For some odd reason, the Koch folks want to be one degree of separation from the tea parties. I don't understand it, since the good tea party people are simply grassroots, everyman movements, based on Mom, apple pie, the American Way, and various homegrown flavors of tea, right?
When it comes to the tea parties, not so much. I expect this stems from Koch's desire to have us believe the tea party groups are simply organically grown magic groups who needed no fertilizer from large US corporations.
From a statement provided to TPM:
"Koch companies value free speech and believe it is good to have more Americans engaged in key policy issues. That said, Koch companies, the Koch foundations, Charles Koch and David Koch have no ties to and have never given money to FreedomWorks. In addition, no funding has been provided by Koch companies, the Koch foundations, Charles Koch or David Koch specifically to support the tea parties. Thanks for your consideration."
Parse the statement very carefully. Their keyword is "specifically". And on that level, their statement appears to be true. They have not earmarked any funds that I can see to "specifically" fund tea parties, nor is there evidence of any involvement from them in the FreedomWorks organization.
Yet it is true and it is false. I built a genealogy for FreedomWorks and some of the other right-wing organizations last fall when the health care debate was being hijacked. I pulled every 990 and financial statement for every player I could find for a ten-year period and compiled the results.
FreedomWorks' predecessor was Citizens for a Sound Economy Foundation. Of the three major players who donated large sums to Citizens for a Sound Economy, Koch charities were by far and away the largest donors, with nearly $13 million donated between 1985 and 2005. Other large donors include the Olin Foundation, the Coors Family, and the Scaife foundations.
Citizens for a Sound Economy (CSE) underwent a transformation in 2004 when it merged with Empower America and was reborn as FreedomWorks. CSEF was renamed, becoming Americans for Prosperity. Just like that, one Koch-Scaife-Coors-Olin venture became two. Twice the voice; twice the reach.
Now, let's look specifically at Americans for Prosperity, since FreedomWorks is a Dick Armey production at this time with some assistance from related Republican organizations. There is no question -- none whatsoever -- that Americans for Prosperity was heavily involved in the tea parties this summer and the ongoing tea party meetings, movements, training, and pot-stirring.
Yes, FreedomWorks AND Americans for Prosperity gave their names and their money to events supporting the tea parties. Let's start with Ohio.
There was an event at Ohio State University earlier this year, featuring Ron Paul and Judge Andrew Napolitano, who was taping a segment of his Freedom Watch show for Fox News. The entire event is online on the Freedom Watch archive page.
The event was put on by the Young Americans for Liberty at Ohio State. Their March, 2010 quarterly report is online at the IRS website, and has the following organizational donor detail*:
- Ohio Freedom Alliance: $1,000
- WethePeopleUnderGod.com: $1000
- Americans for Prosperity - Ohio: $1,000
- Ohio Liberty Council: $3,000
- University of Cincinnati: $1,000
- Jacob Group,CPAs, LLC: $1,000
Out of $11,150 received, these six donors represent 72% of the total, and one of those donors is Americans for Prosperity. A visit to the Ron Paul Ohio website lists those donors as co-sponsors. A visit to the Liberty Alliance Ohio site confirms their role as a tea party organizer. (They're also publicizing the 2nd Amendment scary march on Washington, DC, but that's another story for another day).
Young Americans for Liberty is currently taking on "health care nullification", falling into lockstep with this month's tea party theme.
WethePeopleUnderGod.com is the requisite religious right representative. They organize prayer and bus trips. They describe themselves this way:
We are a concerned group of citizens who feel that we have lost sight of the true meaning of representative government (government by the people,of the people and for the people).
And on the side they list their contact info:
PO Box 386
And when I tried to dig deeper, I was able to reverse-trace the listed number to Joyce Brownell, who is listed as one of the organizers for...yes, that's right, the Campaign for Liberty tea party protests in Washington DC.
Another cosponsor (though no contributions are listed on the report) is The Leadership Institute masquerading as CampusReform.org. The Leadership Institute is Morton Blackwell's project. On the front page, they advertise the DC Freedom 5K on April 17, 2010.
The DC Freedom 5K, an event hosted by Americans for Prosperity and the Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation, is a 3.1 mile race for all ages to celebrate freedom in a fun, nontraditional environment.
I could have stopped at the point where Americans for Prosperity was a donor, but I want this to be clear: Whether it's Ron Paul or Sarah Palin or tea parties or gun protests or health care protests or fun races for the family, the backbone is crafted from the same DNA. That DNA includes funding -- direct or indirect -- from the Koch brothers. They birthed Americans for Prosperity and FreedomWorks. They didn't have to write the check to the Ohio State Young Americans for Liberty to be intimately involved in funding, sponsoring, indoctrinating and fomenting tea parties.
If you don't believe me, I dare you to look at this to get an idea of what they're up to on college campuses.
It's the same thing Republicans always do, but in typical fashion, they've taken that thing they did before and called it something different. Dave Niewert's post comparing the Patriot movement to the Tea Party movement is a must-read to see how they do it.
*I am choosing not to report individuals' donations in the body of the post, but they can be seen by visiting the link to the report.