Thursday, July 31, 2008

The Spy Who Came To All Our Dinners

The headline from Mother Jones is quite disturbing: There’s Something About Mary: Unmasking a Gun Lobby Mole. The story details Mary McFate, a prominent member of the gun violence prevention movement who, as it turns out, is also a spy for the NRA.

On an intellectual level I understand these things happen all the time. I even take some pride in thinking the organizations I am involved with are such a threat to the gun lobby they will pay someone to spy on us. And I hope they paid lots, and lots, and lots of money to their mole. I hope this duplicity cost them dearly.

But on an emotional level I am devastated. I have worked with Mary McFate for years. I go back over our encounters with the new knowledge that every interaction I had with her was a lie. I shake my head thinking of some of our conversations, remembering her probing questions, and wonder what really happened on her lobbying trips to Capital Hill supposedly on behalf of gun violence preventions groups.

This revelation has sent a shiver through many of our groups. Our coalition work requires a basis of trust and openness with each other. We will not let the likes of Mary McFate poison this foundation but we will look at new members with the seasoned eye of someone who has been terribly wronged.

I echo the words from the Mother Jones article: the McFate operation, says Miller, "would confirm for me the way that the gun lobby works, which is no rules, no question of fairness or honesty. Anything that they can do they will do to protect the profits of the gun industry."