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News reports, public record contradict 'Willie Horton' ad by right-wing 'move on' group

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News reports, public record contradict 'Willie Horton' ad by right-wing 'move on' group

 By Jackson Thoreau

A Willie Horton-like ad being run this week by a right-wing, copy-cat "move on" political action committee - whose founder is a partisan Republican with strong ties to the Bush family - is contradicted by news accounts of the case.

MoveOnForAmerica.org, a new 527 group that copies the successful progressive organization MoveOn.org, plans to start airing the bogus ads on Sept. 7 in the Washington, D.C., area. The campaign will move to swing states Sept. 13.

The first ad criticizes Sen. John Kerry's role as a private lawyer in representing George Reissfelder, who spent 15 years in prison after being wrongly convicted of a murder, according to The Associated Press and other media reports.

The ad, of course, is full of lies. MoveOnForAmerica's Web site says that Reissfelder never served any time, which is wrong, according to news reports and prison records.

The right-wing group also says that Kerry helped secure a furlough for Reissfelder in 1974, during which he escaped for three years and eventually pled guilty to attempted murder related to trying to pull a gun on an officer as he was being arrested.

For Kerry to have worked on this case in 1974 would have been illegal, not to mention practically impossible. In 1974, Kerry was still in law school, according to Wikipedia. He was not admitted to the Massachusetts bar until 1976 and immediately went to work as a full-time prosecutor in the District Attorney 's office in Middlesex County, Mass.

Furthermore, Kerry and his former partner, Roanne Sragow, were not even assigned to the Reissfelder case until 1980. Kerry left work as a prosecutor in 1979 to form a law firm with Sragow, but he was not comfortable with representing criminals.

The New Yorker wrote in May 2004 that Kerry's background as a prosecutor made criminal work unappealing to him. "I took a court appointment once in a criminal case, and I realized I just didn't want the guy out on the street," Kerry was quoted as saying. "I knew he was guilty. It takes a certain kind of makeup as a lawyer to dedicate yourself to having someone like that out on the street. I know our system says someone has to represent everyone, but I just couldn't do it. I went to the court and asked them to take me off the case."

About the Reissfelder case, Kerry was quoted in The New Yorker in May 2004 saying, "Roanne was the court-appointed attorney, and I was the helper. She did the lion's share of the work, but that case taught me a lot."

Despite their case being based on obvious, easily-discredited lies, the right-wing liars say they intend to make the case similar to the Willie Horton campaign used by Bush and Co. against 1988 Democratic presidential candidate Michael Dukakis.

Reissfelder was wrongfully convicted for shooting a railway clerk that occurred in October 1966 during a $20,000 robbery at the Railway Express Agency in South Station, Boston. Reissfelder was arrested a few hours after the robbery on a bad-check charge. After a 13-day trial in 1967, a jury convicted Reissfelder and William (Silky) Sullivan mostly on the basis of eyewitnesses' testimony, according to The New York Times. Both were sentenced to life.

Sullivan confessed on his deathbed in 1972 to a priest that he was ''sorry'' that Reissfelder was imprisoned for a crime at which he had not been present, the Times and others have reported.

Reissfelder escaped during a one-day furlough in 1974, when Kerry was still in law school, as reported before. He was captured in Jacksonville, Fla., in 1977 and sent back to prison.

Even the Florida parole commission voted for parole for Reissfelder, who had been serving a concurrent 15-year sentence for the Jacksonville crime.

The right-wing group 's ad also says Reissfelder continued his life of crime after being set free but fails to report his death. The New Yorker says Reissfelder became involved with a cocaine-distribution ring, and in 1991, his body was found in his apartment. The death was ruled a cocaine overdose.

MoveOnForAmerica was created by Republican political consultant Stephen Marks, who was a press secretary to Florida Gov. Jeb Bush in his unsuccessful 1994 campaign.

In the 2000 Bush-Gore race, Marks was a spokesman for Americans Against Hate, an oxymoron-type of conservative group that ran ads trying to link Gore with former Democratic presidential contender Al Sharpton.

In 2000, Marks received at least $8,132 for "consulting " from Texans for Lawsuit Reform, a conservative group financed partly by Kenneth Lay, the former CEO of Enron Corp. Other financial supporters of Texans for Lawsuit Reform were Harlan Crow and Bob Perry, major donors to the 2004 treacherous campaign against Kerry by the Swift Boat liars and Bush.

In addition, Marks has worked for the National Republican Senatorial Committee, the National Republican Congressional Committee and the Republican Governors Association. He has written for Penthouse - how does that square with Republican family values? He regularly appears on O'Reilly's Fox show.

Others ads plan to raise lies about the alleged political connections between Kerry and Sharpton and Kerry supposedly raising funds from drug lords.

The campaign is just one of the many dirty tricks and lies Republicans plan against Kerry. Zell "The Turncoat" Miller took his venomous speech of lies about Sen. Kerry's voting record at the RNC straight from an email hoax, according to Snopes and other sources. Check out http://www.snopes.com/politics/kerry/weapons.asp.

Urban Legends has detailed more hoaxes circulated about Sen. Kerry and even Sen. Edwards at http://urbanlegends.about.com/library/blxnew.htm. Most hoaxes listed there are against Sen. Kerry. There is even a false, doctored photo circulating of him supposedly shaking hands with a satanist. That tells you the dirty tricks Bush supporters are playing.

Those of us who don't want to see Bush remain in office need to play some tricks of our own. One way is to circulate this EXCELLENT by the numbers list on Bush by Graydon Carter, the editor of Vanity Fair, at http://news.independent.co.uk/world/americas/story.jsp?story=557746 .

Those should be turned into talking points, put on fliers and circulated far throughout this land. And it 's all true, unlike the lies Republicans use. Negative campaigning works - look at the Republicans' bounce by attacking Sen. Kerry in prime time TV. Don't stay on the high road, this is too important of an election.

Jackson Thoreau, a Washington, D.C.-area journalist, contributed to Big Bush Lies, published by RiverWood Books and available in bookstores across the country. Thoreau's new electronic book, The Strange Death of the Woman Who Filed a Rape Lawsuit Against Bush & Other Things the Bush Administration Doesn't Want You to Know, can be read at http://www.geocities.com/jacksonthor/know.html. He can be reached at jacksonthor@yahoo.com or jacksonthor@justice.com.


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