Monday, August 28, 2006

Competence Is So Overrated

The editor gave the column a block quote, a paraphrase of the last sentence of the next-to-last graf: "Talk radio callers seem more concerned about illegal immigration rather than gay gamblers seeking Internet porn and family planning services." CAP: Your go-to supposedly-biblical source for the latest right-wing absurdities on gays, gambling, and gynecology!

Governor's Race

East Valley Tribune, Aug. 27, 2006

The Roman playwright Terence, and centuries later Charles Dickens, both get credited with saying, "Charity begins at home." But in Len Munsil's household, charity begins at home -- and stays there. His motto: Nice work if you can get it, tax exempt.

Munsil's prior gig, before deciding to run for governor, was heading the Center for Arizona Policy. CAP applied for and received what's called recognition of tax-exempt status from the Internal Revenue Service. That means CAP gets all sorts of benefits under the tax code as a "social welfare organization." (And it also means that CAP's IRS filings are public records, available to any enterprising reporter, of which this market does not have a surplus.)


Heading CAP wasn't charity work; between 1997 and 2004, Munsil's compensation package exceeded $1.1 million, over $1 million in salary and another $117,000 in pension contributions. His salary in 2004 topped $200,000 -- and that's just his salary; over the years CAP also paid his wife more than $50,000 in salary and benefits.

A huge part of CAP's "social welfare" and "community benefit" mission was paying Len Munsil; his compensation package was almost half of CAP's total revenues in 1997, but he did grow the organization; despite his remuneration increasing by roughly 15 percent annually, his total compensation during the 1997-2004 period represented "only" an annual average of roughly 16 percent of CAP's revenues.

This is pretty amazing stuff for a humble nonprofit. But let me predict Munsil's reaction to accusations that he's less than charitable: He'll break out the "a Democrat attacked me!" card, as if the Lord spoke from Sinai saying, "Here are Ten Commandments -- but for Republicans, they're optional."

But when it comes to doing little but being paid lots for it, Munsil may be the most competent of the Republican gubernatorial candidates, and that ain't saying much. Quick: Name one thing any of the four GOP contenders has accomplished.

I'm waiting.

I'm still waiting, but let me note in the interim that at least Ned Lamont ('76) actually served in public office. Sure, he was a one-term town councilman in a wealthy Connecticut suburb, but compared to these blind men, he's the proverbial one-eyed king. As Lyndon Johnson once said, I'd feel better if any of these guys had run for dog catcher. Instead, they want to start out as governor, a job that normally doesn't come with training wheels.

Just ask Jesse Ventura. Next to this crowd, "The Body" -- who served as mayor of Brooklyn Park, Minnesota, before his one term as governor -- is a major political scientist.


Tribune opinion writer Le Templar knocked frontrunner Don Goldwater as needing more than a famous name, but at least he's jumped in with both feet with the immigration hard-liners. He won the coveted "Russell Pearce primary" for the endorsement of the state's most prominent anti-immigration politician. (Pearce is so anti-immigration that he even supported a proposal by Democrats Terry Goddard and Bill Brotherton that would have actually fined employers who hire illegal aliens, something that no other Republican was willing to do. Unlike Pearce, their anti-immigrant fervor managed to stop short of the extreme step of cooperating with Democrats.)

Munsil and CAP, however, have been conspicuously absent on the immigration issue -- late, and certainly not loud. On this issue, Munsil is -- dare I say it? -- more moderate than the competition. Instead, Munsil is banking on those issues where he is anything but moderate.

CAP described itself as "the only organization in Arizona actively presenting a biblical perspective to the Legislature and media on marriage, gambling, homosexuality, pornography and abortion." That was an effective recipe for right-wing soufflé in the past couple elections, but on talk radio these days, the callers seem more concerned about undocumented foreigners rather than gay gamblers seeking Internet porn and family planning services.

So what matters more to the GOP base in 2006, whacking illegal immigrants, or whacking gays, gambling, and gynecology? Out of sensitivity toward CAP's self-proclaimed anti-gambling mission, I'll refrain from saying, "Place your bets!"

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Typical of how these guys pass money around to each other. Most of the contributors to Munsil's operation have in the past benefited from something he's done for them. In the meantime they hope the Arizona suckers never catch on to the fact they have no medical care for themselves or dependents, the real estate bubble is collapsing, and they might be working for minimum wage in few more years. Don't forget these clowns by then will have taken Social Security/Medicare away from their believing supporters. But at that point they will tell the citizens trust in the Bible/ or pray for rain/food?