Monday, February 28, 2011

Americans for Prosperity


Americans for Prosperity (AFP) is a group fronting special interests started by oil billionaire David Koch and Richard Fink (a member of the board of directors of Koch Industries). AFP has been accused of funding astroturf operations but also has been fueling the "Tea Party" efforts. AFP's message is in sync with that of other groups funded by the Koch family’s other special interest groups working against progressive or Democratic initiatives and protections for workers and the environment. Accordingly, AFP has opposed health care reform, stimulus spending, and cap-and-trade legislation, which is aimed at making industries pay for the air pollution that they create. AFP was also involved in the attacks on Obama’s "green jobs" czar, Van Jones, and has crusaded against international climate talks. According to an article in the August 30, 2010 issue of The New Yorker, the Kochs are known for "creating slippery organizations with generic-sounding names," that "make it difficult to ascertain the extent of their influence in Washington." [1]

AFP was established in late 2003 as a successor to the Citizens for a Sound Economy Foundation, an industry-funded think tank,[2] following an internal rift between Citizens for a Sound Economy and its affiliated foundation.[3] The October 2003 Washington Times report on the formation of AFP stated, "Nancy Pfotenhauer, an executive of Citizens for a Sound Economy [CSE] in the 1990s who helped defeat Hillary Rodham Clinton's health care reform proposal, has been tapped to head a new national advocacy organization to protect 'every American's fundamental right to pursue prosperity.'"[4] Before joining the Independent Women's Forum in 2001 and AFP in 2003, Pfotenhauer headed the Washington office of Koch Industries.[5]


(AFP), a section 501(c)(4) organization, and Americans for Prosperity Foundation (AFP Foundation), a section 501(c)(3) organization, state that they are "committed to educating citizens about economic policy and a return of the federal government to its Constitutional limits." On its website it states that it supports "cutting taxes and government spending in order to halt the encroachment of government in the economic lives of citizens by fighting proposed tax increases and pointing out evidence of waste, fraud, and abuse."[6]

AFP was one of the lead organizations behind the Tax Day Tea Party protests April 15, 2009. Its Director is Art Pope, an ex-legislator who has been dubbed "The Knight of the Right" by Raleigh News and Observer journalist Rob Christensen.[7]

In mid-2009, Americans for Prosperity launched an advertising and advocacy campaign opposing U.S. health care reform named Patients United Now.[8]

On its website it describes its "featured partners" as being the Heartland Institute's International Conference on Climate Change, the Internet Freedom Coalition and[9]

Background and history

AFP was established in late 2003 as a successor to the Citizens for a Sound Economy Foundation, an industry-funded think tank,[10] following an internal rift between Citizens for a Sound Economy and its affiliated foundation.[11] AFP was formally affiliated with the Independent Women's Forum. Both organizations shared the same Washington address, and formerly shared most of the same operational staff.[12] In 2008, IWF moved to separate office space.

The October 2003 Washington Times report on the formation of AFP stated, "Nancy Pfotenhauer, an executive of Citizens for a Sound Economy [CSE] in the 1990s who helped defeat Hillary Rodham Clinton's health care reform proposal, has been tapped to head a new national advocacy organization to protect 'every American's fundamental right to pursue prosperity.'"[13]

"Before joining the Independent Women's Forum in 2001, [Nancy] Pfotenhauer headed the Washington office of Koch Industries, a conglomerate with holdings in oil and gas, chemicals, minerals, ranching, and securities; Koch Executive Vice President David Koch was a founder and a chairman of the CSE Foundation and is now on the AFP board," reported the National Journal in November 2003. "Pfotenhauer worked with Koch in the mid-'90s, when she was executive vice president of both CSE and the CSE Foundation. But she has an even longer history with AFP board member Walter Williams, for whom she was a graduate research assistant at George Mason University 20 years ago."[14]

Tobacco industry involvement

AFP advocates pro-tobacco industry positions on issues like cigarette taxes and clean indoor air laws. The name "Americans for Prosperity" will sound familiar to tobacco prevention policy advocates, as Americans for Prosperity worked around the U.S. in recent years to defeat both smokefree workplace laws and cigarette excise tax increases.

Americans for Prosperity opposed a proposed Texas smoking ban in 2005. According to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, “A proposed statewide smoking ban appears all but dead, supporters acknowledged Monday as they waged a frantic battle to bring the bill up for a vote in the Senate. ‘I think the bill is dead,’ said Peggy Venable, Texas director of Americans for Prosperity, which opposed the legislation, arguing that it is an intrusion on private-property rights." The strategy of portraying smoking as a "property right" can be traced to Philip Morris which, in the mid-1990s, introduced bills in state legislatures nominally to protect property rights as a means of fighting smoking bans. Venable called the smoke-free measure a "reckless expansion of government" that "set a dangerous precedent." Although Venable did not testify against the bill directly on behalf of the tobacco industry, the Houston Chronicle reported in 2007 that Americans for Prosperity had, in fact, been underwritten by tobacco companies in other states.[15][16]

Americans for Prosperity opposes smoking bans by using slippery-slope arguments ("Where will it stop?") and erroneous arguments that smoking restrictions are economically damaging.[17][18]
Americans for Prosperity (AFP) also opposed an Illinois state tax on cigarettes in 2008, claiming it would eliminate jobs.[19]

AFP opposed a clean indoor air law in Washington, D.C. in 2006.[20]

AFP opposed a clean indoor air law in Kansas City, portraying the issue as one of personal liberty and economics rather than public health.[21]

Involvement in protesting health care reform

Speaker compares HR 3200 to history's greatest atrocities at a Patients First co-sponsored event in Pueblo, CO in August, 2009
Americans for Prosperity created an offshoot front group called Patients United Now, which organized what is estimated to be in excess of three hundred rallies against health-care reform. Patients United Now also helped organize "Kill the Bill” protests outside the Capitol, in March 2010, where Democratic supporters of health-care reform alleged that they were spat on and cursed at.[22]
In 2009 Americans for Prosperity, along with The 912 Project, was one of the conservative groups involved in organizing "town hall protests" and "recess rallies" where participants oppose health care reform by rambunctiously shouting down members of Congress while they are holding public meetings to inform the public about the proposals.[citation needed]

AFP started a group called "Patients First" to oppose health care.[8] Patients First conducts bus tours around the country to create opposition to health care reform. Americans for Prosperity/Patients First visit cities and speaks to rally people and encourage them to oppose health care reform.

AFP has been accused of likening Democratically-proposed health care reform to the regimes of Mugabe, Hitler, Stalin, and Pol Pot as the SEIU-produced video here demonstrates. A speaker at an AFP co-sponsored event in Pueblo, Colorado repeated the discredited conservative idea that Democratic health care reform will mandate physician-assisted suicide or death for older members of society. "Adolf Hitler issued six million end of life orders -- he called his program the final solution. I kind of wonder what we're going to call ours," he said. The speaker further advises audience to "go to offices of members of Congress and put the fear of god in them." [23]

Anti-Astroturf signs

After being accused of astroturfing for corporate interests, Americans for Prosperity volunteers started making hand-made signs for rally participants to gave more of an appearance of an actual grassroots crowd. Many of the pre-made signs had small “AFP” markers on them. Speakers at AFP rallies started mocking the "AstroTurf" and "Brooks Brothers" themes in nearly every speech at the rallies.[24]

2010 campaigning

What Will Government Run Health Care Actually Look Like?
A week before the Nov. 2, 2010 mid-term elections, AFP began running an ad featuring a Canadian resident, identified on the AFP website as Shona Holmes, who said she developed a brain tumor in Canada and would be dead if she had relied upon the country's state-run health care: “Many Americans wonder what the new health care bill will do. Well, I know. If I had waited for treatment in my government-run health care system, I’d be dead.” The ad does not mention that the U.S. health care bill does not, in fact, legislate public health care.

AFP reports that "the $607,000 ad buy will run on National cable networks starting today [Oct. 27, 2010] and continuing through November 1st." On the ad, AFP President Tim Phillips said: “Our health is too important to leave in the hands of a government bureaucrat. Shona is a sobering example of how patients in other countries look to the U.S. for more choice and availability in health care when their own government-controlled systems fail.”[25]

According to the Ottawa Citizen, Holmes' "brain tumour" was actually a Rathke's Cleft Cyst on her pituitary gland. On Holmes, the John Wayne Cancer Center stated: "Rathke's Cleft Cysts are not true tumors or neoplasms; instead they are benign cysts."[26]

Global Warming

Hot air tour

During 2008, Americans for Prosperity ran its Hot Air Tour campaign, a hot air balloon cross-country tour with the slogan, "Global Warming Alarmism: Lost Jobs, Higher Taxes, Less Freedom." According the the Hot Air Tour website, "Climate alarmists have bombarded citizens with apocalyptic scenarios and pressured them into environmental political correctness. It's time to tell the other side of the story. Americans for Prosperity is working hard to bring you the missing half of the global warming debate. What will the impacts of reactionary legislation be for you, your family and our economy?"[27]

AFP has received millions from fossil fuel interests, including $5 million from Koch Industries foundations.

Influence over House energy and commerce committee chair Fred Upton

In early January 2011, House Energy and Commerce Committee chair Fred Upton coauthored a Wall Street Journal op-ed with Tim Phillips, the president of Americans for Prosperity, about new EPA regulations to curb greenhouse gas emissions. They wrote that the EPA "presumes that carbon is a problem in need of regulation. We are not convinced." They also said the carbon regulation rules are "an unconstitutional power grab that will kill millions of jobs." Koch Industries was among Upton's top contributors in the 2010 election cycle, along with several other energy companies.[28]

In the past, Upton has advocated taking action on global warming: "I strongly believe that everything must be on the table as we seek to reduce carbon emissions," he once stated on his website, which has since been removed. Following the 2010 Tea Party-aided Republican takeover of the House and a heated fight for the chairmanship of the energy and commerce committee, Upton's position on climate change has veered closer to those of global warming skeptics, like most Republican congressional members. Upton is considering using the Congressional Review Act to block the EPA's new regulations on greenhouse gas emissions, in which Congress can overturn regulations from the executive branch within 60 days of their publication in the Federal Register, although the President retains the right to veto.[28]

No stimulus

Beginning in 2009, Americans for Prosperity launched the website, a grassroots website intended to address concerns regarding government spending and growth. [29] The site also contained a petition against the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act that became so popular that it crashed the website in early February 2009.[30]

State budget lobbying

"According to the Americans for Prosperity Web site, some 28 Republicans in the Wisconsin Legislature signed a 'no tax increase' pledge with the organization," along with two Democrats, wrote Dave Zweifel in October 2007. He blamed pressure from no-tax groups on delays with Wisconsin's state budget, more than three months overdue. When these legislators "already had announced they had closed their minds -- even to an increase in cigarette taxes to expand health care to kids -- how really could there be compromise?" he asked. [31]

Americans for Prosperity, which held an anti-tax rally in Madison on October 17, 2007, [32] has also been active in other states. In March, Americans for Prosperity put pressure on Kansas legislators as they debated their state budget. The group patched in calls from residents to legislators' offices, but "they weren't quite clear why they were calling in," said one office assistant, referring to the callers. "Something about state spending," but the Kansans "couldn't tell her who had made the call or any specifics on what they were told," reported the Capital-Journal in Topeka. [33]

November Is Coming

Automated phone calls promoting seven rallies. Stated objective is to send a message to Senator Boxer. The phone call implies that they oppose Senator Boxer's re-election. This may be a violation of their non-political 501(c)(3) tax status.

Claims that Senator Boxer's support for cap-and-trade climate legislation will result in much higher prices for gasoline and electricity and less jobs. Rallies in Carson City, Reno, Las Vegas, Henderson, Nevada and Sacramento, Fresno, Bakersfield, California from June 15th to June 17th, 2010[34].

Americans for Prosperity and the Tea Party

According to a 2010 article on Koch Industries and the billionaire Koch brothers in The New Yorker, the advocacy wing of Americans for Prosperity organized a July 4th 2010 weekend summit called Defending the American Dream in Austin, TX. Five hundred people attended the summit, which The New Yorker said served, in part, as a training session for Tea Party activists in Texas. An advertisement cast the event as a populist uprising against vested corporate power: “Today, the voices of average Americans are being drowned out by lobbyists and special interests. But you can do something about it” without making any mention of its corporate funders. The White House has expressed frustration that such sponsors have largely eluded public notice - David Axelrod, President Obama’s senior adviser, said, “What they don’t say is that, in part, this is a grassroots citizens’ movement brought to you by a bunch of oil billionaires.”[35]

Reports indicate that the Tea Party Movement benefits from millions of dollars from conservative foundations that are derived from wealthy U.S. families and their business interests. Is appears that money to organize and implement the Movement is flowing primarily through two conservative groups: Americans for Prosperity and FreedomWorks.

In an April 9, 2009 article on, Lee Fang reports that the principal organizers of Tea Party events are Americans for Prosperity and Freedom Works, which it described as two "lobbyist-run think tanks" that are "well funded" and that provide the logistics and organizing for the Tea Party movement from coast to coast. Media Matters reported that David Koch of Koch Industries was a co-founder of Citizens for a Sound Economy (CSE). David Koch was chairman of the board of directors of CSE.[36] CSE received substantial funding from David Koch of Koch Industries, which is the largest privately-held energy company in the country, and the conservative Koch Family Foundations, which make substantial annual donations to conservative think tanks, advocacy groups, etc. Media Matters reported that the Koch family has given more than $12 million to CSE (predecessor of FreedomWorks) between 1985 and 2002.[37][38]


In July 2008, Americans for Prosperity hosted RightOnline, a conference of conservative bloggers in Austin, Texas. The conference brought together conservative activists to develop strategies to counter left-wing bloggers and develop conservative "New Media" techniques. The meeting was held in conjunction with the Texas AFP chapter's conference.[39][40]

2011 Wisconsin Protests

Koch Industries and Scott Walker

In Feb. 2011, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker introduced a governor’s budget repair bill that would deny collective-bargaining rights to public-sector workers, and included language that would allow for the selling off of state-owned power plants, as well as enable officials appointed by the governor to make sweeping cuts in health coverage for low-income families without having to go through the normal legislative process.[41]

Among those supporting the bill were Americans for Prosperity, with state records showing that Koch Industries, whose energy and consumer products conglomerate is based in Wichita, Kansas, was one of the biggest contributors to the election campaign of Walker. Koch owns a coal company subsidiary with facilities throughout Wisconsin, including in Green Bay, Manitowoc, Ashland and Sheboygan.[42]

The bill included a Governor's request for sole power to sell off Wisconsin state owned power plants: “the department may sell any state-owned heating, cooling, and power plant or may contract with a private entity for the operation of any such plant, with or without solicitation of bids, for any amount that the department determines to be in the best interest of the state. Notwithstanding ss. 196.49 and 196.80, no approval or certification of the public service commission is necessary for a public utility to purchase, or contract for the operation of, such a plant, and any such purchase is considered to be in the public interest and to comply with the criteria for certification of a project under s. 196.49 (3) (b).” (Budget Repair Bill, Section 44, 16.896).[41]

According to N.Y. Times columnist Paul Krugman: "The state of Wisconsin owns a number of plants supplying heating, cooling, and electricity to state-run facilities (like the University of Wisconsin). The language in the budget bill would, in effect, let the governor privatize any or all of these facilities at whim. Not only that, he could sell them, without taking bids, to anyone he chooses. And note that any such sale would, by definition, be 'considered to be in the public interest.'”[41] Koch Industries has denied that it has any interest in buying the power plants.[43]

Anonymous targets Americans for Prosperity in retaliation

On February 27, 2011, the activist group Anonymous announced an attack on Koch Industries[44] as a response to the Wisconsin protests. Between 1997 and 2008, David and Charles Koch collectively gave more than $17 million to groups lobbying against unions[45]; the Kochs are one of (Republican) Governor Walker's largest corporate supporters.[46] Anonymous accused the brothers of attempting "to usurp American Democracy" and called for a boycott of all Koch Industries products.[47][48]

Under "Operation Wisconsin," Anonymous members took down the website of the Koch-funded group Americans for Prosperity with a distributed denial of service attack on Feb. 27, 2011. In a press release, Anonymous wrote:[49]

"Koch Industries, and oligarchs like them, have most recently started to manipulate the political agenda in Wisconsin. Governor Walker's union-busting budget plan contains a clause that went nearly unnoticed. This clause would allow the sale of publicly owned utility plants in Wisconsin to private parties (specifically, Koch Industries) at any price, no matter how low, without a public bidding process. The Koch's have helped to fuel the unrest in Wisconsin and the drive behind the bill to eliminate the collective bargaining power of unions in a bid to gain a monopoly over the state's power supplies."


On its website, Americans For Prosperity states that "AFP gets its support from individuals and corporations which share its vision." However, it does not disclose which corporations fund its operations.[50]

Kevin Grandia, of DeSmogBlog, who has researched funding the AFP states on his blog that:
The AFP is the third largest recipient of funding from the Koch Family Foundations, behind the Cato Institute and the George Mason University Foundation. Before 2003, when the AFP was still named the Citizens for a Sound Economy Foundation, it received $18,460,912 in funding. 84% of that funding came from the Koch Family Foundations ($12,906,712) and the Scaife Family Foundations ($2,510,000). Koch Family Foundations is funded by Koch Industries. According to Forbes, Koch Industries is the second largest privately-held company, and the largest privately owned energy company, in the United States. Koch industries has made its money in the oil business, primarily oil refining. Presently, it holds stakes in pipelines, refineries, fertilizer, forest products, and chemical technology. Americans for Prosperity is also connected to oil giant ExxonMobil. According to ExxonSecrets, between the years 1998-2001, Citizens for A Sound Economy and Citizens for a Sound Economy Foundation received $380,250 from ExxonMobil.[51]
Media Transparency notes that Americans for Prosperity Foundation has received seven grants totaling $1,181,000 between 2004 to 2006. Grants to the foundation have included:[52]
In its 2007 annual IRS return, the AFP Foundation's reported that its revenue was $5,695,000 with expenditure of $6,768,000. While the AFP Foundation ran at a loss of $1,072,000, it had a further $507,000 in reserves. Of its expenditure, $2,129,000 was spent on national office operations with just over $2.9 million allocated to the state-based chapters.[53]

Income for the Foundation since its formation in 2003 has been[53]:
  • 2003: $3,451,636
  • 2004: $1,190,470
  • 2005: $3,600,966
  • 2006: $4,223,218



The first president of Americans for Prosperity was Nancy Pfotenhauer who, prior to the groups foundation in 2003, had been an executive with the Citizens for a Sound Economy Foundation.[54] Pfotenhauer later left AFP and in 2007 joined the John McCain campaign. Pfotenhauer was simultaneously the president of the Independent Women’s Forum. From 1996 to 2001, Pfotenhauer was the director of the Washington office of Koch Industries.[55][56]

A full staff list can be found at Americans for Prosperity - National and State staff The following are the key AFP staff members.[57]

National staff

State staff

Board of Directors

The following are listed as members of the Americans for Prosperity board, in the group's 2007 IRS report [53] and/or on its website, as of February 2009: [58]
Former Board members:

Americans for Prosperity Foundation

The Americans For Prosperity Foundation (AFPF) is "a nationwide organization of citizen leaders committed to advancing every individual's right to economic freedom and opportunity. AFPF believes reducing the size and scope of government is the best safeguard to ensuring individual productivity and prosperity for all Americans. AFPF educates and engages citizens in support of restraining state and federal government growth, and returning government to its constitutional limits."[60]

Board members

The members of the Americans for Prosperity Foundation board, as of November 2008, are:[61]
According to Americans for Prosperity's 2007 IRS report, the following employees are common to AFP and AFPF, with AFPF paying the following amounts for their share of salaries and benefits: [53]
  • Michelle Korsmo - AFPF paid $96,883 in salary and $12,651 in benefits in 2007
  • Tim Phillips - AFPF paid $185,843 in salary and $17,236 in benefits in 2007
  • Ed Frank - AFPF paid $62,059 in salary and $5,401 in benefits in 2007
Former Board members:

Contact information

Americans For Prosperity Foundation
1726 M Street NW, 10th Floor
Washington, DC 20036
Phone: 202 349-5880
Toll Free 866 730-0150
Email: info AT (sub @ for AT)

Koch Industries Deserves to Win the Snake Oil Award

If you've been reading our blog, I'm sure you're familiar by now with our Snake Oil Awards. I've been researching all of the nominees, and I'm convinced that Koch Industries deserves to win. Not only do they pollute our environment, they also pollute our democracy by funding climate denial groups that work to mislead and confuse Americans.

So, what is Koch Industries? It is America's second-biggest private company, with estimated annual revenues of $100 billion, and headed up by brothers Charles and David Koch. Koch owns refineries from Alaska to Texas and a large number of subsidiaries like Bounty Towels and Dixie Cup. For such a large and underhandedly influential company, it's surprising that they have managed to stay in the shadows for so long. While it is surprising, it isn't accidental: David Koch has called Koch Industries "the largest company that you've never heard of."

What has Koch Industries been doing while out of the public eye?

Koch Industries also gave $1 million to support Proposition 23, the ballot initiative that threatened to roll back California's clean energy law.According to a New Yorker profile, "The Kochs are longtime libertarians who believe in drastically lower personal and corporate taxes, minimal social services for the needy, and much less oversight of industry -- especially environmental regulation."
Koch Industries is the obvious choice for Repower America's Snake Oil Award. They've been so helpful behind the scenes in polluting our air and promoting the interests of big oil. Why not give them the recognition they deserve?
Follow David Boundy on Twitter:

Koch Industries: 2010's Dirtiest Opponent of Clean Energy

Three weeks ago, we asked our members to nominate the worst corporate polluters of 2010. Our goal was to identify organizations that have hijacked our democracy, devastated our environment and denied the science of climate change -- all while reaping massive profits. The response was overwhelming. In just a few days, more than 4,000 people submitted their nominations, many of which were passionate and articulate. The next week, we introduced the top four nominees: Koch Industries, the American Petroleum Institute, BP and Massey Energy. A few days and 13,000 votes later we had our winner: Koch Industries.

Now, you may have heard a thing or two about Koch Industries. Their role in funding climate change deniers is well documented. What you may not realize is that Koch intentionally flies beneath the radar. David Koch likes to joke that Koch Industries is the biggest company you've never heard of. They're able to remain unknown because they hide behind shadowy front groups like Americans for Prosperity. Co-founded by David Koch, Americans for Prosperity funds advertising and public events designed to mislead Americans about climate change and energy policy.

Koch Industries knows that if Americans realized that a massive oil pipeline and refinery company was behind harmless-sounding groups that work to mislead us about climate change, no one would listen to them. They want you to think that what is good for the oil industry is good for the American people, but you and I both know what they actually care about: their bottom line.

To spread the word about Koch Industries and its long history of working to deceive the American people about climate change, we've launched a new website:

The site serves as a catalog of facts about Koch Industries and its owners, the brothers Charles and David Koch. What we've listed on the site is just the beginning. Click around for a bit, and if you see something that's missing, make sure to let us know. I hope you'll join us in highlighting Koch Industries' worst transgressions by submitting a Koch fact of your own and passing the site along to a friend.

Josh Nelson is New Media Director at the Alliance for Climate Protection and its Repower America campaign.

OMG! Glenn Beck Is Onto Something!

Beck can scapegoat us all he wants, but IPS and other independent organizations will continue to fight the good fight.
Glenn Beck recently baffled reasonable people by playing with creepy "socialist" puppets on his Fox News program while blabbering about how beneficiaries of billionaire George Soros' philanthropy are supposedly Conspiring to Take Over America. The venom-spewing talk show host's attack on Soros, a Holocaust survivor, had an anti-Semitic tone, outraging the Jewish community.
His buffoon-ish, puppet-playing, fear-mongering exploits the tea partiers' anxiety, scaring them into hiding their last tea biscuits from black people, puppets, immigrants, and liberals working for a more just society.
Beck sounds alarmed by what he sees as a radical strategy of working both "inside" and "outside" of power circles to affect change. He gets his undergarments and puppets all in a bunch over my organization, the Institute for Policy Studies. Why? Because our annual report cleverly sports a photo of grassroots movements marching on the outside cover and pictures the Capitol on the inside cover as we describe our work.

Actually, many groups deploy an inside/outside strategies, regardless of their political orientation. Conveying street heat into lawmakers' suites can turn citizen-driven ideas into sound policies that move our nation forward. With Washington so dominated by corporate and military special interests, the Institute fights mightily to amplify the voices of dynamic social movements on the outside to help create the space for innovative policy ideas on the inside.
But, boy, if Beck is scared of organizations like the Institute for Policy Studies (we're nimble and smart but we operate on less than 5 percent of the Heritage Foundation's $70 million annual expense budget) and sophisticated liberal strategists like Van Jones, I bet he's SUPER scared of more heavily funded and aggressively ideological groups like FreedomWorks, Americans for Prosperity, and the Tea Party Patriots. Man, talk about working a subversive agenda from "outside" of Congress while lawmakers like Senator Jim DeMint, Senator-elect Rand Paul, Representatives Michelle Bachmann, Mike Pence, and dozens of Hill newcomers work the same agenda "inside" Congress.
And these "outside" groups were even able to leverage untold, undisclosed amounts of secret money into congressional campaigns to get their insiders elected. Roll Call, a Capitol Hill newspaper, reports that the new crop of Republican insiders must take a litmus test by filling out a questionnaire on the ultra-right Heritage Foundation's website, and Fox News reports they must declare their loyalty to the Tea Party agenda.
This radical takeover strategy takes an "outside" message of decreasing government spending and surreptitiously transforms it into the immediate “inside” addition of $700 billion onto the deficit to give the wealthiest 2 percent of our citizens an additional tax break. It preys on the fears of senior citizens to support them on the outside as they work furiously, on the inside, to cut their Social Security.
Hey, wait a minute...this really IS scary stuff!
Beck can scapegoat us all he wants, but IPS and other independent organizations will continue to fight the good fight, bringing grassroots voices to bear against Wall Street bailouts and multi-million dollar bonuses rewarding CEOs for their ruthless layoff policies. We'll keep trying to get those in power to focus on bringing war dollars home to our struggling communities and finding a way to keep our nation's hungry children fed, our workers employed with decent pay, and our climate sustainable for future generations. In our pursuit of an economy that works for all of us, we continue to hope that great progressive ideas from the "outside" can influence policy-makers on the "inside," even without the fortune-backed lobbyists that work against our efforts.
But, Glenn, that sure is scary stuff about those well-funded "freedom" groups getting their emissaries elected with secret money and requiring loyalty and litmus tests. And what about all those red-blooded men and women campaigning as outsiders, then ruling as insiders on behalf of the wealthiest 2 percent of our nation's population? Maybe there IS a plot to take over America. Thanks, man, for the warning.
Beware, my fellow Americans. Beware.

Wisconsin Democrat: Glad We Know Scott Walker's Master Plan -- Since It Might Have Worked

WASHINGTON -- Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker's (R) phone conversation may have been with a fake "David Koch," but it's had real consequences for his relationships with lawmakers and his plan to push through a budget repair bill. In fact, one Democratic lawmaker said that if Walker's grand master plan hadn't been revealed in the call, it might have even worked.

One of the most interesting parts of Walker's conversation -- a prank call by a blogger from The Buffalo Beast pretending to be the billionaire David Koch -- was when he revealed his plan to hoodwink the state's Senate Democrats, who fled Wisconsin in order to prevent their Republican colleagues from reaching the quorum needed to pass budget measures.

"I would be willing to sit down and talk to him, the assembly Democrat leader, plus the other two Republican leaders -- talk, not negotiate and listen to what they have to say if they will in turn -- but I'll only do it if all 14 of them will come back and sit down in the state assembly...legally, we believe, once they've gone into session, they don't physically have to be there," said Walker on the call. "If they're actually in session for that day, and they take a recess, the 19 Senate Republicans could then go into action and they'd have we're double checking that. If you heard I was going to talk to them that's the only reason why. We'd only do it if they came back to the capital with all 14 of them."

In an interview with The Huffington Post, state Sen. Robert Wirch (D) called the information revealed in the conversation "devastating." "This governor cares about right-wing think tanks and the Koch brothers more than he cares what the people of the state think," he said, pointing out that Walker has also ignored Democrats when they've reached out.

Wirch was also glad he found out about the governor's plan to trick them into coming back, admitting that it might have worked.

"Candidly, I think we probably would have given the governor the benefit of the doubt, so I'm glad I found out about his real agenda," said Wirch. "We probably would have thought the governor would have had a change of heart. So candidly, in politics -- especially with a new governor -- you try to go along with him. We probably would have seen it as a breakthrough instead of a trick."

Shortly after the news of the prank call began circulating, Walker's spokesman confirmed the authenticity of the conversation (on the governor's end, at least), and said it "shows that the governor says the same thing in private as he does in public and the lengths that others will go to disrupt the civil debate Wisconsin is having."

State Sen. Tim Cullen (D) disputed that assessment.

"His public posture is that he's the adult working hard in Madison on the people's budget," Cullen told The Huffington Post. "But in fact, he's in Madison trying to see if we committed a felony, what he can do to hide our paychecks and then trick the minority leader to come to the Capitol in the guise of a meeting in order to pass the bill -- get him back there under false pretenses. That's not what he's been saying in public."

Cullen said that because of the news today, he thinks there is now a better chance that Democrats will be able to convince some of their moderate Republican colleagues to break with the governor and compromise. "I think there is that possibility," he said. "I didn't think there was until today. ... He [Walker] may have done what we've been unable to accomplish. We'll see."

On Tuesday, state Sen. Jim Holperin (D) said the Democratic caucus had basically given up on the governor and turned its attention toward persuadable Republican senators.

"I think this is a governor who is a very stubborn individual and maybe does not understand fully the collateral consequences of his stubbornness," said Holperin. "So we've decided to refocus on the people we believe may be flexible to some degree, and that's Senate Republicans. A lot of those Senate Republicans have been around a long time, and I think understand the gravity of eliminating rights from people."

When asked whether Democrats are now less likely to trust Walker, Wirch replied, "Yes. In a word, yes."

'Anonymous' Hackers Take Down Koch Brothers' Americans For Prosperity Website

'Anonymous,' the group of online hacker activists that rose to prominence for laying cyber siege to a number of parties who opposed WikiLeaks, has launched its latest attack on the Americans for Prosperity website, a conservative organization funded by the billionaire Koch brothers.
Politico reports that the "Anonymous" actions left the Koch-backed website unavailable for periods late Sunday night, though it appears to be running normally at the time of publication.
In a press release, the group points to the Kochs' involvement in the ongoing standoff between public employees and Gov. Scott Walker in Wisconsin:
"Koch Industries, and oligarchs like them, have most recently started to manipulate the political agenda in Wisconsin," "Anonymous" writes. "Governor Walker's union-busting budget plan contains a clause that went nearly un-noticed. This clause would allow the sale of publicly owned utility plants in Wisconsin to private parties (specifically, Koch Industries) at any price, no matter how low, without a public bidding process. The Koch's have helped to fuel the unrest in Wisconsin and the drive behind the bill to eliminate the collective bargaining power of unions in a bid to gain a monopoly over the state's power supplies."
The Koch brothers, who are also prominent backers of the Tea Party movement, were cast into the spotlight last week when a liberal blogger claiming to be David Koch prank-called Gov. Walker.
Walker's comments in that conversation brought some scrutiny of the proximity between the governor and the conservative benefactors.

Here's the entire press release from "Anonymous":
It has come to our attention that the brothers, David and Charles Koch--the billionaire owners of Koch Industries--have long attempted to usurp American Democracy. Their actions to undermine the legitimate political process in Wisconsin are the final straw. Starting today we fight back.
Koch Industries, and oligarchs like them, have most recently started to manipulate the political agenda in Wisconsin. Governor Walker's union-busting budget plan contains a clause that went nearly un-noticed. This clause would allow the sale of publicly owned utility plants in Wisconsin to private parties (specifically, Koch Industries) at any price, no matter how low, without a public bidding process. The Koch's have helped to fuel the unrest in Wisconsin and the drive behind the bill to eliminate the collective bargaining power of unions in a bid to gain a monopoly over the state's power supplies.
The Koch brothers have made a science of fabricating 'grassroots' organizations and advertising campaigns to support them in an attempt to sway voters based on their falsehoods. Americans for Prosperity, Club for Growth and Citizens United are just a few of these organizations. In a world where corporate money has become the lifeblood of political influence, the labor unions are one of the few ways citizens have to fight against corporate greed. Anonymous cannot ignore the plight of the citizen-workers of Wisconsin, or the opportunity to fight for the people in America's broken political system. For these reasons, we feel that the Koch brothers threaten the United States democratic system and, by extension, all freedom-loving individuals everywhere. As such, we have no choice but to spread the word of the Koch brothers' political manipulation, their single-minded intent and the insidious truth of their actions in Wisconsin, for all to witness.
Anonymous hears the voice of the downtrodden American people, whose rights and liberties are being systematically removed one by one, even when their own government refuses to listen or worse - is complicit in these attacks. We are actively seeking vulnerabilities, but in the mean time we are calling for all supporters of true Democracy, and Freedom of The People, to boycott all Koch Industries' paper products. We welcome unions across the globe to join us in this boycott to show that you will not allow big business to dictate your freedom.