By: Cliff Kincaid
Accuracy in Media
Before Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) electrified conservatives with his denunciation of liberal media bias at the GOP presidential debate last week, he took a little-noticed position on a major crime bill before the Senate that set him apart from the politically powerful Koch brothers. Taking the side of law-and-order conservatives on an issue that could emerge as a major focus of the 2016 presidential campaign, Cruz came out against the Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act (S. 2123) on the grounds that the legislation, which will retroactively reduce the sentences of thousands of federal prison inmates, could lead to the release of violent criminals, some convicted of using weapons while engaged in other crimes. He said the Senate bill would release “illegal aliens with criminal convictions” when a “major crime wave” is already sweeping the nation.
In an extraordinary development, the Koch brothers decided to publicly go after Cruz. Echoing the views of the libertarian billionaires, whose network of conservative advocacy groups was planning to spend $889 million on the 2016 campaign, Mark Holden, Senior Vice President & General Counsel of Koch Industries, Inc., issued a statement denouncing the Texas senator by name. He said, “We are disappointed that some members, including Senator Cruz, who have supported the need for reform and been strong supporters of the Bill of Rights, did not support this bill.”
While Cruz had indicated support back in February for a Senate bill on “sentencing reform,” he voted against the latest version because he said it would lead to more criminals being released from prison and committing crimes against law-abiding citizens and police.
In dramatic testimony, Cruz said that while he had supported the Smarter Sentencing Act, a previous version of the bill, the final version had been changed and had “gone in a direction that is not helpful.” He said it provides “leniency” for “violent criminals who use guns” and gives lighter sentences to criminals already serving time. Cruz said that letting thousands of criminals out of prison at this time makes no sense “when police officers are under assault right now, are being vilified right now, and when we’re seeing violent crime spiking in our major cities across the country…”
Political observers say that the public attack on Cruz from the Koch brothers, who are seeking to influence the selection of a GOP 2016 presidential nominee, could easily backfire and expose the nefarious influence of the libertarian billionaires’ attempt to affect the outcome of the race for president on the Republican side. In addition to the Kochs, libertarian hedge fund operator Paul Singer has entered the Republican contest, endorsing Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) and promising him millions of dollars in campaign contributions through his own network of conservative organizations and allies. Singer, whose son is homosexual, wants the GOP to embrace gay rights and gay marriage.
There are very few organizations active in conservative politics that are not financed by either Koch or Singer. Donald Trump, a billionaire in his own right, doesn’t need their support.
Blogger Tina Trent, who writes and lectures about criminal justice issues, hailed Cruz’s decision to come out against the Koch-backed bill, saying the legislation was “a 100 percent giveaway to some of the most radical anti-incarceration activist groups funded by George Soros,” the billionaire hedge fund operator and backer of the Democratic Party. She said, “I’m happy to see Cruz refuse to obey the Kochs on this one vote, but the fact that they came out and chastised him publicly when he did cross them even slightly points to bigger questions—and bigger problems. Will Cruz go further and completely sever ties with the Kochs?”
Libertarians and their Leftist Allies Push Criminal Justice Reform
Though branded by the media as free market conservatives, the Koch brothers are libertarians on social and foreign policy issues and do business with China and Russia. They chose “criminal justice reform” as their latest high-profile cause, even though this has meant collusion with the Soros-funded Open Society Foundations and his grantees.
We noted in a story last March that the Coalition for Public Safety was playing a leading role in this new “bipartisan” campaign for “criminal justice reform,” and has been financed by $5 million from the Koch brothers and other “core supporters,” such as the liberal Ford Foundation. Soros money for this effort has been mostly funneled through the ACLU, a major “partner” in the group, which received $50 million to cut national incarceration rates and release criminals.
The Coalition for Public Safety is run by Christine Leonard, a former Ted Kennedy Senate staffer once affiliated with the left-wing Vera Institute for Justice. We pointed out that the Vera Institute is so extreme that its Project Concern had a National Advisory Board on Adolescent Development, Safety and Justice that included the former communist terrorist Bernardine Dohrn as an adviser from 1998 to 2003.
One Soros-funded group, Critical Resistance, was founded by communist Angela Davis and says it seeks “to end the prison industrial complex (PIC) by challenging the belief that caging and controlling people makes us safe. We believe that basic necessities such as food, shelter, and freedom are what really make our communities secure.” It got $100,000 from the Soros-funded Open Society Foundations.
An all-day “Bipartisan Summit on Criminal Justice Reform” that was sponsored in part by the Coalition for Public Safety featured former Obama official and Marxist Van Jones as a major speaker. Jones appeared at a podium emblazoned with the company name “Koch Industries.” Obama’s then-Attorney General Eric Holder also spoke to the event.
Cruz was joined in his opposition to the Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act by Republican Senators Orrin Hatch (UT), David Perdue (GA), Jeff Sessions (AL), and David Vitter (LA). Nevertheless, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley and Assistant Democratic Leader Dick Durbin pushed the Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act through the Senate Judiciary Committee in a 15-5 vote. A Cruz amendment to fix the bill was voted down.
Americans for Limited Government President Rick Manning said that Senate Republicans, “in a quest for bipartisanship,” have passed a bill that will “retroactively reduce more federal prison sentences, resulting in an additional flooding of our cities with thousands more convicted criminals out of penitentiaries.” He asked, “Given the volatile mix of massive increases of Muslim refugees, the influx of Central American gangs and Mexican drug cartel members, and the disarming of our police, what could go wrong with releasing tens of thousands of convicted criminals early into the already violent cities? Why would Republicans vote for that?”
Law Enforcement Groups Weigh in on Pending Crime Legislation
Unwilling to let the Koch brothers and George Soros have their way on the crime legislation, organizations representing law enforcement are making their views known. Groups opposing the bill include the National Association of Assistant United States Attorneys, National Sheriffs’ Association, National Immigration & Customs Enforcement Council, Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association, National Narcotic Officers’ Associations’ Coalition, National District Attorneys Association, Major County Sheriffs’ Association, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation Agents Association.
Major figures opposing the bill include Ed Meese, Former Attorney General of the United States; Ron Hosko, Former Assistant Director of the FBI; and Phyllis Schlafly of Eagle Forum.
Senator Sessions, a senior member of the Judiciary Committee and former federal prosecutor, quoted Steven Cook, the President of the National Association of Assistant United States Attorneys, as saying that the bill “threatens to reverse many of the gains we have made by making thousands of convicted and imprisoned armed career criminals, serial violent criminals, and high-level drug traffickers eligible for early release.” Cook added that “it would seriously weaken the very tools that federal prosecutors, working with our federal, state, and local law enforcement partners, have used to keep our communities safe.”
“In reality,” Tina Trent told Accuracy in Media, “there is no big public groundswell of support for releasing recidivist criminals back onto the streets. The urgency around this issue has been almost entirely manufactured by paid activists in the leftist and libertarian camps—aided by the media, of course. This is why they’re being so intentionally secretive about the process and the people who would be released and how the releases would be implemented. It’s also why they’re not making it easy, or even possible, to see state-by-state information about the specific inmates who would be released, nor can the public view the full criminal arrest and conviction records for these inmates.”
Taking on libertarian rhetoric about alleged “nonviolent” drug offenders supposedly populating the prisons, she noted there are several ways an offender can be classified as “non-violent” even when he or she has a long rap sheet of arrests for violent crimes and even convictions for violent crimes. In such cases, defense lawyers will have their clients plead to a drug charge in exchange for charges of violent crimes being dropped.
The “Ferguson” Effect?
Despite the serious flaws in the bill and questions about the radicals backing it, aCongressional Criminal Justice and Public Safety Caucus has been created to make similar legislation a reality on the House side. Representatives Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), Raul Labrador (R-ID), Cedric Richmond (D-LA) and Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) will serve as co-chairs of this newly-formed body.
Jessica Berry, Deputy Director of the Coalition for Public Safety, thanked Chaffetz and the other Republicans for partnering with Democrats as well as President Obama, for the purpose of “getting criminal justice reform done.”
Berry’s praise for Republicans should give them concern. She is a former top Democratic Party staffer on Capitol Hill, having served as the principal law enforcement and criminal justice advisor to Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) and an adviser to Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT), the top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee.
If the “bipartisan” bill passes Congress, Republicans may eventually be blamed for helping to put more criminals back on the streets, producing more of the “Ferguson effect” that Obama’s FBI director James Comey says has put the lives of police officers and innocent members of the community in greater danger.
The controversy over Comey’s remarks could complicate the President’s push “to loosen the nation’s sentencing laws,” the Hill newspaper reported. Another potential complication is that the outspoken Cruz and others may put pressure on Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell (KY) to stop the bill from coming up for a vote so that Republicans don’t further embarrass themselves by partnering with soft-on-crime Democrats in hock to Soros-funded activist groups.
Leftist groups are hoping McConnell will bring the bill to a full Senate vote, in order to demonstrate how Republicans can work with Democrats on an issue dear to the Obama administration.