This post first appeared on Think Progress. In 2006, Koch Industries owner Charles Koch revealed to the Wall Street Journal’s Stephen Moore that he coordinates the funding of the conservative infrastructure of front groups, political campaigns, think tanks, media outlets and other anti-government efforts through a twice annual meeting of wealthy right-wing donors. He also confided to Moore, who is funded through several of Koch’s ventures, that his true goal is to strengthen the “culture of prosperity” by eliminating “90%” of all laws and government regulations. Although it is difficult to quantify the exact amount Koch alone has funneled to right-wing fronts, some studies have pointed toward $50 million he has given alone to anti-environmental groups. Recently, fronts funded by Charles and his brother David have received scrutiny because they have played a pivotal role in the organizing of the anti-Obama Tea Parties and the promotion of virulent far right lawmakers like Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC). (David Koch praised DeMint and gave him a “Washington Award” shortly after the senator promised to “break” Obama by making health reform his “Waterloo.”) While the Koch brothers — each worth over $21.5 billion — have certainly underwritten much of the right, their hidden coordination with other big business money has gone largely unnoticed. ThinkProgress has obtained a memo outlining the details of the last Koch gathering held in June of this year. The memo, along with an attendee list of about 210 people, shows the titans of industry — from health insurance companies, oil executives, Wall Street investors, and real estate tycoons — working together with conservative journalists and Republican operatives to plan the 2010 election, as well as ongoing conservative efforts through 2012. According to the memo, David Chavern, the number two at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and Fox News hate-talker Glenn Beck also met with these representatives of the corporate elite. In an election season with the most undisclosed secret corporate giving since the Watergate-era, the memo sheds light on the symbiotic relationship between extremely profitable, multi-billion dollar corporations and much of the conservative infrastructure. The memo describes the prospective corporate donors as “investors,” and it makes clear that many of the Republican operatives managing shadowy, undisclosed fronts running attack ads against Democrats were involved in the Koch’s election-planning event:
Corporate “investors” at the Koch meeting included businesses with a strong profit motive in rolling back President Obama’s enacted reforms. Several companies impacted by health reform, including Allan Hubbard of A & E Industries, a manufacturer of medical devices and Judson Green, a board member of health insurance conglomerate Aon, were present at the meeting. Other businessmen at the meeting, like Omaha Burger King franchiser Mike Simmonds, are owners of fast food stores which have fought efforts to provide health insurance to their employees. Many corporate attendees of the meeting represent the financial industry impacted by Wall Street reform. For instance, attendee Bill Cooper is the CEO of TCF Financial, a corporation involved in the mortgage banking industry. Cooper recently filed a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of Wall Street reform. Other financial industry players in the meeting hail from firms ranging from Bank of America, JLM Investment, Allied Capital Corp, AMG National Trust, the Blackstone Group and Citadel Investment. Annie Dickerson, a representative of Paul Singer, a powerful hedge fund manager who also gives tens of millions to Republican causes, was present. In addition, Koch Industries itself has a hedge fund and other financial derivative products in its portfolio of interests, which include oil pipelines, coal shipping, asphalt, refineries, consumer goods, timber, ranching, and chemicals. – Corporate “investors” at the Koch meeting included businesses with a strong profit motive in preventing progressive reforms promised by President Obama. Several executives at the meeting have an incentive to stop Democrats and President Obama from addressing climate change and enacting clean energy reform. The meeting included oil executives from Aspect Energy, Murfin Drilling, Anschutz Company, GeoPark Holdings, Smoky Oil, and several members of Koch’s various subsidiaries. The meeting documents explicitly state that funding efforts to curb “climate change alarmism” were discussed. – Fred Malek, Karl Rove’s top fundraiser for his $56 million attack ad campaign against Democrats, attended the meeting, along with leaders of other secret attack groups. Heather Higgins, who leads the Independent Women’s Forum, a shadowy group that has spent millions of dollars in attack ads on health reform, attended the meeting. So did Gretchen Hamel, a former Bush flak who now runs an attack ad group called “Public Notice” that runs ad which denounce spending programs. – Participants collaborated with infamous consultants who specialize in generating fake grassroots movements, as well as experts on how corporations should take advantage of Citizens United. One session, about how to “mobilize citizens for November,” involved a discussion with Republican strategists Tim Phillips and Sean Noble, anti-union leader Mark Mix, and longtime Koch operative Karl Crow. Phillips — a veteran astroturf lobbyist who previously managed a deceptive grassroots lobbying campaign to help the Hong Kong-based Tan family maintain their forced abortion sweatshops in the Mariana Islands — now leads the day-to-day operations of Americans for Prosperity, the group ThinkProgress first reported to have helped organize many of the initial Tea Party rallies against Obama. Americans for Prosperity, founded and financed by David Koch, has a field team of over 80 campaign staffers spread out around the country, and additionally plans to spend $45 million dollars worth of attack ads against Democrats. Shortly before the planning meeting, Crow authored a campaign finance memo explaining that because of the Citizens United Supreme Court ruling, he advised specifically that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s 501(c)(6) and Americans for Prosperity’s 501(c)(4) can “now use general treasury funds to produce communications materials opposing or supporting specific candidates” and corporations can aggressively pressure their employees to vote a certain way.
The memo notes that participants in the 2010 election planning meeting “committed to an unprecedented level of support.” Interestingly, the Koch meetings are managed by Kevin Gentry, an executive who doubles as a staffer in the Koch Industries lobbying office in Washington and as the key point person who helps deliver Koch charitable foundation grants. As ThinkProgress has documented, Koch Industries has dramatically boosted its own profits by using conservative front groups to manipulate public policy. The fusion between the “intellectual” conservative movement and big businesses opposed to regulations and accountability has a history in America dating back to the New Deal. During the thirties, the Du Pont family and other wealthy interests organized an assortment of “Liberty League” front groups to try to defeat New Deal agenda items and repeal President Roosevelt’s Social Security program. Now, corporations fund groups like the Heritage Foundation and the American Enterprise Institute — both had representatives at the Koch meeting — to further their lobbying agenda. The American Enterprise Institute even changed its name from the New Deal-era American Enterprise Association to try to dispel the notion that they were nothing more than a glorified business trade association. As the memo states, Beck has addressed this regular gathering of conservative corporate executives in previous years. Past Koch meetings have included various Republican lawmakers, including DeMint, and Supreme Court Justices Clarence Thomas and Antonin Scalia as speakers. After ThinkProgess published its exclusive investigation of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce revealing that the Chamber has been actively fundraising from foreign corporations for its 501(c)(6) account used to run a $75 million attack ad campaign, Chamber lobbyists found common cause with Beck and many of the conservative talking heads. Shortly after our investigation, Beck hosted an on-air fundraiser, asking his audience to give to the Chamber. Casual observers might have been surprised by the Chamber’s swift alliance with Beck (Chamber executives appeared on the Beck radio program and sung Beck’s praises on the Chamber blog), who has compared Obama to Adolf Hitler and called the President a “racist” who has a “deep-seated hatred for white people.” By telling his listeners to give money to the Chamber, Beck, who owns a media company worth more than $32 million dollars and an experimental Mercedes Benz, essentially told his working class viewers to give their wages back to their employers. However, Beck never disclosed his long working history of discussing political strategy with America’s largest corporations. The Koch memo clearly shows that Beck has been collaborating with the Chamber, as well as other titans of industry, for years. In his latest appeal for support to the Chamber’s foreign-funded trade association, which already counts JP Morgan and ExxonMobil as dues-paying members, Beck yesterday told his audience that the Chamber simply “defends the little guy.” Click below to view a letter inviting corporate executives to attend the next Koch meeting in January, along with a list of the sessions held by Koch for the last meeting in June of 2010. An attendee list of the June, 2010 meeting is attached at the bottom of the document: CAPAF interns Salvatore Colleluori, Riley Waggaman, and Ben Kaldunski contributed to this post. Some of the donors at the Koch meeting were longtime Bush fundraisers, like Cintas Corporation CEO Dick Farmer and wholesale executive Art Pope. However, many names appear to be relatively new to conservative movement “investment.” Here's a listing of the attendees:
Name(s) Industry Notes
Jack and Rose Marie Anderson Finance Culver Corp, Rose Marie and Jack R. Anderson Foundation- Financial Advisor
Neil Anderson and Amy Fisher-Smith Runs Rose Marie and Jack R. Anderson Foundation
Phil and Nancy Anschutz Investment Industrialist, Owner, Weekly Standard, Examiner newspapers
Cliff Asness Investment AQR Capital Management
Nate and Lynda Bachman Finance The Bachman Group-Financial Advisor
Whitney Ball Think Tank Owner of a firm that helps corporations give anonymous gifts to front groups
Michael Barone Media Fox News
Frank and Kathy Baxter Banking Ambassador Frank E. Baxter is Chairman Emeritus of Jefferies and Company, Inc., a global investment bank focusing on mid-cap companies.
Steve and Betty Bechtel Engineering Owns the Bechtel Group (Corporation), Largest engineering company in United States
Glenn Beck Media Fox News
Bernard and Margaret Blasingame Manufacturing President and owner of Aqua Dynamics Systems, Inc
Alan and Lisa Boeckmann Oil CEO Fluor Corporation
Boysie Bollinger Shipping/Commerce Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer of Bollinger Shipyards
Patrick and Paula Broe Real Estate Founder and CEO of Denver-based real estate asset management firm, The Broe Group
Arthur Brooks Think Tank President, American Enterprise Institute
David and Ann Brown Think Tank Heritage Foundation
John Bryan
Bob and Martha Buford Oil C. Robert Buford has been President and owner of Zenith Drilling Corporation
Tim Busch
Shelby and Nell Bush Energy Vice President, Legal and Administration – Hillwood Energy
Tim Carney Media Political Columnist, Washington Examiner
Charlies and Marla Chandler
David Chavern Lobbyist Executive Vice President and COO at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce
John Childs Insurance Chairman and CEO of J.W. Childs and Associates
Paul and Lea Clifton Runs Robert and Marie Hansen Family Foundation
Susie Coelhoe Media founder and CEO of Susie Coelho Enterprises Inc.
Bill Cooper and Kristen Tollefson Finance/Banking CEO of TCF Financial
Dino and Joan Cortopassi
Joe Craft Coal Joseph W. Craft III is president, chief executive officer and director of Alliance Resource Partners LP
Alex Cranberg Energy Aspect Holdings, LLC – Chairman
Jeff Crank Americans For Prosperity / Radio Pundit AFP State Director
Karl Crow Policy Analyst Capital Research Center
Eric Crown and Isabella King Technology Sales Sell Technology Equipment
Kevin Crutchfield Coal Kevin S. Crutchfield serves as Chief Executive Officer of Alpha Coal Sales Co., LLC.
Ravenell and Beth Curry
Jim and Shirley Dannenbaum Engineering Mr. Dannenbaum, Chairman of Dannenbaum Engineering Corporation
Veronique de Rugy Think Tank Senior research fellow at the Mercatus Center
Rich and Helen DeVos Business Founder and CEO of Amway
Annie Dickerson Business CBRE analyst
Ned and Nancy Diefenthal
Jim and Dorothy Patterson Oil Gulf Stream Petroleum
Dan and Kellie Peters Non-for Profit Daniel S. Peters is president of the Ruth and Lovett Peters Foundation in Cincinnati, Ohio
Tom Petrie Banking Co-founder of BofA Merrill Lynch Petrie Divestiture Advisors
Dixon and Carol Doll Technology Co-Founder and General Partner of DCM
Karl and Stevie Eller Advertising
Ron and Kris Erickson Retail Ronald A. Erickson is the Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of the Board of Directors of Holiday Companies
Melvyn and Suellen Estrin Natural Gas Director of WGL Holdings INC
Dick Farmer
Peter Farrell Biomed Founder of Resmed
Jim and Zibbie Ferrell Fuel Oil Ferrellgas Partners, L.P. engages in the distribution and sale of propane and related equipment primarily in the United States.
Dave Fettig Natural Gas Tank Craft, Duracraft Fuel energy
Bob Fettig Natural Gas Tank Craft, Duracraft Fuel energy
Steve Fettig Natural Gas Tank Craft, Duracraft Fuel energy
Jerry and Nanette Finger Banking Managing Partner, Finger Interests LTD
Richard Fink Koch Industries Director of Georgia-Pacific, EVP of Koch Industries
Budd and Lauri Florkiewicz Manufacturing Foam Fabricators
Charlie and Kaye Lynn Fote Finance Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Fotec Group LLC
Randy and Jean Foutch Oil Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Laredo Petroleum, Inc.
Foster Friess Investment Mr. Foster Stephen Friess is the Founder and Chairman of Friess Associates, LLC
Steve and Polly Friess
Jerry and Leah Fullinwider Energy/Petroleum Vice Chairman, Hillwood International Energy, L.P.
Richard and Leslie Gilliam Coal Richard Gilliam has been President of Cumberland Resources Corporation since 1993.
Susan Gore Think Tank Founder, Wyoming Liberty Group
Oliver and Carolyn Grace Jr. Med and Telecom President and chief executive officer of Anderson Group, Inc.,
Judson and Joyce Green Energy and Med Mr. Judson C. Green is the President and Chief Executive Officer of NAVTEQ Corp.
Ken and Anne Griffin Investment Banking Founder and CEO of Citadel Investment Group
Gretchen Hamel
Fred and Jane Hamilton Oil Mr. Frederic C. Hamilton served as the President, Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of the Board of BHP Petroleum, Hamilton Oil Company and various Hamilton Oil Corporation subsidiaries and affiliates
Bob and Mary Sue Hawk Communications President of Hawk Communications
Dick and Ethie Haworth Retail Head of Haworth Furniture, Multi-national corporation, 3rd largest corporate furniture company in US
Robin and Barbara Hayes Government Former NC Congressman
Dan and Carolyn Heard Manufacturing Executive Officer of John H. Carter Co.,
Diane Hendricks Manufacturing Husband of Ken Hendricks
Steve and Regina Hennessy Auto Sales Auto Sales
James and Heather Higgins Think Tank Independent Women’s Forum
Paul Hill Oil Paul J. Hill serves as the Chief Executive Officer and has been President of Harvard Developments Inc. since 1978. Mr. Hill serves as the Chief Executive Officer and President of The Hill Companies.
John and Joan Hotchkis Education Board of Directors for Teach for America UC Berkley
Allan and Kathy Hubbard Chemicals and Manufacturing Founder and Chief Executive Officer, E & A Industries, Inc.
Stan and Karen Hubbard Communications Executive Chairman, Chief Executive Officer and President, Hubbard Broadcasting, Inc.
Ethelmae Humphreys Think Tank Cato Institute
Manley and Mary Johnson Political Consultant
Merritt Johnson
Gerry and Priscilla O’Shaughnessy Oil Gerald Eugene O’Shaughnessy Co-founded Geopark Holding Limited in 2002.
Michael O’Shaunessy Technology Petters Consumer Brands, LLC develops consumer electronics and appliances.
Tim O’Shaughnessy Media Hungry Machine, Inc., doing business as LivingSocial.com, is a social discovery and cataloging network.
Marshall Johnson
Kyle and Kirsten Johnstone
Mike and Beth Kasser Real Estate President, Holualoa Inc
Ken and Randy Kendrick Education/Technology Chairman, Datatel
Phil and Joanna Kerpen Advocacy Group/Think Tank VP of Policy, Americans for Prosperity
Gerry and Kathryn Kingen Restauranteur Red Robin, Happy Guests Int’ll
Scott Kirkpatrick Investor Teton Capital
Charles and Liz Koch Koch Industries
Chase and Annie Koch Koch Industries
David and Julia Koch Koch Industries
Elizabeth Koch Koch Industries
Bob and Cindy Koch Koch Industries
Bob Kohlhepp Manufacturing/Services Vice Chairman, Cintas Corp.
Dennis Kuester Banking Retired CEO of M&I Bank
Andrew Kupersmith Consultant MD, Cardiology Consultants
Andre Lacy Investment Chairman, Lacy Diversified Industries
Ken and Elaine Langone Retail Invemed, Home Depot
Jay and Sally Lapeyre Services Laitram Corp
Ken and Frayda Levy Investment JLM Investment Mgmt
Tom Love Retail CEO, President, Love’s Country Stores
Bob Luddy Manufacturing President, Captive Aire Systems
Fred and Marlene Malek Investment Management Thayer Capital Partners
Elaine Marshall Homemaker
Pierce Marshall Administrative Management MAROPCO
Preston Marshall
Bill Mayer Health Care MD, Mayer & Cope Family Practice
Glen and Diane Meakem Business Solutions CEO, Freemarkets Inc.
Ed Meese Think Tank Heritage Foundation
Lew and Suzy Meibergen Goods/Services President, Johnston Enterprises/WG Johnston Grain Co
Don and Deede Meyers Attorney Self Employed
Jerry and Caroline Milbank Investment Management CEO/Principal, Milbank Winthrop & Co.
Jack and Goldie Miller Retail CEO/President, Quill Corp.
Mark Mix Advocacy Group President, National Right to Work Committee
Joe and Mary Moeller Koch Industries Vice Chairman
Steve Moore Media member of the Wall Street Journal editorial board
David Murfin Energy President, Murfin Drilling Co.
Walter and Suzette Negley
Mina Nguyen
Larry and Polly Nichols Energy Executive Chairman, Devon Energy Corp
Sean Noble Front Group Americans for Prosperity
Tim and Teresa Oelke Advocacy Group/Construction Teresa – State Director of Americans for Prosperity, Tim – Crossland Construction Corp
Eric O’Keefe Front Group Sam Adams Alliance
Kurt and Nancy Pfotenhauer Media President of MediaSpeak Strategies/former political commentator on Fox News, CNN and MSNBC and former Senior Policy Advisor and National Spokesperson with the 2008 John McCain presidential campaign
Tim Phillips Advocacy Group president, Americans for Prosperity
Ramesh Ponnuru Media National Review magazine
Art and Kathy Pope Goods/Services Senior Exec, Variety Wholesaler
Russ Roberts Attorney Roberts, Ashby & Parrish
Corbin and Barbara Robertson Energy President, Quintana Minerals Corp
Richard Roder and Karin Hsu Construction Management CEO, Cmt-Construction Management
Gary and Kathleen Rogers Goods Former CEO, Dreyer’s Grand Ice Cream
Durk Rorie Manufacturing United Air Specialists
Chris Rufer Goods/Manufacturing Morningstar Company
Peter Schiff and Martha O’Brien Investor Schiff: Euro Pacific Capital Inc.,
Steve and Christine Schwarzman Financial Services CEO/founder, Blackstone Group
Rick and Sherry Sharp Retail Former CEO, Circuit City
Mike and Lin Simmonds Services CEO, Simmonds Restaurant Mgmt
Peter Smith Services CEO, Service Group of America
Dick Strong Investment Services Strong/Corneliuson Capital Mgmt
Michael Sullivan Investment Services CR Intrinsic Investors
Ray and Ladeline Thompson Manufacturing President/CEO, Semitool
Lynn Tilton Investment Management CEO, Patriarch Partners LLC
Dave and Melanie True Oil Partner
Steve Twist Consultant Rose & Allyn PR Consultants
Jim and Gayla Von Ehr Research/Development CEO, Zyvex Corp
Rick and Debra Waller Manufacturing Owner, Rollmeister Inc
Peter Wallison Think Tank Fellow, American Enterprise Institute
Bill and Sarah Walton Real Estate Allied Capital Corp
Lew and Myra Ward Oil Ward Petroleum Corporation owns and operates wells. It engages in oil and gas exploration and production. The company was founded in 1963 and is based in Enid, Oklahoma.
Dick Weekley Real Estate Weekley Properties
Fred and Susie Wehba Real Estate Bentley Forbes Real Estate
Nestor Weigand and Darcy Buehler Real Estate JP Weigand & Sons Real Estate
Dick and Mary Beth Weiss Life Insurance Wells Fargo, Hawthorne Rances
Howard and Rhonda Wilkins Insurance Diversified Insurance
Don and Sue Wills Oil
Larry and Lorraine Winnerman Real Estate Win Win Enterprises
Joe Woodford
Earl Wright Finance AMG Natinal Trust
Karen Wright and Tom Rastin Energy/Manufacturing Tom Rastin, vice president of marketing and engineering, Ariel Corp – Karen Wright, Ariel CEO
Cliff and Susan Yonce Investment Banking Goldman Sachs
Fred and Sandra Young Services Diversified Search, LLC provides senior-level executive and corporate board search services in the United States and internationally. It provides recruitment services for various organizations in consumer and industrial, education, not-for-profit, arts and culture, financial and professional services, business, healthcare and human services, life sciences, media and entertainment, sports and leisure, energy and utilities, private equity, retail, and technology and communications industries.
This post first appeared on Think Progress. Last week, ThinkProgress published an exclusive story about the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s foreign fundraising operation. We noted the Chamber raises money from foreign-owned businesses for its 501(c)(6) entity, the same account that finances its unprecedented $75 million dollar partisan attack ad campaign. While the Chamber is notoriously secretive, the thrust of our story involved the disclosure of fundraising documents U.S. Chamber staffers had been distributing to solicit foreign (even state-owned) companies to donate directly to the Chamber’s 501(c)(6). We documented three different ways the Chamber fundraises from foreign corporations: (1) An internal fundraising program called “Business Councils” used to solicit direct, largely foreign contributions to the Chamber, (2) Direct contributions from foreign multinationals like BP, Siemens, and Shell Oil, and (3) From the Chamber’s network of AmCham affiliates, which are foreign chambers of the Chamber composed of American and foreign companies. The Chamber quickly acknowledged that it receives direct, foreign money, but simply replied, “We are not obligated to discuss our internal procedures.” Instead of providing any documentation or proof to demonstrate foreign money is not being used for electioneering purposes, the Chamber launched an aggressive media strategy to first, attack ThinkProgress with petty name-calling and second, to confuse the media by highlighting the Chamber’s relatively minor AmCham fundraising, which the Chamber says (also without documentation) totals “approximately $100,000” from all 115 international AmCham chapters. The Chamber and the media largely ignored ThinkProgress’ revelation about the Chamber’s direct foreign fundraising to its 501(c)(6) used for attack ads. Yesterday, the Chamber’s chief lobbyist Bruce Josten, who has been spoon-feeding much of the media distortions about our report, went on Fox News (whose parent company donated $1 million to the Chamber recently for its ad campaign) to again try to dilute the issue by dissembling about the Chamber’s fundraising and membership. “We have probably 60 or so foreign multi-national companies in our membership that we have had for decades, many of which have been in the United States for half a century or a century,” said Josten. The Chamber is being deceptive. In addition to multinational members of the Chamber headquartered abroad (like BP, Shell Oil, and Siemens), a new ThinkProgress investigation has identified at least 84 other foreign companies that actively donate to the Chamber’s 501(c)(6). Below is a chart detailing the annual dues foreign corporations have indicated that they give directly to the Chamber (using information that is publicly available from the Business Council applications and the Chamber’s own websites):
Company Location Money/Level
4G Identity Solutions Hyderabad, India $7,500
A2Z Maintenance & Eng. Gurgaon, India $7,500
Amarchand Mangaldas Mumbai, India $15,000
Apollo Hospitals Chennai, India $7,500
Arshiya International Mumbai, India $15,000
Astonfield Management Mumbai, India $7,500
AXA Group Paris, France $7,500
Avantha Group India $7,500
Avasarala Technologies Bangalore, India $7,500
AZB & Partners Mumbai, India $15,000
Azure Power New Delhi, India $7,500
Bharat Forge Pune, India $15,000
Blake, Cassels & Graydon LLP Toronto, Canada $7,500
Brookfield Asset Management Toronto, Canada $7,500
Cameco Corporation Saskatoon, Canada $7,500
Credit Suisse Zürich, Switzerland $15,000
Devas Multimedia Bangalore, India $15,000
DSK Legal Bombay, India $7,500
Dua Associates Hyderabad, India $15,000
Educomp Solutions Ltd Delhi, India $7,500
Essar Group Mumbai, India $7,500
Fox Mandal Little India $7,500
GMR Bangalore, India $15,000
Hindalco Group, The Mumbai, India $15,000
Hinduja Group, The London, UK $15,000
Hindustan Construction Company Mumbai, India $15,000
HSBC London, UK $15,000
ICICI Bank Mumbia, India $7,500
Infosys Bangalore, India $15,000
Infotech Enterprises Hyderabad, India $7,500
International SOS Assistance Singapore $7,500
Ireo Management Gurgoan, India $15,000
ITC Group Kolkata, India $15,000
J. Sagar Associates Mumbai, India $15,000
J.B.Boda Insurance Mumbai, India $7,500
J.M. Baxi & Co. Mumbai, India $15,000
Jagran Prakashan Kanpur, India $7,500
Jindal Power New Delhi, India $15,000
Jubilant Organosys Noida, India $7,500
Kimaya Energy New Delhi, India $15,000
Kotak Mahindra Mumbai, India $7,500
KPIT Cummins Pune, India $7,500
KPMG Amstelveen, Netherlands $15,000
Lahmeyer International Frankfurt, Germany $7,500
Larsen & Toubro Mumbai, India $15,000
Leela Hotels Bengaluru, India $7,500
Linklaters LLP London, UK $7,500
Luthra & Luthra New Delhi, India $15,000
Macquarie Capital Sydney, Australia $15,000
Majmudar & Company Mumbai, India $7,500
NIIT Technologies Delhi, India $15,000
Nishith Desai Associates Mumbai, India $15,000
Novartis Basel, Switzerland $15,000
Oberoi Group Dehli,India $7,500
Patni Americas Mumbai, India $15,000
Punj Lloyd Gurgaon, India $15,000
QuEST Global Singapore $7,500
Ranbaxy, Inc. Gurgaon, India $7,500
Reliance Industries Mumbai, India $15,000
Reliance Communications Navi Mumbai, India $7,500
Rolta Mumbai, India $7,500
Sanofi-Aventis Paris, France $7,500
SKP Crossborder Consulting Mumbai, India $7,500
SNC Lavalin Montreal, Canada $7,500
State Bank of India Mumbai, India $15,000
Sun Life Financial Toronto, Canada $7,500
Tata Group Mumbai, India $15,000
Tatva Legal India $15,000
Urenco Investments Slough, UK $7,500
Trilegal India $7,500
Walchandnagar Industries Mumbai, India $7,500
Welspun Mumbai, India $7,500
Wipro Bangalore, India $15,000
TAIB Bank* Dubai $20,000
Aluminum Bahrain B.S.C Kingdom of Bahrain $10,000
Bahrain Financial Harbour Holding Company Kingdom of Bahrain $10,000
Gulf Air Kingdom of Bahrain $10,000
Midal Cables Kingdom of Bahrain $10,000
The Nass Group Kingdom of Bahrain $10,000
Bahrain Maritime & Mercantile International Kingdom of Bahrain $5,000
The Bahrain Petroleum Company Kingdom of Bahrain $5,000
First Leasing Bank Kingdom of Bahrain $5,000
Gulf Petrochemical Industries Company Kingdom of Bahrain $5,000
TOTAL $885,000
Again, all of these annual dues are collected in the same 501(c)(6) the Chamber is using to run partisan attack ads. The data above reflects information from public sources, and the Chamber likely has many more foreign corporations as dues-paying members — but refuses to divulge any of the funders for their ad campaign. Unfortunately, many reporters in the traditional press covered the Chamber story, but missed the entire point of our reporting. Most reporters (from the New York Times, McClatchy, the Associated Press, etc.) never contacted ThinkProgress, instead opting to only interview Chamber officials. Here’s how the Chamber’s unusual foreign fundraising operation works. According to this internal Chamber staff chart obtained by ThinkProgress, the Chamber has an international division devoted to promoting free trade and related policy issues. U.S. Chamber staffers, based here in Washington, D.C. with offices in the Chamber’s building at 1615 H Street, create bilateral “Business Councils” fundraising programs to solicit money from foreign corporations in Korea, Egypt, Brazil, Bahrain, India, and other places. For instance, the Chamber’s US-Egypt Business Council directs potential members to wire their checks to the US Chamber of Commerce. The application also notes that checks should be marked “ATTN: Leila Vossoughi.” Vossaoughi is a regular staffer at the Chamber. Promotions to join the Chamber have included promises that foreign firms obtain “access to the US Chamber of Commerce and everything that it does” and pledges to help the foreign firms promote free trade policies in America. All of the staffers who manage the Business Councils work directly for the Chamber. These Business Councils are nothing like the Chamber’s AmChams, which are foreign affiliates of the Chamber composed of American and foreign businesses abroad. Business Councils are based in the Chamber and even hosted on the U.S. Chamber’s website domain. Bylaws from the US-Bahrain Business Council confirm that the money the U.S. Chamber raises from these applications — which welcome foreign-owned businesses — goes into the Chamber’s 501(c)(6). Click below to see one such application: application Again, the information above documents the fact that foreign donations that go directly to the Chamber without any intermediary, like an “AmCham” or another Chamber affiliate organization. In fact, a Chamber spokesperson acknowledged the foreign funds go into the Chamber’s general account. Any responsible reporter should have to note these direct donations given to the Chamber, which the Chamber has refused to discuss. Or, reporters should contact us directly if there is any confusion about our report. ThinkProgress intern Riley Waggaman contributed to this post.
This post first appeared on Think Progress. The largest attack campaign against Democrats this fall is being waged by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, a trade association organized as a 501(c)(6) that can raise and spend unlimited funds without ever disclosing any of its donors. The Chamber has promised to spend an unprecedented $75 million to defeat candidates like Jack Conway, Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Jerry Brown, Rep. Joe Sestak (D-PA), and Rep. Tom Perriello (D-VA). As of Sept. 15th, the Chamber had aired more than 8,000 ads on behalf of GOP Senate candidates alone, according to a study from the Wesleyan Media Project. The Chamber’s spending has dwarfed every other issue group and most political party candidate committee spending. A ThinkProgress investigation has found that the Chamber funds its political attack campaign out of its general account, which solicits foreign funding. And while the Chamber will likely assert it has internal controls, foreign money is fungible, permitting the Chamber to run its unprecedented attack campaign. According to legal experts consulted by ThinkProgress, the Chamber is likely skirting longstanding campaign finance law that bans the involvement of foreign corporations in American elections. In recent years, the Chamber has become very aggressive with its fundraising, opening offices abroad and helping to found foreign chapters (known as Business Councils or “AmChams”). While many of these foreign operations include American businesses with interests overseas, the Chamber has also spearheaded an effort to raise money from foreign corporations, including ones controlled by foreign governments. These foreign members of the Chamber send money either directly to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, or the foreign members fund their local Chamber, which in turn, transfers dues payments back to the Chamber’s H Street office in Washington DC. These funds are commingled to the Chamber’s 501(c)(6) account which is the vehicle for the attack ads:
– The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has created a large presence in the small, oil-rich country of Bahrain. In 2006, the Chamber created a local affiliate called the “U.S.-Bahrain Business Council” (USBBC), an organization to help businesses in Bahrain take advantage of the Chamber’s “network of government and business relationships in the US and worldwide.” As the USBBC’s bylaws state, it is not an actual separate entity, rather it is simply an office of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s 501(c)(6) trade association. Many of the USBBC’s board members are Bahrainian, including Aluminum Bahrain, Gulf Air, Midal Cables, the Nass Group, Bahrain Maritime & Mercantile International, the Bahrain Petroleum Company (state-owned), Gulf Petrochemical Industries Company, and First Leasing Bank. With each of these foreign board members to the USBBC contributing at least $10,000 annually, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce raises well over $100,000 a year in money from foreign businesses through its operation in Bahrain. Notably, the membership form provided by the USBBC directs applicants to send or wire their money directly to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. The membership form also explicitly states that the foreign-owned firms are welcomed. – Like the Chamber’s involvement in Bahrain, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce operates in India through a group called “U.S.-India Business Council” (USIBC), which has offices around the world but is headquartered in the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Dozens of Indian businesses, including some of India’s largest corporations like the State Bank of India (state-run) and ICICI Bank, are members of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce through the USIBC. Annual membership dues range from $7,500 to $15,000 or more, and the money is given directly into the Chamber’s 501(c)(6) bank account. Like the USBBC, the USIBC generates well over $200,000 a year in dues for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce from foreign businesses. On the USIBC website, many of the groups lobbying goals advocate changing American policy to help businesses in India. Under the manufacturing policy goal, USIBC boasts that it “can play a helpful role in guiding U.S. companies to India, while supporting various policy initiatives that will enhance India’s reputation as a major manufacturing and investment hub.” – Many foreign “AmChams” or Business Councils operate outside the direct sphere of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce but nonetheless send dues money back to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. For instance, the American Chamber of Commerce in Egypt is a separate entity based in Cairo that raises hundreds of thousands of dollars from both Egyptian firms and American businesses. However, the American Chamber of Commerce in Egypt calls itself “the most active affiliates of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in the” Middle East. Another foreign chamber, like the Abu Dhabi AmCham, which includes American firms and Esnaad, a subsidiary of the state-run Abu Dhabi National Oil Company, claims that it is a a “dues paying member of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and part of the global network of American Chambers of Commerce.” In Russia, the relationship between the American Chamber of Commerce there and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce here is opaque. This might be because many of the dues-paying members of the American Chamber of Commerce in Russia are Russian state-run companies, like VTB Bank, and controlled by the Russian government. Asked by ThinkProgress if the Russian Chambers pay dues back to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Ksenia Forsheneva, the membership development manager at the American Chamber of Commerce in Russia, replied, “Unfortunately the information that you require is closed for the public.”
Previously, it has been reported that foreign firms like BP, Shell Oil, and Siemens are active members of the Chamber. But on a larger scale, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce appears to rely heavily on fundraising from firms all over the world, including China, India, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Brazil, Russia, and many other places. Of course, because the Chamber successfully lobbied to kill campaign finance reforms aimed at establishing transparency, the Chamber does not have to reveal any of the funding for its ad campaigns. Dues-paying members of the Chamber could potentially be sending additional funds this year to help air more attack ads against Democrats. Here’s how it works. Regular dues from American firms to the Chamber can range from $500 to $300,000 or more, depending on their size and industry, and can be used for any purpose deemed necessary by Donohue and the Chamber leadership. For example, the health insurance giant Aetna has reported that it paid $100,000 in annual dues to the Chamber in the past. But for specific advocacy or advertising campaigns, corporations can hide behind the label of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and give additional money. Last year, alongside their regular dues, health insurance companies like Aetna secretly funneled up to $20 million to the Chamber for attack ads aimed at killing health reform (publicly, health insurance executives claimed they supported reform). Last week, Politico reported that News Corporation, the parent company of Fox News, gave an extra $1 million to the Chamber for its election season attack campaign. There are many reasons foreign corporations are seeking to defeat Democratic candidates this November. The Chamber has repeatedly sent out issue alerts attacking Democratic efforts to encourage businesses to hire locally rather than outsource to foreign counties. The Chamber has also bitterly fought Democrats for opposing unfettered free trade deals. To galvanize foreign businesses, the Chamber has commissioned former Ambassador Frank Lavin — who served as the McCain-Palin Asia campaign director and has appeared on television multiple times recently saying a Democratic Congress is bad for business — to speak before various foreign Chamber affiliates to talk about the stakes for the 2010 midterm elections. Because campaign finance laws prohibit foreign entities from contributing to political races here in America, we asked the Chamber to defend the legality of its fundraising operation. We have yet to receive a response. But as word of our investigation began to leak out yesterday, the Chamber informed Politico’s Mike Allen that it is now “preparing a response.”
Update The US Chamber of Commerce has responded to this post in a statement to the Politico's Ben Smith. The Chamber's Tita Freeman did not dispute that the Chamber's 501(c)(6) organization running attack ads receives foreign funds, and simply claimed, "We have a system in place" to prevent foreign funding for the Chamber's "political activities."
This post first appeared on Think Progress. Health insurance companies, after funding tens of millions of dollars in attack ads aimed to kill health reform, are now funding Republican candidates promising to repeal or water-down the bill. A report today notes that insurance companies have massively shifted their campaign giving to Republicans, and that health professionals have “quietly become the biggest supporters of the nascent Tea Party Caucus” with donations of “more than $2.7 million to Tea Party Caucus members.” Additionally, a report today by the Center for Public Integrity republished by National Journal reveals that veteran Republican lobbyist Scott Reed has stepped up to create a $25 million dollar front group to run ads against Democrats, and that it will be funded partially by insurance companies:
Meanwhile, lobbyist Reed’s fledgling Commission on Hope, Growth and Opportunity, a 501 (c) (4) raised over half its $25 million goal to run ads in 20 House districts and a few Senate contests, Reed says. Where’s the dough coming from? “The big three stepping into the batter’s box are the financial services industry, the energy industry, and the health insurance industry,” Reed said.
Reed credits the recent Supreme Court ruling knocking down nearly a century of campaign finance laws with the increased fundraising haul for Republican attack groups. “Citizens United opened the door for the unparalleled participation by corporations at the financial level,” Reed told reporter Peter Stone. Earlier this year, Bloomberg reported that the health insurance industry met and planned a $20 million dollar “war chest” to be used against its opponents during the election this year. It is still unclear if Reed’s group or the Tea Party caucus donations are part of that fund.
Update Commenting on news that in this year's campaign season, interest groups are spending five times as much as they did on the last midterms -- thanks to Citizens United -- Mother Jones' Kevin Drum points to more on "the tidal wave of money in politics."
This post first appeared on Think Progress. Over the weekend, the Kansas City Star published a lengthy article explaining how Sen. Sam Brownback (R-KS), the Republican gubernatorial candidate in Kansas, has for years maintained a symbiotic relationship with the right-wing oil plutocrats David and Charles Koch and their conglomerate Koch Industries. Alongside Brownback in the Senate, Koch Industries, which is based in Wichita, has counted outgoing Wichita Rep. Todd Tiahrt (R-KS) as one of its closest allies in the House of Representatives. Former Rep. Dan Glickman (D-KS), who was defeated by Tiahrt in 1994, said that Koch Industries funneled resources — including its employees and funds — to oppose him. Now, with an open seat in Koch Industries’ backyard, the massive “Kochtopus” network of Koch money and front groups is working to elect a new right-wing Republican to fill the seat: Mike Pompeo. Pompeo isn’t just another Wall Street-friendly, pro-polluter GOP radical (his initial response to the BP oil disaster was to say that he “fervently” hoped the government wouldn’t “overreact”), he is essentially a subsidiary of the Koch brothers’ business empire:
Pompeo developed much of his wealth from a firm he founded, Thayer Aerospace, which he ran with investment funds from Koch Industries. According to a December 11, 1998 article in the Wichita Business Journal, “[Pompeo's] company’s capital base is drawn in part from Wichita’s Koch Venture Capital, a division of Koch Industries.” Pompeo sold Thayer in 2006. – Pompeo still relies on Koch for his private wealth. After the sale of Thayer, Pompeo became the President of Sentry International, a business specializing in the manufacture and sale of equipment used in oilfields. Sentry International is a partner to Koch Industries through its Brazilian subsidiary, GTF Representacoes & Consultoria. – Pompeo won his Republican primary largely with the support of Koch Industries’ PAC, which gave him one of his largest endorsements in March. Despite the fact that Koch Industries is the recipient of tens of millions in federal contracts, Pompeo boasted about the endorsement: “The employees of the Koch Companies have jobs here in the Wichita because of their own hard work and creativity, not because a federal agency deemed it to be so.” – With $31,400 in contributions from KOCHPAC, Koch Industries is by far the greatest contributor to Pompeo’s campaign. The second largest contributor, the law firm Bartlit Beck LLP, gave $7,200 to the campaign. As ThinkProgress first uncovered, Koch Industries also works with Democracy Data & Communications, a firm specializing in helping major corporations to activate their employees politically. – Pompeo has leaned on Americans for Prosperity (AFP), the right-wing Tea Party group founded and financed by David Koch. On August 28, 2009, Pompeo spoke at a large Tea Party rally organized by AFP, and AFP has used its extensive Kansas-based staff to mobilize dozens of other right-wing events in and around the 4th Congressional District. In addition to the rallies and Tea Party events, AFP has touted Pompeo for signing onto its pledge to ignore climate change. The Kansas chapter of AFP was previously run by Alan Cobb, who once served as a chief lobbyist for Koch Industries. Cobb is now coordinating state efforts nationwide for AFP. – According to his campaign biography, Pompeo’s only substantive political experience appears to be his stint as a trustee of the Flint Hills Center for Public Policy, a Koch-organized front formerly known as the Kansas Policy Institute. The Flint Hills Center for Public Policy is staffed primarily with Koch-funded operatives and economists, like Art Hall. Until recently, George Pearson — a libertarian activist who began working for the Koch brothers in the early seventies — chaired the board of the Center. In an interview with the Wichita Eagle, Pompeo said he supports Social Security privatization and explained that his ideas for health reform came from Koch’s Flint Hills Center.
The Koch brothers have historically leaned on their home state Republican members of Congress for lobbying assistance. For instance, Business Week reported on how Koch Industries used then-Sen. Bob Dole (R-KS) to try to suppress an investigation into Koch Industries’ massive theft of oil from Indian reservations. In another case, Koch Industries faced a $55 million civil suit for causing more than 300 oil spills over a five-year period. Again, Dole, a major recipient of Koch money and support, sponsored a bill that would allow Koch to easily defend itself from the oil spill charges. Investigative reporter Robert Parry found that David Koch “also helped Dole achieve majority leader status through his checkbook, contributed mightily to a Dole foundation and even turned his Gatsbyish estate in Southampton, New York, into the site for celebrating Dole’s 72nd birthday in July 1995, raising $150,000 for his campaign.” Recently, Koch Industries has lobbied aggressively against clean energy jobs legislation and against H.R. 4213, a law closing tax loopholes for companies that ship jobs overseas. While much attention has been paid to Koch’s role in funding the organizers of the Tea Party movement and its supporting institutions, it should be noted that the right-wing conglomerate is also sponsoring its own candidate for election this November.
This post originally appeared on Think Progress. In December 2009, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) — a powerful front group that helps corporate representatives craft template legislation for state lawmakers, funded partially by the private prison industry — hosted Arizona State Sen. Russell Pearce (R) and began debate on legislation that would provide broad powers to local police to arrest anyone who might look like an immigrant. ALEC then distributed the template legislation to its members. The January/February 2010 edition of ALEC’s magazine highlights the draft version of SB1070 — the “Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act” — as model legislation. In April of this year, Pearce then introduced ALEC’s template as the infamous SB1070 law. Notably, the ALEC task force which helped Pearce devise his racial profiling law included Laurie Shanblum, a lobbyist from the mega-private prison corporation Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) which previously played a role in privatizing many of Texas’ prisons. An investigation from Arizona’s KPHO-TV found more ties between SB1070 and the private prison industry: Paul Senseman, Gov. Janet Brewer’s (R-AZ) deputy chief of staff was a former lobbyist for CCA (his wife is still a lobbyist for CCA) and Chuck Coughlin, Brewer’s campaign chairman, runs the lobbying firm in Arizona that represents CCA. In These Times reporter Beau Hodai, who also reported much of SB1070’s connections to the private prison industry, has a chart to explain the relationship. CCA is set to receive well over $74 million in tax dollars in FY2010 for running immigration detention centers. In a presentation given earlier this year, Pershing Square Capital, a hedge fund with a large financial stake in CCA, suggested that CCA’s profitability depends on increasing numbers of immigrants sent to prison. Many of the legislators helping to earn CCA more profits with radical anti-immigrant bills mirroring SB1070 have been recipients of private prison industry cash or have worked closely with the CCA-funded ALEC organization:
– TENNESSEE: Earlier this year, legislators in Tennessee passed an immigration bill with provisions “similar to, but less harsh than, those of SB 1070, including requiring city and county jails in the state to report any person who may be in violation of immigration laws to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.” But that wasn’t enough: right-wing local lawmakers also passed a resolution honoring Arizona’s SB1070, and a delegation of state lawmakers promised to introduce an anti-immigrant bill even “broader” than SB1070 in 2011. Many of the leading local lawmakers who voted for the anti-immigrant bill and resolution received thousands of dollars from CCA’s political action committee in the past two years, including State Reps. Gerald McCormick ($250), Barrett Rich ($500), Eric Watson ($250) and State Sens. Bill Ketron ($1,000), Jim Tracy ($500), Dolores Gresham ($1,000), Bo Watson ($500), and Jack Johnson ($500). Tracy, who sponsored the resolution honoring Arizona’s SB1070, also received $2,000 directly from CCA founder Tom Beasley, reports the Nashville City Paper. CCA retains five lobbyists in the state and spent at least $50,000 this year to lobby on immigration and other issues. – OKLAHOMA: Rep. Mary Fallin (R-OK), who won her party’s nomination to run for governor this year, received the maximum donation permitted by law from CCA. State Rep. Randy Terrill (R-OK), who announced that he was planning an “Arizona-Plus” immigration bill that would be harsher than SB1070, is a proud member of the CCA-funded American Legislative Exchange Council. – COLORADO: A group of Republican lawmakers in Colorado, after a research trip to Arizona this summer, have stated that they plan on passing a SB1070 law in Colorado next year. CCA’s lobbyists in Colorado have raised funds for many of the lawmakers in the group. CCA lobbyist Margy Christiansen raised $400 State Rep. Randy Baumgardner, one of the leaders of Colorado’s Arizona expedition, and CCA lobbyist Jason Dunn raised $150 for State Sen. Mike Kopp, the Republican minority leader who is promising to promote an SB1070 bill next session. – FLORIDA: During the gubernatorial primary campaign between disgraced businessman Rick Scott and Attorney General Bill McCollum (R-FL), the prospect of importing Arizona’s SB1070 became a prominent issue in the race, with both candidates promising to bring a version of the law to the state. While many Florida Republicans recoiled at the idea, which stands to alienate many Hispanic voters, a cadre of state lawmakers and candidates for the state legislature, most funded by the prison industry, announced their support for an SB1070-type law. State Rep. Bill Snyder, who has received $500 from CCA, pledged to introduce a bill more draconian than SB1070. State House candidate Ben Albritton, another outspoken supporter of SB1070, took $500 from CCA, and State Rep. Joe Negron, who has been working with Snyder to sponsor the bill, received $1,000 from the Geo Group, another major private prison contractor which operates immigrant detention centers. Overall, the Republican Party of Florida has been the biggest recipient of prison industry cash in the past two years: $37,000 from CCA and $145,000 from the Geo Group. – PENNSYLVANIA: In the Key State, State Rep. Daryl Metcalfe (R-PA) introduced the ALEC-drafted “Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act,” one month before State Sen. Russell Pearce (R-AZ) introduced his version of the bill in Arizona. Metcalfe is a highly active member of ALEC. He was paid $1,500 by ALEC just to attend its meetings with CCA lobbyists on how to draft the law.
In Tennessee, the average daily number of immigration detainees sank to 40 in FY2009, down from 95 in FY2008. This may change with CCA’s aggressive lobbying for more laws encouraging aggressive arrests of immigrants or people who look like immigrants. Charles Maldonado, who has reported on CCA’s corrupting influence at the Nashville City Paper, notes that CCA may see new business at its West Tennessee Detention Facility with the passage of more SB1070-related laws. ALEC, with funds from several private prison companies, helped sponsor “truth-in-sentencing” and “three-strikes-you’re-out” laws all over the country for the past two decades. These laws have greatly increased incarceration rates, and have contributed to America’s distinction of having the largest prison population in the world.
This post first appeared on Think Progress. Yesterday, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) went on a media blitz to rebuff the assertion by Republican Leader Rep. John Boehner (R-OH) that Republicans could compromise and allow the Bush tax cuts for the very wealthy to expire. Appearing on Fox News’ America’s Nightly Scoreboard, a show on the Fox Business network, Ryan repeated his mantra that deficit-boosting tax cuts for the richest two percent are an unmovable plank in the GOP platform. Fox Business host David Asman, agreeing with Ryan’s supply side fervor, then asked the Wisconsin lawmaker if he would sign onto Fox Business’ agenda. Then, Asman laid his own right-wing policy platform akin to the Republican Contract with America of 1994. Touting something called “The Scoreboard Pledge,” Asman asked Ryan if he would support the Fox Business political contract in Congress:
ASMAN: By the way, Scoreboard has its own list, our own contract if you will. The Scoreboard contract is “No New Taxes, No New Bureaucrats, Cut Spending, Repeal Obamacare.” Would you be in favor of those? RYAN: Absolutely. And we not only would be in favor of these things, we will be in favor of these things.
What kind of “news” network creates its own political platform for candidates to sign onto? But Asman’s political activism is nothing new. Last year, he implored his viewers that they “need to” go to a Tea Party merchandise website. After Ryan agreed to the Fox Business contract, Asman called on Ryan to run for Speaker himself should Republicans take the House of Representatives in November. Ryan politely declined.
This post first appeared on Think Progress. On Tuesday evening, Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-GA) conducted an “America Speaking Out” town hall with his constituents. Gingrey explained that Republicans would solicit ideas from the public using their America Speaking Out online platform to generate a new version of the 1994 “Contract with America.” However, he said regardless of the input received, the new political document outlining the GOP agenda would focus on extending the Bush era tax cuts for the richest two percent of Americans. To reinforce his point, Gingrey said that extending the Bush era tax cuts “at any level” would be a promise so strong it would be akin to “God’s covenant with Moses,” and a “a pledge of your sworn sacred honor.” He also said that he would “sign it in blood if necessary”:
GINGREY: I had somebody say you know a Contract with America is a little redundant, going back to 1994. And I had somebody suggest at a town hall meeting recently maybe it ought to be a “Covenant with America.” Just as God’s covenant with Moses, really this is a convenant. This is more of a commitment, more than a contract. This is a pledge of your sworn sacred honor. And maybe that’s the kind of thing that we need to get, to truly get attention and sign it in blood if necessary. So we think it would be not be appropriate at a time like this to raise people’s taxes, at any level. At any level. [….] GINGREY: When you start taxing men and women who create most of the jobs, you know that’s not the answer. So, our opinion I’m sure will be part of this covenant with America will be to keep taxes low for everybody.
Watch it: Despite Gingrey’s colorful language, all President Obama is seeking to do is to keep tax cuts affecting the middle class, while allowing the tax cuts for some of America’s richest individuals to expire, returning to Clinton-era rates. Oddly, Gingrey also attacked public sector jobs and government spending, while in the same breath empathizing with “the pain that our teachers in Georgia are feeling.”
This post originally appeared on Think Progress. Over the weekend, news broke that three months after his oil company’s rig set off the largest oil spill in American history, BP CEO Tony Hayward would be stepping down. In his resignation statement, Hayward stressed that, “BP will be a changed company as a result of” its oil spill in the Gulf. As the Progress Report today details, “Hayward’s departure will mark the end of a disastrous legacy that was spent botching the company’s response to its oil spill in the Gulf.” Almost a month after the gusher released 32 million gallons of toxic oil into the surrounding ocean as well as an unprecedented amount of chemical dispersants, Hayward told Sky News that “the environmental impact of this disaster is likely to be very, very modest.” In May, Hayward told a reporter who asked him about the victims of his company’s oil spill, “We’re sorry for the massive disruption it’s caused their lives. There’s no one who wants this over more than I do. I would like my life back.” However, BP Chairman Carl-Henric Svanberg, who has previously told the American public that he cares about the “little people,” appeared on CNBC this morning to celebrate Hayward’s record at BP. “Tony Hayward has done a great job for the company,” Svanberg said proudly. He then admitted to CNBC’s Maria Bartiromo that the change in leadership at BP is simply cosmetic. Hayward’s presence at the company, Svanberg explained, hurt its image, so replacing Hayward was based simply on “rebuild[ing]” the BP “brand and reputation”:
SVANBERG: Tony Hayward has done a great job for the company through his almost thirty years and he has done it very well, greatly as a CEO. He has driven the company’s performance and developed the company in many, many ways. He has also led an unprecedented response in the Gulf of Mexico. But it became obvious to him and to us that in order to rebuild our position, in order to rebuilt our brand and reputation, we needed fresh leadership and that is why we are doing the change. BARTIROMO: Of course on Hayward’s watch, the company suffered and the country in America suffered the worst environmental disaster ever.
Watch it: Given the golden parachute pension Hayward received — “an immediate £600,000-a-year ($930,000) pension when he leaves the firm in October” — it’s no wonder his fellow executives at BP think highly of his tenure at the oil conglomerate.
This post originally appeared on Think Progress. After months of racist incidents and rallies filled with hateful signs disparaging President Obama’s ethnicity and other minorities, the NAACP has passed a resolution officially condemning racism in the Tea Party movement. This morning, Tea Party leader Mark Williams — who has been paid over $20,000 by the Tea Party Express political action committee — attacked the NAACP’s resolution, charging that the NAACP makes “more money off of race than any slave trader ever.” Other Tea Party leaders have criticized the resolution and claimed that there is no racism within their movement. Phillip Dennis, the leader of the Dallas area Tea Party, told Fox News that the Tea Party never focuses “on the pigment of people’s skin.” However, ThinkProgress has produced a short video demonstrating the vile racism that has been exhibited at some Tea Party events:
DENNIS: The Tea Party does not focus on the pigment of people’s skin. [...] TEA PARTY ACTIVIST1: He’s too black to be President. TEA PARTY ACTIVIST2: I’m a proud racist, I’m white. TEA PARTY ACTIVIST3: Afro-Leninism! Coming to you on a silver platter, Barack Hussein Obama! TEA PARTY ACTIVIST4: Go home wetbacks!
Watch it: Video produced with help from CAPAF interns Nina Bhattacharya, Ariel Powell, Arielle Humphries and Tara Kutz.