Tea Party and the Right  
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GOP Hopeful Herman Cain: David Koch's Stalking Horse?

What goes unremarked in profiles of Herman Cain is his connection to the Americans for Prosperity Foundation, the organization founded by David Koch.

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Dirty Pool

Block is, without a doubt, a hard worker, but he's known not to rely solely on the rewards of an honest day's labor. As Walker's gubernatorial campaign unfolded, Block was revealed to be one of the powers behind a scheme to suppress the vote in two Milwaukee congressional districts with the help of the Republican Party of Wisconsin, then chaired by Reince Priebus (who went on to become chairman of the Republican National Committee).

In late 2010, the liberal advocacy group, One Wisconsin Now, caught a Tea Party organizer on tape discussing Block's role in a vote-caging scheme apparently designed to suppress voter turnout in two Milwaukee districts that are heavily populated by college students and African Americans.

Vote-caging is a technique whereby registered voters are sent letters marked "do not forward" so letters that are undeliverable at the residence to which they're addressed bounce back to the sender. The returned letters are then used by the sender to challenge the votes of those individuals at her or his polling place, meaning that person can only vote on a provisional ballot. The letters were sent by Block's Americans for Prosperity chapter, many to dormitory addresses in August -- a time when students would likely be between dorm assignments.

At first, Block denied any involvement in the scheme, until Tim Dake of the Tea Party group, Grandsons of Liberty, told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that he had personally spoken to Block about it. Block then conceded that AFP had done the mailing, but said they had abandoned the effort when too few letters were returned.

The 2010 vote-caging scheme hardly marks Block's first game of dirty politics. In fact, his first day at Americans for Prosperity marked the expiration of a three four-year ban on political campaign involvement imposed on him by a Wisconsin court for his illegal activity in a 2001 election.

Then, Block's triumph as campaign manager for Judge Jon Wilcox's successful run for state Supreme Court was tempered by a $15,000 fine for illegally using an outside group, the Wisconsin Citizens for Voter Participation, to conduct campaign activities.

The Wisconsin Prosperity Network

In right-wing circles, one will hear talk, from time to time, of the "Colorado model" -- the means by which liberals and progressives began to turn Colorado from a red state to a blue state in 2004. The model involves wealthy donors who fund "independent expenditure" television ads against the positions of an opposing candidate, and the building of an infrastructure of progressive organizations that facilitates coalition organizing. In 2008, Wisconsin progressives embarked on a similar course, delivering their swing state for Barack Obama.

Not to be outdone, the Wisconsin chapter of Americans for Prosperity hatched its own alliance in 2009 called the Wisconsin Prosperity Network, which came to life as a sort of coalition-in-a-box. With an estimated start-up pot of $6.4 million, the initial plan called for the instant creation of 14 new entities that would work together with the Wisconsin chapter of Americans for Prosperity.

When a leaked PowerPoint presentation found its way into the hands of the Wisconsin State Journal, Block conceded to reporter Mark Pitsch that he was the network's "main organizer." Among the new entities created for the network is the MacIver Institute, a right-wing think tank, on whose board sits Scott Jensen, a former state assembly speaker now facing trial for using taxpayer funds for personal expenses.

A major proponent of Scott Walker's union-busting bill, the Wisconsin Prosperity Network sponsored, with Americans for Prosperity, a "Stand With Walker" campaign during the days of protests earlier this year -- busing in Tea Partiers to rallies, and launching TV advertisements, Web sites and petitions.

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