Billionaire Who Denies Connection to Tea Parties Bankrolls Tea-Partying Glenn Beck Fans
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"We’re going to be knocking on doors today," Phillips said. "If folks are wearing Tea Party T-shirts , or if we mention [Tea Party] -- I have a feeling there will be a positive reception."
Back in Washington, less than four hours before David Koch took that stage at the Americans For Prosperity Foundation banquet, the AFPF conference featured a break-out session featuring a panel of Tea Party activists, moderated by an AFPF state director.
During the debate over health care reform in Congress, Tea Party protesters made regular, organized forays to Capitol Hill. At one such event organized by Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn. (who leads the newly formed Congressional Tea Party Caucus), some 40 busloads of protesters were ferried in by Americans For Prosperity.
On Friday, Bachmann, doyenne of the Tea Party caucus, served as the warmup act for Koch and Will. Offering her boilerplate of Obama-bashing and American exceptionalism, the Minnesota congresswoman promised those assembled that Harry Reid was on the way to the unemployment line at the hands of Sharron Angle, the Tea Party candidate.
It seems safe to say that if, when he spoke to New York's Goldman, Koch had never been to a Tea Party event before, he's been to one now: his own AFPF conference, called the "Defending the American Dream Summit."
And, by his own description, the activists in the room -- most of whom consider themselves to be either Tea Partiers, or allied with the Tea Party movement -- represent a dream of a movement that Koch had at the founding of Americans For Prosperity: "We envisioned a grassroots organization of Americans from all walks of life, banded together to advance economic freedom and prosperity...." he told the conference-goers.
Billions and More Billions: Murdoch and Koch
David Koch and his brother Charles -- who runs Koch Industries, the second largest privately held corporation in America, and one of the nation's worst polluters -- probably have enough money between them to have launched a impressive movement without a billionaire from outside the family. But with Rupert Murdoch, CEO of News Corporation on their side, the Kochs' dream of a grassroots movement that would advance their pro-corporate, anti-regulatory agenda became manifest.
It is impossible to estimate the value of the in-kind contribution Fox News has made to the growth of the Tea Party movement, thanks to the day-and-night trumpeting of Fox News, but you can bet it's a price tag no other American political movement could afford.
Yet Murdoch, like David Koch, insists that promoting the Tea Party movement is not his aim -- nor, he says, is it something that Fox News should be doing. Confronted by Ari Rabin-Havt of Media Matters at a press conference last April about the appropriateness of a Fox Business news host having directed his viewers to go to a Tea Party Web site to buy merchandise, Murdoch replied, "No, I don't think we should be supporting the Tea Party -- or any other party."
Of course, that was before News Corp. was revealed to have contributed $1 million to the Republican Governors Association -- just as David Koch did. And the Beck rally provided a sweet organizing tool for Americans For Prosperity, which conveniently planned its conference to take place just ahead of the conference. Cut-rate travel packages were offered to conference-goers.
Even those who got to the conference on their own, foregoing the busfare and hotel package deals offered by AFPF, still got off pretty cheap. Included in the $99 conference fee were the banquet at which Koch appeared, shuttles back and forth to the Beck event, and an Americans For Prosperity T-shirt that participants were encouraged to wear to the rally.