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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 9/1/12

Ralph Reed: From Purgatory to Power

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BILL MOYERS: And four years later he corralled true believers for their re-election. But Reed fell from grace in 2006 after he was implicated in the biggest Washington scandal since Watergate. His pal and colleague, the lobbyist Jack Abramoff, pleaded guilty to defrauding clients of millions of dollars. Some of which had landed in Reed's pockets as well. Reed's exile in political purgatory was cut short in 2008 by an event he said left him feeling as if he'd "been hit by a truck" -- Barack Obama's victory:

BARACK OBAMA: If there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where all things are possible [...] tonight is your answer.

RALPH REED: As I prayed about it, and I thought about what I am going to do, I'm not ready to give up on America. I realized that God's not looking for perfect people, because there's only been one perfect person in the history of the human race [...] He wants people who will come to him just as they are with all their fears and all their failures and all their foibles. And just utter one simple line. And that is: here am I, send me. And that was my prayer.

BILL MOYERS: Reed got his answer. Not from an angel whispering in his hear but from a more familiar, earthbound messenger, Sean Hannity, Fox News anchor, talk radio host and Reed's old friend.

RALPH REED: This was probably three weeks after the "08 election. My phone rang, and it was Sean Hannity, and he said Ralph, we can't let this happen again, you've got to do something. And I said, well Sean I've been thinking about it and I've been praying about it, I said, but I want to know that this is not me; I want to know that it's not any ambition of mine; I want to know that I'm doing this for the Lord, and that's the only reason why I'm doing it. And he said Ralph, God is speaking to you through this phone line right now and he's using me to deliver the message.

BILL MOYERS: So Ralph Reed was called back up to the major leagues. But he was short on what the people of the Good Book used to call "manna from heaven." In this case, the cold, hard cash that's the elixir of politics. Miraculously, no doubt, it arrived as a gift from an undisclosed donor -- a half a million dollars. Which, in 2009, Reed used to launch his Faith and Freedom Coalition. Because it's designated by the IRS as a 50lc4 non-profit, Reed can conceal the identity of his funders from the public, which, indeed, he has done. But he makes no secret of his goal.

RALPH REED: Beginning right now, today, we are going to take our country back and we are going to end the Obama agenda forever.

BILL MOYERS: By the end of 2010, according to tax returns, Reed had raised almost five and a half million dollars. Watered by more secret funds, he now has a budget of $10 million, and continues to pass the collection plate. He says he intends to build the 21st century version of the Christian Coalition, with an annual budget of $100 million, five million members, full-time lobbyists in all 50 state capitols, and an enormous database. And while he counts all this as God's blessing on his calling, he also acknowledges his debt to the five conservative justices on the Supreme Court who paved the way:

RALPH REED: We've now got the Citizens' United case. [...] We can, where we so choose, within the parameters of whatever regulations the federal elections commission ultimately promulgates, engage in express advocacy. That is advocating the election or defeat of candidates, same as a corporation or labor union.

BILL MOYERS: So that's just what he's doing, as he told the faithful gathered in Tampa:

RALPH REED: We've identified 17 million faith-based voters in 15 states, living in 11 million households. Every one of those households is going to be contacted by this organization seven to twelve times. We're going to mail them, we're going to text them, we're going to email them, we're going to phone them, and if they haven't voted by November 6 we're going to get in a car and we're going to drive to their house and we're going to get them to the polls.

BILL MOYERS: Reed claims credit for a string of victories leading up to the big showdown with Obama this November.

BILL MOYERS: When Republican Bob McDonnell won the race for governor of Virginia in 2009, Reed's brand new Faith and Freedom Coalition was there.

RALPH REED: Do you want to hand these out...

BILL MOYERS: Contacting, he said, every social and fiscal conservative voter an average of seven times. Enough, he also said, to make the difference.

JOHN BOEHNER: Thank all of you, God bless you, and God bless...

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Bill Moyers is President of the Schumann Center for Media and Democracy.

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