Home > Politics > Koch Alert: GOP Targets Wisconsin Professor – Legacy of Nixon Dirty Tricks Era Lives On

Koch Alert: GOP Targets Wisconsin Professor – Legacy of Nixon Dirty Tricks Era Lives On

March 28, 2011


ALEC, American Legislative Exchange Council, a influential lobbying group largely funded by the Koch brothers seem to be behind this whole ugly affair. I reported on ALEC recently. Click here to read previous post.

For those of you not old enough to remember, back in the early 70s when Richard Nixon was President, he engaged in using smear campaigns as one of his many unethical methods (otherwise known as “dirty tricks”), to attack opponents and critics. The Nixon legacy is alive and well with the recent GOP attacks on William Cronon, renown historical scholar, president-elect of the American Historical Association, and Professor at University of Wisconsin. Inquiries into his academic emails are being made by the Wisconsin Republican Party after Professor Cronon made a post on his private blog about Governor Walker, the Republican Party in Wisconsin and links to ALEC. The inquiry is a blatant attempt at intimidation. Seems Professor Cronon stated something on his blog that the Republicans did not take kindly to and are going after him to discredit and otherwise ruin him.

The New York Times in a March 25th OP-ED article describes the situation:

Earlier this month, he [Cronon] was asked to write an Op-Ed article for The Times on the historical context of Gov. Scott Walker’s effort to strip public-employee unions of bargaining rights. While researching the subject, he posted on his blog [Scholar As Citizen] several critical observations about the powerful network of conservatives [ALEC] working to undermine union rights and disenfranchise Democratic voters in many states.

the article continues…

In particular, he pointed to the American Legislative Exchange Council — ALEC, a conservative group backed by business interests that circulates draft legislation in every state capital, much of it similar to the Wisconsin law, and all of it unmatched by the left. Two days later, the state Republican Party filed a freedom-of-information request with the university, demanding all of his e-mails containing the words “Republican,” “Scott Walker,” “union,” “rally,” and other such incendiary terms. (The Op-Ed article appeared five days after that.)

The party refuses to say why it wants the messages; Mr. Cronon believes it is hoping to find that he is supporting the recall of Republican state senators, which would be against university policy and which he denies. This is a clear attempt to punish a critic and make other academics think twice before using the freedom of the American university to conduct legitimate research.

Dirty Tricks
Dirty tricks are unethical, duplicitous, slanderous or illegal tactics employed to destroy or diminish the effectiveness of political or business opponents. The term “dirty trick” can also be used to refer to an underhanded technique to get ahead of an opponent (such as sabotage or disregarding rules of engagement).

Nixon Era
The Nixon Committee to Re-elect the President (CRP), a private non-governmental campaign entity, used funds from its coffers to pay for, and later cover up, “dirty tricks” performed against opponents by Richard Nixon’s employee, Donald Segretti. Segretti famously coined the term ‘ratfucking’ for recruiting conservative members to infiltrate opposition groups (and/or misrepresent them through false flag activities) in order to undermine the effectiveness of such opposition.

Nixon’s use of the Federal Bureau of Investigation to investigate, slander and abuse opponents went beyond simple pranks or dirty tricks into the realm of government-initiated crime. Nixon’s White House boldly used these tactics to quash credibility of the anti-Vietnam War movement. It was the beginning of renewed governmental misinformation about cannabis, since Nixon’s staff observed the movement and the drug were often connected. Political opponents could be arrested and jailed, and thus silenced.

As a result of post-Watergate reform legislation, such activities are strictly regulated, though other private entities still may practice what has become commonly referred to as questionable or unethical dirty tricks.

Recent nomenclature equates a Dirty Tricks Squad to any organized, covert attempt to besmirch the credibility or reputation of a candidate, individual or organization so as to render them ineffective. (Source: Wikipedia)

David and Charles Koch through their many tentacles of lobbying groups, front groups, think tanks, conservative, libertarian, and Tea Party political affiliations have launched a full frontal assault on everything that remotely resembles collectivism, unions, public education, environmental regulation, and financial regulation. Through powerful groups like ALEC they have infected our state and federal government. As second generation John Birchers they have crafted a new 21st century socio-economic political machine. Anyone who exposes them or criticizes them are branded as “very dangerous and very extreme.”

Salon.com did a revealing piece, Billionaire Self-Pity and the Koch Brothers. I strongly encourage my readers to read the entire piece.


Scholar As Citizen – William Cronon blog

New York Times – A Shabby Crusade in Wisconsin

New York Times – William Cronon and the American Thought Police

Milwaukee Sentinel — More On Professor Cronon and ALEC

Dylan Ratigan – Too Much Power for the Koch Brothers

SourceWatch: ALEC American Legislative Exchange Council

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