Terry Nelson and the Republican 'Scared Straight'
by Matt Stoller, Sun Sep 10, 2006 at 03:11:42 PM EDT
In the Washington Post article that Singer linked to yesterday on how the NRCC is going to go all negative this cycle, I noticed something interesting.
The Republican National Committee, meanwhile, has enlisted veteran party strategist Terry Nelson to run a campaign that will coordinate with Senate Republicans on ads that similarly will rely on the best of the worst that researchers have dug up on Democrats.
There's a network of right-wing operatives that link key pieces of the Republican Party, and it seems like Nelson's name is popping up everywhere. In addition to running the NRCC's oppo shop, he's a key advisor to John McCain and was the political director for Bush-Cheney 04.
I'm going to walk you through the recent career path of Terry Nelson, so you get a sense of the modern Republican Party and what's in store for Democrats this cycle.
First of all, I imagine that Nelson's purview at the NRCC is strictly restricted to opposition research, and will not encompass any dirty tricks at all, because that would be wrong. Nelson learned it was wrong the hard way. In 2002, he was deputy Chief of Staff at the RNC, where he became wrapped up in Tom Delay's TRMPAC money laundering scandal as a key point of contact between the RNC and Delay's Texas PAC. He also testified in the trial of convicted GOP operative James Tobin for illegal phone jamming in New Hampshire, because he was Tobin's supervisor when Tobin illegally spammed Democratic phone banks on election day.
With a series of ethical trangressions like this, the Republicans had no choice but to reprimand Terry Nelson aggressively.
As punishment for his lack of ethics and embrace of mostly illegal areas in politics, Nelson was promoted to Bush-Cheney political director in 2004. Of course, that's not nearly enough penance, so Nelson was also forced to become a key advisor to John McCain's Presidential campaign. Nelson was also nearly forced by the astroturf front group USA Next to work on Social Security privatization, but had to turn it down because he had already committed to working with a different pro-privatization group, COMPASS.
Nelson has learned his lesson, he's going to stick to opposition research for the RNCC. We won't see push polls, phone-jamming, or money laundering this cycle from the right-wing. The Republican Party just won't tolerate it. In today's GOP, if you do the wrong thing, you will be forced to amass much more wealth and power than you ever dreamed, and sit in the key power circles of Tom Delay, Karl Rove, George Bush, and John McCain. That's just how personal responsibility works, my friends.