Wall Street Journal Honcho Shills for Secret Worker 'Education' Program Linked to Koch Group
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Of all the executives listed by Prosperity 101 as endorsers of the program, only Tom Schuette, owner of Wausau Homes, agreed to be interviewed about his company's participation in the program. I reached him in April by telephone at his office. Schuette and members of his family donated a total of $25,000 to Scott Walker's gubernatorial campaign and even hosted Walker at company headquarters during a campaign stop last year.
Schuette is also active with the Wisconsin AFP chapter. Last year, he joined Kwik Trip's Steve Loehr and Oldenburg's Nerenz, along with Cain, Moore, Fund and Hansen, as a presenter at the Wisconsin Defending the American Dream conference, co-sponsored by the Wisconsin chapter of the AFP Foundation and the Wisconsin Prosperity Network. The team addressed a session for high-level donors on the topic of Prosperity 101.
Wausau Homes is by far the smallest of the companies publicly associated with Prosperity 101. With the bursting of the housing bubble, Schuette said, he was forced to lay off 500 people, yielding him a remnant workforce of 54. Schuette sees the government as the culprit in the housing market's demise -- not because of deregulation, but due to, as he sees it, government's "meddling in our free-enterprise system." He believes that government changed mortgage rules to encourage "disadvantaged" people to buy homes, creating a bubble that was destined to burst. (Actually, deregulation of the mortgage industry in 1980, and changes to the tax code in 1986 -- the latter signed into law by President Reagan -- had much to do with creating the conditions for the bubble.)
When he had to lay off 500 "innocent" people, as he described them, Schuette made a vow, he said, to "do something about it." That's when he began working with AFP, he said, and it was how he met Hansen, who allowed him to use Prosperity 101when it was still "in the development level" without paying a fee. So, Schuette said, he implemented the program himself, convening small groups over the course of last summer at Wausau Homes headquarters to study Moore's charts. The small groups, he said, allowed them to "have better discussions." Schuette said that the sessions did not place undue political pressure on his employees, and insisted that the workers who participated were not told how to cast their votes last November.
"Let's face it," he added, "the press is typically biased, so how do they get information if we're not providing it to them as an employer?"
*UPDATE: Since AlterNet's initial publication of this article, we discovered an additional six appearances by Stephen Moore at Americans For Prosperity Foundation events, bringing the updated figure to 24 appearances. (We had previously reported 18 appearances, yielding Moore at least $135,000 in speaking fees.) We ran our updated list of 24 appearances by Moore via e-mail, who said it "sound[ed] about right." He did not contest our assertion that he earned between $7,500 to $10,000 per appearance.
Research assistance by Neima Jahromi.