The EFM Feature

If the Globe stories Nancy discusses below weren’t so potentially harmful, I would ignore them entirely. But, unfortunately, I have to spend part of my day exposing this Globe campaign for the sham that it is.
As an initial matter, it’s important to note why the stories can damage the Governor. The Globe appears to be trying to achieve two goals: (1) make the Governor cautious about working with his base supporters as he does vitally important fund-raising work in the run-up to a presidential campaign; and (2) play up the “Mormon angle” as much as possible. In the Globe’s eyes, this is a great coup. The paper gets to generate a whiff of impropriety around a man renowned for his integrity and remind voters that he’s part of a church that is at least somewhat mysterious to many.
At heart, what we have here is a dog-bites-man story of a potential candidate brainstorming ideas to connect with core supporters. I mean, of course Governor Romney would be thinking about this. It’s politics 101. If he weren’t thinking abut these things, I’d be worried about his campaign.
But the angle that makes this really scandalous in the Globe’s eyes is that many of the Governor Romney’s core supporters (gasp!) belong to a church. The Globe, like the Times (which just ran a huge, multi-part series essentially attacking our entire national structure of religious liberty and accommodation), and the rest of the liberal MSM absolutely hates the decisive role that people of faith have played in resisting the left’s social agenda. Thus, they are constantly seeking ways to limit or restrict our participation in the political process.
A current popular method is to go hunting for examples where churches violate IRS regulations prohibiting partisan political advocacy by churches. But concrete examples of such violations are hard to come by (there’s a good reason for this: every church of any size has ironclad rules against partisan activity), so the media must go hunting for circumstantial evidence of violations.
Yet this witch-hunt also ends up casting aspersions on an awful lot of entirely legal and appropriate activity. While IRS regs prohibit church leaders from campaigning for any candidate when that leader is acting in their official capacity (i.e. as a pastor or elder), the IRS regs do not and cannot prohibit that same pastor or leader from campaigning for a candidate in that leader’s individual capacity. Every member of the LDS church (including its leadership) possesses the fundamental First Amendment right to engage in the political process.
So for the Globe to damage the Governor, it must either produce actual evidence that the church leaders are using church resources to assist the Governor or create a cloud of suspicion dense enough to lead voters to believe that happened. It looks like the Globe has opted for the cloud. After looking at the stories (and noting that e-mail transcripts are refuting key elements of the Globe’s account), it seems that the Globe’s story boils down to the following: Some in the governor’s camp have been thinking about ways that they could mobilize LDS support in the coming election season. There’s no direct evidence that anyone has used church resources in this brainstorming effort or that the senior church leadership is even aware of this brainstorming. The best evidence that the Globe has that the leader of the church was even aware of this effort (and let’s keep in mind that the “effort” that the Globe breathlessly believes the leader of the church was aware of was entirely legal, appropriate, and even politically smart), is an e-mail from a Romney “consultant” describing a conversation where he says someone else told someone else that Gordon Hinckley knew about a nonexistent program.
Got that? Let me make it clearer: Don Stirling sent an e-mail to Sheri Drew where he told Sheri that Kem Gardner told Don that Jeffrey Holland told Kem that Jeffrey told Gordon Hinckley about Governor Romney’s nonexistent Mutual Values and Priorities (“MVP”) campaign. All that goes under the conspiratorial Globe headline: “Consultant’s E-Mails Show Mormon Plan for Romney.”
Good grief. And here in Tennessee, the Democrat candidate for Senate tapes campaign commercials inside a church. I guess that’s fine, but the instant an e-mail surfaces where Democrat Harold Ford, Junior’s “consultant” tells a third party that a different person talked to the pastor of the church and told the pastor of a different church that the candidate was considering filming something in the pews . . . well, then we’ll get a multipart story from the Globe.

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