Posted on | September 2, 2012 | 39 Comments
Brett Kimberlin could have been sentenced to 230 years in federal prison
Brett Kimberlin’s non-profit 501(c)4 Velvet Revolution is part of an apparent effort to destroy Mitt Romney’s online rapid-response team by targeting Bill Murphy, a young Internet operative who has helped improve the campaign’s social-media presence.
In an item posted Saturday on the Democratic Underground site, Velvet Revolution promoted an article accusing Murphy of “fraud” for his role earlier this year in the National Bloggers Club.
Formed in February at the annual “Blog Bash” during the Conservative Political Action Conference, the club honored Andrew Breitbart with one of its first awards and has helped defend bloggers targeted by Kimberlin’s lawsuits and other harassment. During last week’s Republican National Convention, the club co-sponsored a “Blog Bash” that featured former RNC chairman Haley Barbour and a guest list that included Rep. Joe Wilson (R-S.C.), Michael Barone of the Washington Examiner, Amy Kremer of Tea Party Express, author Katie Pavlich and CNN contributor Dana Loesch.
Kimberlin, who spent 17 years in federal prison for his role in a weeklong bombing spree that terrorized an Indiapolis suburb, has gained renewed notoriety for his “lawfare” harassment of conservative bloggers. In May, Kimberlin and his associate Neal Rauhauser were among those identified by Patrick “Patterico” Frey as suspected of being involved in a “SWATting” hoax that sent police to Frey’s residence.
In June, 85 Republican members of Congress signed a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder requesting an investigation of the use of “SWATting” as a political intimidation tactic:
Investigators have concluded that the majority of SWAT-ting cases utilize voice over Internet (VOIP) connections between the suspect’s computer and a distant telephone network, and then dialing 911. This enables the suspect to falsify their identifying information, such as their telephone number and address, and make it nearly impossible for emergency dispatchers to identify or track the true origin of the call, or even pin-point calls from VOIP connections.
Some of these calls involve embellished schemes, including armed suspects and hostages, and in some instances, the caller claims that he has just killed someone. Moreover, the caller knowingly uses the identifying information of another person, who is usually an adversary of the caller. This elaborate hoax is all done with the goal of having law enforcement swarm the home of the caller’s foe, which only incites fear in and tarnishes the reputation of an innocent person.
Even worse, SWAT-ting is quickly becoming a scare tactic used against political bloggers, essentially stifling those bloggers’ First Amendment rights. Just last month, a popular blogger in the state of Georgia, Erick Erickson, became the latest victim of SWAT-ting. During the Erickson’s family dinner, sheriff’s deputies were dispatched to Erickson’s home after receiving a 911 call reporting an accidental shooting that appeared to have come from Erickson’s address.
In 2010, Kimberlin’s Velvet Revolution non-profit launched an “Indict Breitbart” campaign, accusing the Internet news entrepreneur of criminality. Breitbart fired back with a 3,600-word article by Mandy “Liberty Chick” Nagy that exposed Kimberlin’s criminal past as a major drug smuggler who became notorious as Indiana’s “Speedway Bomber.”
In 1981, Kimberlin was sentenced to 50 years in federal prison, but served only about a third of that sentence before his release in 2001. Within four years, Kimberlin had formed two non-profits — Velvet Revolution and the Justice Through Music Project — that have collected more than $2 million in donations, including contributions from the Tides Foundation, the Barbra Streisand Foundation and the Heinz Foundation.
Last year, Kimberlin’s online efforts were augmented by his alliance with Neal Rauhauser, a consultant to Democrat candidates who was a speaker at the 2010 Netroots Nation conference sponsored by the liberal Daily Kos site. Rauhauser has described his role as “solving problems in the social media work space for political campaigns and causes.” Several conservatives have begun to suspect that Kimberlin and Rauhauser are part of a Democrat-backed attempt to impede conservative New Media efforts in the 2012 election cycle, replicating in many ways the 2010 online harassment campaign against Tea Party activists that became notorious as “TwitterGate.”
Rauhauser has a habit of promoting farfetched conspiracy theories. When Democrat Rep. Anthony Weiner was caught in a cybersex scandal last year, Rauhauser (writing at Daily Kos under his “Stranded Wind” alias) claimed that Weiner was the victim of an Oklahoma-based “Christian Infowar Militia.”
More recently, Rauhauser has accused Kimberlin’s critics of being part of elaborate conspiracies. In February, Rauhauser sent to law enforcement agencies a massive cache of documents with a summary article titled, “Breitbart’s ISR Cell?” That article alleged that Andrew Breitbart and others, including Frey, were part of an organized plot involving the security firm HBGary.
In June, Rauhauser sent a series of e-mails to a Republican congressional staffer asserting that the SWATting of conservative bloggers were part of a “complex fabrication from the Breitbart camp.” Rauhauser accused Breitbart.com contributor Brandon Darby of being the “true source” of the illegal fake 911 calls. Rauhauser subsequently forwarded those e-mails to some of Darby’s associates, along with a thousand-word document that outlined a bizarre conspiracy theory involving Darby as well as the GOP consulting firm Hynes Communications.
Raushauser’s mention of the firm, run by conservative New Media strategist Patrick Hynes, was apparently an effort to involve the Romney campaign in a smear against Darby and others on Rauhauser’s enemies list. This connect-the-dots tactic has now been extended to Murphy, who joined the Romney campaign in June after working for two months as a volunteer with the National Bloggers Club.
The article highlighted Saturday by Kimberlin’s Velvet Revolution was written by Alex Brant-Zawadzki, a Huffington Post blogger and graduate student at the University of San Francisco. Brant-Zawadzki has frequently assailed the Tea Party movement as “neo-Nazis” and “teabaggers.”
Brant-Zawadzki’s article (“Romney Staffer Committing Charitable Fraud“) refers to the American Liberty Alliance, a Tea Party-oriented project launched by Eric Odom in 2009 that was subsequently dissolved, as well as the National Bloggers Club, as points of association between Murphy and Ali Akbar, a conservative New Media strategist who is president of the National Bloggers Club. Brant-Zawadzki’s claim that the club is a “fraud” appears to be based entirely on the fact that the non-profit has not yet filed its first report with the Internal Revenue Service. Yet as Akbar has explained, the club was only organized in February of this year, and has up to one full year to report its activities to the IRS.
Brant-Zawadski has multiple online connections to Neal Rauhauser, and his article about Murphy was based in part on research by Ron Brynaert, who accused Brant-Zawadski of “ripping me off.” Brynaert, along with Kimberlin and Rauhauser, was named by Frey as suspected of complicity in Frey’s July 2011 SWATTing.
UPDATE: Welcome, Instapundit readers!