By Bill Dedman
Investigative Reporter, msnbc.comAs
libertarian Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul looks for a
state he can win, some of his supporters have turned to a new theme:
voting fraud.A Super PAC supporting Paul has pledged to monitor
the vote in all the remaining states, using an army of exit pollsters to
fight what it calls results that are "outrageous, unacceptable and
patently un-American." The group, called Revolution PAC, has
spent half a million dollars supporting Paul with videos, webcasts,
online ads, direct mail, billboards and radio ads in primary and caucus
states.We first noticed Revolution PAC last week, when it told the Federal Election Commission that it couldn't meet the deadline to identify its donors, because of an error by its bank. Now Revolution PAC has filed its report.
As with many other so-called "independent" Super PACs, which can
receive unlimited donations outside the normal rules of campaign
finance, the pro-Paul group is operated by people with close ties to the
candidate. The group's advisory board members include Penny Langford
Freeman, Paul's political director from 1998 to 2007, and Joe Becker,
chief legal counsel for Ron Paul 2008.The leader of the group,
its founder, chairman and treasurer, is Gary Franchi, a promoter of
conspiracy theories and sophisticated social-media entrepreneur in the
resurgent movement known as the Patriots.The 34-year-old
political activist from the Chicago suburbs told msnbc.com that his goal
is a "non-violent intellectual revolution, which results in a full
restoration of the federal Constitution."Online videos produced by Franchi, and online interviews with him, add specifics:
- [*]Franchi has supported the 9/11 Truth Movement, which supports the
idea that the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, werean inside job to
create a pretext for a reduction in American liberty, or at least
involved a cover-up, with the World Trade Center brought down by a
planned U.S. demolition, instead of terrorist-controlled airplanes.
Franchi founded the Lone Lantern Society (a reference to Paul Revere
indicating that foreign enemies are on American soil). The group
supports "the birth of freedom and the death of the New World Order," a
secretive elite that is supposedly trying to set up a world government.
Lone Lantern has held street demonstrations on the 11th of every month in Chicago and elsewhere, demanding an investigation of 9/11. In New Hampshire in 2008, a video shows Franchi asking Tom Ridge,
the former secretary of Homeland Security, who was campaigning for Sen.
John McCain, whether Ridge would support an investigation of the
"controlled demolition" of the World Trade Center. Ridge was having none
of it, saying, "I just don't buy into that. That's a conspiracy theory
that has no basis in fact. It's almost out of the Twilight Zone."[/*][*]According to a 2010 reportby
the Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks domestic fringe groups,
"Gary Franchi is one of the leading promoters of a resurgent Patriot
conspiracy theory that alleges the government is creating concentration
camps for U.S. citizens." In 2009 he co-wrote and co-produced the video "Camp FEMA: American Lockdown,"
which claims that the Federal Emergency Management Agency is creating
concentration camps on air bases and in vacant buildings to house
political dissenters when the federal government proclaims martial law.
"Your church may have already signed a deal with the devil," reads
promotional material for the film. The film questions whether Census
data will be used to round up Americans. Clips from Franchi's film on YouTube show
Hitler youth marching while the narrator ominously describes President
Obama's plans to expand AmeriCorps and the USA Freedom Corps, the
volunteer initiative launched by the Bush administration after 9/11.[/*][*]Franchi operates Restore the Republic, which opposes the Federal
Reserve, the IRS and the income tax, decries the control of the economy
by the Rockefellers and the "banking cartel," and warns of government
plans to plant RFID microchips into all Americans. The group was founded
by Franchi and filmmaker and Libertarian presidential candidate Aaron
Russo, and has been operated by Franchi since Russo's death from cancer
in 2007. RTR shares an address with Revolution PAC in Northbrook, Ill.
The group, which describes itself as a social media platform for
like-minded individuals, promotes Russo's film, "America: Freedom to Fascism,"
in which Ron Paul declares, "If that's the definition of a police state
— that you can't do anything unless the government gives you permission
—we're well on our way." In a YouTube video interview with Franchi in 2008, Paul credited the Russo video with bringing a lot of people to his presidential campaign. The group has also placed billboards fueling the bogus claim that Obama is not an American citizen, asking, "Where's the REAL birth certificate?"[/*]
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