Kate Zernike writes for the New York Times that the “tea party” movement is largely being organized and funded by FreedomWorks, which isn’t really news.
FreedomWorks staffers are going around the country training the teabaggers how to be useful political tools and get out the vote for FreedomWorks candidates. It is this organizing that is behind the several upsets in recent Republican primaries, in which “tea party” candidates upset long-entrenched Republican incumbents. FreedomWorks is also helping Glenn Beck stage his vanity rally in Washington, DC this weekend.
Through its political action committee, FreedomWorks plans to spend $10 million on the midterm elections, on campaign paraphernalia â€” signs for candidates like Rand Paul of Kentucky and Marco Rubio of Florida are stacked around the offices here â€” voter lists, and a phone system that allows volunteers to make calls for candidates around the country from their home computers. With â€œmicrofinancingâ€ grants, it will steer money from FreedomWorks donors â€” the tax code protects their anonymity â€” to local Tea Parties.
There are other groups, including labor unions, spending more than that. But the interesting thing to me is the degree to which the
sheep teabaggers tea partiers see themselves as a grassroots anti-establishment movement when it’s really an astroturf organization being fueled by establishment figures of long standing.
FreedomWorks itself evolved from another organization, Citizens for a Sound Economy, created in 1984 by the Koch Foundation with help from Big Tobacco. Joshua Holland of AlterNet has called FreedomWorks a “Wall Street front group,”, although I think it’s probably more accurate to call it “astroturf for hire.” FreedomWorks works with a number of PR firms to manipulate public opinion for a number of right-wing special interests.
According to SourceWatch, its funders in 2007 included —
- Armstrong Foundation, $20,000
- Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, $80,000
- Richard and Helen DeVos Foundation, $100,000
- Sarah Scaife Foundation, $200,000
- Shelby Cullom Davis Foundation, $20,000
In other words — grassroots, my ass. What’s behind the “tea parties” are the same mega-wealthy familiy trusts that bankroll everything else that’s right wing in America. Other establishment figures associated with FreedomWorks include Dick Armey, Steve Forbes, and C. Boyden Gray.
Teabaggers also like to pretend they aren’t working for either party. But Zernike writes, “in the 2010 midterm elections, FreedomWorks is urging Tea Party groups to work for any Republican, on the theory that a compromised Republican is better than Democratic control of Congress.” In other words, now that most of the primaries are behind us the baggers are being used as Republican party operatives, and I doubt many of them will notice.
Update: See also Jill at Brilliant at Breakfast.