Americans for Prosperity wants to keep the GOP on Cruz control

After he shut down the government last year, and derailed House Republicans’ attempt to pass a bill in response to the Mexico border crisis this summer, it’s evident that Senator Ted Cruz is responsible for pushing the GOP even further to the far right. His extreme-Conservative-or-nothing approach to governing is now driving the Republican agenda on critical issues like health care and immigration reform.

Just ask the Koch brothers’ political arm, Americans for Prosperity, who are so convinced of Cruz’s leadership that they’re hosting him twice this month. Tonight, Senator Cruz will be joining a phone “chat” with AFP’s president Tim Phillips, where “grassroots activists” can learn how they, too, can help grind the work of government to a halt. Later this month, Cruz is the headliner for an AFP summit that promises attendees the opportunity to hear from lawmakers “leading the charge against big government.”

In addition to giving Senator Cruz a platform for his obstructionist agenda, AFP is poised to spend the most of any outside group supporting Republicans in this fall’s midterm elections. It’s clear that the Kochs and AFP want to keep the entire GOP on Cruz control.

Rick Perry was due to appear in court in Texas today for the formal reading of his two felony charges after being indicted for an abuse of power. But Perry thought to himself, why waste time at my arraignment in Travis County when I could be flying to New Hampshire to appear at an event with the Koch brothers’ Americans For Prosperity? 
 
That anyone could think Rick Perry might be able rehabilitate his image to the point of being a viable presidential candidate in 2016 is stupefying. Perry’s 2012 campaign went down in flames, and since then, he’s compared homosexuality to alcoholism and been indicted on multiple felony charges. But clearly Perry is still eying that impossible comeback, because YOLO.
 
Why else would Perry, the governor of Texas, be flying to New Hampshire to stump with Koch cronies about the state’s business tax rate? The trip highlights Rick Perry’s Tea Party priorities, for sure. But worse, it’s yet another indicator of the new power structure of the Republican Party. And Perry will be back with the Kochs and friends next weekend, joining the likes of Ted Cruz and Ben Carson at an AFP summit in Dallas. Yup, if you want to run for president, better start revving up your Koch-pandering engines now.

Joni Ernst and Terri Lynn Land: Fighting for Small Businesses Like Koch Industries

Yesterday, Iowa Republican Joni Ernst announced that she was “proud” to receive the endorsement of the National Federal of Independent Business (NFIB) for her candidacy for U.S. Senate. Michigan Republican Terri Lynn Land was similarly flattered when she received NFIB’s endorsement last month (oh, except for that time she walked away from a question about it). Either way, one thing should be clear: NFIB is not about small business, it’s about the Kochs.

NFIB received more money in 2012 from the billionaire Koch brothers’ Freedom Partners than it did any other source, and has now been shown to have close ties with ALEC, the advocacy group of choice for dozens of multinational corporations like ExxonMobil, AT&T and Altria. NFIB’s advocacy for tax cuts that benefit the wealthiest Americans, like the Koch brothers, is but one example of the group not having the interests of small business owners at heart. 

The suggestion that an NFIB endorsement is proof of small business support is at best misleading, but when taken with Joni’s predilection for Koch cronyism, it’s more evidence of her commitment to the Kochs’ self-serving, anti-working families agenda.

Terri Lynn Land and Joni Ernst are not only both brimming with pride to receive the support of the Koch-funded NFIB, they’ve both gone out of their way to praise the spending being done on their behalf by the Kochs’ political arm, Americans for Prosperity. Where Land considers dark money political spending “the American way,” Ernst has publicly thanked AFP  for running ads against her Democratic opponent.

Indeed, for this Senate candidate duo, support from a Koch group by any other name — NFIB, AFP or otherwise — is just as sweet.

What do Joni Ernst, the Kochs and Glenn Beck have in common?

Ever the Koch brothers’ crony, Iowa candidate for Senate Joni Ernst is in lockstep with their radical agenda, advocating the Kochs’ stance on numerous issues, including opposition to an increased minimum wage and support for cutting Medicare’s guaranteed benefits. Turns out the Kochs and Ernst don’t just share the same extreme, out-of-touch policy positions, they also subscribe to the same obscure conspiracy theories.

Yahoo News has the scoop this week on Ernst’s repeated rants against Agenda 21, an anti-U.N. conspiracy theory favored by the likes of Glenn Beck. Agenda 21 is a voluntary community planning provision that has been on the books for decades, yet as MSNBC notes, it seems like Ernst has “given the fringe topic quite a bit of thought.” Indeed, according to the Yahoo report, Ernst has warned “that Agenda 21 could force Iowa farmers off their land, dictate what cities Iowans must live in, and control how Iowa citizens travel from place to place.”

Not ones to miss out on crying foul about any affront (imagined or otherwise) to property rights, the Kochs’ Americans for Prosperity Foundation has voiced similarly misguided claims about Agenda 21. In 2012 — two whole decades after the provision was adopted — AFP Foundation released an anti-sustainable development “Need to Know” brief, saying that Agenda 21 “will literally change the way we live.” Hardly the first example of AFP’s fear-mongering rhetoric having a tenuous relationship with reality.

Agenda 21 is just the latest example of the Koch brothers and Joni Ernst propagating the same radical conservative ideology.  To recast an age-old expression, Iowa Republican Senate candidate Joni Ernst is an extreme, Koch-approved conservative in moderate’s clothing.

REPORT: Legacy of Loss: Koch Industries’ Layoffs and Environmental Harm in Battleground States

It’s no secret that the billionaire Koch brothers’ top priority is continuing to grow their massive fortune, no matter what it takes. Their oil conglomerate, Koch Industries, is the second largest privately held corporation in America, and states across the country are feeling the impacts of their activities. Koch Industries and its subsidiaries own facilities in 35 states across the country, including battleground states like Iowa, Michigan, Florida, Wisconsin and North Carolina — states where the Republican candidates are closely tied to the Koch brothers. These states have been subject to job loss, significant environmental damage, or both, at the hands of the Kochs’ business empire.

This report provides a breakdown of the impact Koch Industries has had on key states. The Kochs’ extreme, self-serving agenda is bad for working families. And that reality is starkly embodied not only by their political persuasions, but by their business endeavors.

Read the full report here

Legacy of Loss: Koch Industries’ Layoffs and Environmental Harm in Battleground States

Americans for Prosperity’s Tim Phillips appears on C-SPAN, gets the story wrong as usual

On C-SPAN’s Newsmakers this past Sunday, Tim Phillips, president of the Koch brothers’ political arm, Americans for Prosperity, gave the kind of interview you’d expect – one that plays fast and loose with the facts, pays tribute to his backers, and shows just how deluded Phillips and the Koch brothers truly are.

During the interview, Phillips characterized AFP’s work as simply opposing bad policies, but failed to mention that his backers have been pushing their extreme, self-serving agenda for over 30 years. Phillips also suggested that “most Americans… don’t have any sense of who David and Charles Koch are,” but he’s wrong – the Kochs are becoming a liability for the candidates they back.

That’s because voters are recognizing that AFP is essentially the third-largest political party in the country. The group plans to spend over $125 million in dark money this cycle to buy the Senate so Tim Phillips and the Kochs can see their extreme policies move from ideas to reality.

What are these extreme policies, you ask? Well for starters, they want to kill any raise in the minimum wage. They want to end Social Security as we know it. They want severe cuts to education funding to offset tax cuts for the wealthy. It’s an extreme, self-serving agenda that is out of touch with working Americans.

But wait, there’s more: thanks largely to Tim, the Kochs, and the extreme politicians they back, the current Congress is on track to be the least productive in modern history. Despite this, Tim thinks that “Americans are not as concerned about obstruction.” He said “it’s a good thing” that House Republicans have voted more than 50 times to repeal, replace, or cripple the Affordable Care Act instead of focusing on solving pressing problems like raising the minimum wage, extending unemployment insurance, and creating opportunity for families to get ahead.

This interview showed just how out of touch Tim Phillips and the Kochs are with the majority of Americans. In fact, the only point he made that was even close to being accurate came when he was asked for his thoughts on how the 2014 elections will play out. He answered that Republicans are struggling to take the lead because “the Republican brand is weak.” We couldn’t agree more.

That point aside, this was just another example of AFP using talking points to disguise the Koch brothers’ extreme agenda. Come November, the American people won’t be fooled.

Kochs create “shadow GOP’ to sway Hispanic voters while supporting GOP candidates who oppose immigration reform

The Koch brothers have succeeded in taking over the Republican Party, but they’ve found a gaping hole in their plan to take over the country: Republicans’ across-the-board lack of credibility with Hispanic voters. The Kochs know that if they don’t do something, the hundreds of millions of dollars they’ve invested in their candidates could be wasted.

So, as the AP recently reported, they’ve quietly started investing in grassroots efforts to provide Spanish speakers with English classes, health checkups, and courses to help them earn high school diplomas. They’ve invested millions to create the LIBRE Initiative, a grassroots organization that performs outreach across the southwest in places where “conservative organizations don’t typically go.”

But don’t let their generosity fool you – that money comes with strings attached. Their classes on immigration law have a conservative bent, and the food they hand out in communities across the southwest come with bilingual pamphlets in them espousing conservative ideology and talking points. They’ve essentially created a “shadow GOP” to recruit Hispanic voters to their cause.

Now it’s one thing to “help” people while trying to indoctrinate them; it’s another to be so two-faced that you’re also supporting candidates who are working against these voters’ best interests, but that’s exactly what the Kochs are doing.

Koch-backed Ted Cruz of Texas and his allies have used the border crisis as an excuse to target DREAMers and eliminate all legal protections for children who could be deported.

Koch-backed politicians and their staffs have attacked immigrants through policy changes and by saying some pretty awful things, including comparing them to dogs.

And, according to KPBS San Diego, which covered the Kochs’ most recent exclusive and secretive dark money donor meeting, the Kochs invite people who get a laugh by using racist slurs.

The list goes on and on, but that doesn’t faze the Kochs, who are spending $500 million this election cycle to buy the U.S. Senate so they can finally get the extreme policies they want. All that matters to them is getting their lackeys in office, no matter how many dreams – or DREAMers – they crush in the process.

“Moderate” Bruce Rauner really just another Koch lackey

Need proof that Illinois gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner is no moderate? Look no further than the billionaire’s “charitable” giving to see where his true priorities lie: as has been recently exposed, Rauner “has given more than $2 million to extreme right-wing causes and groups associate with the Tea Party and the billionaire Koch brothers.”

This is the same Bruce Rauner who likes to tout his “everyman” credentials by wearing an $18 watch and driving an old camper van, while also spent $100,000 on a single parking spot at a Chicago condo building and bragging about his status among the wealthiest .01% in the country.  Over the past 10 years, Rauner’s given millions to Koch-backed groups and other extreme right-wing groups that want to move the state and the country backwards on the minimum wage, Social Security, Medicare, abortion, marriage equality, climate change, and the environment.

Here’s a sample of Rauner’s extreme priorities:

  • He’s on record saying that he is “adamantly, adamantly” opposed to raising the minimum wage, and he gave $885,000 to groups that support lowering the minimum wage, oppose raising it, or want to abolish the minimum wage altogether, like the Koch brothers’ political arm Americans for Prosperity.
  • Rauner gave $150,000 to Americans for Prosperity, which supports privatizing Social Security and ending Medicare.
  • Rauner gave $25,000 to tea party lobbying group FreedomWorks, which helped usher in the tea party wave in Congress and has vocally opposed health care reform.
  • Rauner has given at least $700,000 to Donors Trust, the right wing’s “dark money ATM,” which hides donors’ giving to extreme tea party-linked groups like Americans for Prosperity, the Heritage Foundation, the Cato Institute, and the American Enterprise Institute – all Koch-backed groups.
  • He supports groups that compare people who believe in climate change to the Unabomber, and has given money to groups that support tax breaks for oil and gas companies and drilling for oil in the Great Lakes and the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, which would harm sensitive ecosystems. Not coincidentally, the Kochs support keeping tax breaks for oil companies.
  • Rauner vowed to veto the marriage equality bill that gave gay and lesbian couples the right to marry, and he gave $400,000 to the Family Taxpayers Foundation, a group adamantly opposed to rights for LGBT people.
  • Rauner has also given $200,000 to Club for Growth, which attacked Mitt Romney for suggesting that minimum wage should keep pace with inflation, an idea supported by 75 leading economists.

It’s clear that a “Governor Bruce Rauner” would be no different than a “Governor Charles Koch” or “Governor David Koch” – driving an extreme policy agenda out-of-touch with Illinois’ working families.

Putting the “Fib” in NFIB

The National Federation of Independent Businesses (NFIB) presents itself as a do-good nonpartisan group that fights for the best interests of small businesses and stays out of politics.

It isn’t.

Dig a litter deeper and you’ll quickly learn that NFIB is another group with Koch-funding working to push their anti-working family agenda and elect politicians who embody it. They purport to lobby for small business, but fight tooth and nail for tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans — tax cuts that help people like the Kochs and not people like the local hardware store owner.

And now their claim of being a non-partisan has been even further torn to shreds. The Washington Post reports that NFIB has significant ties to ALEC:

“The American Legislative Exchange Council, which connects state lawmakers with private sector executives to discuss and craft legislation, recently added Steve Woods, NFIB’s senior vice president in charge of state operations, to its private enterprise council. … On the advisory council, Woods will be sitting alongside executives from corporate titans like Exxon, Pfizer, AT&T, SAP and State Farm — as well as the head of public and government affairs for Koch Industries, according to ALEC’s Web site.”

NFIB isn’t an advocate for small business. And they aren’t nonpartisan. Their association with ALEC is yet another indicator of their true colors. This is just one more group in the massive Koch network that fights to make life even easier for billionaires and big business CEOs, and harder for working families.

No wonder Terri Lynn Land doesn’t want to talk about her support from this shady Koch-backed group.

Background:

CNN Headline: “Koch Bros.-Backed Group Gave Millions To Small Business Lobby”  [CNN, 11/21/13]

CNN: “The Champions Of Main Street America Got More Money Last Year From A Group Backed By Billionaire Industrialists Charles And David Koch Than Any Other Single Source.”  According to CNN:  The National Federation of Independent Business is one of the most influential small-business advocacy groups in the country. They battle against government regulation, higher taxes and, perhaps most famously, Obamacare. And they do it all as the self-described ‘voice of small business.’  But it turns out that the champions of Main Street America got more money last year from a group backed by billionaire industrialists Charles and David Koch than any other single source.”  [CNN, 11/21/13]

Government Watchdog Public Citizen: “The Idea That Koch Brothers Money In Some Way Is Going To Help Small Businesses Is Laughable. What They’re Buying Is The Ability To Help Set The Agenda.”  According to CNN: The big-money donations are raising questions about whose agenda NFIB is serving, that of mom-and-pop businesses or the captains of big industry.  Lisa Gilbert of the government watchdog group Public Citizen said the NFIB is “taking the name of small business in vain.’ ‘The idea that Koch brothers money in some way is going to help small businesses is laughable,” Gilbert said. “What they’re buying is the ability to help set the agenda.’”  [CNN, 11/21/13]

Businessweek: NFIB Supports Conservative Positions, Backs Tax Breaks That “Would Accrue To People Other Than Small Business Owners, According To A Nonpartisan Analysis”  Engages In “Small Biz-Washing.” According to Businessweek, “Does the NFIB support conservative positions? No question. It’s received $3.7 million in funding from Karl Rove’s Crossroads GPS. The NFIB also spent $3.1 million in 2010 for ‘advertising services’ with Crossroads Media, which bills itself as ‘the premier Republican media services firm.’ Does that make the NFIB a front for big business, or are conservative policies just what its small business membership wants? That’s harder to judge. The NFIB backs extending tax breaks for the wealthiest Americans, even though the bulk of those benefits would accrue to people other than small business owners, according to a nonpartisan analysis. We dubbed this practice ‘small biz-washing.’” [Businessweek, 9/26/12]

NFIB Is Prominent Defender Of Tax Breaks For The Wealthy. According to Mother Jones, “[Romney's] argument has the support of a powerful ally: the National Federation of Independent Businesses (NFIB), a ‘nonpartisan’ small-business advocacy group that has put defending the Bush tax cuts for the richest of the rich near the top of its political agenda. Often cited as the leading voice of small business, the NFIB was founded in 1943 by a former US Chamber of Commerce staffer who thought that business groups were neglecting the little guys. Today it claims 350,000 members, chapters in all 50 states, and a $95 million budget. In May, the Washington Post cited the NFIB to back up Romney’s attacks on Obama’s tax plan, reporting that the group had given an F to the portion of Obama’s budget that deals with taxing the wealthy. The NFIB’s defense of the rich offers handy political cover for the Learjet crowd, but few among the legions of small business owners that it represents will benefit from its lobbying. Only 3 percent of small businesses net more than $250,000 a year, the lowest income that would be affected by Obama’s tax plan.” [Mother Jones, 7/23/12]

Koch education event in Nashville ‘spreads misinformation’

Last month, we gave you a preview of the Charles Koch Institute’s disingenuous — if not downright hypocritical – education forum in Nashville. This week, the Tennesseean has a post-event recap that highlights the paradox inherent in an education discussion hosted by an outfit that wants to end federal funding for education altogether.

The Kochs and their allies approach education much like they do any other aspect of their platform, in that they want to do away with government oversight, regulation and funding in favor of a privatized system. For an example, one needn’t look any further than neighboring North Carolina, where the Kochs and Americans for Prosperity have supported state budgets that slashed public education jobs and funding. Simultaneously, AFP has demonized public education in the Tar Heel state and lauded efforts to establish a voucher system that diverts taxpayer funds away from public schools to fund students’ private school tuition.

According to an account from a leader of the Tennessee School Boards Association, last month’s event in Nashville is proof that the Kochs are hoping to replicate this effort across the border in Tennessee. The author lists several examples where the event’s panelists spouted false and misleading negative claims meant to denigrate Tennessee’s public schools in favor of a voucher system for private schools. Not only is their misinformation scheme entirely transparent, it’s an insult to the thousands of teachers and education employees who have been working hard to improve student outcomes for Tennessee students.

This is hardly the first example of the Kochs and AFP spreading misinformation in service of their anti-working families agenda. Why should the Kochs treat education issues — and teachers, students and families — any differently than they do any other aspect of their self-interested platform?

 

Paid for by American Bridge 21st Century Foundation