Tuesday, April 24, 2018

What is the relationship between Hungarian strongman Viktor Orbán and IOF?

Brian S. Brown
Is Brian S. Brown a foreign agent? That is not as crazy as it might seem. The Foreign Agents Registration Act requires individuals representing the interests of foreign powers in a “political or quasi-political capacity” to disclose their relationship with the foreign government including activities and finances.

Before attempting to answer the question about Brown, let's go back to the formation of World Congress of Families which is under the umbrella of the Howard Center for Family, Religion and Society founded by historian Allen Carlson. World Congress of Families was formed because sociologists in Moscow became very concerned about declining marriage and birth rates. They solicited the aid of Allen Carlson based on his writings. Carlson also served on President Reagan's National Commission on Children.

In 1995, the sociologists, Anatoly Antonov and Victor Medkov, introduced Carlson to leaders of the Russian Orthodox Church. The middleman for this was apparently Jack Hanick, a former Fox News Producer. Hanick helped to create the TV station Tsargrad which is owned by Konstantin Malofeev.

Malofeev, who has very close ties to Putin, is under US and EU sanctions for his role in financing the Russian militias that fought in Crimea and fight in eastern Ukraine. In 2016 Hanick relocated his family to Moscow, converted to Russian Orthodoxy and became the operations director of Tsargrad.

The important thing to understand is that WCF was founded to serve Russian interests. Howard Center has an operating budget of less than $750,000 per year. The actual WCF events are financed by Malofeev and other Russian oligarchs who have close ties to the Russian Orthodox Church. There is no separation of church and state in Russia. In fact the head of the Russian Orthodox Church has the right to essentially veto bills proposed by the Duma. Russian politicians cannot get elected without the support of the Church and everyone involved is profoundly homophobic.

In 1995 Allen Carlson became an agent of the Russian Federation. He never registered as required by the Foreign Agents Registration Act.

You might recall that Brian S. Brown visited Russia in 2013 as part of WCF's planning committee for their 2014 event in Russia. Brown spoke at an event hosted by St. Basil's Charity which is controlled by the same Konstantin Malofeev who is a major financial supporter of WCF. Brown also addressed a committee of the Duma regarding gay couples adopting children which.

Hannah Levintova (Mother Jones) has written two pieces about WCF that offer far more detail. Miranda Blue (Right Wing Watch) wrote the definitive piece on Brian Brown's Russian adventures.

That brings me to Viktor Orbán, prime minister of Hungary. Orbán is a far right nationalist autocrat. Orban's coalition has a super-majority in parliament. They were able to modify the constitution to support only traditional marriage. They also cut the number of seats in parliament by nearly half. It was done in such a way that Orbán and his allies in parliament have a permanent majority.

Every autocrat needs an enemy. Orbán's nemesis is George Soros who is routinely vilified. The government backed a billboard campaign calling Soros an enemy of the state. While Orbán has a long friendship with Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli ambassador to Hungary joined with citizens who criticized the anti-Semitic overtones of the campaign. The Israeli government subsequently joined Orbán in criticizing Soros to garner favor with Orbán (Netanyahu really needs to go).

International Organization for the Family was formed in December, 2016; just prior to the attacks on Soros.

I have received 46 emails from Brian S. Brown as president of IOF that criticize George Soros. Last August, for example:
George Soros and his fellow leftist billionaires have funded a vast anti-family network, directing money to organizations across the globe that are working to remake society on every issue we care about – protection of life, marriage, parenthood, education, assisted suicide, surrogacy, religious liberty, etc. The International Organization for the Family (IOF) is at the forefront of pushing back against Soros and his ilk, weaving together hundreds of pro-family ministries on every continent into a worldwide pro-family movement.
“And his ilk?” Who are those people?

More recently, on April 11, 2018, Brown and Carlson sent a congratulatory letter (below) to Orbán on his reelection. Orbán has increasing control of the country's media. Whether or not Hungary had a free and fair election is very much in doubt. Brown nauseatingly wrote: “… your victory is also a beam of hope for Western Christian Civilization.” Last time I checked Western civilization was based on Democratic ideals and democracy is slowly but surely slipping from Hungary.

According to the New York Times:
“Voters had a wide range of political options, but intimidating and xenophobic rhetoric, media bias, and opaque campaign financing constricted the space for genuine political debate,” said Douglas Wake, the head of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, or O.S.C.E., mission in Hungary.

“The ubiquitous overlap between government information and ruling coalition campaigns, and other abuses of administrative resources blurred the line between state and party,” he said.

The blurring of the line was visible on thousands of bus stops, billboards and telephone booths where the government plastered posters warning of the dangers of immigrants.

They were paid for by the government as part of what it said was a public information education campaign. They were often placed next to campaign-financed posters featuring a photoshopped image of the Hungarian-born American billionaire and frequent Orban target, George Soros, embracing the opposition candidates.
Regarding the letter, note the combined letterhead of IOF and WCF. As for the CCs, Katalin Novák is Minister of State for Family and Youth Affairs at the Ministry of Human Capacities. Zoltán Balog is a Calvinist pastor and Hungary's Minister of Human Resources. … Perfect.

What exactly does International Organization for the Family do that World Congress of Families could not do? Was it formed to serve the needs of Hungary? If so then it is fair to ask if IOF should register as a foreign agent (along with Brown and Carlson). If so then what are the financial ties between Hungary and IOF?

We know for a fact that Russian oligarchs are financing the World Congress of Families congresses. It begs the question of obligations for disclosure as a 501(c)3 because none of this money is showing up on their financial statements. I will try to find out but trying to get guidance from the Exempt Organization division of the IRS is quite a challenge.

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