Karl Rove finds a new hobby

KARL ROVE FINDS A NEW HOBBY…. Crossroads GPS, a secretive right-wing attack operation founded in part by Karl Rove, launched a new project yesterday called “Wikicountability.” The point, apparently, is to collect as-yet-unfulfilled Freedom of Information requests of the Obama administration.

The group said the effort is aimed at reporters and others who have asked for — but not received — information from the administration under the Freedom of Information Act laws. Crossroads also filed a lawsuit against the Department of Health and Human Services on Wednesday demanding the release of documents about waivers the department has granted to states seeking escape from provisions of Mr. Obama’s health care law.

But the effort immediately drew criticism from Democrats and campaign watchdog groups who noted that Crossroads has been under fire since its inception for a refusal to reveal its donors.

There are a couple of angles to this. The first is the question of hypocrisy, and on this, Rove may have a point.

Crossroads’ project is ostensibly about transparency and openness, while the organization itself resists any and all efforts to be transparent and open. That makes it ripe for criticism, but the fact remains that the standards are different for government agencies and private political operations. There’s no such thing as a FOIA request for a private group, so this isn’t as clear a case of hypocrisy as Rove’s critics might hope.

Sure, Rove’s attack shop should expect mockery for running around saying, “Transparency is paramount … except when it applies to us,” but given the competing disclosure requirements for public and private offices, the criticism falls rather flat.

At least, the first part of the criticism does. The second part of the pushback against Crossroads is that’s peddling patently false claims — and this criticism has real merit.

Rove’s operation launched yesterday claiming to have proof of a shocking revelation: Consumer Financial Protection Bureau chief Elizabeth Warren had dinner with journalists, including Mother Jones’ David Corn and Daily Kos’ Markos Moulitsas. Of course, that wouldn’t be especially shocking if it were true, and as it turns out, that dinner never happened — neither Corn nor Moulitsas ever broke bread with Warren. Rove’s little “scoop” was made up.

Crossroads also “exposed” Labor Secretary Hilda Solis yesterday for having met with union leaders “or attended their events” many times over the course of the last year. That’s not even interesting.

So to review, Rove’s attack operation deserves slack on the hypocrisy question, but it also deserves criticism for running with “scoops” that are either false or dumb (or both).