This morning, Up With Chris Hayes unveiled  a major scoop: the show obtained a written pitch to the American Bankers Association from a prominent Washington lobbying firm, proposing a $850,000 smear campaign against Occupy Wall Street.
The memo, issued by Clark Lytle Geduldig & Cranford, described the danger presented by the burgeoning movement, saying that if Democrats embraced Occupy, “This would mean more than just short-term political discomfort for Wall Street.… It has the potential to have very long-lasting political, policy and financial impacts on the companies in the center of the bullseye.” Furthermore, it notes that “the bigger concern…should be that Republicans will no longer defend Wall Street companies.”
CLGC was pitching an $850,000 campaign of opposition research and targeted campaigns against politicians who supported the movement. It was written by two firm partners with close ties to House Speaker John Boehner: Sam Geduldig joined CLGC before Boehner became speaker, and Jay Cranford left Boehner’s office this year to join the firm. Another partner at CLGC is reportedly “tight ” with the speaker.
Here’s Chris this morning:
The American Bankers’ Association acknowledged it received the memo, but that it decided not to act on it. Still, as Chris notes, it’s extremely unlikely this is the only time Wall Street and its allies in Washington considered serious and well-funded opposition to Occupy Wall Street; it’s just one memo that his show happened to obtain.
In fact, we’ve seen similar efforts already. Karl Rove’s Crossroads GPS has blanketed  Massachusetts airwaves with commercials depicting Occupy protestors as crazed radicals, and hitting Elizabeth Warren for embracing them. The ad campaign has essentially the same goal as the CLGC memo: the ads are trying to scare Warren away from supporting the protests.
These episodes belie any conservative claims that Occupy Wall Street (1) doesn’t have a clear purpose, or (2) won’t be effective. Rove has wondered  in the past “what are these people for? To the degree that they’re for anything it’s left wing nuttiness.” Grover Norquist tweeted  the other day that he hopes Occupy DC “keep(s) this up” because “Hippies elected Nixon. OWS will beat Obama.” Fox News is full of similar dismissals of Occupiers as dangerous, confused folks.
But if Rove thinks Occupy doesn’t present a clear message, why is he spending millions of dollars to attack them? Similarly, CLGC staffers are political professionals with many Wall Street clients, and the memo shows how seriously they consider the threat presented to powerful financial firms by the Occupy protests.
Tomorrow on Up, Chris will speak with Senator Sherrod Brown about his take on the memo and perhaps how Democratic politicians should treat the growing movement. And if you’re not watching this show, you really should be.