By Jeffrey Lord on 8.16.12 @ 6:10AM
Was Joe Soptic famous before he was famous?
Did a member of the Obama Administration bring Soptic to the attention of both the Obama campaign and the pro-Obama SuperPAC run by ex-Obama White House aide Bill Burton?
Which would formally tie the administration itself to the activities of the SuperPAC? A violation of federal election law?
Let’s get to this by starting with Leo Gerard.
Leo Gerard. He would be a member of the Obama Administration’s Advisory Committee on Trade Policy and Negotiations (ACTPN).
What is that?
ACTPN is a formal part of the Office of the United States Trade Representative, tasked by the 1974 Trade Act with the responsibility to “provide the U.S. Trade Representative with policy advice.” The U.S. Trade Representative is officially a member of the President’s Cabinet, carrying the title of Ambassador. The current U.S. Trade Rep is Ambassador Ron Kirk. Kirk, a Democrat and Obama appointee, is the former Mayor of Dallas, Texas (the city’s first African-American mayor) and previously was the appointed Texas Secretary of State for the late Governor Ann Richards.
The group can have as many as 45 members all appointed by the President and is supposed to be bipartisan, with representatives of both parties serving as members. (Among the GOP members is New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.)
But serving on ACTPN as an Obama appointee is not Gerard’s day job.
Gerard’s day job would be his job as the International President of the United Steelworkers.
The self-same union from which steelworker union member Joe Soptic emerged in the now infamous Obama SuperPAC ad.
Let’s follow the bread crumbs, shall we?
First, let’s begin with the basics.
As all of America now knows, the Obama SuperPAC has run an ad with former steelworker Soptic essentially accusing Governor Romney of killing his wife. (Ad seen here.)
Also, as Sean Hannity has revealed, there appears to have been a close coordination between the Obama campaign and the Obama SuperPAC, a direct violation of federal election law. Obama spokesman Stephanie Cutter was caught out in a flat lie saying she “did not know the facts” surrounding the death of Joe Soptic’s wife. Hannity produced an audio tape of Cutter on a conference call from back in May with Soptic and reporters in which Soptic discussed exactly that, thanking a listening and participating Cutter at the end of the call.
In short, Stephanie Cutter was caught by Hannity delivering a flat out lie to what she apparently assumed was a pliant if not friendly media. She looked the television cameras directly in the eye — and lied.
But there is something else here.
The head of the Obama SuperPAC is one Bill Burton who is, of course, the former Obama White House Deputy Press Secretary.
On February 16, 2011, Burton, who had lost out to Jay Carney in a bid to replace Robert Gibbs as White House press secretary, announced he was leaving the White House. But on September 15, 2010, Burton was still in his job as the White House Deputy Press Secretary.
On September 15, Leo Gerard’s appointment to the Trade Advisory group was announced by — yes indeed — the Office of the Press Secretary. Said the White House of Gerard in its release:
Leo W. Gerard, Appointee for Member, Advisory Committee for Trade Policy and Negotiations
Leo W. Gerard is the International President of United Steelworkers. He is a member of the AFL-CIO’s Executive Committee and chairs its Public Policy Committee. Mr. Gerard is co-chairman of the BlueGreen Alliance, and a board member of the Apollo Alliance, Campaign for America’s Future, and Economic Policy Institute. In addition, he is a member of the executive committees of the IMF and ICEM global labor federations. In conjunction with Unite the Union, Mr. Gerard was instrumental in creating Workers Uniting, the first global union.
Which is to say on September 15, 2010, the White House press office, where the deputy press secretary was one Bill Burton, was busy informing Americans of Mr. Gerard’s appointment.
Let’s start with a question about Joe Soptic.
Take a look at this clip from a video produced for the 2008 United Steelworkers convention that took place in Las Vegas.
While no names are mentioned, clearly one of the stars is union president Leo Gerard.
But take a closer look.
A series of issues is flashed on screen, one being “health care.” Along with union members saying a buzzword here and there. At 1:20 there appears a man in a hardhat who looks remarkably like — Joe Soptic. The now infamous union member who is everywhere accusing Mitt Romney of killing his wife. This man appears several more times in the video, specifically at 2:26, 2:44, 2:51, 3:10, 5:03, 6:37, and 6:50.