Prominent Democrat Addressed CCC-Sponsored Event

By Scott Hogenson, CNS Executive Director
Conservative News Service, January 29, 1999

(CNS) – Defenders of President Bill Clinton have leveled harsh criticism against Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-MS) and Rep. Bob Barr (R-GA) for having spoken at functions sponsored by the Council of Conservative Citizens, an organization that's been denounced by some politicians and pundits as racist.

But little has been said of a 1995 appearance before a C of CC-sponsored event by Mississippi's Attorney General Michael Moore, a rising Democrat who played a prominent role in suing the American tobacco industry.

A press account of the event noted that Moore appeared with Lott, Mississippi Governor Kirk Fordice, and other state and local political candidates at a C of CC-sponsored rally in Blackhawk, Mississippi in July 1995. The rally drew a crowd of about 1,000, according to a story in the July 24, 1995 Starkville (MS) Daily News.

The paper described the event as "a chance to do some grassroots politicking by talking and listening to Mississippians."

Moore said that he had no recollection of speaking at the event. "I'm not sure if I spoke at the Blackhawk rally in '95, but I sure could have," Moore told CNS. He also said that there are no records of his schedule or appointments from 1995.

However, a senior field coordinator for the C of CC did have a recollection of Moore's appearance at Blackhawk. Bill Lord told CNS that he listened to Moore's speech and said, "it was just fine."

Lord described the event as "an old fashioned southern political rally that was completely integrated," with about half a dozen black political candidates speaking and "maybe three dozen" blacks in attendance as spectators. According to Lord, the C of CC's sponsorship of the event cost "around three or four thousand dollars. We sold barbecued chicken plates to make up the difference."

The attorney general wouldn't comment on the fairness of the criticism faced by Barr and Lott for having addressed C of CC functions in the past, but he did tell CNS that he thinks highly of his fellow Mississippian, the Senate majority leader. "Trent's a pretty honorable fellow, as far as I'm concerned. And if Trent spoke at the Blackhawk rally, he did the same thing – I'm sure he did the same thing I did. He passed through, he spoke, and he moved on to the next rally," said Moore.

Moore was the first state attorney general to sue the nation's tobacco industry, filing suit against 13 cigarette makers in 1994. He also played a pivotal role in negotiating the $368.5 billion national settlement, which ultimately unraveled. But individual states eventually negotiated separate settlements with the industry, and Mississippi concluded a $4 billion settlement of its own in 1997.

Alan Dershowitz, a professor of law at Harvard University and harsh critic of Barr for his past appearances at C of CC events, told CNS that anyone connected with the group should renounce it.

"(Moore) should be criticized and I criticize him as vociferously (as Barr), if, in fact, he is associated," Dershowitz told CNS. "Anybody who has been associated with this organization ought to renounce their association with it," said Dershowitz, a staunch defender of the president who has referred to the C of CC as "a slightly softer version of the KKK."

When asked about Dershowitz's comments, Moore drew a distinction between having an association with the C of CC and speaking at an event that's sponsored by the group. "I've never been associated with that group that I've been reading about in the newspaper today," Moore told CNS. "I will never, and have never, been involved in any hate group, will never associate with any hate group. I never spoke at a function that I knew was sponsored by any hate group, ever in my life."

Moore also distanced himself from any potential connection with the C of CC by noting his successful prosecution of Sam Bowers, a former imperial wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, who was sentenced to life in prison last fall after being convicted in a murder case dating back to 1965.

Whether the distinction between Moore's address at a C of CC-sponsored event and those of other speakers is large or small, Dershowitz said the reason Moore hasn't faced the same level of criticism as Barr or Lott is "because he's not as prominent a person, nationally."

But the head of the C of CC has a different take on events. The attacks on Lott and Barr were "all done as part of a stratagem to help Bill Clinton. That was the purpose of it all," said Gordon Baum, the chief executive officer of the C of CC.

Baum denied that the group is a racist organization, and he told CNS that American blacks, Asians and Jews also belong to the group. "I don't think any of them ought to be criticized," for their association with the C of CC, Baum said.

The group's Internet web site includes a wide variety of racial commentaries, many of which focus on separation of the races, both socially and genetically. Baum said the C of CC is not a white supremacist group, but one that believes in "genetic purity" not only for whites, but for all races and ethnic groups.

A January 12 column on the group's web site by Dennis Wheeler refers to the 1960's civil rights movement as "the civil rights war," in which white people "realized we were a separate people. And we acted in concert as a people. To defend that which was ours and that our forefathers had bequeathed us as a people."

The C of CC's web site also includes An Open Letter to White People, dated January 10, in which author K. Patton writes that "Texas Governor George Bush Jr. and his brother Jeb in Florida have manifested their self-hatred by embracing Hispanics ahead of whites."

C of CC supporters defend the group's positions and claim they're being manipulated for political purposes. Columnist H. Millard wrote on the organization's web site on January 22 that recent denunciations of the group and people previously involved with it or its events are "an attempt to raise the race card to demonize those who are involved in the impeachment of President Clinton."

Millard also defended the group's philosophy, writing that there's a difference between acknowledging differences between races and hating people because of it.

"There is no hatred of anyone based on race. There are, however, frank discussions, in plain language, of the nature of race and man, alienation, identity, assimilation, genocide, conformity vs. nonconformity, existentialism, man's search for meaning, politics, freedom of speech, evolution and other subjects usually against a backdrop of post American America," wrote Millard.