- Pennsylvania Among 'Terrible 10' Most Regressive Tax States
- February 4 Non-Partisan Training: HOW TO RUN FOR ELECTION BOARD IN 2013: HOW TO RUN FOR COMMITTEEPERSON IN 2014
- Republican Governors Opt-In to Medicaid Expansion
- The Reports of Unions' Death Are Greatly Exaggerated
- Ask Allyson Schwartz to run for Governor
- Mind the gap: Opting Out of Medicaid Expansion Leaves Low-income Families Behind
- Jan. 14 Workshop:HOW TO RUN FOR ELECTION BOARD IN 2013; HOW TO RUN FOR COMMITTEEPERSON IN 2014
- Seth Williams on Guns, Jasmine Rivera on School Closures @PFC Meetup Wednesday
- PA Revenue Strong Midway Through Year; Tax Cut Could Have Big Impact
- What to Make of the Fiscal Cliff Deal?
The Inquirer today has an article about another infiltration of a progressive activist group. This time it's Ceasefire PA, and the nice middle-aged gun control activist was apparently hired by the NRA.
Mary McFate was the kind of volunteer the gun-control movement in Pennsylvania prized. By all accounts, she was dedicated and diligent, humble enough to stuff envelopes yet bold enough to lobby U.S. senators.
Now it seems that the CeaseFire PA board member may have been more versatile than anyone could have imagined. According to Mother Jones magazine, she was a spy for the National Rifle Association.
Mother Jones reported that McFate was in fact Mary Lou Sapone, who made headlines in the 1990 when it was revealed that she had been hired by a surgical-equipment company to infiltrate the animal-rights movement.
As McFate, the magazine reported, Sapone covertly infiltrated gun-control groups for more than a decade and received payment from private security firms and the NRA.
During that time, she inserted herself into some of the most important gun-control organizations in the country and was part of discussions on national strategy and policy.
The original Mother Jones article that exposed McFate is here, along with links to more of their reporting on corporate espionage.
Burger King made headlines last month after it turned out an executive had been using his middle school daughter's screen name to mock a farmworkers' group that had been lobbying Burger King for better conditions and wages for tomato growers. Around the same time, it came out that Burger King had hired a private firm to infiltrate the Student/Farmworker Alliance. Cara Schaffer, the owner of the security firm, wasn't quite at Mary McFate's skill level:
In March, a woman named Cara Schaffer contacted the Student/Farmworker Alliance, saying she was a student at Broward Community College. Her eagerness aroused suspicions, but she was allowed to join two of the group’s planning sessions. Internet searches by the alliance revealed that she was not a college student.
And at least in some cases, there's a neat irony at work: the conservative moles end up digging hard for the progressive causes they've infiltrated. The fake union carpenters played by the state police during the Philadelphia RNC in 2000 built a whole lot of really big anti-corporate parade floats. And Mary McFate was apparently a pretty decent gun control activist:
McFate did so much grunt work and provided so many helpful ideas that both Hamilton and Edbril suggested that, spy or not, she may have been a positive influence.
"I actually think she helped the movement rather than hurt the movement through all her volunteer efforts," Hamilton said. "I just don't see what she could have gained in terms of damaging information."
This stuff is serious, though. In May, a man was sentenced to 19 years in federal prison for an 'environmental terrorist' plot that did not get off the ground and which was largely pushed by a self-chosen spy for the government. "Anna" was doing a paper for a community college class in Florida about the FTAA protests in Miami, and then became a one-woman crack team for government spying, completely with a film-noir-esque seduction of a man she would push to blow up a cell phone tower or some similar target. There's a ridiculous and sad Elle magazine article about the whole mess scanned online here.
And for good measure, this week RNC 2000 is back with a long Daily Kos piece about those state police carpenters I mentioned above*, the puppets they helped build, and the redbaiting, John Birch-linked, misinformation they used to get an affidavit to arrest 70-odd peaceful activists in a privately-owned building. Including me.
*Local history lesson: the City of Philadelphia brought in the state police specifically to evade a consent decree forbidding them from secretly infiltrating activist groups, fought and won by civil rights lawyers following a shameful period where Rizzo's police messed with the Black Panthers and others.