Tag Archives: Patricia Phillips

Other crimes against humanity we shouldn’t be talking about

As noted in the first comment on the Uganda post below, we were admonished by a frequently irritated visitor to this blog for talking about the crimes against humanity unfolding in Uganda. Apparently – and I don’t know how else to interpret these words – because we are “highly educated” and fortunate to live in the rural end of the most affluent county in “the most free country in the world,” our concern about what’s going on in Uganda at the alleged direction of a US-based hate group leader is “over the top.”

I take the position that if you’re a human rights advocate, you should be concerned about crimes against humanity anywhere, not just where you live. And you should be especially concerned when the crimes are the outcome of collusion with a U.S. hate group leader, who is running the operation from within your own country precisely because it is free.

The situation in Uganda began with propaganda that defamed and dehumanized LGBTI people with claims that we sexually assault children. All human rights catastrophes started somewhere, and studying them is how we learn to do better. Do I think that what’s happening in Uganda could happen here, just because Scott Lively is the leader of a hate group, and Eugene Delgaudio is also the leader of a hate group? No – but pretending so is a lazy, simpleminded way to attack Eugene’s critics, isn’t it?

Anti-gay hate groups don’t have much of a future here. It’s more likely that when Nervous Eugene‘s cash cow runs its course in the U.S. he’ll move on to something or somewhere else. And if that new enterprise involves human rights abuses of LGBTI people in some other country we’ll have a responsibility to help them, too.

So this happened in 1935, as human rights advocates were warning of the deteriorating climate for certain disfavored groups in Germany: Continue reading

Unenforced Campaign Finance Laws

I have the nerdish habit of surfing around the Virginia Public Access Project website from time to time. It’s an incredible resource, and completely funded by donations from wonks, politicos and like minded organizations. VPAP publishes campaign finance data that is publicly reported in an interface and format that is a lot friendlier than that which the State Board of Elections makes available.

(And while I’m at it, let me also promote Waldo Jaquith‘s brilliant brainchild Richmond Sunlight.)

Doing some research on VPAP, I discovered some interesting things. Like the fact that Ken Reid’s campaign is fully one-third financed (so far) by real estate interests. Or that some of Scott York’s top donors declined to provide their legally-required occupational data.


I thought that, perhaps, VPAP just had insufficient information, so I took it upon myself to give the State Board of Elections a call. Talking to the harried, but very helpful staff at the State Board of Elections was extremely illuminating. I was informed that the State Board of Elections, having seen its budget cut quite aggressively during this year’s state budget negotiations, no longer reviews campaign finance disclosures for accuracy. Indeed, when asked what recourse I, as a citizen, might have to get missing occupation information about donors who gave more than $100 (for example) I was told that I really had none.

The entire SBE budget, you see, is focused on the job of planning and executing the August primaries and November elections. And that is as it should be. Administering elections is the primary job of the SBE. Enforcing campaign finance laws is a secondary objective, and when budgets are slashed, secondary goals are often sacrificed in the process. It does beg the question, however, as to how many campaign finance shenanigans are going unnoticed in this unsupervised environment.

It also does a grave disservice to the voters, who have a right to know who is funding campaigns for offices throughout the Commonwealth. I would think that voters in Richmond, for example, might want to know if one or another candidate for School Board is receiving a lot of money from people in the charter school business. That seems, to me, to be a perfectly reasonable criteria for a voter to consider when evaluating his or her choices in November.

Perhaps even more interesting is that, so far, none of the major media who cover the Commonwealth’s elections have noticed these campaign finance discrepancies (even as they notice others) and made the same phone call to the State Board of Elections that I did this week. A local sheriff doing a favor for a major campaign contributor is definitely news, but isn’t the breakdown of the very system of full disclosure that makes such a story even possible a more important tale to be told?

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