Tuesday, April 06, 2004

Willie Horton, Texas style

The ghost of the "Willie Horton" campaign of 1988 is hovering over the congressional race in Texas between Democrat Martin Frost and Republican Pete Sessions.

An outside group unaffiliated with the Sessions campaign -- specifically, the anti-immigrant Coalition for Future American Workers, one of John Tanton's front groups -- has begun running smear ads that present false "facts" about Frost' record, and do so with a not-so-subtle appeal to racist sentiments:
The ads, purchased on four Dallas television stations, are full of details about Frost's positions on upcoming legislation. However, Frost claims the ads' claims are flat-out wrong.

"His bill will import 250,000 more workers to take jobs and drive down wages," the ad intones.

"They just want to make a statement that I support 250,000 more foreign workers annually, when that is President Bush's position, not mine," Frost said.

Plus, the ads feature many pictures of dark-skinned immigrants. Frost calls them racially divisive, and claims the coalition behind them gets money that is tainted.

"They got $1.4 million from the Pioneer Fund, which is a white supremacist group -- clearly documented," Frost said.

As the Dallas Morning News story [registration req'd] on the matter makes clear, Sessions' campaign is claiming no association with the ads:
Sessions campaign manager Chris Homan said Mr. Sessions has no knowledge of the organization sponsoring the advertisements, the Coalition for the Future American Worker, and no involvement with them.

"We're not going to engage groups like this in any capacity," Mr. Homan said.

The CFAW continues to claim that it's attacking Frost for his record, but their claims have no relation to reality:
Mr. Frost said that no bill he is sponsoring or co-sponsoring will ever give amnesty in Texas to hundreds of thousands of undocumented workers.

"I have no idea what they're talking about, quite frankly," Mr. Frost said. "I'm for the freedom of the press. I'm for the First Amendment. But I'm not for people to lie with impunity."

As many of you may recall, the Horton ads (which played a big role in sinking Michael Dukakis' 1988 presidential candidacy) were ostensibly the creation of an "independent" group called Americans For Bush -- though, as Joe Conason later reported, the ad's real creators were GOP operatives Floyd Brown and Craig Shirley.

The Texas ads, likewise, have the smell of Tom DeLay all over them. Just like his fingerprints are all over the use of Treasury Department employees to analyze John Kerry's tax proposal.

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