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From socialist Sen. Sanders to Travis Childers, South Forward promoting progressive agenda
Group supporting Childers not a fan of the Tea Party

by Frank Corder
A flyer being distributed door-to-door in Jackson seeks support for Democrat nominee Travis Childers for U.S. Senate and Ali ShamsidDeen for Hinds County circuit court judge. It is paid for by South Forward IE PAC.

South Forward was the organization that coordinated the visits by self-described “socialist” U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont to Southern states including Mississippi, a move the Mississippi Democratic Party and chairman Rickey Cole actively promoted and welcomed.

Here's a little about South Forward and Sanders:

"South Forward is a new organization trying to help elect left-leaning candidates to mostly local offices in the South, a place where they often are not quite in abundance. The group typically makes independent expenditures in support of those candidates, as opposed to donating directly to candidates, he said.

Sanders has decried such PACs and election influence as recently as last week, joining a rally at the U.S. Supreme Court as justices heard a campaign-finance case, and blaming the court’s Citizens United decision for leading to the federal shutdown. This, presumably, is a case of if-you-can’t-beat-’em,-join-’em."

Recent independent expenditures by South Forward in support of Travis Childers in Mississippi includes $4,600 to P3 Strategies of Jackson whose leadership includes Mississippian Pamela Shaw and former Clarion Ledger editor David Hampton (no surprise there); $2,725 to Will Godfrey, Finance Director of the Mississippi Democratic Party; $1,275 to Jay Parmley, South Forward’s executive director; and $6,965 to Indigo Strategies of Washington DC for “canvassing literature” presumably like the card being distributed in Jackson.

South Forward, founded by former Democratic National Committee Chairman Donald Fowler, has a Mississippi connection with the Vice-Chair being Gloria Williamson, the former state Senator from Philadelphia defeated by Republican Giles Ward in 2007. Williamson’s husband, Edward, is a politically active trial lawyer who is a major contributor to South Forward.

According to the "About" page on their website, South Forward believes "It's no secret that the Democratic Party and progressives are feeling in the South. The Tea Party is ascendant and Republicans have supermajorities in many state legislatures. Public education, labor, women's health and the very right to vote are under concerted - and often successful - attack."

It goes on to say South Forward seeks to revitalize and grow the Democratic South while "building the bench."

Support from South Forward IE PAC flies in the face of efforts by Childers to attract Tea Party support, to pick off disgruntled McDanielites who describe themselves as principled conservatives. It's typical Democratic fence straddling.

In a Gainesville, Florida city election, South Forward IE PAC sent a direct mail piece against a Democrat that wasn't quite liberal enough for their liking, saying “We Can’t Trust The Tea Party” and said “no real Democrat would accept help from the Tea Party. We can’t be fooled by Annie Orlando or the Tea Party.”

If the Tea Party believes they can find common ground with Childers and his most avid supporters they are at best sorely mistaken or at worst intentionally ignorant.

South Forward is a federally registered PAC and there's nothing unusual about it doing business to support a federal candidate like Childers. However, it doesn’t appear to be a state registered PAC meaning its involvement in ShamsidDeen’s judicial race may run afoul of Mississippi election laws. But this wouldn’t appear to be the first instance of failure to comply with state laws.

A few days ago in the Austin, Texas mayor’s race, the Austin Monitor reported “Mayor’s race turns ugly with labor PAC attack”:

"When the reporter asked him repeatedly who he was and the name of his employer, the caller said he could not disclose the information. Nor would he reveal his location. When asked directly if it was the South Forward IE PAC, the caller denied that he was working for that organization.

"Two other Austin voters who received similar calls said they were told that the callers were from the South Forward IE PAC. (The IE stands for “independent expenditure.”)

"The South Forward IE PAC received $10,000 from the Southwest Laborers’ District Council PAC, according to a Federal Election Commission report covering the period from July 1 to Sept. 30. Southwest Laborers’ District Council is an affiliate body of the Laborers’ International Union of North America, which endorsed Mike Martinez for mayor.

"South Forward is a political action committee organized in South Carolina under federal 501(c) 4 rules. In other words, it is an independent expenditure PAC. It does not appear to be registered in the state of Texas or with the Austin City Clerk’s Office.

"That failure to register with the city and provide information to the state may be a violation of both state and local laws."

So the questions come for Mississippi voters:

- Is Democrat Travis Childers, propped up by union bosses, South Forward and the like, really looking out for conservative Mississippi principles?

- Will Childers really be your voice in DC or will he be just a freshman progressive puppet?

- Is Childers just another in long line of Democrats in our state who say one thing but do something else for electoral expediency, seeking to take advantage of Republican discontent?

Wild things are said in the last week of a campaign. It's the silly season and we will be here to capture it all.

Posted October 28, 2014 - 12:47 pm

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