raises some troubling questions about Jerome Armstrong and MyDD, the political blog that Mr Armstrong created originally as a stock analyzing site that used astrology to help investors pick the winners.

If that were the only problem with MyDD, we could simply have some fun at the expense of the “reality based community” by gently pointing out that astrology hasn’t been considered a science since Newton got whacked on the noggin by a falling apple, which, given the prominence of Mr. Armstrong among the netnuts, sorta puts the kibosh on any claims liberals have to the rationalist high ground.

The real story here is not “Astrologer Jerome” or Armstrong’s problems with the SEC. What Mr. Riehl has uncovered with his sleuthing is what appears to be an elaborate flim flam involving a liberal PAC called BlogPac (that Markos Moulitsis transferred administration to MyDD just 10 days ago) and an apparent working relationship between Armstrong and MyDD’s Chris Bowers.

What makes that relationship significant is that BlogPac has decided not to disburse money to political candidates any longer. Instead, Blogpac’s mission “will be primarily to defend the netroots and improve the quality of online activism…”

Who then has benefited from this change in focus? Mr. Riehl:

If you look at the BlogPAC disclosure records, you’ll see that from Jan - Mar of 2005 - their only disbursements were to another blogger / consultant - Bob Bingham - from the Swing State Blog. According to slate, he was a one time employee of Armstrong, as well as a leading force behind BlogPAC. Interesting. They’ve been collecting money on line and paying it to … themselves for consulting?? I don’t know. But those filings could prove interesting, either now, or in the future.

And Riehl adds this disclaimer:

Without alleging any illegality, or malfeasance, which I am not - given Armstrong’s display of bad judgment in both political candidates and stocks, on top of his trouble with the SEC, it seems fair to at least broach the question: will the decision to turn Blog PAC over to MyDD end up helping blogs, or being a classic example of how a fool and his money can be soon parted?

Of course, assuming one thinks most liberals are fools to begin with, I suppose you could make the argument that its stupid money right from the start.

I would also like to add that there is nothing illegal in paying themselves for running the PAC. But one would think that contributors would like to be clear on the relationships at play before coughing up any money. And the relationship between Bowers and Armstrong appears to be one of employer and employee, which makes the BlogPac money a potential godsend to someone who can disburse it to bloggers who could then be employed to write paeans to Armstrong clients.

There’s no evidence for this except past history. Chris Bowers, for instance, has acknowledged being paid to consult for the Service Employees International Union (SEIU). The SEIU paid a company called Political Technologies LLC for which Armstrong is the Registered Agent $162,000 in 2005 for “Consulting”, “Professional Services,” and $5,000 for “Website Support.” Mr. Riehl points out that the SEIU received some glowing coverage in Armstrong’s book co-authored with Markos Moulitsis as well as many glowing references on Moulitsis’ own site, Daily Kos.

Is there more of this “pay for play” on blogs (perhaps conservative blogs as well) than anyone has guessed? For the record, I can categorically state that the only monies I have received because of this site (besides donations from readers) is the quarterly payment I get from Pajamas Media for hosting their ads - ads I have no control over as far as content or placement.

Read Dan’s entire post for some more complete background on the issues he raises.


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