Submitted by Elaine Magliaro, Guest Blogger
Last week I wrote up a post titled Scott Walker: A Fiscally Responsible Governor or a Politician Who Is Playing Favorites?. Judging from the number of comments left at that post, it appears that people are very interested in what’s been going on in the state of Wisconsin. I think many people may believe that as Wisconsin goes—so goes the nation…and probably the life expectancy of labor unions and collective bargaining.
What got a lot of press attention was the story of the prank phone call that Governor Walker received from gonzo journalist Ian Murphy. Murphy pretended to be billionaire industrialist David Koch. He talked to Walker for twenty minutes. Murphy reportedly told the Associated Press he made the prank phone call in order to show how candid Walker would be in a conversation with Koch at a time when Democrats claim the governor was refusing to return their calls.
The prank phone call appears to show a cozy relationship between Walker and Koch, a top campaign donor who may have a financial interest in fighting unions. Union workers protesting in Wisconsin have already made monetary concessions to help with Wisconsin’s budget shortfall. One has to wonder what is really behind the governor’s demand that public employee unions be stripped of their right to bargain collectively. Is it all part of an agenda to “take unions out at the knees”—a strategy suggested by Scott Hagerstrom at the annual conference of the Conservative Political Action Committee (CPAC)? Hagerstrom is the Executive Director of Michigan’s chapter of Americans for Prosperity (AFP).
In a Mother Jones article, Andy Kroll writes: Walker’s plan to eviscerate collective bargaining rights for public employees is right out of the Koch brothers’ playbook. Koch-backed groups like Americans for Prosperity, the Cato Institute, the Competitive Enterprise Institute, and the Reason Foundation have long taken a very antagonistic view toward public-sector unions.
And who is Americans for Prosperity? Felicia Sonmez has written that AFP is really two groups—both of which were founded by David Koch in 2004: Americans for Prosperity, a 501(c)4 and the Americans for Prosperity Foundation, is a 501(c)3.
Somnez says that both groups are considered “not-for-profit” organizations under the Internal Revenue Service code—and that they do not have to disclose the identity of their donors or the contributions made by those donors. She added that David Koch is believed to be one of the group’s top donors.
In a New Yorker article titled Covert Operations: The billionaire brothers who are waging a war against Obama, Jane Mayer wrote about Peggy Venable, the Texas State Director of AFP: She (Peggy Venable) explained that the role of Americans for Prosperity was to help “educate” Tea Party activists on policy details, and to give them “next-step training” after their rallies, so that their political energy could be channelled “more effectively.” And she noted that Americans for Prosperity had provided Tea Party activists with lists of elected officials to target. She said of the Kochs, “They’re certainly our people. David’s the chairman of our board. I’ve certainly met with them, and I’m very appreciative of what they do.”
In August 2009, ThinkProgress said that it had obtained an exclusive memo from a Tea Party group that is supported by Koch’s Americans for Prosperity.
From Think Progress: “The memo outlined various ways for Tea Party activists to intimidate Democratic lawmakers and disrupt their town hall meetings on health reform. ThinkProgress published half a dozen articles exposing the role of Koch-funded groups like “Patients United” in encouraging opposition to health reform. For instance, in Virginia, a Koch-funded operative Ben Marchi assisted a birther who followed Rep. Tom Perriello (D-VA) around, yelling at him at town hall meetings.”
That’s all I’ve got for now, folks. Talk amongst yourselves. I need a break!