Political consultant Dick Morris took advantage of an appearance as a commentator on the Fox News program Fox & Friends on Wednesday to appeal for viewers to donate to Republican candidates through his own website.
After arguing that the Republicans are within striking distance of taking control of the Senate in next fall's elections, Morris went on to say, "If you feel like getting involved -- politics is no longer a spectator sport -- on DickMorris.com I have all the websites listed. You can give them money so that they can win."
Morris's pitch for donations raises obvious questions about the objectivity of his political analysis. Offering viewers a glowing scenario of major electoral victories, which can come about only if they donate money, is a classic fundraising technique. But Morris's conflict of interest may go even deeper.
The website Media Matters has been complaining since 2008 about Fox News allowing Morris to use his role as a political analyst to solicit donations to organizations in which he has a financial interest -- and to do so without disclosing the relationship.
Last fall, for example, Media Matters noted, "Dick Morris again used an appearance on Fox News to raise money for an organization in which he has a financial interest, directing viewers to his website, DickMorris.com. ... Morris is the chief strategist for the League of American Voters, the group running the ads warning about 'rationing' of health care, and he has a history of appearing on Fox News programs to advance the interests of organizations that pay him."
This past January, Media Matters suggested that Fox was applying a double standard in allowing Morris to appeal for donations through his site in support of Massachusetts Senate candidate Scott Brown, since "Fox News executives allow Morris to solicit funds for Republican efforts despite reportedly telling colleague Mike Huckabee to cease conflict-of-interest promotions that help his political action committee."
And in February, Morris was crowing in an email to subscribers that the League of American Voters had "raised $200,000 in the past three days" following a series of appearances by him on Fox News.
Like Morris himself, the League of American Voters appears reluctant to reveal its financial connections. According to SourceWatch, "The site seeks monetary donations and provides a way to donate via credit card, but gives no telephone number or email address and does not list its funders. ... LAV solicits donations to run further anti-health care reform ads, and adds that it offers to send donors who give $250 or more an autographed copy of Dick Morris' most recent book, 'Catastrophe,' which is critical of the Obama administration."
"The League of American Voters shares the same street address and suite number as Americans for Tax Reform," SourceWatch continues, "and there is some overlap between the League of American Voters, Americans for Tax Reform and the Tax Day Tea Party organizers."
Morris is a longtime Republican strategist, with a career that was only briefly interrupted when he advised President Bill Clinton on moving to the right in response to the 1994 GOP takeover of Congress. He was fired as Clinton's campaign manager in 1996 following a prostitution scandal and turned strongly against him. In recent years, he has made frequent appearances on Fox News.
"I think that the Republicans are going to sweep the House and the Senate," Morris stated at the conclusion of his latest Fox appearance. "We have twelve legitimate chances at takeaways [in the Senate] and we only need ten -- by we, I mean Republicans, by the way."
This video is from Fox News' Fox & Friends, broadcast May 26, 2010.