DNC Candidate Roemer, Please Explain

Tim Roemer is one of the candidates for DNC Chair. Here’s something I came across, Roemer’s bio at the Mercatus Center:

Tim Roemer is a distinguished scholar at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University and president of the Center for National Policy.

Is that THIS Mercatus Center and George Mason University? (Also, see this and this.)

Explanation, please!

Update – I was rushing out the door when I wrote that. I think I should explain in greater detail why I think this is important, so I’ll try to do that in this update. What I probably should do is write a new post from scratch…

At Seeing the Forest I write about the Right’s network of organizations, and how they influence our politics by influencing public attitudes as well as setting up channels to influence politicians themselves. Some of these organizations are set up to “educate” opinion leaders and public officials on why they think right-wing ideology offers better solutions to public policy problems. (I’m trying to paraphrase typical right-wing wording…) Without going into detail, let me just say that their solutions are not always what you and I would consider to be in the best interest of the public-at-large. For example, their “market solutions” often translate to “one-dollar-one-vote” corporate-oriented policies — as compared with boring, old-fashioned, democratic “one-person-one-vote” solutions that require such pesky oversight provisions as transparency, accountability, public consensus, equal opportunity, serving all citizens equally, etc. — all those things the Right calls “inefficient” and “bureaucratic…”

The Mercatus Center, for example, at George Mason University describes itself as promoting the

“use of market-based tools and analysis to discover workable solutions to pressing economic and governmental problems”

And just look at who is funding them, as well as the amounts! (Click here, and see the reports linked at the end of this post, for some background on who these funders are and what they stand for. Carthage Foundation is a Richard Mellon Scaife (more here) foundation, for example.)

As I wrote above, before this update, Tim Roemer is “a distinguished scholar at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University.” Roemer’s bio at Mercatus also says,

“Roemer is a key spokesperson for the Mercatus Center’s Capitol Hill Campus outreach and education program, which seeks to improve public policy outcomes by teaching economics and policy analysis to congressional staff.”

One of the ways the Right “educates” public officials, opinion leaders,etc., is to send them to expensive “retreats” at exclusive resorts, nice hotels, etc. where they are wined and dined and treated to first-class amenities. (This is not unlike the technique of giving free trips to people to attend presentations for time-share retreats or condos.) For example, the Right sponsors retreats for judges that have caused some controversy when reported. (See also here, here, here and here.) Following is the text of an e-mail Roemer recently sent out to Congressional Chiefs of Staff, inviting them to a retreat:

Subject: 2005 Chief of Staff Retreat

Dear Fellow Democrats,

I would like to encourage you to join me in Philadelphia on February 4th and 5th, 2005 at the Ritz Carlton Hotel for the 2005 Chief of Staff Retreat. This Retreat is probably the best opportunity of the year for gathering with other senior-level

congressional staff both from our party but also with our colleagues across the aisle.

The Retreat is hosted by the Mercatus Center at George Mason University. I have been affiliated with this organization for the past two years in an effort to promote sound economic thinking that leads to a more prosperous and fiscally responsible America. The Mercatus Center is a non-profit and non-partisan group that seeks to educate congressional staff about markets, global prosperity for the poor and economics as they relate to the issues you are working on in your congressional or committee office.

This year’s program is highly relevant to the issues facing the 109th Congress. We will discuss topics ranging from drug reimportation to Social Security, tax and pension reform, to understanding learning disparities between black and white children. I will be there to discuss national security and intelligence reforms. While we have made important progress in modernizing our intelligence system, there are several important issues confronting congress.

At a time of partisan divide, this is an opportunity to share thoughts and ideas. Any time that you can get away from the Hill to view issues from different angles, you should do it. I look forward to seeing you there.

If you are interested in learning more, or registering, please click here:


Best regards,

Tim Roemer

A flyer for the retreat says:

The Mercatus Center provides lodging and meals for all Retreat participants and their guests. In addition, we will provide complimentary transportation to/from Philadelphia via select Amtrak trains. Information on these trains will be posted here as the retreat draws closer.

I’m not saying there is anything illegal here. But I am saying that this sounds suspiciously like other activities of the Right that have come to light, designed to spread right-wing ideological influence.

Here are some things that this humble blogger would like to know. What will be going on at this “retreat?” What kind of “sound economic thinking” is a right-wing-funded organization going to be promoting at the retreat? What sort of “Social Security, tax and pension reform” is a right-wing-funded organization going to be promoting to Democratic Chiefs of Staff? Who is funding this retreat (and why?)? And, most important to me, what is a candidate for head of the Democratic Party doing working for this crowd? Anyone interested in the race to become head of the Democratic National Committee deserves answers to these questions, and a full explanation.

I would also be interested in knowing if any Democratic Chiefs of Staff have accepted the invitation!

For those interested in more infomation about the right-wing organizational infrastructure see the tables of contents of reports here and here. While these reports are written for trial lawyers and teacher unions, their intent is to describe the Right’s infrastructure of advocacy/communication organizations, who is funding it, what their goals are, and looking at what we might do to counter this effort and recover our democracy. See also: A collection of links to articles, reports and resources for learning about the right-wing movement, its history, how it is funded and how it operates.

(This update was revised at 5:30pm PST.)