The Raymond Ruddy Effect
Bill Berkowitz printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Mon Oct 13, 2008 at 11:26:26 AM EST
Conservative Catholic philanthropist funds attacks on Obama campaign and Planned Parenthood

As the presidential race winds down and attack ads against Sen. Barack Obama intensify, Raymond Ruddy, a multi-millionaire conservative Catholic who over the years has been more comfortable operating in the backrooms of conservative philanthropy, appears to be coming out of the closet. Despite being a longtime contributor to a host of conservative "culture war" causes - often relating to issues involving sexuality -- Ruddy hasn't made a lot of headlines. (As of Monday morning October 13, a simple Google search for "Raymond Ruddy" yielded only 4,660 results.)

However Ruddy's influence extends far beyond the paucity of Google hits and the few stories about him. The president of the Boston, Massachusetts-based Gerard Health Foundation and the Vice Chairman of the Board of Directors of Maximus, Inc. -- the giant Reston, Virginia-based services provider that pioneered welfare privatization - has committed himself big time to election year politics, turning up the heat on Obama. He is also fronting a project aimed at damaging the effectiveness of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America.

Well-connected Ruddy funds BornAliveTruth ads attacking Obama

Ruddy has "close ties to the White House, federal health officials and Republican power brokers that date back to [President George W. Bush's]  days as Texas governor," investigative reporter Mike Reynolds wrote in a May 2007 piece for The Nation titled "The Abstinence Gluttons." According to Reynolds, "Ruddy has leveraged his generous wallet and insider muscle to push an ultraconservative social agenda, enrich a preferred network of abstinence-only and antiabortion groups, boost profits for his company and line the pockets of his cronies--all with taxpayer dollars."

If it weren't for Ruddy's money, the anti-abortion group, BornAliveTruth.org, would not have been able to run television advertisements in several battleground states charging Obama with supporting infanticide. As the major donor to BornAliveTruth - a 527 that is allowed to raise money from individuals in unlimited amounts - Ruddy underwrote the organization's $338,000 ad buy in the battleground states of New Mexico and Ohio, Jill Stanek, the head of BornAliveTruth said in a recent telephone interview.

In early January of this year, in another quasi-public intervention -- Ruddy got involved in a controversy over the use of condoms to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS. Deal Hudson, a longtime well-connected Catholic Republican Party activist, reported that Ruddy had written a letter to Georgetown University President John J. DeGioia "asking him to disavow or retract a Georgetown report entitled `Faith Communities Engage the HIV/AIDS Crisis.'" According to Hudson, "The report, published in November [2007] Georgetown's Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, & World Affairs, criticizes faith-based approaches requiring changes in sexual behavior in fighting HIV/AIDS," and promotes the use of condoms, despite the teachings of the Catholic Church.  

Turning up the heat on Planned Parenthood

"Ray [Ruddy] is a rare leader who puts his money where his heart is, and he did much to win George Bush his presidency," Manuel Miranda, the Chairman of the conservative Third Branch Conference, told me in asn e-mail interview. Although Miranda maintained that Ruddy's "small financial support to social conservative efforts is eclipsed by the applied wealth of George Soros and Hollywood," the former backer of former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney also appears to be spearheading an effort - waged by a collection of Christian conservative organizations - aimed at putting Planned Parenthood out of business.

According to a recent report by OneNewsNow, a news service sponsored by Donald Wildmon's American Family Association, Ruddy is one of those "leading the call" for a federal investigation of Planned Parenthood claiming that the organization "may have fraudulently charged the federal government millions of dollars."

"Everybody, since Revolutionary times, has been billing the federal government at the cost -- that is the invoice cost to them, plus a fee," Ruddy explained. "Planned Parenthood in California -- and we suspect [other Planned Parenthood agencies] across the country -- has been billing at what they call their normal and customary rates."

"It looks to us, very much, that we found there are a separate set of rules for Planned Parenthood than the rest of us -- and there should not be. That's why the lawsuit was filed," he contended. "Hopefully the court will act on this, and everybody should be operating under the same set of rules."

Tait Sye, a spokesperson for Planned Parenthood, said he was not aware of either Ruddy or the new campaign by religious right groups against the health services group.

"As one of the leading providers of women's health care, we know firsthand the challenges facing American women and their families," Sye told me. "There is a health care crisis in this country: an estimated 45 million Americans are uninsured, access to affordable birth control has become difficult at best, one in four teenage girls has a sexually transmitted infection, and roughly 750,000 teenagers will become pregnant this year."

"Planned Parenthood provides millions of uninsured and underinsured women access to affordable health care. If these groups truly cared about women's health they would be spending their time and money trying to increase women's access to health care, not further restricting it," he said.

The new coalition of Christian right groups tackling Planned Parenthood is calling itself the National Coalition to Defeat Planned Parenthood. "In the past, there have been may local and statewide efforts to thwart Planned Parenthood, but what makes the National Coalition to Defeat Planned Parenthood special is that for the first time, the major pro-life groups around the country are coming together to implement a unified national action," said Eric Scheidler, communications director for the Chicago-based Pro-Life Action League, the group spearheading the coalition.  

Coalition members pledged to take the following steps to counter Planned Parenthood's nationwide expansion effort:

*    Mobilize pro-life supporters at the grassroots level wherever a new Planned Parenthood attempts to open its doors, following the model of action taken by the Pro-Life Action League and its supporters in Aurora, Ill.

*    Eliminate Planned Parenthood's government funding at the local, state and federal levels

*    Drastically reduce Planned Parenthood's corporate funding

*    Utilize media to expose Planned Parenthood's attack on women, children and families

*    Deprive Planned Parenthood of business and save unborn babies from abortion by expanding the pro-life presence at Planned Parenthood facilities

*    Safeguard the health and innocence of children by empowering parents and teachers to remove Planned Parenthood programs from their communities

*    Hold public officials accountable for enforcing all applicable laws, such as parental involvement and mandatory reporting of statutory rape

*    Call upon all people of faith and conscience to unite in prayer for an end to Planned Parenthood and its detrimental programs and policies.

Mike Reynolds pointed out that "One top Bush adviser left [the administration] to take a job at Ruddy's charity, Gerard Health Foundation, and a senior officer at Ruddy's for-profit company, Maximus, left to take a top-level position at the Department of Health and Human Services." In addition, "Leaders of Christian-right organizations that are Gerard grantees have gained advisory HHS positions--and their organizations have in turn received AIDS and abstinence grants to the tune of at least $25 million. Maximus itself has raked in more than $100 million in federal contracts during the Bush era."

Before the 1996 Welfare Reform Act, "Maximus was a $50 million-a-year enterprise," Reynolds reported. After its passage, "Maximus's earnings jumped to $105 million [and] [t]hree years later its revenues tripled." By 2007, Maximus was a "$700 million publicly traded global giant with more than 5,000 employees deployed across the nation and in Canada, Israel, Argentina and Egypt [with] ...  contracts with state governments to handle child-support collections, implement welfare-to-work and oversee managed care. For the Feds, Maximus handles collections on student loans and Medicaid appeals, manages the Social Security Ticket to Work program for the disabled and provides biometric `smart card' technology to the Secret Service, the Treasury, the IRS."

Ruddy retired as Chairman of the company in August 2001 in order to "devote more time to his personal interests," Business Wire reported at the time. Clearly, the defeat of Obama is one of Ruddy's chief "personal interests" these days.  




Display:

I sure never heard of this man before this. I can understand being unswervingly against abortion, though I disagree that we should be able to tell a woman what she can do with her own body, but it looks like Mr. Ruddy is using his outrage to shut down PP, which would mean more potential revenue for his company, for the women who still need health care and counseling. What a disgusting example of humanity.

So, the left has George Soros, supposedly funding every liberal movement in the US, while the right has how many high-financiers?



by trog69 on Tue Oct 14, 2008 at 01:30:47 PM EST


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