Bill Murphy, Mitt Romney’s Social Media Director, and his colleague Ali Akbar have ripped off a lot of people. They ripped off the Tea Party with the American Liberty Alliance. They ripped off movement Conservatives with the National Bloggers Club. They even ripped off Andrew Breitbart. But their days of making it rain misbegotten right-wing dollars may be numbered.
In 2009 Murphy and Akbar worked together at American Liberty Alliance, an organization which collected “donations” throughout the summer while claiming they were just waiting for their 501(c)3 application to go through. It never did. Then they worked together at National Bloggers Club, a group which solicited “donations” for the past six months while actually calling itself a non-profit (status pending). But according to the IRS, they never bothered to file the necessary documents.
Which means the National Bloggers Club is NOT a non-profit. Not only that, it was NEVER a non-profit.
Murphy and Akbar started NBC with seed money from Foster Friess, the conservative billionaire who single-handedly kept the Rick Santorum campaign shuffling along far past its expiration date like some rotting, remote-controlled corpse. Currently Akbar functions as President, and prior to joining the Romney campaign, Murphy was NBC’s Director. They filed for incorporation on January 27th – in Texas, for some reason. The company is listed as a non-profit.
NBC held their first event, Blog Bash, on Feb 9 at the Conservative Political Action Conference. The highlight of the night was the presentation of a “Changing the Narrative” award to journalist Andrew Breitbart. Either that or James O’Keefe shouting, “Fuck the press!”
Akbar is listed as a “Host Organizer” on BlogBash.org and Murphy is listed as “Co-ordinator” yet neither of them mention NBC in their profiles, and the site makes no mention of the fact that BlogBash is a project of NBC. Murphy also makes no mention of NBC in his LinkedIn profile. In many of NBC’s announcements and press releases, the contact information is “Bill Murphy at email@example.com” – which is odd because BlogBash’s director is usually identified as Devon Wills.
On March 1st, Breitbart died of a heart attack. Soon after, NBC announced the creation of the Breitbart Scholarship Fund, saying Breitbart was “a friend of ours” who was a supporter “for over 2 years.”
Washington, DC — The National Bloggers Club, a new non-profit providing a loose association for free market bloggers, has officially announced a grant program for young citizen journalists in honor of Andrew Breitbart’s legacy, the Breitbart Scholarship Fund. The fund has been set up in conjunction with a website, RememberBreitbart.com, dedicated to showcasing Andrew’s fans and showcase his work. Visitors of the website will be able to donate to the fund, apply for grants and submit their own videos to a library of fans memorializing Breitbart.
Anyone interested in making a donation to the Breitbart Scholarship Fund can go to www.RememberBreitbart.com. All grants will be reviewed by a board overseen by Andrew’s friends, former colleagues and other bloggers.
RememberBreitbart.com, which features a rather odd picture of Breitbart with his mouth red-taped shut, introduces itself like so:
“The National Bloggers Club will launch a permanent virtual memorial honoring Andrew Breitbart and his work here. You see, he was a friend of ours. Activists, bloggers, and friends will have videos and pictures sharing their fondest memories of the lion of the movement.
In order to ensure his legacy and the style of his work lives on, we’ve created the Breitbart Scholarship and have an independent review board to grant funds to young journalism students and muckrakers alike.”
In a video taken at NBC’s Remember Breitbart event, Akbar goes so far as to say, “We’re going to do what we can to take care of Susie [Breitbart] and the kids.”
Even though that has nothing to do with the stated purpose of the scholarship fund.
Larry Sinclair is a conservative pundit who has supported NBC in the past. In March he blogged about the Breitbart scholarship, praising the “non-profit” NBC and posting their press release in its entirety, even the coda:
National Bloggers Club is a new 501(c)(3) founded by top new media operatives, bloggers and journalists as a loose association of bloggers who are for free enterprise and limited government and to advocate on bloggers behalf.
That was six months ago. Last week, Sinclair changed his tune. He revealed for the first time that after hearing of the scholarship, his media empire (Andrew Sinclair News) reached out to Joel Pollak, editor-in-chief and in-house counsel for Breitbart.com, to ask if he’d be willing to be interviewed on the scholarship fund. Pollak’s response shocked Sinclair.
“Pollak responded almost immediately by telling us he knew nothing of any such fund; that anyone using Andrew’s name along with any such fund was doing so without authorization and Pollak even went to the point of saying that any such organization was in his opinion a scam.”
Pollak and Breitbart.com have yet to respond to requests for confirmation. Meanwhile, a search for Breitbart Scholarship Fund on Breitbart.com brings up precisely zero results.
For the past few months, NBC President Ali Akbar has been dealing with a series of attacks which began with the revelation of his criminal record, which includes felony credit card fraud. Most of Akbar and Murphy’s ventures have involved soliciting online donations via credit card. This in turn spawned its own controversy, in which certain parties were accused of paying, pressuring or even threatening those who questioned Akbar’s integrity. Focus shifted from Akbar’s felony convictions to NBC’s dubious non-profit status, and finally the speculation has coalesced into a demand for accountability from Akbar, Murphy, and NBC as a whole. Bloggers and pundits, mostly from the right, are calling for Akbar to step down and release IRS documentation of NBC’s status. Here are some of conservative bloggers’ most eloquent expressions of frustration with Akbar and NBC:
“Ali Akbar makes me want to go back to my old ways and hit him across the head with a dirty shovel. His smug attitude is despised by most of us.”
Ladd Ehrlinger (Film Ladd):
“As far as I’m concerned, Ali Ackbar is a ruthless and arrogant con man… He should be shunned and exiled by the conservative community, and he should be investigated criminally by the appropriate authorities. Conservatives should never shrug their shoulders and excuse corruption. That’s what liberals to do.”
Paul Lemmen (An Ex-Con’s View):
“As someone with a great deal of personal experience in unethical behaviors, I find the public explanations, hidden criminal activities and apparent lack of honesty from the National Bloggers Club’s President Ali Akbar troubling. It is far less than the level of honesty required by such a position, which demands public trust and fiduciary responsibility.”
“Bottom line, if Ali Akbar and anyone else associated with National Bloggers Club, Breitbart Scholarship Fund continue their refusal of vaild requests for disclosure, then none can be taken as having any integrity whatsoever.”
Sinclair has even teamed up with progressive blogger Bill Schmalfeldt (The Liberal Grouch) in a bipartisan call for NBC to publish the following:
- The names of every National Bloggers Club Board member including the date each became associated with the NBC
- A complete financial report showing the amounts of all monies paid to in contributions; services; or sponsorships made to NBC or BlogBash.
- A complete financial reporting of all funds paid out by NBC or BlogBash including the names of those receiving said payments and the reasons for each.
- A complete financial accounting of all funds paid out by NBC/Blogbash including an accounting of what the payments were for and if they were made for the personal benefit of Ali Akbar or any other member of the NBC Board.
- A complete accounting of all contributions made to the Breitbart Scholarship Fund as well as an accounting of all disbursements of said funds as well as the name of the financial institution(s) where contributions are on deposit.
- A statement as to Bill Murphy’s past and current connections with NBC and BlogBash; whether Murphy has been involved in any NBC/BlogBash activities and or promotions since becoming the official Social Media Director for the Romney/Ryan campaign.
Yahoo! News has identified NBC as a non-profit. Right-wing bloggers including Sinclair, Robert Stacy McCain, Tech President, Randhi Rhodes, Lonely Conservative, Paul Lemmen, Ladd Ehrlinger, even Michelle Malkin, have called NBC a non-profit. NBC’s facebook page identifies it as a non-profit. RememberBreitbart.com describes NBC as a non-profit. In its own press releases, NBC identifies itself as a non-profit. The new Remember Breitbart donation page describes NBC as a non-profit. The old Remember Breitbart donation page, which was taken down and/or scrubbed but can still be found HERE, describes NBC as a non-profit; specifically, “a 501(c)(3) – status pending”.
The National Bloggers Club is NOT a non-profit.
The real irony of this, as many Breitbart devotees have noted, is that Akbar, Murphy and NBC’s lack of accountability is exactly the sort of thing Breitbart fought against. In his appeal against Akbar, Larry Sinclair put it well:
“In the words of the late Andrew Breitbart: Corruption and dishonesty must be exposed no matter which side it is taking place on, whether liberal or conservative, dishonesty is just that, dishonesty!”