Think Progress has evidence that FreedomWorks, Dick Armey's army of teabaggers and patriots, was used to build grassroots support for their offshore drilling initiatives.
While BP has spent hundreds of millions building its brand, it has offshored the dirty work of promoting expanded drilling to right-wing front groups and trade associations. In a 2007 PowerPoint presentation obtained by ThinkProgress, BP appears to have been interested in fighting to open up protected waters to new offshore drilling. The presentation, organized by the BP-funded front group “Consumer Energy Alliance,” was delivered at the American Gas Association’s marketing meeting in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida. The presentation calls for a five-year plan to build grassroots support to open wide swaths of both the East and West coasts to new drilling on the Outer Continental Shelf: (read more...)
No! Say it isn't so. After all, FreedomWorks condemned the federal government, the Obama administration and just about everyone else on their hit list in defense of BP just two days ago, accusing them of putting their boots on the neck of industry.
This shouldn't surprise anyone who has been paying attention, but what it proves beyond all doubt to me is how similar the Dick Armey model is to the Jack Abramoff and Michael Scanlon model. The Freedomworks' grassroots movement-building prototype is nearly a carbon copy of the Scanlon pitch for the combined PR/lobbying effort to Indian tribes.
The Abramoff-Scanlon Model
It goes like this: Scanlon sells the tribes on a full-service political solution to reach their goal. Here's the opener from a pitch to Michigan tribes:
The sell is a plan to 'form an army'. This army will, of course, be formed by the Scanlon-Abramoff team and will consist databases and campaigns created via targeted polls, databases, mailings, and 'grassroots' efforts. In the Abramoff model, Ralph Reed, Grover Norquist, and even Dick Armey were the go-to people for grassroots. One example used Reed's Christian Right groups to oppose one tribe's efforts to open a casino so Abramoff and Scanlon could pick up the pieces and convince that tribe to turn the verdict around using their services.
Here's one of their schemes with Grover Norquist in the center:
The money would then flow through non-profits to the pockets of Abramoff, Scanlon, Reed, Grover Norquist, and Dick Armey. Here's an excerpt outlining Grover Norquist's requirements for supplying grassroots support:
When pressed for details by the client on what a $50,000 contribution to Grover's organization will buy, Abramoff responds: "everything they need for him to do to win."
How noble of these slimy characters not to want to tip their opponents to think they're trying to buy the taxpayer movement even while admitting they are doing that very thing.
The FreedomWorks Model
From ThinkProgress again:
Slide 14 lists the groups involved in doing grassroots outreach. Under “affiliated groups,” FreedomWorks — a right-wing “grassroots” group that helped plan the tea parties and continues to lobby aggressively against clean energy reform — is listed along with the 60 Plus Association, the American Conservative Union, and others. U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the American Petroleum Institute are some of the trade associations involved. Slide 14 also shows that BP is one of the member companies supporting the campaign.
Not a lot of difference between the two. Ralph Reed routinely rented out the Christian Right for Abramoff's causes. Now Dick Armey does it for his own causes. It would be interesting to know how much of Freedomworks Foundation's 2007 donations of $4 million were from BP. Or the percentage of the almost-$3 million donated in 2008. Of course, if they waited until 2009 to make the payoff, we might have awhile to wait before we know.
This is how right-wing grassroots armies are made. One dollar at a time.