Open Letter to the Tea Party Movement (Re Jack Davis)
By James Ostrowski
(Davis Campaign Staff)
May 16, 2011
(The views expressed are those of the author only.)
Not all that tempts your wandering eyes
And heedless hearts, is lawful prize;
Nor all that glisters gold.
Who steals my purse steals trash; ’tis something, nothing;
‘Twas mine, ’tis his, and has been slave to thousands;
But he that filches from me my good name
Robs me of that which not enriches him,
And makes me poor indeed.
–Othello Act 3, scene 3, 155–161
For over two months, there has been a concerted effort by GOP hacks, fake tea party people, and people associated with the Jane Corwin campaign to deceive tea party supporters about Jack Davis’ campaign for Congress (NY-26) on the Tea Party line. The people who started this propaganda are hacks, who, by definition, do not care about the truth. Lying for power is their modus operandi. I am more concerned that many people of good will have read these lies and now believe them because they have not heard the real facts. That is why I have written this open letter. Please forward this far and wide. Though the lies have been out there for months, in the digital age, word can travel fast and there is still plenty of time to get the truth out. I am writing this in panoramic fashion because I know your time is limited. Anyone wishing to know more details can write to me at email@example.com.
At the core of the propaganda campaign is this proposition: Jack Davis is a liberal Democrat who ran at the behest of the Democratic Party to split the vote and elect the Democrat, Kathy Hochul. Every element of this tale is false. Jack is a libertarian-conservative. Until about 2004, he was a life-long Republican who voted for Reagan twice. He did run for Congress as a Democrat three times (2004-2008). He ran against political boss and big government Republican Tom Reynolds. He later lost a Democratic primary for an open seat but was the conservative candidate in a race against two liberals. I supported him all three times as a volunteer. Why? I always support the most libertarian candidate who can win. It is important to keep this in mind as I have been accused of “selling out” by working for Jack this time. This is utterly false but it’s hard to prove a negative. The point is, those who have accused me of selling out have exactly zero evidence that I did. They are just telling a malicious and depraved lie.
Since I have been repeatedly personally attacked, let me give you a thumbnail biographical sketch. I have been a libertarian since college. I have been fighting the Buffalo-area political machine literally for 35 years. I co-founded a movement in 2004 to fight big government in WNY called the “tax revolt.” Here’s the press release for the very first event.
The tax revolt was a local and early version of the tea party movement so when the national tea party went public in February of 2009, we instantly joined the movement and adopted its name for our local movement as well. I co-organized (with Jill Sinclair) the very first tea party event in Buffalo on February 27, 2009. Two other Coalition board members were there that day, Roy Scherrer and Tony Matuszak. The owners of Club W also attended. Club W became the unofficial headquarters for the local tea party movement. Here’s the TV story.
I also co-founded the Tea Party Coalition which is a player in this controversy so let me speak briefly about the Coalition. Early in the movement, we had what I called tea party rally inflation–too many rallies were burning people out. Allen Coniglio and I and others organized the Coalition to have fewer and larger rallies and we invited all groups to participate. Our first project was a very successful rally on July 4th, 2009. Speakers included Carl Paladino, Rus Thompson, Len Roberto and me. This was I believe the largest and best tea party rally held in 2009. (By the way, throughout the tax revolt and tea party movement, numerous good people played critical roles. I am focusing primarily on my own activities because I have been attacked dishonestly and want to set the record straight.)
What the Coalition did next is interesting in light of the fact that we are now under attack as a fake tea party group friendly to the Democratic cause. In 2009, Primary Challenge (now a group aligned with the GOP and Corwin), was busy trying to “Abolish New York State Government.” His was a truly zany idea to hold a rump constitutional convention, unauthorized by law, then “physically remove” state officials duly elected under the existing Constitution.
Anyway, Primary Challenge had failed in its eponymous task of recruiting candidates to run in primaries. The many hundreds of tea party activists had literally nothing to do until 2010. To fill the void, I proposed that we interview and endorse good candidates for Erie County Legislature. We did so and ultimately endorsed five candidates previously endorsed by the GOP (and no Democrats).
Our volunteers worked very hard for these candidates and played a role in electing three new GOP legislators. It is odd that a group allegedly aligned with the Democrats would work so hard for GOP candidates. Truth is stranger than fiction. At one volunteer meeting held at Club W in downtown Buffalo, we saw Kathy Hochul walking down the street with her husband. The windows of the Club were open for fresh air and Kathy exchanged pleasantries and quick hellos with several of us including me. It is the only “conversation” I ever recall having with her. Yet, the GOP lying machine would have you believe that I am part of an elaborate conspiracy to use my friend Jack Davis to elect a woman I barely know, Democrat Kathy Hochul! Liars!!!!!!!!!!!!!
The story about how a small group we sarcastically call TEA GOP split off from the Coalition is complex and I can only summarize it here. You need to understand that TEA GOP, which the national media was duped into calling “the largest tea party group in Western New York, has a core group of about ten people who are “in the loop” and about 50 other people who are largely clueless about their actual activities.
There are two key figures in TEA GOP, Rus Thompson and Len Roberto. Both men were allies of mine in the early days of the tax revolt and I bent over backwards to support their activities. (Email me for details). Both Rus and Lenny are manically obsessed with being elected to public office. I, myself, refuse to run for office or work for the government under any circumstances. Both men are terrible candidates, however. Len has run and lost seven times. Rus has run four times and lost and twice failed to win office after seeking a nomination. Rus is thus zero for six.
In January 2010, I re-convened the Coalition to plot out a strategy for victory in that critical year. I wanted to target three races: unseating incumbents Brian Higgins (Cong. NY-27); Dale Volker (state senate, NY-59) and Williams Stachowski (state senate, NY-58). Rus wanted to add two very difficult races in heavily Democratic districts, Louise Slaughter and Antoine Thompson. Why? Because Rus was obsessed with running against Antoine. Why Slaughter? Slaughter was a safe Democratic seat but overlaps with Antoine’s so….. I knew Rus couldn’t beat Antoine but I agreed to expand the list to five seats for the sake of unity.
The sticking point was the 59th state senate seat which both Roberto and David DiPietro were interested in. Dave was by far the better candidate but Lenny insisted on running. Anyway, to resolve the issue without acrimony, I proposed having a convention and inviting the public to come in and vote on a nominee. It is critical to understand that the convention was my idea as I was later accused of sabotaging the convention! Anyway, while my idea was fine from the standpoint of building a crowd, it was also impractical as I was never able to figure out how, on very short notice, to make sure that the convention would not be hijacked by our opponents. The Coalition ultimately decided not to hold a convention but rather, to have the informal “board” hear out both men and make an endorsement. Allen Coniglio, respected by all for his integrity, was designated to organize the meeting.
Two days later, we learned that Roberto was dropping out of the race for state senate and running for Congress against Brian Higgins. He had met with yet another candidate for state senate, GOP Chairman Jim Domagalski, who persuaded Roberto to leave the state senate race and run for Congress. I have heard that Roberto was promised megabucks for the race, money that never was received. There is a whole story about the congressional race but let’s stick to the state senate for the moment.
When we found out that Roberto was not running for Congress, Allen Coniglio, pursuant to the prior agreement by the Coalition, scheduled the meeting to endorse a candidate. DiPietro was now the only candidate who sought the Coalition’s endorsement so there should have been no controversy. But there was.
People associated with TEA GOP immediately protested that: (1) we falsely stated that Roberto was still a candidate; (2) falsely stated that Domagalski was not a candidate and (3) “corruptly” canceled the convention. All three statements are false. In the meeting announcement, we stated that Roberto and DiPietro were the only candidates who had expressed an interest in our endorsement. That was true! Roberto asked that his withdrawal from the race be kept confidential for a few days and we acceded to his request. In spite of a public press conference seeking candidates and a subsequent candidates “night”, boss Domagalski never sought our endorsement and the notion of endorsing him was absurd as we had one of our own dedicated tea party activists, DiPietro, in the hunt.
TEA GOP used this fake controversy to do what they wished to do all along, leave the Coalition, after having closely watched our activities and apparently cutting their own side deals with the GOP Machine (e.g., Roberto for Congress). (They had sent out emails shortly after the very first meeting questioning why we needed a coalition at all.) So, the cause of the split in the movement was TEA GOP’s refusal to support bona fide tea party activist DiPietro against a political boss and fat cat corporate lawyer, Domagalski.
TEA GOP later claimed that I had a conflict of interest in the matter as I was being paid by DiPietro. This is false for several reasons. First, I was not being paid by DiPietro. Second, this was not the cause of the split in any way. Third, even if I was being paid, since DiPietro was the only candidate left and because he was the only bona fide tea party candidate, there simply was no conflict of interest. State board of election records indicate that several months later, I was paid $500 by DiPietro for vast quantities of legal and consulting work, amounting to less than the minimum wage. For instance, I tried a full scale election case in State Supreme Court to get Dave on the ballot on the Tea Party line in a case filed by Domagalski.
Why did TEA GOP abandon the tea party movement and join the GOP machine? Simple. Their two principals both are obsessed with running for office and felt they needed the machine’s support.
2010 started out as a year of great potential for the WNY tea party movement. It ended badly. Long story short. Rus Thompson and David DiPietro urged Carl Paladino to run for office. Carl chose to run for Governor, and that being a fait accompli, Dave and I agreed to help him.
However, what began as a tea party effort slowly became a GOP machine venture. Dave, Allen Coniglio and I were all purged from the campaign, Dave and Allen as volunteers, me as a paid staffer for two months. Dave was probably tied with Pat Gallivan for state senate with Domagalski third when Carl endorsed Domagalski. We think this moved Dave to third and Domagalski to second, electing Albany insider Gallivan and depriving the tea party movement of a seat in the state senate. Thanks Carl! TEA GOP refused to support DiPietro and several of them supported the hack.
As for the Higgins seat, Brian was ripe for defeat in a GOP year. Yet, the very viable candidate I recruited to run, dentist Jill Rowland, was encouraged to run an impossible race against Louise Slaughter so that sure loser Roberto could leave the state senate race on behalf of Domagalski. TEA GOP supported this horrendous move. I am positive that Rowland could have beaten Higgins but powerful forces did not want that to happen. I have explained why in detail previously. Google will tell you where.
Thus, TEA GOP probably cost the movement a congressional seat and a state senate seat in 2010. Their obsession with the impossible dream of electing their leaders to office blinds them to any and all other political realities.
That’s the background. Let’s get to the Davis/Corwin race.
For years, I have wanted to challenge the machine by helping an independent candidate in a special election. In a special election, the bosses actually choose the nominee with no possibility of a primary. Thus, the only way to give the voters a choice is to run as an independent. Such candidacies are rare though because the Election Law requires 3500 valid signatures in just 13 days often in bad weather.
Jack Davis is a friend of mine who supported the WNY tax revolt in 2005 and who I supported for Congress as a volunteer in 2006 when he ran as a Democrat against big government Republican Tom Reynolds. Reynolds was a chief villain in the betrayal of the 1994 Republican “revolution” by busting budgets with pork and patronage. Jack was a pro-business candidate who held libertarian views on many issues. I endorsed him without hesitation.
Out of the GOP candidates who sought the nomination to run for the Chris Lee seat, there were only two who could run as credible tea party candidates, Jack and David Bellavia. I did reach out to both men but was closer to Jack on the issues, and he could self-fund, which Bellavia could not. We had tried twice to elect a good man, DiPietro, to office without sufficient funds and found that to be a waste of time. I quickly decided that only Jack Davis could run a viable independent campaign.
The day after Corwin was nominated by two political bosses, I called Jack and explained to him that he could still run as an independent. We agreed to meet. At the meeting, we discussed his need for a name for his independent line—not as a party, a line on the ballot. I proposed “Tea Party” and he quickly agreed after we discussed various issues such as spending, Obamacare and the 2nd Amendment, near and dear to the tea party movement. Jack is not a policy wonk but a factory owner but was anxious to learn about other issues that most concerned tea party activists and has worked hard to include a variety of such issues in his platform and speeches. For example, he has endorsed Ron Paul’s bill to audit the Federal Reserve.
Later in this essay, I provide a breakdown of where Davis and Corwin stand on key tea party issues.
Having urged Jack to run an independent, Jack asked me to join his staff to help him get on the ballot. I am one of the few experienced election lawyers in the Buffalo area willing to work for independent candidates. I have been unfairly criticized for being paid by Jack to do very difficult legal work under tremendous time and other pressures for 15 hours a day which forced me to drop virtually all other work and barely see my family. But my critics do not attack the consultants and lawyers hired by Jane Corwin. So, it’s not payment for services rendered that bothers them. It’s the fact that I work for an independent candidate against the machine that bothers them.
An accusation of being a “sellout” is not so much a proposition to be debated as a smear meant to injure. It’s total nonsense and there is no evidence for it but it is a damaging accusation nonetheless since many who do not know me may tend to accept it without scrutiny. It’s like being called a racist unfairly. How do you prove you’re not? It’s difficult to prove a negative and you often look foolish when you try. “Some of my best friends are ……..” Suffice it to say that my critics have provided ZERO EVIDENCE that I sold out. In supporting Jack Davis, I have continued my work of THIRTY-FIVE YEARS: supporting independent candidates against the machine when that was an option and supporting the candidate who favored smaller government and more individual freedom.
Leaving me aside, did the Tea Party Coalition sell out? Again, this is a malicious lie for which there is ZERO EVIDENCE. The notion that the Coalition would ever have endorsed Corwin, the machine candidate, is preposterous. After cooperating with the GOP in 2009, the GOP attacked the tea party movement in 2010, slowly infiltrating the Paladino campaign and purging three tea party activists as previously discussed. Langworthy was personally involved in making sure that Jill Rowland did not run and probably win against Higgins.
Corwin was handpicked by Langworthy to run for Congress. Corwin herself is a machine Republican, thoroughly under the influence of the GOP special interests and corporate power elite. The tea party movement is mainly a working class movement that opposes undue corporate influence over government and corporate bailouts and corporate welfare that Corwin supports. Corwin, unlike, Davis, was never involved and never supported the tax revolt or tea party movements in any way, shape or form. I never saw her at one of our events and she never called me or to wrote to me or wrote to anyone else in our movement that I ever heard about. She is the antithesis of a tea party candidate in every way.
Nevertheless, the Coalition invited her and all other candidates to our candidates’ night. Corwin declined to attend or send a representative or seek the Coalition endorsement in any way. Three candidates appeared, Davis, David Bellavia and Mark Manna, a Democrat. The GOP floated a rumor that the Coalition was going to endorse Davis that very night. I told the media that was yet another machine lie. It was just a candidate’s night. In all honesty, the Coalition, led by Allen Coniglio, dragged its feet before endorsing and continued to scrutinize Davis’s record and policy views. Allen had many questions that he needed to resolve as did other members of the Coalition. At all times, the Coalition was aware that Dave and I were on Jack’s staff and would not vote on the endorsement.
Mark Manna dropped out of the race after Hochul was endorsed and Bellavia was unable to qualify for the ballot. When the Coalition did endorse Jack, he happened to be the only candidate who sought its endorsement who was still on the ballot.
Thus, once again, this charge turns out to be a vicious smear by the GOP machine and its operatives.
But didn’t the largest tea party group in WNY (TEA NY) endorse Corwin? First of all, it’s not the largest group. TEA NY was founded by Rus and Jul Thompson apparently to help Rus get elected to the state senate. To the best of my knowledge, it has no bylaws or board and no formal “members.” The Coalition also operates informally. The best way to judge the size of each group is by turnout at events. In the last two years, the Coalition has had larger crowds than TEA NY. For example, at one paid event in Wyoming County, for DiPietro, we had over 250 people. At the free TEA NY candidates’ night, they had maybe 75 people, regardless of what they told the media.
TEA NY has led people to believe that two real tea party groups, Niagara Patriots and Buffalo 912, both with many members, are part of their “Coalition.” However, my research indicates that neither group’s members have voted to join any coalition with TEA NY that endorses candidates. In fact, neither group endorses candidates as a matter of principle. It’s amazing that the national media has accepted self-serving and self-generated statements about TEA NY without doing any fact-checking! Good work folks!
Is TEA NY a tea party group at all? I think that’s a fair question. For two years now, it has openly cooperated with the GOP machine in attacking bona fide tea party members and their proposed candidates such as DiPietro and Davis. It is now more of a GOP front group than a real tea party group. The same is true of Primary Challenge. They rarely run independent candidates against the machine in primaries; they now endorse machine candidates. Keep in mind that Davis’ run in the special election is akin to a primary since it is the only chance the people have to choose someone other than the machine’s handpicked flunkies.
Members of TEA NY have accused DiPietro and me of selling out or having a conflict of interest. Again, the media has picked up these baseless accusations and put them on the front pages. Yet, they have not given the other side any scrutiny. Rus Thompson’s main employer in the last two years is Carl Paladino, the first person to endorse Corwin. Rus received at least $35,000 from Carl’s campaign last year. The media needs to ask all the principals in TEA GOP if they were offered or given any material inducements for their endorsement. Has anyone been offered Corwin’s Assembly seat in exchange for an endorsement. Corwin and her husband have given over $100,000 to the GOP or their candidates or committees. Keep in mind that she was nominated, not by 12,000 voters as Davis was, but by two or three GOP bosses. Langworthy needed just one or two other county chairs to nominate Corwin under party rules.
Some of Jack Davis’ political donations have been taken out of context by the same people who overlooked the fact that Carl Paladino gave many more donations to liberal Democrats than Jack ever did. Over the years, Jack, like any other large business owner whose firms could be harassed by government bureaucrats, has made donations to members of both parties. The critics have only mentioned some of them though because they are trying to deceive you! Now, let’s talk about issues. Let’s review some of the key issues of concern to tea party voters.
Spending. This is the number one tea party issue. Davis has endorsed $250 billion in immediate spending cuts (bring the troops home, close unneeded foreign bases, end corporate welfare and foreign aid). Keep in mind that cuts that are not immediate (such as Ryan’s) are meaningless political posturing since no Congress can bind the next one. Corwin endorsed the Boehner/Obama budget for 2011 that increased spending by $3.3 billion. There was no cut; that was a lie. The bill that Corwin endorsed also funded Planned Parenthood and Obamacare. Davis opposes raising the debt ceiling, period! Advantage: Davis.
2nd Amendment. Corwin received an A- rating from the NRA. That’s the third highest rating, not good enough. Jack is a longtime member of many gun groups and has a large gun collection. Plus, since he is not a tool of the machine or special interests, you can trust him when he says he is pro-Second Amendment. Politicians like Corwin will logroll away your rights when it suits them. Advantage: Davis.
Constitutionally-limited government. Only Davis has expressed clear opposition to the war in Libya on the ground that Congress did not declare war. He also wants to bring the troops home from Iraq and Afghanistan, in part, because the premises for the congressional resolutions (not a declaration of war) have expired. Davis has stated that he will consider the 9th and 10th Amendments and Article 1, Section 8 (powers of Congress) before voting on legislation. Corwin is utterly silent on these issues. Advantage: Davis.
Trade. Davis is for “balanced trade.” Corwin describes her position as “fair trade,” not free trade. There is no official tea party position on trade and I have yet to meet any tea party activist who takes the extreme Friedmanite position of unilateral free trade. In any event, neither candidate here does either.
Federal Reserve. This is an important issue as the Fed is what allows big government to grow constantly through inflation. Jack Davis says he will work with Ron Paul to reform the monetary system and has endorsed Ron’s bill to audit the Fed. While Corwin has also stated she wished to have an audit of the Fed, she is aligned with the establishment Republicans in the House who have fought Ron Paul for many years. Advantage: Davis.
Political Independence. There is no record of machine Republicans like Corwin shrinking government. Her puppet master Tom Reynolds also spoke out against big government but he and his fellow Republicans made government bigger. Why? The first rule of machines is to stay in power. They do that by using pork and patronage to reward supporters and contributors, and they create, continue or expand programs that buy the votes needed to stay in power. Corwin would be indebted to the Republican machine and the special interests that donated to her campaign. Whatever fuzzy promises she has made to shrink government, there is no reason to believe she will actually do so.
In the modern era, the Republican Party has held power four times, under Reagan, Gingrich, Bush and Boehner. At no time did any of these regimes shrink the federal government. Corwin’s campaign is loaded with folks whose fingerprints are on the latter three failures.
Jack Davis is not beholden to any machine or any special interest. And he is running as a sincere Tea Party candidate. The Tea Party arose out of the GOPs repeated failures to shrink government. Advantage: Davis.
Conclusion: on a wide array of critical issues that go to the core of the tea party movement, Davis’ views are better than Corwin’s. Plus, there is no tea party issue I am aware of where Corwin’s views are better than Davis’. Corwin’s only tea party claim to fame is that she endorsed the Ryan Budget plan. However, this plan allows the deficit to build and there is no reason to believe that its plan to reduce health care costs will actually work. Until a viable plan for entitlements is proposed, Jack’s wise approach is to make major cuts in other spending programs and try to boost the economy and create jobs.
Thus, the notion that Jack Davis is some kind of liberal Democrat stalking horse who bought off the endorsement of some fake tea party activists and a fake tea party group turns out to be total nonsense; a complete fabrication.
The real fake tea party group is TEA GOP (TEA NY plus Primary Challenge) and the real fake tea party candidate is RINO machine Republican Jane Corwin.
I have written this 4000 word essay to set the record straight. I could have written 10,000 words and made an even stronger case but the basic facts are here and you are busy and have better things to do than read an even longer essay. Nevertheless, I remain available to answer any questions or concerns you may have. My email is firstname.lastname@example.org. If you prefer to talk by phone, send me your number and I will call you.
Thanks and please forward this far and wide—and fast!
“Perseverance and spirit have done wonders in all ages.”
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