Topic archive for "americans for prosperity"

Is your Senator Representing Charles and David Koch?

Billionaire industrialists Charles and David Koch look like they’re easy graders. Their tea party group released its rankings this week of senators and congressman who tow the Koch line most, and it gave a total of 44 A+’s for the 112th Congress.

Americans for Prosperity, the Tea Party group funded by the Kochs, based its grades on opposition to affordable health care, clean air, alternative energy and net neutrality. Scores were also boosted if the elected official signed the tea party group’s anti-revenue pledge.

In sum, the five senators who scored 100 percent on the Americans for Prosperity how-can-we-make-the-Kochs-richer test received $187,400 in campaign contributions from the Kochs and their allies.

These senators are Ron Johnson (R-WI), Tom Coburn (R-OK), Mike Crapo (R-ID), Orrin Hatch (R-UT), and potential Republican vice presidential nominee Marco Rubio, a freshman from Florida. Indeed, Rubio, Johnson and Coburn have a lifetime of A+ scores!

Though the brothers are worth about $42 billion, a little political donation here and there goes a long way. Factor in the brothers’ self-serving “philanthropy” with the Kochs’ numerous other nonprofit foundations and academic think tanks and you’ve exposed a vast echo chamber of perpetuating myths and distortions designed to make the Kochs richer.

While the Koch brothers use their enormous wealth to influence democracy in the Capitol, they’re also funding or supporting groups that aim to replace the values of working families with policies that make the Koch brothers richer. At the same time, the Kochs are working to bolster their clout with influential members of the political and media elite to favor devastating environmental developments that would boost the soaring profits of Koch Industries.

To complement their political giving, the Kochs are also working with partners to curb access to the voting booth. The Kochs fund the American Legislative Exchange Council, which has helped facilitate the proliferation of voter suppression laws across the country. These laws would have their most adverse effect on students, seniors, minorities and disabled citizens.

At a local level, a Americans for Prosperity chapter helped make a community North Carolina school board race the most expensive in recent memory and favored candidates who pledged to resegregate public schools. They were ultimately rebuked by voters last year.

Exposing the Kochs reveals a pattern of selfish and manipulative priorities that consistently favor the most fortunate among us. In an era of Patriotic Billionaires, Occupy Wall Street and a decaying democratic process, the Koch brothers and their allies continue to demonstrate their satisfaction obstructing progress and social justice.

What do you think Martin Luther King Jr. would have to say about it?

I invite you to comment and take action at our Koch Brothers Exposed page on Facebook.

The Koch brothers lost in North Carolina

Ohio, Mississippi and Maine got a lot of the headlines, but North Carolina voters also struck a heroic blow against the Koch brothers in elections Tuesday night.

Charles and David Koch were obviously not on the ballot, but the election was a referendum on their influence in Raleigh, N.C. Their presence in North Carolina has roots in 2009 when the Kochs supported organizations that worked to elect a new school board majority. Those candidates won and began pushing to overturn a highly successful diversity policy, which was the model framework for scores of school districts across the country.

As Sue Sturgis from Facing South wrote before the election:

The Kochs have given over $5 million to date to AFP, which supported the anti-diversity candidates who won the majority of seats in the 2009 Wake school board election. Brave New Foundation points out that the AFP-NC chapter had access to approximately $1 million from 2007 to 2009 — money critical in laying the groundwork for that election. AFP also supported local groups that advocated for an end to the diversity policy.

While Americans everywhere rightfully celebrate the outcomes in Ohio, Mississippi and Maine last night, let’s not forget the hard fought win for public education last night in North Carolina.

Organized people can beat organized money and Koch money alike.

I invite you to keep the pressure on and join me at the Koch Brothers Exposed page on Facebook.

Are the Koch brothers afraid of the facts?

Charles and David Koch responded to our video, “Why do the Koch brothers want to end public education?” Friday night. They didn’t like our video it seems.

Our film was about the big-money and high-stakes school board election in Wake County, North Carolina. We were able to connect the dots and demonstrate how Koch brothers’ wealth benefited the forces of Jim Crow and candidates who employed “forced busing” and “neighborhood schools” rhetoric made infamous by George Wallace. That was the video’s thesis and it’s backed up by the facts, the historical record, and the many public statements on the subject by the Koch brothers’ groups.

Like their Tea Party group Americans for Prosperity, the Kochs are changing the subject rather than trying to rebut our video point-for-point. And now Americans for Prosperity has told journalists that there’s pending litigation against us. These reporters were also told there could be litigation against them too if they continue writing about us.

What are the Kochs so defensive about? Our video doesn’t say they broke any laws. The press reports about the Koch brothers’ influence in Wake County doesn’t report that either, although this photo is worth 1,000 words.

School board member John Tedesco poses with an Americans for Prosperity sign. (Photo via John Tedesco Facebook page.)

What is accurately and comprehensively reported in our video, and elsewhere, is how the Kochs’ wealth laid the groundwork for a school board majority that favored policies which would spark 21st century segregation.

Now the Kochs are retreating from what they’ve done through their national foundations, local groups, think tanks and more. They put in a lot of time and millions of dollars into this machine. What are they ashamed of? Are they now going to recant their association with Jim Crow?

The Koch brothers tacitly acknowledge this point in their post at, although they don’t apologize for it. In their blog post, they hold up a Newsweek article with a favorable headline, “Weak Tea Party Connection to Wake County, N.C., School Board.” The article is full GOP activists’ quotes until you get to this, which debunks the article’s headline.

The Koch-funded Tea Party group, Americans for Prosperity “did only voter education and volunteer work on the school-board campaign,” said Newsweek, closing the story with a quote from a Koch spokesperson acknowledging the new school board majority will lead to “de facto segregation.”

The Americans for Prosperity spokesman was quoted in Newsweek saying, “Some areas are whiter and some areas are a little more colored [in Wake County]. That’s the society we live in.”

Indeed, some of Newsweek’s readers were left scratching their heads and wondering why the magazine was protecting the Tea Party from Wake County schools especially in light of Americans for Prosperity’s victory lap after the election. The post also parades a right-wing blogger as an authority from the Washington Post, when in fact the Washington Post got the story right.

The Newsweek article is proof positive that the Koch brothers’ money did play a role in the school board race and understood the consequences of a Jim Crow school board. Sue Sturgis is a local investigative journalist we interviewed in our film, and she too knows the extent to which the Koch billions, through Americans for Prosperity, influenced the school board.

There’s even more evidence that connects the dots. The Koch brothers’ so-called response is further discredited by UNC-Chapel Hill Prof. Walter Farrell. Farrell says the Kochs get their way “directly and indirectly through their numerous 527s [campaign spending machines] and in collaboration with their conservative multi-millionaire and billionaire colleagues (including local millionaires Art Pope and Robert Luddy)” who are directors of Americans for Prosperity and the John Locke Foundation, respectively.

There’s a lot going on deeper in the weeds with Pope and Luddy, information the Kochs know about first hand, but chose to ignore. They could’ve read about it here and here, or asked them about Wake County during one of the Koch mega-donor summit and conference. Luddy and Pope have been invited to the events, which bring political heavyweights together with ultra-wealthy conservative donors.

They know their group, Americans for Prosperity, played a role in the elections. After all, how could we use its own blog posts to produce a video debunking its smears?

It appears the Kochs are among the most defensive billionaires, preferring the comfy confines of their callous and intellectually dishonest world view.

Journalists fight back against Americans for Prosperity

A note from Robert Greenwald at Brave New Foundation: The video, “Why do the Koch brothers want to end public education?” was an immediate smash hit, and the North Carolina chapter of the Americans for Prosperity (founded by the brothers Koch) tried to hit back.

They made various threats to journalists who had the audacity to do their job and report the news.

Meet Sue Sturgis of Facing South. She was in our video and was summarily attacked for saying and writing facts that Americans for Prosperity didn’t like.

We wanted to share her response with you. You can read the full post here. It’s also here:

Americans for Prosperity wants to revise history of role in N.C. school re-segregation fight

The Brave New Foundation video released earlier this week about the Koch brothers’ role in the fight over school re-segregation in Wake County, N.C. has struck a sour note with Americans for Prosperity. The Koch-funded conservative advocacy group is the focus of the video for its involvement in an effort to end the public school system’s student assignment policy based on economic diversity.

The head of AFP’s North Carolina chapter is demanding a retraction of remarks that I made in the video — even though statements he made himself confirm they are true.

In a memo sent this week to the Institute for Southern Studies, the nonprofit publisher of Facing South, AFP-NC Director Dallas Woodhouse objects to the following statements that I made in the video:

“Follow the money — it is real.”


“Americans for Prosperity played a very important role in the Wake County elections.”

Woodhouse asks:

“What role is that? Did Sue follow the money? If so what did she find? Did she find campaign finance reports with Americans for Prosperity’s name on them?

Again, AFP played no role in the 2009 [Wake County school board] election.

On the matter of whether AFP played a role in the 2009 election, Woodhouse himself acknowledged his group’s involvement in a statement he posted to the group’s website this past January:

“The North Carolina chapter of Americans for Prosperity — along with our Wake County members and other key allies — were pleased to play some small part in this fight,” said AFP North Carolina State Director Dallas Woodhouse.

In a follow-up interview with Newsweek also this past January, AFP’s national office and Woodhouse both confirmed that AFP’s North Carolina chapter worked on Wake County’s 2009 school board election:

As for AFP, its national office says the national organization has not been involved with the Wake County school board, but that the state group affiliate has.

Woodhouse told Newsweek that AFP-NC did voter education and volunteer work on the Wake school board campaign. It should be noted that AFP’s state group affiliates are in turn supported by the national organization.

Indeed, Woodhouse appears to have a hard time keeping his stories straight about AFP’s role in the Wake County public schools. AFP-NC’s web page is filled with pages of announcements– many written by Woodhouse himself — related to Wake school politics

As to whether I found campaign finance reports with AFP’s name on them — no, I didn’t. But then, I didn’t claim that I did. Nor did I claim that AFP-NC bought any ads related to the race.

Neither does the Brave New Foundation video say that the money flowing from AFP to the school board election was in the form of direct campaign contributions or ad buys, though perhaps it could have made that point more clearly. The video quotes Bob Geary, a reporter who covers Wake County for the Independent Weekly newspaper:

The Koch brothers didn’t put money directly into the Wake school board elections. But indirectly, Americans for Prosperity put hundreds of thousands of dollars and lot of effort into helping the school board candidates get first organized and then nominated and elected.

AFP-NC’s investment in organizing around the Wake County school board can be traced back at least to the 2006 mid-term election, when there was a $970 million local school bond issue on the ballot. AFP-NC took the lead in organizing opposition to the bond, using the controversy over student assignment as one of its rallying points. The group also worked closely with a number of local organizations that would later play an important role in the 2009 election.

Though AFP-NC lost and the bond issue passed, the group continued to organize against the school board and its assignment policy leading up to the last election.

AFP-NC did not do this work for free, hence there is indeed money to be followed.

And it’s work that paid off richly for AFP-NC — one reason why it’s so curious to see the group now trying to distance itself from accomplishments it once proudly claimed.

Why didn’t Americans for Prosperity love our video?

The Koch brothers – founders of the Tea Party group Americans for Prosperity – were the subject of our latest investigative video, “Why Do the Koch Brothers Want to End Public Education?”

AFP didn’t much like it, and that’s disappointing. With its extensive track record of influencing and  supporting elections – all adverbs are appropriate – we would think AFP would’ve taken another victory lap after our video.

They have done so previously.

Following the 2009 Wake County school board election, Americans for Prosperity waited a few months before publically popping champagne bottles. The blog entitled, “Your grassroots action really paid off in Wake County Public Schools,” is a self-congratulatory missive AFP published. In light of the role AFP played in Wake County, the blog post affirms its active role in repealing and replacing successful school integration policies.

In addition, the AFP blog extols members and “all those AFP-NC activists who sacrificed their time in order to…show support for the members of the Board that overturned the policy.” The board members had just been sworn in at this time, each with Americans for Prosperity financial and organization support funneled through local individuals like Art Pope and artificial grassroots groups such as WakeCARES – which has enjoyed on the record support from Americans for Prosperity.

Americans for Prosperity has a track record of pleading ignorance and feigning innocence elsewhere too. In Wisconsin, it was busted for egregiously inaccurate voting information. Americans for Prosperity also scared the daylights out of Michigan residents with fake eviction notices. North Carolina is in esteemed company in both its tactics and excuses.

We are disappointed AFP doesn’t like our work, research, interviews or personal stories that reflect a pleasant working and middle class community trying to fight against outside right-wing agitation and influence.

But Americans for Prosperity goes further, and we’re amused its North Carolina chapter made embarrassing mistakes in its attempt to erase a story about its influence in the state. AFP got our name wrong. We are Brave New Foundation, not Brave New Films. The group got our President’s name wrong. His name is Robert Greenwald, not Robert Greenwell.

Looking for any way out of the hole the group dug itself (and that we merely filmed and distributed for free on the internet), Americans for Prosperity is transcending the facts our film and investigation brought to light. We never accused AFP of breaking the law. One could make the case we are commemorating its history-making achievement of voting in like-minded school board members. It’s not every day a school board makes morning, afternoon and evening news.

We regret that AFP misunderstands our motives. Our intentions are as simple as spelling names correctly. We’re telling a story about the pivotal role the Koch brothers, through Americans for Prosperity and its allies, are playing in resegregating schools.

Intimidation, deception, subterfuge and basic spelling errors will not intimidate us nor will it chill a free press rooted in comforting the afflicted and afflicting the comfortable.

WI: The Kochs, Colbert And $ In Politics

Much of the nation watched last night with breath held, waiting to see the recall results in Wisconsin. In the end, two WI Senate Republicans were replaced with Democrats, falling short of the three needed to take control of the Senate.

While this wasn’t the outcome many hoped for, it was still a bit of a victory. No longer are politics played on an even field, and the situation in Wisconsin makes this clearer than any other state. But despite the slanted scale, working people in Wisconsin were still able to change two seats out of six. It is movement in the right direction.

What I mean about there no longer being an even playing field in politics is the vast amount of control and power money now has in our democratic system. While Scott Walker has pushed so extremely to rob working people of their basic rights and protections, he’s been cushioned in support of endlessly flowing money backing his efforts.

Brave New Foundation’s work on Koch Brothers Exposed has told the story of the corrupting role of big money in politics. How the Koch brothers politically spend their money, in order to get policies that will support their bottom line of billions, is a story we will continue to tell. The Koch brothers are a key example of this phenomenon, but they are far from the only wealthy individuals to control the outcomes of our political system. The represent a disease that is much larger than them alone.

This isn’t a game played fair. While organizers go door to door to have conversations with voters, big money can pay for endless ads to run on TV.

While democracy has rules and has traditionally been a structure respected for its importance in our country, the Kochs treat our political system as a game to be won at all costs.

A perfect example of this? Here is a clip of Stephen Colbert telling of the Koch-funded American For Prosperity’s work in Wisconsin around this recent election.

The Kochs gave enough money for Americans For Prosperity to mail Democratic voters information about how they should send their ballots in — days after the election — and how, instead of sending them to the appropriate office, they should send them to a fake right-wing run PO Box. Those using their money to corrupt our political system have no shame at this point.

We need some series changes made in order to save our political system from the destruction it is headed for. A citizen’s ability to influence our democracy cannot continue to be defined primarily by the size of their net wealth. The only thing that can fix this is a structural policy change that redefine politics’ relationship to money.

As we as a country wrestle with the need for these major changes, the game will continue to be played on an unequal field. But one positive thing that Wisconsin has shown us is that those who try to buy our democracy for their own gain are no longer able to do it in complete secret. When characters such as the Koch brothers, and their ruthless efforts to take political power away from working people, are so commonplace that Colbert can run a whole segment mocking them, things are changing.

We at Brave New Foundation will continue to work to tell these stories. We will continue to expose the unjust role of money in politics, and how the Koch brothers are a key example of how democracy can be bought to benefit one’s bottom line. The more we know and understand these stories, the more we can fight back. It’s an unequal battleground in politics in our country right now. The outcome of Wisconsin should be read as a reminder of that. A reminder of the fight still left to had, but also of the willingness of working people to not give up this fight. No matter how many billionaires they are up against.

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