Look who was behind the Jeff Flake elevator setup
On Friday morning, two women raced past reporters and security officers and blocked a senators-only elevator in the US Capitol. They cornered Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake, who had just announced he was going to vote yes on moving Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination out of the Judiciary Committee and onto the Senate floor for a full debate.
The women wouldn’t let Flake leave until had they yelled at him, face to face, for several minutes. Anyone who thinks the two left-wing activists acted without a well-thought-out plan hasn’t read “The Intimidation Game” by Kim Strassel of the Wall Street Journal.
A CNN camera broadcast the event live, and from there it went viral. “Thank you,” Flake said, as he was finally allowed to exit after one of the women revealed, apparently for the first time, that she’d been sexually abused: “I was sexually assaulted, and nobody believed me. I didn’t tell anyone, and you’re telling all women that they don’t matter . . . That’s what you’re telling all of these women. That’s what you’re telling me right now. Look at me when I’m talking to you! You are telling me that my assault doesn’t matter . . . Don’t look away from me. Look at me.”
The New Yorker reported that, after the incident, Flake “looked more withdrawn than ever, eyes wet, voice a little frayed, chin tucked down in the somber knot of his tie.” Shortly afterward, Flake voted to refer Kavanaugh’s nomination to the full Senate but with a sudden proviso: He wouldn’t vote for the judge on the floor unless the vote were delayed to do an FBI investigation, “limited in time to no more than one week,” into “current allegations that are already there.” Democrats rejoiced.
A reporter for the Washington Examiner asked Flake, “Did the women who confronted you this morning, did they have any role in changing your mind?”
“No, no,” Flake said as he shook his head. Fair enough, but liberals certainly have convinced themselves to believe that the in-your-face strategy worked. So no doubt we’ll see more of it in these uncivil times.
Ana Maria Archila and Maria Gallagher were the two women who confronted Flake inside the elevator. Perhaps because they expressed such raw emotion, few media outlets dug into their political activism. Archila is an executive director of the Center for Popular Democracy; she had spent the previous week in Washington engaged in protests against Kavanaugh. Gallagher is a 23-year-old activist with the group. The center is a left-wing group heavily funded by George Soros’ Open Society Foundations. Indeed, as of 2014, Open Society was one of the three largest donors to the group.
Make no mistake. The Center for Popular Democracy is at the heart of the effort to stop Kavanaugh. A source forwarded to me an email sent from the organization: “Last week, you saw protestors interrupting the Kavanaugh hearings, trying to slow it down and show the Judiciary Committee how much they/we care. Those protests were organized by the Women’s March and the Center for Popular Democracy and other groups.”
Archila has another role beyond her duties as co–executive director of the center. She is also a member of the national committee of the New York-based Working Families Party. The WFP was founded in 1998 by the leaders of ACORN, the now-disbanded and disgraced group of community organizers.
In 2009, ACORN finally ran off the rails. Guerrilla videographer James O’Keefe secretly recorded employees in its offices in Brooklyn, Baltimore, Washington and San Bernardino, Calif. O’Keefe and a colleague posed as a prostitute and a pimp and said they were planning to import underage women from El Salvador for the sex trade. They asked for and received advice on getting a housing loan and evading federal taxes.
The US Senate quickly voted 83-7 to strip ACORN of more than $1.6 million in federal housing money meant to help low-income people obtain loans and prepare tax forms. Within weeks, ACORN’s donors fled the group and it was forced to close its doors, with many of its affiliates reforming under new mismanagement and new names — such as the WFP.
I have no doubt that the vast majority of protesters who want to stop Brett Kavanaugh are sincere and are merely exercising their constitutional rights. But imagine if two women had cornered a Democratic senator in an elevator and demanded an investigation of who had leaked to the media Christine Blasey Ford’s letter alleging that Kavanaugh had sexually assaulted her. (Sen. Lindsey Graham said Sunday that he planned to investigate the leak.) There would have been sputtering outrage in media circles, and reporters would have breathlessly hunted down any ties between the women and outside groups.
It’s a sign of media bias that the people from the well-funded groups behind the anti-Kavanaugh protests are described merely as “activists” and that their political motives and origins are largely unexplored.
John Fund is national affairs reporter for National Review, where this was first published.