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"Tea Parties": an astroturfed Koch family movement (FreedomWorks, Instapundit, Rick Santelli)


Now I know why Rick Santelli disgusts me: the "Tea Party" stimulus protests may be an astroturfed project of the wealthy Koch Family (called "the Kochtopus", see this).

The network between those various persons and groups behind those recent protests is discovered here. Despite the publication, the title, and their support for Obama they appear to be on to something:
What hasn’t been reported until now is evidence linking Santelli’s “tea party” rant with some very familiar names in the Republican rightwing machine, from PR operatives who specialize in imitation-grassroots PR campaigns (called “astroturfing”) to bigwig politicians and notorious billionaire funders. As veteran Russia reporters, both of us spent years watching the Kremlin use fake grassroots movements to influence and control the political landscape. To us, the uncanny speed and direction the movement took and the players involved in promoting it had a strangely forced quality to it. If it seemed scripted, that's because it was.

...his February 19th call for a “Chicago Tea Party” was the launch event of a carefully organized and sophisticated PR campaign, one in which Santelli served as a frontman, using the CNBC airwaves for publicity, for the some of the craziest and sleaziest rightwing oligarch clans this country has ever produced. Namely, the Koch family, the multibilllionaire owners of the largest private corporation in America, and funders of scores of rightwing thinktanks and advocacy groups, from the Cato Institute and Reason Magazine to FreedomWorks. The scion of the Koch family, Fred Koch, was a co-founder of the notorious extremist-rightwing John Birch Society.

...ChicagoTeaParty.com was just one part of a larger network of Republican sleeper-cell-blogs set up over the course of the past few months, all of them tied to a shady rightwing advocacy group coincidentally named the “Sam Adams Alliance,” whose backers have until now been kept hidden from public. Cached google records that we discovered show that the Sam Adams Alliance took pains to scrub its deep links to the Koch family money as well as the fake-grassroots “tea party” protests going on today. All of these roads ultimately lead back to a more notorious rightwing advocacy group, FreedomWorks, a powerful PR organization headed by former Republican House Majority leader Dick Armey and funded by Koch money.

...But it’s the Alliance’s scrubbing of their link to Koch that is most telling. A cached page, erased on February 16, just three days before Santelli’s rant, shows that the Alliance also wanted to cover up its ties to the Koch family. The missing link was an announcement that students interested in applying for internships to the Sam Adams Alliance could also apply through the “Charles G. Koch Summer Fellow Program” through the Institute for Humane Studies, a Koch-funded rightwing institute designed to scout and nurture future leaders of corporate libertarian ideology. The top two board directors at the Sam Adams Alliance include two figures with deep ties to Koch-funded programs: Eric O’Keefe, who previously served in Koch’s Institute for Humane Studies and the Club For Growth; and Joseph Lehman, a former communications VP at Koch’s Cato Institute...
Much more at the link. Note that Glenn Reynolds has been at the forefront of this movement and even promoted that internship as I noted here. I also noted in that post his promotion of the "tea party" events.

Note also my discussion of the video where Melanie Morgan ranted in Arlen Specter's office; as I pointed out, she did nothing useful. That was produced with the help of Freedom Works.

UPDATE: This site's major litmus tests involve immigration and sovereignty-related issues, and the John Birch Society seems to pass. Apparently the JBS was co-founded by Koch pere, and whether they still receive money from the Koch family isn't known. Any funding decisions for Cato and Reason would involve the sons. There also appears to be some sort of power struggle in the family, and whether they all support open borders isn't known.

UPDATE 2: The original site has taken down the story, with no explanation apparently provided. The key issue of interest to me is the involvement by Koch-funded groups in pushing the "protests", and that part is obviously true. Apparently some of the other things they said - such as the depth of the involvement of Santelli weren't.

Note that the Associated Press offers "CNBC: Santelli not tied to political Web site" (link) which only discusses one website (reteaparty.com). IIRC there were other allegations involving Santelli and it would be nice to know which are true and which aren't.

Note also the Glenn Reynolds lies about the AP story, saying "And it turns out that the story wasn’t true" (pajamasmedia.com/instapundit/71786) without mentioning that the AP story only deals with one part of the original story. Note that, as pointed out above, in addition to promoting the tea parties Reynolds recently promoted a Koch internship.

UPDATE 3: There are a few links about this here, including to Santelli denying any links and to a few articles from Megan McArdle. While the authors did get some things wrong, those like Glenn Reynolds who try to imply that everything was wrong aren't telling the truth. For instance, the Sam Adams Alliance denies any involvement (peekURL.com/zxbzpjp), but it's still an open question where they get their money from (link).

On more of the "part of the same network" side of things, the article points out that officialchicagoteaparty.com is registered to Eric Odom. He previously coordinated new media projects Eric Odom for Sam Adams (link). He started the dontgomovement.com with Allen Fuller; officialchicagoteaparty.com links to strategicactivism.com in the bottom as if indicating who made the site. The latter was registered to Fuller's company Flat Creek (fcreek.com/about/people.asp). Both Odom and Fuller appeared at an Americans for Prosperity summit; that group was founded by David Koch (defendingthedream.org/beta/?page_id=13). The latter isn't much of a smoking gun as many other much more famous people also attended, such as George Will.
Other tags: larry kudlow

Sat, 02/28/2009 - 17:37 · Importance: 9

Sun, 03/01/2009 - 00:17

Yeah, the JBS is almost as extremist as AirHead America radio and MoveOn.org, but it's on the "wrong" side of the tracks. You want to talk sleazebucket multibillionaires funding political movements in the dark? Start with Soros and go down the list of donkey donors who have more money (thanks to capitalism) than sense.

Sun, 03/01/2009 - 17:55
Fred Dawes

it will come to nothing.

Mon, 05/04/2009 - 22:57

You lefty fucks don't care for others borrowing your Alinsky tactics, huh? Guess what, you're the ones in the circle now. Time to ride the pendulum, girls. Hang on.