Friday, July 14, 2006

Gervais Bridges, We Hardly Knew Ye...

Sad news: Gervais, the proprietor of Barbecue and Politics, one of the best blogs in South Carolina (or anywhere for that matter), is hanging up his hat. Gervais' posts were insightful, clever, and above all funny, and they were nearly always complemented by humorous photoshopped graphics. I've been half tempted to try to imitate his style, so that way I too could be original. I was pleased to see among the list of blogs he reads and plans to keep up with my blog, which tells me that I really have to do more to keep this baby updated on a regular basis.

Anyway, as a parting shot, he's got more info on how State Superintendent of Education Karen Floyd, who is a proponent of creationism-lite a la the Discovery Institute, is having her campaign bankrolled by Libertarian millionaire Howard Rich. As I discussed previously, Religious Right crazies and Libertarians make strange bedfellows indeed.

But this is starting to blow my mind. Gervais figures that 23% of her campaign funds are coming either directly through Rich or indirectly through one of his bogus front-groups. (Which means it's all Rich's money -- making it indirect is just a way to misdirect.) It's probably more than that if Gervais managed to miss any groups that didn't make it obvious by having the same address.

And it gets worse:

Another $17,500, or 16%, came from several companies -- Aspect Energy, Azimuth Energy, Walnut Software, etc. -- which share an address: 511 16th Street, Suite 300, Denver, CO, 80202. The address is also shared by a voucher organization called "Alliance for Choice in Education," whose name is not found in the ethics filing.
Either each of these several companies just so happen to have their offices all located not just in the same building, but in the same suite (not likely), and by strange coincidence all happened to contribute to an obscure campaign in a different state on the other side of the country (even less likely), or they're bogus companies. You don't impersonate software and energy companies as a means of skirting campaign finance law unless you know you're doing something wrong. Someone really needs to investigate this.

By the way, everytime I see the word "Suite" as some company's or non-profit group's main address, alarm bells go off. Here's why: I've been following the "Intelligent Design" movement for far longer than I like to admit, and one reason I never seem to get tired of it is that these guys are the perfect case study in unethical behavior. There is almost nothing that they won't try to pull, and their shenanigans, while tragic and occasionally infuriating, are also a source of endless amusement.

About four and half years ago, the Discovery Institute people announced, amid much fanfare, the creation of something called the International Society for Complexity, Information, and Design, or ISCID. If you think that this "society" does any research or actual work in those things which comprise its name, then you don't really understand how these things work.
As such, ISCID has the following address, still visible on its contact page:

66 Witherspoon Street, Suite 1800
Princeton, NJ 08542

609-924-4424 (general)
609-924-0582 (fax)
Wow, Princeton! That's quite prestigious. On the contact page, you can also see information about their Office Manager and other things one would expect to exist in a real, genuine office. But someone decided to check out the actual address of the place and observe first hand just what it is that goes on there. Here's what he found:

Yep, the "Suite" is actually a box at Mailboxes Etc. There is no actual office. The "Office Manager" is apparently someone's girlfriend, and here is a list of her duties:

1. Live in Princeton.

It's a difficult job, but someone has to do it.

Anyway, back to the front companies mentioned by Gervais. My suspicion is that by being located in "Suite 300", their address actually consists of no more than a small box at a Mailboxes Etc. or something similar. Clearly, the Alliance for Choice in Education is hiding something from us, and at the risk of stating the obvious, I'll tell you what it is: They've discovered a way to shrink several whole offices down to the size of a cubic foot. When this gets out, it's going to be huge.