When OPSEC first announced its media campaign earlier this week, one of its representatives, Chad Kolton, who worked as a spokesman for the Director of National Intelligence during George W. Bush's presidency, insisted the group's message was non-political.
"You'll see throughout the film that concern about protecting the lives of intelligence and Special Forces officers takes precedence over partisanship," Kolton said.
[Kolton is also a founding partner in the D.C.-based firm of HDMK, a PR firm founded by four Republican "communications veterans"]
E. Mark Braden, a Washington lawyer who advises OPSEC, said the group included Democrats and independents. But the records and web postings show that key people involved in setting up OPSEC and working on its media campaign have current or past direct ties to the Republican Party or related groups.
Braden, the OPSEC legal advisor, confirmed in an interview that during the 1980s he worked as chief counsel for the Republican National Committee, the party's central organization. He said that since leaving that job he has represented numerous Republican-related political causes, though he has also represented non-Republican clients.
One of the Republican-leaning organizations that Braden represented during the 2008 presidential election cycle, an obscure group called Majority America, listed as its president a Michael Smith of Alexandria, Virginia.
Smith, a Republican political consultant, also was involved in another Republican-related group called Making America's Promise Secure that was involved in redistricting issues.
A spokesman for OPSEC confirmed that the same Michael Smith is the treasurer of OPSEC. Smith, through a spokesman, declined to comment.
Federal Election Commission filings show that one of the principal sources of finance for Smith's Majority America group was a $250,000 donation from the late Carl Lindner, an Ohio businessman who backed numerous conservative causes - including the original 2004 "Swift Boat" campaign against John Kerry.
A Majority America website homepage copyrighted in 2010 says the group is a "non-partisan, non profit" group set up to "serve as a counter-weight to radical left wing message organizations, such as MoveOn.org".
OPSEC has registered as a non-profit "social welfare" group, under section 501(c)4 of the U.S. tax code, a provision that allows it to keep its donors secret.
Braden said he was unaware that Lindner had financed the 2008 group in which he and Smith were involved. He declined to disclose information about OPSEC's finances.
There are other links between OPSEC and individuals or entities involved with the Republican Party.
Greener and Hook, a "strategic communications" firm in Arlington, Virginia, says on its Internet home page that its services include TV production. It lists among its productions OPSEC's main video, entitled "Dishonorable Disclosure", as well as a 30-second trailer for the film and another teaser for it.
Among more than two dozen entities and individuals listed by Greener and Hook as "political clients" are the Republican National Committee, the 2012 Republican National Convention, the Republican Governor's Association, the National Republican Congressional Committee and the National Federation of Republican Women. Representatives of Greener and Hook did not respond to a detailed voice mail requesting comment.
OPSEC rents an office in Alexandria, Virginia from a political consulting firm with Republican ties named The Trailblazer Group. Both OPSEC and Trailblazer said they have no relationship beyond sharing premises.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
[In addition] The president of OPSEC...“Scott Taylor, is a former Navy SEAL who in 2010 ran unsuccessfully for the Republican nomination for a congressional seat in Virginia.”
Ben Smith, the ex-SEAL [who says in the video, "Mr. President, you did not kill Osama bin Laden, America did. The work that the American military has done killed Osama bin Laden. You did not."] is nowadays better known for his activist work with the Tea Party Express and Move America Forward , the pressure group set up by California Republican public relations firm Russo Marsh & Rogers.
Fred Rustmann, “a former undercover case officer for the CIA who is a spokesman for the group” is the same Fred Rustman who appeared in a co-ordinated campaign on Fox News and in the conservative press claiming to be Valerie Plame’s case officer and saying that she openly acknowledged her status as a CIA agent, blowing her own cover.
keyboard shortcuts: V vote up article J next comment K previous comment