Who Is Really Manipulating Election Results?

Who Is Really Manipulating Election Results?

Orange County election stands await voters inside the Honda Center, which has been converted into a polling place, in Anaheim, Calif., on Sept. 16, 2020. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

John Moorlach

John Moorlach

6/5/2024

Updated: 6/5/2024

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Commentary
While the world is reacting to the Trump verdicts, it strikes me as odd that it would be out of the ordinary to realize how much is done in government and society behind the scenes for self-serving reasons. It should not be a surprise, especially when it comes to politicians and their campaigns. But if we’re going after one individual, there are plenty more to pursue.
One tragic example is governmental employees. They literally control who is elected to be their bosses through the influence of their public employee unions. The amount of money spent by this nation’s public employee political action committees to influence the outcome of elections is a crying shame. They use their financial largesse to keep pliable individuals in office, while uncaringly destroying the reputations of any candidate seeking office to provide some fiscal sanity.
I like to remind people that, “when money talks, the truth is silent.” I even did a documentary on the tenth anniversary of the Orange County bankruptcy filing using this title.
Another disappointing example is newspapers and magazines. Let me give you an Orange County story. Thirty years ago, my campaign challenging the incumbent Orange County Treasurer-Tax Collector Robert L. “Bob” Citron drew national media attention.
During the campaign, which started in mid-March of 1994 and concluded on June 7, Forbes Magazine sent a photographer to Orange County and had one of their reporters write a story about Mr. Citron. Somehow, it was never published. Later in the year, Merrill Lynch, a major Forbes advertiser, was accused of threatening to pull advertisements if the piece was printed.
When I had a chance to confront the reporter, he denied ever doing the story and accused me of smoking something. Even when I had received a facsimile from him, which in those early days included the details of who and where the fax came from at the top of the printout.
On Jan. 16, 1996, the Los Angeles Times published an Associated Press article, titled “Fortune Article Goes After Rival Forbes—Publishing: Magazine accuses Forbes of showing favoritism to advertisers. Editor Steve Forbes calls the charges ‘horse manure.’”
It stated, “Forbes magazine has put its biggest advertisers off-limits to tough editorial criticism by its writers and has watered down unfavorable stories on others, Fortune magazine says in an unusually high-profile attack on a rival publication.”
I must say that, based on personal experience, this Republican is grateful that Mr. Forbes did not do well with his presidential aspirations that year.
It’s hard to say if one media source could make much of a difference in an election. But Mr. Forbes’ publication could have added credibility to what was going on in Orange County, perhaps reducing its eventual investment and resulting litigation losses of more than $1.6 billion.
When President Donald Trump is accused of having financial influence over David Pecker, the former CEO of American Media Inc., then-owner of the National Enquirer, it should not be a shocker. This form of persuasion has been going on for decades. And I didn’t see Mr. Forbes put on trial over it or Merrill Lynch brought to account over it.
One serious force impacting my opponent that surfaced after Orange County filed for Chapter 9 bankruptcy protection, was the scrutiny the Securities and Exchange Commission was paying to Citron’s investment strategy. On Jan. 16, 1996, the Orange County Register ran a story on Citron’s reaction, titled “Citron turned to spin masters—Politics: Grand jury testimony provides an unusual glimpse into county government,” by Chris Knap, a reporter who was a victim of the spin doctors. The manipulation by Citron’s allies detailed in the piece apparently worked. Here are a few selected paragraphs:
“The consultants did their work so well that the public, and most public officials, never learned how accurate challenger John Moorlach’s charges were and how concerned federal officials at the Securities and Exchange Commission were until just days before the bankruptcy.
“Consultants wrote Citron’s ballot statement. They counseled him not to debate or respond to Moorlach’s charges. And they instructed him how to report contributions from Merrill Lynch and Co. so they wouldn’t be noticed.
“Merrill Lynch’s [local Orange County] lobbyists [David Ellis and Scott Hart] ghostwrote an endorsement letter and persuaded Board Chairman Thomas F. Riley to sign it.
“[Sixteen-year lobbyist, formerly an aide to Supervisors Robert Battin and Ralph Diedrich—both sent to jail for political corruption—Lyle] Overby testified that Citron seemed to have an inflated view of what Merrill Lynch would do for him in the campaign, saying the giant brokerage would raise $120,000, pressure the Republican Party into ‘lightening up on him,’ and get an endorsement letter from Riley.”
The Los Angeles Times corroborated the efforts in a similar story, titled “Tracing Merrill’s Role in Citron Campaign,” years later on Aug. 2, 1998. It even referred to the Forbes interview “which was never published.” When money talks, the truth is silent.
In the late fall of 1994, Merrill Lynch employees were laughing their heads off about how their firm was able to pull the story from Forbes Magazine. Although Citron would win the election, he would resign in disgrace shortly after the county’s bankruptcy filing. Merrill Lynch would later settle litigation filed by the county for more than $400 million.
In conclusion, many different forces could be manipulating you whenever you read local newspapers, news outlets, campaign direct mail pieces, social media, and other communication sources. That’s why you need to be diligent and do thorough research.
Because most registered voters in California who go to the polls have been affected, we now have the government leadership in the state of California that we do. And good people who have seen enough are voting with their feet by moving to nearby states. I would blame the financial forces that brought Sacramento to where it is today, the public employee unions, and biased media. Fixing the Golden State starts with better informed residents who can see through bought and paid for bad actors.
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John Moorlach

John Moorlach

Author

John Moorlach is the director of the California Policy Center's Center for Public Accountability. He has served as a California State Senator and Orange County Supervisor and Treasurer-Tax Collector. In 1994, he predicted the County's bankruptcy and participated in restoring and reforming the sixth most populated county in the nation.

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