Andy Kroll

Andy Kroll

Senior Reporter

Andy Kroll is Mother Jones' Dark Money reporter. He is based in the DC bureau. His work has also appeared at the Wall Street Journal, the Detroit News, the Guardian, the American Prospect, and TomDispatch.com, where he's an associate editor. Email him at akroll (at) motherjones (dot) com. He tweets at @AndrewKroll.

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Ron Paul Calls MLK a "Hero"—After Newsletter Trashed Him as a "World-Class Adulterer”

| Sat Jan. 7, 2012 10:55 PM EST
Ron Paul.

During Saturday's ABC News debate, Rep. Ron Paul (R-Tex.) was questioned about the many newsletters published in the 1970s and 1980s under his name that contained racist, homophobic, anti-Semitic, and conspiratorial claims. One of those newsletters, published in December 1990, singled out civil rights champion Martin Luther King Jr. for a barrage of nasty rhetoric. That newsletter called King "a world-class adulterer" and went on to say the legendary civil rights leader "seduced underage girls and boys" and "replaced the evil of forced segregation with the evil of forced integration."

Amazingly, Paul responded to the question about his racist newsletters by...praising King. Here's what he said:

More importantly, you ought to ask me what my relationship is for racial relationships. And one of my heroes is Martin Luther King because he practiced the libertarian principle of peaceful resistance and peaceful civil disobedience, as did Rosa Parks did.

Paul's newsletters contained plenty more incendiary, controversial rhetoric, including instructions for gunning down an "urban youth." ("An ex-cop I know advises that if you have to use a gun on a youth, you should leave the scene immediately, disposing of the wiped off gun as soon as possible.") They also said AIDS could be spread intentionally by "a malicious gay" and suggested renaming New York City "Welfaria," "Zooville," or "Rapetown."

At the debate, Paul vehemently denied writing the newsletters. "Well, it's been explained many times, and everything's written 20 years ago, approximately, that I did not write," Paul said. "So concentrating on something that was written 20 years ago that I didn't write, you know, is diverting the attention from most of the important issues." But this denial clashes with his own past remarks. In 1996, in an interview with the Dallas Morning News, Paul took ownership of the newsletters. Instead, he blamed critics for skewing the information that appeared in those newsletters. "It's typical political demagoguery," he said at the time.

What's more, in other interviews in 1996 Paul failed to distance himself from the newsletters, defending them repeatedly. Here's a rundown from ThinkProgress:

—In 1996, Ron Paul’s campaign defended his statements about the rationality of fearing black men. (“[W]e are constantly told that it is evil to be afraid of black men, it is hardly irrational.”) The Houston Chronicle reports, “A campaign spokesman for Paul said statements about the fear of black males mirror pronouncements by black leaders such as the Rev. Jesse Jackson.” [Houston Chronicle, 5/23/96]

—Paul said that his comments on blacks contained in the newsletters should be viewed in the context of “current events and statistical reports of the time.” [Houston Chronicle, 5/23/96]

Paul defended statements from an August 12, 1992 newsletter calling the late Rep. Barbara Jordan (D-TX) a "moron" and a "fraud." Paul also said Jordon was “her race and sex protect her from criticism.” In response, Paul said “such opinions represented our clear philosophical difference.” [Roll Call, 7/29/96]

"Also in 1992, Paul wrote, 'Opinion polls consistently show that only about 5 percent of blacks have sensible political opinions.’ Sullivan said Paul does not consider people who disagree with him to be sensible. And most blacks, [Paul spokesman Michael] Sullivan said, do not share Paul’s views.” [Austin American Statesman, 5/23/96]

Rick Santorum: Anti-Citizens United Amendment Is "Horrible"

| Sat Jan. 7, 2012 5:05 PM EST
Rick Santorum

Rick Santorum attracted a mob of supporters, reporters, and Occupy protesters at a small general store and deli in the small town of Amherst this afternoon. Later, after shooting a segment on Mike Huckabee's Fox News show, Santorum took a question on whether he supported a constitutional amendment aimed at rolling back the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision that tore down limits on corporate political spending and paved the way for super-PACs, the independent groups that can raise and spend unlimited amounts of cash.

"I think it's horrible," Santorum said. "I think it would be against the right to petition your government." Asked whether corporations should have the kind of influence they do now, Santorum replied, "Everybody should have an opportunity, who are affected by government, to participate in the activities of the government. No one should be disenfranchised."

Santorum is far from the only Republican to dismiss the idea of a constitutional amendment targeting Citizens United. On Friday, at a firearms factory in Newport, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich similarly dissed a Citizens United, in response to a question from a factory worker. Instead, Gingrich said, the nation's campaign finance laws should be changed so that outside groups—like the pro-Romney super-PAC Restore Our Future that hammered Gingrich in Iowa—are marginalized and more funds go to a candidate's actual campaign.

As for Mitt Romney, the front-runner here in New Hampshire, he's criticized super-PACs on several occasions. But, in reality, there's no doubt where he stands. As he said last August at the Iowa State Fair, "Corporations are people, my friend."

Newt Gingrich Has Never Owned a Gun

| Fri Jan. 6, 2012 4:00 PM EST
Newt Gingrich

With a fresh set of super-PAC attack ads heading his way, Newt Gingrich rolled into the town of Newport midday on Friday. His destination: the Sturm, Ruger & Co. arms factory here, the largest employer in the county and one of the largest arms manufacturers in America. The factory was everything you'd imagine it to be—rifles and pistols and trade mags, oh my!—and more. (Including the mounted animal heads all over the walls.)

Gingrich, who bills himself as the true conservative's pick for the GOP presidential nomination, looked typically at ease as he strode into the factory. Then came this exchange [emphasis mine]:

Reporter: Speaker Gingrich, given where we are today, do you own any guns personally?

Gingrich: No.

Reporter: When was the last time you went shooting?

Gingrich: It's been a couple years. I can tell you that my grandson just got his .410 for Christmas. Very exciting.

[…]

Reporter: Have you ever owned a gun?

Gingrich: No, I actually personally have never owned a gun. I believe in the right to bear arms, and I strongly defend the right to bear arms.

Nearby, a group of the company's higher-ups shifted uneasily and glanced around at each other.

Gingrich received an A or A- rating from the National Rifle Association, the leader of the gun lobby, throughout his Congressional career, his website says. That hasn't prevented him from taking fire, though, from the far right. In Iowa, a robo-call paid for by a hardline gun-rights group, IowaGunOwners.org, bashed Gingrich for allegedly supporting the 1994 Brady handgun law that mandated waiting periods and background checks for people who buy firearms. A Gingrich spokesman said the Iowa group's claims were incorrect.

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