During a report on the fallout from Sen. Larry Craig's guilty plea for misdemeanor disorderly conduct, NBC's Lisa Myers reported that Tony Perkins says "value voters have lost faith in the Republican Party and warns that Republicans had better be sure their members are living up to pro-family rhetoric." In doing so, Myers joined other media figures in advancing the myth that social conservatives are more concerned with "values" than other voters.
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In an August 30 report on NBC's Today regarding the Republican reaction to Sen. Larry Craig's (R-ID) August 8 guilty plea on charges of misdemeanor disorderly conduct following his June 11 arrest during an investigation of "lewd conduct" in a restroom at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, NBC News senior investigative correspondent Lisa Myers reported that Family Research Council president Tony Perkins "says value voters have lost faith in the Republican Party and warns that Republicans had better be sure their members are living up to pro-family rhetoric." Through her paraphrase of Perkins, Myers joined other media figures in advancing the myth that social conservatives are more concerned with "values" than other voters. Like The New York Times' Sheryl Gay Stolberg and MSNBC host Chris Matthews, she also cited Perkins as a representative of "value[s] voters," without noting his reported ties to both the white nationalist Council of Conservative Citizens (CCC) and former Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard David Duke.
Media Matters for America has noted reports in the media and by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) that Perkins met with the Louisiana CCC in May 2001. The SPLC characterizes the CCC as a "white nationalist" organization and has reported that the group is "the reincarnation of the racist White Citizens Councils of the 1950s and 1960s."
Furthermore, while managing Republican state Rep. Louis E. "Woody" Jenkins' 1996 campaign for the U.S. Senate, Perkins paid $82,500 to use former Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard David Duke's phone bank for Jenkins' run-off election with Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA). Jenkins was later fined $3,000 by the Federal Elections Commission (FEC) for "knowingly and willfully fil[ing] false disclosure reports showing Courtney Communications as the vendor" for services that were actually provided by a company called Impact Mail Ltd. The February 2002 FEC conciliation agreement noted that Perkins entered into a contract with Impact Mail after Duke recommended its services to Jenkins.
From the FEC conciliation agreement:
After the 1996 primary election in Louisiana, David Duke contacted Woody Jenkins and recommended that he use the services of a computerized phone bank system run by Impact Mail. Jenkins purchased several rounds of calls from Impact Mail. After the first round of calls, Jenkins began hearing complaints that Duke's name would appear on the caller ID when a phone bank message would arrive. At that point, Jenkins tried to cancel the transaction but was unable to because Tony Perkins, his campaign manager, had signed a contract with Impact Mail. Subsequently, Jenkins instructed Perkins to put a stop payment on the check issued to Impact Mail and directed that Impact Mail be paid through Courtney Communications, the campaign's media firm. The Jenkins committee issued three $27,500 checks to Courtney. Courtney, in turn, made out three checks in the same amount to Impact Mail.
While Perkins and other high-profile conservatives are often treated as representative of those conservative voters whom the media characterize as more concerned than others with family values, Washington Post staff writers Jonathan Weisman and Alan Cooperman, in a December 14, 2005, article, raised the question of what their "values" actually encompass, asking: "Why in recent years have conservative Christians asserted their influence on efforts to relieve Third World debt, AIDS in Africa, strife in Sudan and international sex trafficking -- but remained on the sidelines while liberal Christians protest domestic spending cuts?" The article quoted Perkins saying: "There is a [biblical] mandate to take care of the poor. ... But it does not say government should do it. That's a shifting of responsibility." The article also reported that Perkins "said the government's role should be to encourage charitable giving, perhaps through tax cuts."
From the August 30 edition of NBC's Today:
CRAIG: I am not gay. I never have been gay.
MYERS: Many said Craig's defiance and denials only compounded the damage to himself and his party.
PERKINS: It does appear that he may be covering up and that only makes matters worse.
MYERS: Tony Perkins, an influential social conservative, says value voters have lost faith in the Republican Party and warns that Republicans had better be sure their members are living up to pro-family rhetoric.
PERKINS: There needs to be, you know, some real evaluation and I think if people have things in the closet, they need to -- they need to clean out those closets.
MYERS: Some Republican strategists also fear that what some see as still another example of Washington hypocrisy could be the last straw for grassroots Republicans who already believe Republican leaders have abandoned party principles.
SCOTT REED (Republican strategist): The grassroots are as disenfranchised with the Republicans in Washington, as I've seen them in 25 years in national politics.