Desperation Row: Floyd Brown to Advise Joe Miller

Published: Tue 16 Nov 2010 01:46 PM
Desperation Row: Floyd Brown, Creator of the Infamous 'Willie Horton' Ad, is Brought in to Advise Joe Miller
Bill Berkowitz
Submitted by BuzzFlash on Mon, 11/15/2010 - 8:55am
When you heard he was in Alaska trying to rally support for Joe Miller's fading chances at unseating incumbent Senator, Lisa Murkowski, you may have remembered that he was the "Willie Horton" guy. And, while you knew he would try to make some noise, ultimately, you probably figured out that he wasn't likely to succeed. After all, while there may have been questions about whether Murkowski's name had to be spelled exactly right on the tens of thousands of write-in votes, this wasn't Florida and it isn't the year 2000. While at first a passel of lawyers hovered, many drifted off fairly early in the process. More importantly, there were no hanging chads to be fought over and, given that both Miller and Murkowski are Republicans, there were no GOP-sponsored mobs hankering to disrupt the count.
The reemergence of conservative entrepreneur/political activist Floyd Brown in Alaska at the side of Republican senatorial candidate Joe Miller was more an example of the old adage, "desperate times call for desperate measures," than just about anything else.
Ever since he landed with both feet smack dab in the middle of the 1988 presidential campaign with his infamous "Willie Horton" television advertisement that helped sink the candidacy of Democrat Michael Dukakis, Brown has been a strategist trolling the fringes of the conservative movement.
Now, with the outcome looking unfavorable, Miller -- who proudly occupied the far-right fringe during his campaign - was clearly desperate; thus, Floyd Brown.
Over the years, Floyd Brown has been involved in a series of longer, more drawn out political battles. He'd construct a vile and untrue narrative about a political target -- Dukakis was so soft on crime he let career criminals (Willie Horton) out on the street; Bill Clinton was a total scoundrel; Barack Obama is "a very dangerous man" -- and he'd let them have it. And while he hasn't won every campaign, he has certainly raised enough money over the years to sustain a number of his own conservative enterprises.
Although it is unclear as of this writing whether Miller called Brown in, or whether he materialized on his own initiative, he is being identified by the Miller camp as an advisor.
Brown came out of the gate doing what he does best; hurling around unsubstantiated charges.
Brown held a few impromptu press conferences and claimed - without specific evidence - there was corruption and election fraud. "The stories of manipulation are just almost mind-boggling," Brown said at a press conference last week in Juneau. He later claimed that there were missing ballots, and, according to the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner's Dermot Cole, Brown said that "handwriting experts should be looking at the votes in Cordova."
With no ACORN in Alaska to vilify, Brown will have a tough time turning those claims into facts. He did, however, set up a toll-free voter fraud hotline for people to report irregularities. "To facilitate collection of this [voter fraud] material for law enforcement or legal review, we thought it best to establish a centralized number where people could call, anonymously if need be, and leave information," said Brown. "We encourage any citizen who has a concern to call this number." Brown claimed the hotline had received 300 "legitimate" calls within the first 24 hours.
Floyd Brown first appeared on the national political scene in 1988 when he developed the "Willie Horton" television ad during that y ear's presidential campaign.
A few years later, Brown was particularly taken with Bill and Hillary Clinton. He wrote a book called "Slick Willie: Why America Cannot Trust Bill Clinton," and in 1992, he created a 1-900 line so callers could hear edited excerpts of telephone conversations between Bill Clinton and Arkansas lounge singer Gennifer Flowers.
Brown was also founder of Citizens United. In 2008, he, along with his colleagues at Citizens United (David Bossie and Dick Morris), worked on "Hillary: The Movie," which ultimately resulted in the U.S. Supreme Court decision allowing unlimited (and undisclosed) corporate financing of elections. At the time, the Citizens United website claimed that the film "aims to expose the truth about her conflicts in the past and her liberal plot for the future.
During the 2008 campaign, Brown also took off after Barack Obama. He told Time magazine that "he had established several ... groups to fund a long-range effort to erode Obama's support, including a ... PAC, called The Legacy Committee, a 527 organization called Citizens for a Safe and Prosperous America and a so-called 'social welfare' 501(c)4 nonprofit called the Policy Issues Institute."
In a Willie Horton-esque advertisement titled "Victims," Brown's National Campaign Fund lambasted Obama for being too easy on gang murderers. "The campaign by Hillary Clinton has not been able to raise Obama's negatives," Brown told Time. "It is absolutely critical that Obama's negatives go up with Republicans." Time reported that copies of the ad were "e-mailed to between 3 and 7 million conservatives this week, with a plea for more funding to further spread the message."
As I reported for Media Transparency in May 2008, Brown told Time that his "Victims" ad "draws a parallel between Obama's weakness on gang violence and the war on terror." The conservative news site,, pointed out that the ad "tells of a woman leaving church choir practice who was killed by gang gunfire while shielding her 6-year-old daughter, a 15-year-old boy beaten with bricks after a gang member crashed into his car, and a 14-year-old boy shot five times in the back for refusing to flash a gang hand sign."
"'They all died in 2001. In Chicago," says the voice-over.
"That same year, Barack Obama -- then an Illinois state senator -- voted against expanding the death penalty for gang-related murders, the ad points out," NewsMax reported. The ad ends: "When the time came to get tough, Obama chose to be weak. So the question is: Can a man so weak in the war on gangs be trusted in the war on terror?
Brown currently runs the website. On the site, Obama is accused of being a "very dangerous man" and "one of the greatest threats to your personal liberty today."
"For the international socialist movement of which Barack Obama is a card-carrying member," said Brown in September, "the U.S. must be brought to its knees, and I guarantee you that Barack Hussein Obama is doing everything he can to bring the country to its knees. He wants to bring it to its knees."
According to the Associated Press, "The tabulation of 45,132 initial write-ins, representing about 45 percent of precincts, showed Murkowski with 89.8 percent of the votes undisputedly, meaning those ballots were properly cast for her with the oval filled in and her name written correctly. Another 9.5 percent was challenged, though [State Division of Elections director Gail] Fenumiai counted the majority of those to Murkowski's tally."
As Amanda Terkel reported in the Huffington Post, "The Miller campaign -- with the assistance of Brown -- is aggressively challenging the ballots, arguing that any not meeting the strict letter of the law should be disqualified. For example, Miller supporters have challenged a vote for Murkowski 'that appeared to have her name spelled and printed correctly, though the 'L' in 'Lisa' was in cursive handwriting.' They have been arguing against other ballots in which her name appeared clearly readable, including one that read, 'Lisa Murkowski Republican.'"
The Associated Press reported on Saturday that "Election law calls for write-in ballots to have the oval filled in and for the candidate's last name or the name as it appears on the declaration of candidacy to be written - in this case, 'Murkowski' or 'Lisa Murkowski.'
"However, the state has been using discretion in determining voter intent, pointing to prior case law as the basis for this. It's a practice Murkowski's campaign has supported, and one that's prompted Miller to file a federal lawsuit. Briefings in the matter are due next week. Miller spokesman Randy DeSoto said the court fight would go forward 'if the contested vote makes the difference.'"
According to AP, "Miller said he won't make any announcements ... until after absentee ballots come in next week from military voters, a constituency that the Army veteran believes could go heavily for him. 'I think to call the race, to say that their vote doesn't matter, to forget about counting their votes, I think that's an inappropriate approach,'" he said on Saturday.
Whatever else Floyd Brown might do before he departs Alaska is anybody's guess, but one thing is certain; he has vaulted his name back into the political spotlight.
Berkowitz is a freelance writer and longtime observer of the conservative movement who documents the strategies, players, institutions, victories and defeats of the U.S. Right. In addition to BuzzFlash, his work -- which has been cited in a number of books -- has appeared in Alternet, Inter Press Service, The Nation, Religion Dispatches, Z Magazine, and numerous other online and print

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