The PJ Tatler

Leading Anti-'ObamaTrade' Activist Is a Longtime Democrat Political Operative

Although he has been embraced by a number of noted conservatives,  right-leaning websites and at least one conservative talk show host, one of the leading voices against the free trade agreement known as “Fast-Track”  is actually a left-wing operative who has worked for union-backed Democrats. By tailoring his disinformation to appeal to conservatives, the career Democrat operative is attempting to make the Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) and Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) toxic to Republicans.

Lachlan Markay of the Washington Free Beacon looked into the group behind the anti- TPP website, ObamaTrade.com, and found it is funded by Curtis Ellis, the progressive three-time Dem candidate for Congress.

Curtis Ellis leads a group called the American Jobs Alliance that vehemently opposes the pending Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and “fast-track” authority that would expedite its congressional consideration. Ellis calls the latter “ObamaTrade.”

The House of Representatives is expected to vote on a trade promotion authority (TPA) measure on Friday. If it passes it will allow President Barack Obama more latitude to negotiate and enact the TPP deal.

“The politics of ObamaTrade are poisonous,” Ellis wrote on Wednesday at the conservative Breitbart News. “Poll after poll shows a majority of Americans across the political spectrum oppose these phony ‘free trade’ deals—and conservatives oppose them in even greater numbers than Democrats.”

Ellis runs a site called ObamaTrade.com that takes a conservative line of attack against the free trade agreement. It features commentary by Donald Trump, former Rep. Allen West, GOP pollster Dick Morris, and Sen. Jeff Sessions (R., Ala.), a leading TPA opponent.

Ellis has appeared on conservative talk radio to criticize TPA, and his work is being promoted by a conservative public relations firm alongside Heritage Foundation president Jim DeMint and talk radio giant Mark Levin.

ObamaTrade is a phrase designed to call to mind Obamacare, and he has unfavorably compared TPA to the Affordable Care Act and the president’s efforts to unilaterally reform the nation’s immigration system.

“The grassroots are on fire against ObamaTrade,” he declared in his Breitbart column. However, until recently, Ellis was an outspoken Democratic critic of the Tea Party movement.

“They fancy themselves the vanguard of a revolution, when in fact they are typical self-absorbed, privileged children used to having their way—now—and uninhibited about complaining loudly when they don’t,” Ellis wrote in a 2010 column for the Los Angeles Times criticizing the movement.

Now that he has allied with the tea party movement to oppose “ObamaTrade,” Ellis has a completely different point of view.

“My ‘hot take’ in 2010 was wrong,” he wrote to the WFB in an email. “The Tea Party is alive, well and perhaps the most important movement in American politics today.”

Ellis unsuccessfully ran for Congress as a Democrat in 2004, 2006, and 2008.  He declared himself a Tea Party candidate  in a 2011 special election in which he was criticized by conservative and tea party groups as a spoiler and a “fraud.”

On a now-deleted page on liberal blog Talking Points Memo, Ellis described himself as a progressive Democrat, yet he has been writing for the right-wing website WorldNetDaily since October of last year.

A spokesman for House Ways and Means Chairman Paul Ryan (R., Wis.) called Ellis’ advocacy “despicable.”

“Liberals are trying to fool conservatives with bogus arguments to advance their union agenda,” Brendan Buck said in an emailed statement.

Yesterday, the Taxpayers Protection Alliance partnered with Congressman Steve Scalise’s office to host a press conference to address concerns about TPA.

A number of right-leaning groups also participated in the event to show their support.