The Corner

New Party Vets Against Truth

The fact that President Obama once belonged to a leftist third party, and deceived the public about that connection in 2008, is beginning to creep into public debate. Last Friday, Sarah Palin raised the matter, and the Los Angeles Times covered the issue (if poorly), as a result. Although I’ve presented evidence that establishes Obama’s New Party membership beyond a reasonable doubt, Obama’s former New Party colleagues continue to deny it, staunchly maintaining that their party had no members and/or that Obama never joined. While these denials are unconvincing in the face of minutes from the actual meeting where Obama joined up, not to mention Obama’s name on a party membership list, it is worth exposing them as falsehoods nonetheless. If and when this issue is discussed again, the record needs to be clear.

At Buzzfeed, Rosie Gray and Ben Smith recently published documents I sent them confirming my story. They also interviewed some former New Party members mentioned in the minutes of the meeting where Obama joined up. According to former Chicago New Party co-chairman Dan Swinney, “there was really no process” for becoming a member of the party. Gray and Smith note that this appears to corroborate national New Party founder and leader Joel Rogers’s claim that, “We didn’t have membership. It wasn’t a membership organization.”

I’ve already exposed Rogers’s claim as false by showing that Rogers himself once pushed the party to sign up additional members, and by presenting a full membership roster of the Chicago Chapter, complete with indications of “date joined.” I’ll have more on Rogers soon. For now, let’s turn to Swinney.

#more#Swinney was the leader of one of two competing factions in the Chicago New Party. The other faction was headed up by Illinois ACORN head Madeline Talbott and ACORN-controlled SEIU Local 880 head Keith Kelleher. So it’s telling that Talbott and Kelleher (Obama’s closest connections to the party, as I show in Radical-in-Chief) refused to comment for the Gray and Smith story. Documents from the updated files of Illinois ACORN indicate that, as a factional dispute was raging in 1996–1997, the period of Obama’s closest involvement with the party, Swinney’s attendance at New Party events fell off sharply. So Swinney has little basis for a full assessment of Obama’s involvement with the group, while Obama’s closest New Party colleagues aren’t talking.

What about Swinney’s claim that “there was really no process” for becoming a member of the Chicago New Party? It is decisively contradicted by documents authored by Swinney himself.

A February 19, 1996 “Draft Strategic and Operations Plan” authored by Dan Swinney, Amy Sherman, and David Smathers (close allies within the same faction) makes constant reference to the need to recruit additional members and explains the authority of voting members to make key decisions for the party. Here are just a few quotes from the memo coauthored by Swinney: “We are now started. We have several hundred members”; “Once the Strategic and Operations Plans have been approved by the membership. . .”; “We should take this plan to the membership for a full discussion..and pass the plan”; “. . .expand our membership: Recruit 5,000 members to the Illinois NP”; “Increase the level of participation in membership meetings”; “Recruit 761 new members representing the diversity of our city through . . . member-get-a-member campaign, etc.” An April 14, 1996 memo authored solely by Swinney likewise makes several references to the existence and authority of the party’s membership.

What about Swinney’s claim that Obama was “never active in anything”? Clearly, Swinney was in a poor position to make a definitive assessment. Read carefully, however, it’s clear that even such claim as Swinney makes is weak, since he admits that he may have simply forgotten the meeting at which Obama joined the party.

We can go further, however. I touch on Obama’s active alliance with the New Party in my longer piece for the current issue of National Review and in Radical-in-Chief, but one particular bit of evidence is worth presenting here. In a 2009 piece for The Progressive, left-leaning journalist and activist John Nichols said: “When [Obama and I] spoke together at New Party events in those days [the 1990s], [Obama] was blunt about his desire to move the Democratic Party off the cautious center where Bill Clinton had wedged it.” Nichols’s testimony, along with other evidence, clearly contradicts the claims by Swinney and other (perhaps unnamed) Chicago New Party members interviewed by Gray and Smith that Obama’s “involvement with the group was minimal at best.”

Nichols’s testimony, along with the additional evidence I present elsewhere, is powerful. But consider as well that the February 1996 planning memo co-authored by Swinney, Sherman, and Smathers includes an admonition to “support and build . . . the Obama campaign” (along with the campaigns of other New Party–endorsed candidates). If, as Swinney now claims, Obama was never a member and “never active in anything,” why did Swinney himself single out support for Obama as a top Chicago New Party priority? After all, as I showed last week, becoming a New Party member and remaining active in the party’s affairs were formal conditions of endorsement and support. So Swinney’s assertions to Gray and Smith would appear to be systematically contradicted by extensive evidence, including Swinney’s own archived writings from the period in question.

Whether the falsehoods under scrutiny here arose from 1) faulty memory, 2) honest misunderstandings, 3) Obama’s former associates lying in order to suppress evidence of his radicalism and deceptions, 4) some other explanation, I leave for readers to decide.

What’s clear is that Barack Obama did indeed join a leftist third party controlled by ACORN, that he deceived the American people about this in 2008, and that the testimony of his former New Party associates as given to Rosie Gray and Ben Smith is largely unreliable, misleading, false, or all of the above.

Stanley Kurtz is a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center.

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