Tea Party and the Right  
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Wall Street Journal Honcho Shills for Secret Worker 'Education' Program Linked to Koch Group

During the 2010 election campaign, WSJ editorial board member Stephen Moore carried the Koch agenda to Wisconsin workers -- in workplace seminars called by their bosses.

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Beyond the Journal's standards, Moore flouts a basic tenet of journalism ethics when, while appearing as a pundit in discussions about the Tea Party and AFP, he fails to disclose his own close political and financial ties to the AFP Foundation.

Take as an example a Journal column he wrote last year in which he quoted an Americans For Prosperity official, Texas chapter director Peggy Venable, to support his point, while never mentioning his own relationship to the AFP Foundation. Or the September 2 edition of "The Diane Rehm Show," a syndicated NPR program, in which Moore appeared in his journalist guise for a discussion of the Tea Party movement.

When the discussion turned to the role of Americans for Prosperity and the Koch brothers in fueling the Tea Party, Rehm turned to Moore to ask what he thought "these outsider groups," were looking for. "What policies do they want?" Rehm asked. "What do they want to discard? What do they want to change?"

In answering, Moore failed to disclose his repeated paid appearances at AFP Foundation events, and instead answered in such a way that appeared to cast himself as a disinterested journalist.

"I see some parallels to the Perot movement back in 1992, which, you know, Ross Perot ran sort of on fiscal responsibility and a balanced budget," Moore replied. "But I think a lot of those Perot voters have kind of become part of this Tea Party movement. When I talked to these folks, they feel like things are out of control in Washington."

Prosperity 101: The Companies

The back cover of the Prosperity 101 textbook features testimonials from executives at six privately held corporations. Two of them, Menards and Reinhart Food Service, are among the top 40 privately held corporations in the United States, according to Forbes. Taken together, the companies led by executives who endorse Prosperity 101 employ some 53,500 U.S. workers. All six companies are headquartered in Wisconsin.

Menards, which operates more than 250 home-improvement retail stores, as well as a lumber-fabricating business, is No. 40 on the Forbes list; Reyes Holdings, which owns Reinhart Food Service, is No. 20. Rounding out the group is Wausau Homes, a manufacturer of custom prefabricated dwellings; Kwik Trip Inc., a chain of convenience stores and discount tobacco outlets; and the Oldenburg Group, the defense contractor whose vice president spoke on behalf of Prosperity 101 in Las Vegas.

Menards executives, whose company is known for its poor environmental record, virulent anti-labor practices and workplace rules that border on the abusive (see sidebar, " Notorious Wisconsin Retailer Backs AFP-Linked Anti-Union Program"), failed to respond to several requests for comment on the company's participation in Prosperity 101. Likewise, Steve Loehr, Kwik Trip's vice president for operations, whose endorsement appears on the cover of Prosperity 101's textbook, did not respond to a request for comment.

The Oldenburg Group's Tim Nerenz, whose testimonial also graces the cover, along with his company affiliation, wrote by e-mail that his endorsement of Prosperity 101 is personal. "[T]he company does not participate directly in groups outside of relevant trade associations," Nerenz wrote. "However, our executives and managers are encouraged to participate in charitable, educational, and policy advocacy in the communities and when we do, we typically will use our titles and company affiliation so people can assess the relevance of our ideas and contributions."

But he did confirm that he uses the Prosperity 101 textbook as a way to discuss his employer's interests with its employees. "We have found Prosperity 101 to be useful in educating employees with an interest in economics, tax policy, and legislative initiatives," he wrote. "We have made P101 materials available in common areas for voluntary selection."