I must admit that it’s not every day that you wake up and find a mainstream-media hit piece in your inbox. While I talk about Mitt Romney sparingly in the Corner (my beat is much more focused on law and culture — the focus of my actual career), I’ve made no secret of my support for Mitt. My wife Nancy and I organized a group called “Evangelicals for Mitt” early in the last campaign cycle. (Nancy, a far better writer than I, is the managing editor of Patheos’s Faith and Family portal and a frequent NRO contributor). Time apparently thought there was something nefarious about our work and has labored since October (!) to produce, well, this:
Nancy and David French, a couple from Columbia, Tenn., are perhaps the most visible evangelical supporters of Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney. They started a group called Evangelicals for Mitt back in 2005. Both regularly post to a pro-Romney blog at the Evangelicals for Mitt website. Nancy French just last week began writing her posts from Des Moines, Iowa. And Nancy and David have both contributed to National Review, where they occasionally defend Romney and criticize his rivals.
“We started as a group of friends who supported him – grassroots,” Nancy French says. “We are not connected to the campaign. We do what we want and say what we want.”
Though David and Nancy French deny it, campaign finance experts say the couple’s group looks like a thinly disguised extension of the Romney campaign. “They appear to be able to spend lots of money, but won’t say where it comes from,” says Fred Wertheimer, founder and President of Democracy 21. “It is circumstantial evidence, but it suggests this is a shell group for a Romney operation.”
The article goes on from there, explaining how we raised and spent money before Mitt Romney launched his campaign and then stopped spending in compliance with campaign-finance laws. (There’s of course nothing wrong with this, as Time itself admits, noting “the group has received sound legal advice.”) In fact, the report represents little more than the results of a decent Google search. After all, on our website we’ve publicly identified our methods, disclosed our formal relationships with the Romney campaign (in 2008 we both served on Mitt’s Faith and Values steering committee, Nancy worked with Ann on an unpublished book project, and Nancy worked for the 2008 campaign to put Mitt on the Tennessee ballot; neither of us has any formal role this campaign season), our political donations are a matter of public record (hint: we’re max donors), and we’ve written about Mitt in publications from the Washington Post to the Daily Caller.
The bottom line? We support a candidate for president, we put our money where our mouth is, we work hard, and we comply with the law. Last time I checked, that was called “citizenship” and not cause for an MSM hit piece.
Why mention this? Two reasons. First, this might sound silly, but I feel like I owe it to NRO readers. In those relatively rare occasions on NRO when I talk about the primary, I’m not unbiased. We’ve gotten to know Mitt and Ann and respect them very much. In fact, when I deployed to Iraq, they reached out to Nancy in a way that was far above and beyond the call of duty, and I’ll never forget it. So, yeah, I support one of the Republican candidates more than the others.
Second, as I read the Time article, I found myself wondering, “How is this possibly a story?” I’m not really one of Mitt’s “most visible” evangelical supporters. In the conservative movement power rankings, I’m somewhere above “annoying dude who talks politics at parties” and below, well, everyone else. But this isn’t really about me (or Nancy) but about the inherent suspicion the media has for conservative money in politics. Barack Obama will likely raise $1 billion to keep his seat. How many of his bundlers will get a tenth of the mention that we just received in Time? When liberals raise or spend money, it’s idealism in action. When conservatives do it, the MSM is lifting up the rocks to find cronyism and influence-peddling.
For those who are interested, I break down the article in detail at Patheos. For those who don’t care to click, I have to share one final note. In the article, Time says that Nancy and I “come from modest means.” A wisecracking friend responded: “You went to Harvard Law School but are of modest means. Does that make you the ‘Wal-Mart one percent’?”
The Wal-Mart one percent. I’ll own that.