Blog Posts by Chris Moody

  • The Koch's 'secret bank' takes another step out of the shadows

    For the first time, Freedom Partners puts its name on political ads

    Eight months ago, Politico tagged a little-known trade association called Freedom Partners as “the Koch brothers’ secret bank.” The Arlington-Va.-based organization, founded in 2011, had been bankrolling a sprawling network of conservative advocacy groups with the assistance of billionaire businessmen Charles and David Koch.

    This week, as the Koch brothers remain a high-profile Democratic obsession, Freedom Partners took its biggest step forward out of the shadows, announcing the first ad buy in its three-year history to bear its own name. The $3 million Freedom Partners television ad buy will target Democrats running for reelection in five states over their support of the Affordable Care Act.

    The decision to put its name on the ads represents a massive shift in Freedom Partners’ strategy, which previously saw it quietly playing Daddy Warbucks for member groups competing for grants and financing ad campaigns through more public organizations.The conservative advocacy group Americans

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  • Ryan budget offers Democrats a life raft for midterm messaging

    Rough seas ahead

    For House Democrats, the immediate future appears bleak: The implementation of President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul has done little to lift public opinion of the law, and independent analysts say with confidence that Republicans will remain in control of the lower chamber through 2016. Lately, Republicans are feeling so good about their chances this fall that they’ve even begun predicting a party takeover of the Senate.

    But despondent Democrats see a glimmer of hope this week in the House Republican budget plan crafted by Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan, a document that slashes domestic spending on social programs so severely that Democrats plan to rally their base around it in hopes it will lead to smaller losses in November.

    Ryan’s budget, his last before his term ends as head of the Budget Committee, would slash about $5 trillion in federal spending over 10 years, repeal the Affordable Care Act and reduce spending on domestic programs — including nutrition and education — to their

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  • Republicans confident about Senate takeover

    But would midterm success translate to a GOP presidential victory in 2016?

    RNC Chairman Reince Priebus (Michael Bonfigli/The Christian Science Monitor)

    One year ago this week, the Republican National Committee released a wide-ranging audit of the party’s campaign operations aimed at finding out what went wrong during election 2012, when Democrats trounced Republicans for the second straight presidential cycle.

    The document, called "Growth and Opportunity Project," outlined deep-seated problems with the party's approach. It recommended that GOP committees build a permanent field presence around the country, particularly in areas with large minority populations. It said the GOP needed to beef up the party's digital and data operations. During presidential election season, the party should limit the number of debates, shorten the electoral calendar and hold the convention earlier, the report recommended.

    Now, a year after the group of long-standing Republican operatives drafted their best recommendations for the party's future success, Republicans are touting advancements in their ground, technology and data operations. The RNC has

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  • A day in the life of a marijuana lobbyist

    Big Pot goes to Washington

    (Mathew Sumner/Reuters)

    In the center of the crowded basement cafeteria of the Rayburn House Office Building on Capitol Hill, Big Pot’s mobile war room was humming.

    While hundreds of congressional staffers lunched around them, a group of foot soldiers in the effort to legalize marijuana stood over a rectangular table cluttered with plates of sushi and documents, busily stuffing white folders with literature about the need for the federal government to change the nation’s cannabis laws. Each folder, which would be delivered to a congressional office on one of the floors above, needed a primer on bills that had been introduced to reform banking and tax laws for the cannabis industry, a letter urging co-sponsorship of the bills, a position paper from Grover Norquist’s Americans for Tax Reform, and a New York Times story about the burgeoning marijuana industry.

    It was the final hours of a two-day Washington, D.C., blitz by the National Cannabis Industry Association, the 3-year-old lobbying arm of the country’s

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  • Florida's special election wasn’t a bellwether; it was an Obamacare messaging test

    Republican David Jolly defeated Democrat Alex Sink Tuesday.

    With a few exceptions, the national implications of House special elections are almost always overblown, hyped by partisans and over-analyzed by the media. The victory Tuesday of Republican David Jolly over Democrat Alex Sink in Florida’s thirteenth congressional district wasn't an exception, but it served as a test-case messaging gurus on both sides of the aisle can use to inform future contests.

    The GOP used the race to test how best to pummel Democrats with anti-Obamacare messaging. Democrats aggressively worked to place one of their own in a seat that has been filled by a Republican since the Nixon Era.

    Republicans see the victory as a clue to how messaging against Obamacare—and candidates who support it—can work in November. Republicans filled the airways with anti-Sink ads that attempt to tie her to the law, which she supported.

    Most voters in the district are registered as Republicans, but they aren’t reliably so. Despite consistently re-electing Republicans to the House, a

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  • CPAC after dark

    The real Conservative Political Action Conference starts when the sun sets

    (Tea Party Express)

    On his knees in a suit and tie, a man on a hotel balcony pressed his lips to the snout of an elephant-shaped ice sculpture, waiting for his friend to pour a shot of Fireball whiskey into a hole at the top, which would carry the liquor through a chilling tunnel, down an icy channel, and into his waiting throat. “Ready?” the pourer asked, and tipped the bottle. The golden liquid streamed from the top of the mammoth’s head, down the trunk, and into the open mouth of the man below. He slurped it up and basked.

    The pachyderm had been discreetly wheeled, hidden beneath a blanket and undetected, through the crowded lobby of the Gaylord National Resort & Conference Center to the seventh-floor hospitality suite rented for the weekend by College Republicans, which served as a hub for young men and women of the Conservative Political Action Conference.

    Upon reaching the suite's balcony, the ice sculptor lifted the fabric and unveiled his handiwork: a shimmering block of ice carved in the shape

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  • Here's all the weird stuff people did at CPAC when the speeches got boring

    It never gets old

    There's some weird stuff at CPAC.

    (Chris Moody/Yahoo News)

    Like an old lady arm wrestling a guy in camo.

    (Chris Moody/Yahoo News)

    Or this fine shelf.

    (Chris Moody/Yahoo News)


    Wait ... something's not quite right here.

    (David Martosko/The Daily Mail)

    Out in the hallway, you'll find Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus doing outreach to the #Millennials.

    (Chris Moody/Yahoo News)

    And Ronald Reagan is everywhere.

    (Chris Moody/Yahoo News)

    Here he is supporting manufacturing.

    (Chris Moody/Yahoo News)

     And this fundraising company.

    (Chris Moody/Yahoo News)

    Oh no! This gay beaver is going to make Reagan fall down!

    (Chris Moody/Yahoo News)

    They are among us...

    (Chris Moody/Yahoo News)

    Safer for Reagan to be on top of this proper conservative bookshelf.

    (Chris Moody/Yahoo News)


    (Chris Moody/Yahoo News)

    Speaking of picking up hotties...

    (Chris Moody/Yahoo News)

    If T-Shirts aren't your thing, you can always dress like this guy.


    (Chris Moody/Yahoo News)

    Be sure your breath is fresh before practicing your #CPACPickupLines.

    (Chris Moody/Yahoo News)

    This board could sure use a little love.

    (Chris Moody/Yahoo News)

    While at CPAC, you'll want to take some time to dwell on the past.

    (Chris Moody/Yahoo News)

    Remember these guys?

    (Chris Moody/Yahoo News)

    Seems like everyone around here has a cardboard cutout. There's William F. Buckley!

    (Chris Moody/Yahoo News)

    Don't be so stiff, Rand!

    (Chris Moody/Yahoo News)

     After your picture with

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  • It's not over for Chris Christie and Marco Rubio

    Among the conservative faithful, redemption is in sight

    During his address to the 2014 Conservative Political Action Conference, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie called on Republicans to start talking about what they are for rather than what they are against. (AP)

    NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. — In today's conservative movement, there’s room for second acts.

    The search for redemption — and the possibility of forgiveness — was on full display here on Thursday at the Conservative Political Action Conference, where a lineup of possible future Republican presidential contenders paraded their strengths in front of more than a thousand right-wing activists. Texas Sen. Ted Cruz kicked off the morning with a punchy, one-liner-heavy address. Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan embraced the disunity within the Republican Party as a “family reunion.” Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal questioned the intelligence of the U.S. president. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie called on Republicans to be more aggressive (like him!). And Florida Sen. Marco Rubio showed off his foreign policy chops.

    For Christie and Rubio, especially, there were lingering questions about how warmly conferencegoers would welcome them at the nation's foremost convention of conservatives.

    Both have had a tumultuous

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  • John Bolton's address to conservatives was heavy on 2016 talk

    The former UN Ambassador John Bolton stokes rumors of a presidential run.

    NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. — Former United Nations Ambassador John Bolton stoked rumors that he’s considering a presidential run on Thursday when he a took direct shot at possible Democratic presidential contender Hillary Clinton and said foreign policy — Bolton’s professional forte — should be at the center of the next election.

    Speaking to thousands of Republican activists at the Conservative Political Action Conference here, Bolton, who served as U.N. ambassador under former President George W. Bush, said foreign policy should play an outsized role in future political debates. Bolton cited the attack on the American compound in Benghazi and called out Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton by name in his address.

    “Under Barack Obama, you can murder his personal representative and get away scot-free,” he said of the Benghazi attack, which left four Americans dead, including Libyan Ambassador J. Christopher Stephens. “We would be happy to tell Hillary Clinton in unmistakable terms we

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  • With 'film' series, GOP looks to tell Senate candidates' personal stories

    Especially before Democrats beat them to the punch

    Screenshot from GOP Senate film on Arkansas candidate Tom Cotton.

    The conventional wisdom after the 2012 presidential election held that Mitt Romney faltered, in part, because President Barack Obama successfully defined him early in the contest and established a narrative about Romney that he was never able to recover from.

    Whether you buy that storyline or not, Republicans don’t want to risk a repeat during the congressional midterm contests. With nine months before voters cast ballots across the country, the National Republican Senatorial Committee wants to tell the personal story of its own candidates before Democrats beat them to the punch. It wants to define Republican candidates first.

    To accomplish this, the NRSC sent in-house filmmaker Dain Valverde on the road with a camera to shoot a series of mini “documentaries” about six GOP U.S. Senate candidates. The final product, which Yahoo News viewed at NRSC headquarters in Washington, is a well-produced piece of Republican agitprop designed to showcase the candidates at their best. It’s also a

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