Attacking John Kerry: The Games Begin


With Kerry emerging as the likely Democratic nominee, the volleys from the right are starting to fly. Case in point: Chris Horner's rather speculative piece on the National Review website today:

On January 24, before the first vote was cast in New Hampshire's Democratic primary, the League of Conservation Voters (LCV) endorsed Senator John Kerry (D., Mass.) for president. Weeks earlier, in an entirely unrelated matter, the Heinz Family Foundation provided an "unrestricted-use" grant of a quarter million dollars to a group represented on the LCV board.

Senator Kerry is married to the very wealthy Teresa Heinz, who also sits on the board of numerous foundation and advocacy groups….The tax-exempt advocacy group LCV is expressly nonpartisan. Regardless, the top half of its website's home page is dedicated to the endorsement of Senator Kerry.

Correlation, as we all know, does not prove causation—and Horner doesn't do his argument any favors by letting his rhetoric run wild. (At one point he describes The American Prospect as a "hard-left" magazine, which is kind of like calling Tucker Carlson a right-wing extremist.) But he raises an interesting point about the ways Heinz's money could quietly work on her husband's behalf, even if at the present he only has one example to point to. "It is fair to anticipate over the coming months," he writes, "…that each of these Heinz-funded groups will coincidentally make its own pitch for a Kerry presidency, though possibly not as fawningly as LCV. If it's too overt, you see, it gives the appearance of employing taxpayer-subsidized wealth to influence elections."

OK. That gives us something to keep an eye on. If the endorsements roll in as predicted, then Horner might be onto something—especially if they appear before anyone wraps up the Democratic nomination. (None of these groups is going to back Bush, whether or not Teresa Heinz gives them money.) Otherwise, this is one volley that fell wide of its target.