Thursday, January 15, 2009

WIL Fraley’s Virtual Independence

In September right wing blogger and political operative Brian Fraley announced that he was taking a new job as the Executive Director of the Wisconsin Institute for Leadership (WIL). This organization is supposed to be “independent” complete with a 501c4 non-profit tax status. At the time Fraley described on his Daily Takes blog that the new organization was “nonprofit, nonpartisan and issue-focused.”

Oh really? If WIL is actually “nonpartisan and issue focused”, then why did Brian Fraley, forward Rose Fernandez announcement that she was running for Department of Public Instruction? According to a recent report by the Capital Times, he did not just forward that announcement but also included a very supportive note about the candidate. According to the report, this happened sometime in December. The obvious question here is should the head of an “independent” 501c4 advocacy organization be advancing a candidate’s campaign in this manner? Exactly what contact has Rose Fernandez or her representatives had with WIL Fraley and when did they have it?

On January 1, the WIL blog notes that Fraley is taking leave from his position there until April 15, which is obviously after the general election for Department of Public Instruction. Could the executive director of this “independent” 501c4 advocacy organization actually be taking leave to work for the Fernandez Campaign? Perhaps someone should ask Fraley…perhaps they should ask Fernandez. Even if he is not going to work for Fernandez directly, is he going to work for someone else on her behalf? Is this appropriate? Even if WIL and Fraley had any credibility about being “independent” in the first place, how could anyone take them seriously now?

At this point we don’t know if Brian Fraley is taking leave from WIL to work for the Fernandez Campaign, but his pattern of behavior is interesting. When he took the job at WIL he posted on his Daily Takes blog exactly why it had gone on hiatus. At that time he explained, “Daily Takes doesn’t help pay my mortgage. My real jobs do.” Low-and-behold, Fraley just announced on his blog today that it is once again going on “hiatus”! If he is being true to form, then it must be because of one of his “real jobs.” We know that his “real job” at WIL can’t be to blame this time, so what/who is the culprit now?

Brian Fraley has openly commented on his work for the virtual schools lobby and with Rose Fernandez in particular. Whether or not he eventually goes to work for her actual campaign, his actions supporting her recently should make things crystal clear. Any claim from Fraley or WIL about being “independent” are completely virtual and have no basis in reality.

UPDATE: Can someone say BINGO?

The part that is most problematic to me is that Fraley's email (as reported by the Capital Times) includes the following: "...she is worthy of your support." Independent groups and their agents cant "support" or "oppose" candidates. Based on today's announcement, it looks like he wont just be "supporting" the Fernandez Campaign now, but actually running it.


Kevin said...

Independent, like OWN right Cory?

Cory Liebmann said...

FYI, I no longer work for OWN. in any case, when did anyone at OWN ever promote a specific candidate in this way? Never.

Other Side said...

According to a post at Badger Blogger, Fraley has announced his work as campaign manager for the Fernandez campaign.

Cory Liebmann said... let me amend...when did someone at OWN ever promote a specific candidate in this way AND when did any OWN ED ever take leave to run a campaign?

Zach W. said...

Nice job, Cory. I'd love to hear Fraley's explanation for all his "independence."

Anonymous said...

Is this really what it has come to? Attacking personalities now?

Whether you like Fraley or not, at least attack his client, not him. You come across as petty.

I've seen this out of you guys; you attack messenger, file a complaint or breathe heavy about improprieties, and then use it as a distraction.

Your team convinced yourself Rove is dirty and ergo anything he said was irrelevant. Well... how many times did that strategy beat George Bush?

This tactic is tantamount to a broken record that never reaches the end of the song and leaves everyone feeling unsatisfied. Really... do you believe the public cares about this or is it more like cooking spaghetti?

Cory Liebmann said...


A. Its not about liking or not liking someone. This is not a personal attack I observed the facts and asked some questions.

B. There are rules and standards for nonprofits and they matter, at least if you are trying to be taken seriously.

C. Sometimes legitimate questions should be asked/answered whether is brings warm and fuzzy feelings or not. Whether people want to hear them or not.

Brian said...

As for your mere observations and asking of questions, you could have saved your self a lot of angina and just called or emailed me. You've met me, Cory, I don't make a very scary bogey man, I'm too short and I've never been able to shoot lasers out of my eyes.

Now, first let me say that your questions are legitimate and I have no problem answering them.

It wouldn't have caused any traffic to the blog, but you would have received your answers sooner had you just asked.

I sent an email from my personal email in December to about a dozen friends about another friend of mine who was running for office. I basically forwarded a link and expressed my belief that my friends would be impressed with her. I didn't even do so much as put a bumper sticker on my car (although that wouldn't even cross the line). I imagine the individuals who work for OWN or contribute content to their site do that on occasion, no?

Since I sent that email, the CapTimes received a forwarded copy and posted it. I didn't send it to them, but I understand that in politics, when someone tells something to more than one person you should be prepared to see it in print somewhere.

Once I made the determination that my desire was to help Rose and perhaps even take an actual role with Rose's campaign, I took a leave from my job at WIL. As you know it would be wrong to use WIL (or OWN) resources to advocate for the election or defeat any candidate, and I decided that I'd like to spend more of my time helping Rose at this crucial time in our state's history.

So I took a leave and was very public about both that and my role with the campaign once it was formalized.

As for Rose's campaign, I imagine your readers would be pleasantly surprised with Rose's campaign. She has a proven ability to bring people of diverse political backgrounds together to advance options and quality in public education. I imagine your readers won't appreciate her support for school choice but may appreciate the fact she is the only candidate with a plan for MPS, and whether or not you agree with her plan, you have to give her kudos as she's the ONLY candidate to acknowledge that MPS' problems impact the entire state. And she's the ONLY candidate with a plan of any kind to address the problems.

Hope this clears up things for you, Cory. And next time you have a question about me, ask me.