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Hannity, Guilfoyle and Cupp Engage In Rank Speculation To Suggest David Axelrod Guilty Of Ethics Violations

Reported by Ellen - August 21, 2009 -

Last night (8/20/09), for the second night in a row, Sean Hannity crowed about a “brewing White House scandal” that the health care debate “is making some Democrats very rich.” He was referring to health care reform ads by the former firms of Obama advisor David Axelrod. Hannity was joined in the attacks by the panel of twin thinkers, columnist S.E. Cupp and Fox News host Kimberly Guilfoyle. None of the three had any real evidence of wrongdoing and, in fact, Axelrod has already gotten a pass from the Office of Government Ethics, which is headed by a Bush appointee. But each of the three repeatedly suggested, without putting forth any validating information, that Axelrod had committed some kind of transgression. There was no guest to balance the unfounded accusations. With video.

As Politico has reported, Axelrod’s buyout agreements (which grant him funds that, presumably, could come from the health care reform ads) with his former firms were “cleared by the independent Office of Government Ethics, which is headed by a director appointed in 2006 to a five-year term by former President George W. Bush.”

Yet Guilfoyle, in the first video below, never bothered to explain what information she had that the Office of Government Ethics did not. She could hardly wait until Hannity finished asking his first question, “Is this beyond the appearance of impropriety?” before she grabbed the spotlight, waved her arms in the air and asked melodramatically, “What happened to change you can believe in?” Wagging her finger at the camera, she added, “Wake up, America! This does not pass the smell test.” Yet the only thing she seemed to smell was her own rank speculation. “This guy is still owed $2 million. Well, if they don’t have new business coming in, and they’re not generating capital, how are they gonna pay him the money that they owe him?”

Guilfoyle never offered any hard facts about whether or not the company needs the health care ads in order to pay Axelrod. Perhaps that’s because they appear not to. Politico reported,

AKPD is now owned by a group of consultants who helped steer Obama’s campaign, mostly while working at the firm, and ASK is owned Axelrod’s former partners there. Both firms will pay his buyouts in preset annual installments starting at the end of this year, terms that were settled on prior to Axelrod’s White House service.

AKPD officials declined to speak publicly about the arrangement, but a source familiar with the firm’s operations and finances said it is not reliant on the revenue from the Healthy Economy Now and Americans for Stable Quality Care campaigns to fulfill Axelrod’s annual payments, which the source described as “a fraction” of AKPD’s operating costs.


Guilfoyle went on to ask rhetorically, “Why are you trying to pull the wool over our eyes?” Guilfoyle put forth no information of any specific wrongdoing by Axelrod or the White House. Her theatrical but hollow accusations suggested she was the one pulling the wool over the viewers’ eyes.

Cupp asked, “Is he (Axelrod) violating federal law?” She acknowledged that much more information would be needed in order to answer the question. But that didn’t stop her from insinuating guilt anyway. “This is potentially much bigger than just campaign impropriety.”

As it turns out, Guilfoyle is an attorney, “You do get into a legal issue,” she said. But she either knew nothing about the “legal issue” or else she didn’t want to discuss it. She immediately changed the subject to attacking Democrats and implying more guilt. “If this was a past administration (her hands waved in the air again), the Democrats would already be calling for a special prosecutor to be appointed, saying this is ‘absolutely outrageous, criminal conduct, there should be a full blown investigation.’ So I think that it should be fully vetted.”

Guilfoyle went on to distort the facts by saying, “They’re saying, ‘Look, he did everything he could to comply with the strict ethic standards that apply here.’ But it doesn’t really seem that way. It seems pretty obvious to me, this is transparent, in fact, that I think there is some overlapping of networking and relationships that is improper because it’s all about doing this grass roots, this astroturfing, for the Obama Care legislation.” Once again, lots of insinuation, no hard facts and while it “doesn’t really seem” to Guilfoyle that ethical standards were met, it did seem that way to the Office of Government Ethics, headed by a Bush administration appointee. Funny how Guilfoyle forgot to mention that.

Later that night, the subject was revisited by On The Record (the second video below). Greta Van Susteren interviewed Fox News contributor Jeff Birnbaum who stated unequivocally, “There’s no ethics problem.” He went on to compare Axelrod’s divestment to Dick Cheney’s from Halliburton. Funny how Fox News showed little to no interest in Cheney’s ties to Halliburton yet the Axelrod situation has popped up at least four times (it was also discussed on The O’Reilly’s Factor) in two days. Yet while Cheney could have been seen to have a financial stake in a national policy he promoted, Axelrod’s financial stake, such as it is, is in a national campaign, the same campaign he is promoting as Obama’s advisor. Not surprisingly, neither Van Susteren nor Birnbaum noted the difference.