An Insider's Confession: David Kuo Blew The Whistle On `Faith-Based' Fraud
Rob Boston printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Mon Apr 08, 2013 at 02:18:57 PM EST

There is some sad news to report today: On Friday, David Kuo died. He was only 44 and had been battling an aggressive brain tumor.

You might remember Kuo from the George W. Bush presidency. He came to Washington in 2001 as an idealistic conservative foot soldier hoping to help the poor through the "faith-based" initiative. Two years later, he left disillusioned, convinced that the initiative was little more than a partisan political stunt.

 In 2006, Kuo penned a book about his experiences titled Tempting Faith: An Inside Story of Political Seduction. Its revelations were explosive. Kuo maintained that the initiative was cynically manipulated by White House operatives in 2002 and 2004 to help the Republican Party solidify control of Congress.

Kuo, who was the number two man in the faith-based office, was privy to many of these discussions. He detailed one meeting with James Towey, then director of the faith-based office, and Ken Mehlman, then White House political director. The three discussed ways to use the initiative to excite religious voters.

"We laid out a plan whereby we would hold `roundtable events' for threatened incumbents with faith and community leaders," Kuo wrote. "Our office would do the work, using the aura of our White House power to get a diverse group of faith and community leaders to a `nonpartisan' event discussing how best to help poor people in their area. Though the Republican candidate would host the roundtable, it wouldn't be a campaign event. The member of Congress was just taking time away from his or her campaign to serve the community. It would be the perfect event."

There was one problem: The events were really about helping endangered GOP candidates, not the poor. White House strategists had drawn up a list of 20 House and Senate targets, among them Saxby Chambliss in Georgia, Wayne Allard in Colorado and Tim Hutchinson in Ark­ansas, all seeking Senate seats. House candidates included Melissa Hart in Pennsylvania, Shelley Cap­ito in West Virginia, John Shimkus in Illinois and Anne Northup in Kentucky.

Towey subsequently appeared alongside many of the candidates at the events, and during the "conferences," local clergy were led to believe that they could qualify for significant government grants. A special outreach was made to African-American clergy.

On Election Day, 19 of the 20 targeted candidates won.

Kuo's book merely confirmed a pattern that Americans United had picked up on 2002. We noticed that Towey was appearing alongside a lot of GOP House candidates who were in tight races and that he seemed to be implying that if the Republican were elected, faith-based money would follow. Church & State ran an investigative story on the matter in October of 2002. 

In his book, Kuo wrote that White House officials were happy to take the votes of right-wing evangelicals - even if they thought little of them.

"For most of the rest of the White House staff, evangelical leaders were people to be tolerated, not people who were truly welcomed," Kuo wrote. "No group was more eye-rolling about Christians than the political affairs shop. They knew `the nuts' were politically invaluable, but that was the extent of their usefulness."

Continued Kuo, "National Chris­tian leaders received hugs and smiles in person and then were dismissed behind their backs and described as `ridiculous,' `out of control,' and just plain `goofy.' The leaders spent much time lauding the president, but they were never shrewd enough to do what Billy Graham had done three decades before, to wonder whether they were just being used. They were."

Kuo might have thought his book would serve as an alarm to the Religious Right and perhaps a warning that they were being used. That didn't happen. So beholden to Bush were Religious Right leaders that they quickly aimed at Kuo and opened fire.

"I feel sorry for him, because once you do something like this, you get your 15 minutes in the spotlight, but then after that nobody will touch you," Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, told The Washington Post. "These kiss-and-tell books do more damage to the author than to the people they attack."

Perkins' boss, James Dobson, then of Focus on the Family, called Kuo's book "a mix of sour grapes and political timing." The late Charles Colson of Prison Fellowship said he was "shocked and disappointed by what appears to be political timing to sell a book, and a very unfair characterization of the parties involved."

Asked about Kuo's allegations by The Wall Street Journal, longtime Religious Right strategist Paul Weyrich, who has since died, was dismissive.

"David Kuo?" he mocked. "Who is he? The person at the White House I talk to every week is Tim Goeglein. I know he does not ridicule us."

To answer Weyrich's question, David Kuo was a man who wanted to do some good for the country by assisting those most in need: the poor. When he saw that the faith-based initiative wasn't about that, he blew the whistle.

Kuo had more integrity in his little finger than the leaders of the Religious Right have in their entire bodies. His early death is tragic, and he will be missed.




Display:

From Karen Tumulty's obituary of David Kuo:

"John David Kuo was born June 26, 1968, in New York. His father, John T. Kuo, was an immigrant from Hangzhou, China, and is a professor emeritus of geophysics at Columbia University. His mother, the former Marilyn Dunlap, is a homemaker originally from Phoenix.

An evangelical Christian since high school, the younger Mr. Kuo considered himself a liberal when he was attending college in the late 1980s at Tufts University in Massachusetts. He interned for Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.).

After his girlfriend became pregnant and the couple opted for an abortion, Mr. Kuo said, his remorse led him to become an anti-abortion activist. He was also drawn to the political
energy of the religious right in those years.

He moved to Washington after his college graduation in 1990, and he briefly worked for the CIA. Then he became a speechwriter and policy adviser for prominent conservatives, including then-Sen. John D. Ashcroft (R-Mo.), televangelist Pat Robertson and former education secretary William J. Bennett."

David Kuo worked for and enabled John Ashcroft, Pat Robertson, and William J. Bennett. Did he ever apologize for any of that?


by nogodsnomasters on Thu Apr 11, 2013 at 02:11:43 PM EST


Whatever he did, he tried to redeem himself.  May he rest in peace.  Without the cancer that took him away, he might have been a force for good in this world.

by rdrjames on Sun Apr 14, 2013 at 10:03:38 PM EST


WWW Talk To Action


Cognitive Dissonance & Dominionism Denial
There is new research on why people are averse to hearing or learning about the views of ideological opponents. Based on evaluation of five......
By Frederick Clarkson (155 comments)
Will the Air Force Do Anything To Rein In Its Dynamic Duo of Gay-Bashing, Misogynistic Bloggers?
"I always get nervous when I see female pastors/chaplains. Here is why everyone should as well: "First, women are not called to be pastors,......
By Chris Rodda (40 comments)
The Legacy of Big Oil
The media is ablaze with the upcoming publication of David Grann's book, Killers of the Flower Moon. The shocking non fiction account of the......
By wilkyjr (30 comments)
Gimme That Old Time Dominionism Denial
Over the years, I have written a great deal here and in other venues about the explicitly theocratic movement called dominionism -- which has......
By Frederick Clarkson (35 comments)
History Advisor to Members of Congress Completely Twists Jefferson's Words to Support Muslim Ban
Pseudo-historian David Barton, best known for his misquoting of our country's founders to promote the notion that America was founded as a Christian nation,......
By Chris Rodda (34 comments)
"Christian Fighter Pilot" Calls First Lesbian Air Force Academy Commandant a Liar
In a new post on his "Christian Fighter Pilot" blog titled "BGen Kristin Goodwin and the USAFA Honor Code," Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Jonathan......
By Chris Rodda (32 comments)
Catholic Right Leader Unapologetic about Call for 'Death to Liberal Professors' -- UPDATED
Today, Donald Trump appointed C-FAM Executive Vice President Lisa Correnti to the US Delegation To UN Commission On Status Of Women. (C-FAM is a......
By Frederick Clarkson (34 comments)
Controlling Information
     Yesterday I listened to Russ Limbaugh.  Rush advised listeners it would be best that they not listen to CNN,MSNBC, ABC, CBS and......
By wilkyjr (32 comments)
Is Bannon Fifth-Columning the Pope?
In December 2016 I wrote about how White House chief strategist Steve Bannon, who likes to flash his Catholic credentials when it comes to......
By Frank Cocozzelli (16 comments)
Ross Douthat's Hackery on the Seemingly Incongruous Alliance of Bannon & Burke
Conservative Catholic writer Ross Douthat has dissembled again. This time, in a February 15, 2017 New York Times op-ed titled The Trump Era's Catholic......
By Frank Cocozzelli (14 comments)
`So-Called Patriots' Attack The Rule Of Law
Every so often, right-wing commentator Pat Buchanan lurches out of the far-right fever swamp where he has resided for the past 50 years to......
By Rob Boston (18 comments)
Bad Faith from Focus on the Family
Here is one from the archives, Feb 12, 2011, that serves as a reminder of how deeply disingenuous people can be. Appeals to seek......
By Frederick Clarkson (44 comments)
The Legacy of George Wallace
"One need not accept any of those views to agree that they had appealed to real concerns of real people, not to mindless, unreasoning......
By wilkyjr (11 comments)
Betsy DeVos's Mudsill View of Public Education
My Talk to Action colleague Rachel Tabachnick has been doing yeoman's work in explaining Betsy DeVos's long-term strategy for decimating universal public education. If......
By Frank Cocozzelli (24 comments)
Prince and DeVos Families at Intersection of Radical Free Market Privatizers and Religious Right
This post from 2011 surfaces important information about President-Elect Trump's nominee for Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos. -- FC Erik Prince, Brother of Betsy......
By Rachel Tabachnick (33 comments)

Respect for Others? or Political Correctness?
The term "political correctness" as used by Conservatives and Republicans has often puzzled me: what exactly do they mean by it? After reading Chip Berlin's piece here-- http://www.talk2action.org/story/2016/7/21/04356/9417 I thought about what he explained......
MTOLincoln (49 comments)
Fear
What I'm feeling now is fear.  I swear that it seems my nightmares are coming true with this new "president".  I'm also frustrated because so many people are not connecting all the dots! I've......
ArchaeoBob (31 comments)
"America - love it or LEAVE!"
I've been hearing that and similar sentiments fairly frequently in the last few days - far FAR more often than ever before.  Hearing about "consequences for burning the flag (actions) from Trump is chilling!......
ArchaeoBob (30 comments)
"Faked!" Meme
Keep your eyes and ears open for a possible move to try to discredit the people openly opposing Trump and the bigots, especially people who have experienced terrorism from the "Right"  (Christian Terrorism is......
ArchaeoBob (72 comments)
More aggressive proselytizing
My wife told me today of an experience she had this last week, where she was proselytized by a McDonald's employee while in the store. ......
ArchaeoBob (28 comments)
See if you recognize names on this list
This comes from the local newspaper, which was conservative before and took a hard right turn after it was sold. Hint: Sarah Palin's name is on it!  (It's also connected to Trump.) ......
ArchaeoBob (32 comments)
Unions: A Labor Day Discussion
This is a revision of an article which I posted on my personal board and also on Dailykos. I had an interesting discussion on a discussion board concerning Unions. I tried to piece it......
Xulon (34 comments)
Extremely obnoxious protesters at WitchsFest NYC: connected to NAR?
In July of this year, some extremely loud, obnoxious Christian-identified protesters showed up at WitchsFest, an annual Pagan street fair here in NYC.  Here's an account of the protest by Pagan writer Heather Greene......
Diane Vera (25 comments)
Capitalism and the Attack on the Imago Dei
I joined this site today, having been linked here by Crooksandliars' Blog Roundup. I thought I'd put up something I put up previously on my Wordpress blog and also at the DailyKos. As will......
Xulon (23 comments)
History of attitudes towards poverty and the churches.
Jesus is said to have stated that "The Poor will always be with you" and some Christians have used that to refuse to try to help the poor, because "they will always be with......
ArchaeoBob (25 comments)
Alternate economy medical treatment
Dogemperor wrote several times about the alternate economy structure that dominionists have built.  Well, it's actually made the news.  Pretty good article, although it doesn't get into how bad people could be (have been)......
ArchaeoBob (26 comments)
Evidence violence is more common than believed
Think I've been making things up about experiencing Christian Terrorism or exaggerating, or that it was an isolated incident?  I suggest you read this article (linked below in body), which is about our great......
ArchaeoBob (27 comments)
Central Florida Sheriff Preached Sermon in Uniform
If anyone has been following the craziness in Polk County Florida, they know that some really strange and troubling things have happened here.  We've had multiple separation of church and state lawsuits going at......
ArchaeoBob (33 comments)
Demon Mammon?
An anthropologist from outer space might be forgiven for concluding that the god of this world is Mammon. (Or, rather, The Market, as depicted by John McMurtry in his book The Cancer Stage of......
daerie (34 comments)
Anti-Sharia Fever in Texas: This is How It Starts
The mayor of a mid-size Texan city has emerged in recent months as the newest face of Islamophobia. Aligning herself with extremists hostile to Islam, Mayor Beth Van Duyne of Irving, Texas has helped......
JSanford (30 comments)

More Diaries...




All trademarks and copyrights on this page are owned by their respective companies. Comments, posts, stories, and all other content are owned by the authors. Everything else 2005 Talk to Action, LLC.