Right-Wing Group Funded By the Kochs Ratchets Up Interference in Wisconsin Uprising

Americans for Prosperity, the right-wing astroturf group financed by the billionaire Koch brothers, has gotten itself even more involved than it already was in Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker's campaign to destroy state workers' collective bargaining rights.

Late last week, AlterNet's Adele Stan reported on the Koch brothers' ties to the Wisconsin union-busting efforts.

The fact is, Walker is carrying out the wishes of his corporate master, David Koch, who calls the tune these days for Wisconsin Republicans. Walker is just one among many Wisconsin Republicans supported by Koch Industries -- run by David Koch and his brother, Charles -- and Americans for Prosperity, the astroturf group founded and funded by David Koch. The Koch brothers are hell-bent on destroying the labor movement once and for all.

During his election campaign, Walker received the maximum $15,000 contribution from Koch Industries, according to Think Progress, and support worth untold hundreds of thousands from...Americans for Prosperity.

According to Cenk Uygur on MSNBC, the Kochs were in fact Walker's fourth-largest donor during his 2010 campaign, giving him a total of $43,000 throughout 2010. And now they're getting exactly what they want out of Walker, including massive tax breaks and this effort to quash Wisconsin union workers' rights.

As Stan writes, the Kochs have dual interests in seeing the labor movement fail in Wisconsin: on the one hand, Koch Industries is a major corporate player in Wisconsin, with at least 17 facilities and offices in the state and "nearly 4,000 miles of pipeline" through its Koch Pipeline Company, L.P. The Kochs, like many corporate leaders, see labor as "the last strong line of resistance against the wholesale takeover of government (and your tax dollars) by corporations." (Meanwhile, the company has been slashing jobs in Wisconsin as David and Charles Koch granted themselves an $11 billion pay raise.)

But also, the contracts won by organized workers set the ceiling for workers in the rest of the country. So business leaders like the Koch brothers, who have corporate interests all over the country, have an especially vested interest in keeping the Wisconsin uprising from succeeding. It's all about the bottom line.

And now, the Koch-supported AFP is ratcheting up its support for the union-busting plan that it helped breed in the first place.

At the end of last week, Think Progress reported that AFP was helping organize pro-Walker protests in Madison and bus in Tea Partiers to attend. As Talking Points Memo noted, the numbers maybe weren't what AFP had hoped for: "The pro-Walker Tea Party rally featured something of an all-star cast: Andrew Breitbart, Joe "The Plumber" Wurzelbacher, Herman Cain and more. However, every estimate in the media has shown that the pro-Walker demonstration was outnumbered several times over by the pro-union demonstrators."

Then, AFP launched the propagandist Web site StandWithWalker.com, where visitors can sign a petition supporting the notion that "Collective bargaining should not be used to force extravagant pension and health benefits that cripple state budgets." (The truth: the state's union's already have agreed to all of the GOP's demands on wages and benefits. They've kept up their end of the "shared sacrifice" Walker keeps talking about.) Even more unsettling, the petition professes that "every state should adopt Governor Scott Walker's common sense reforms." Nearly 73,000 people have signed so far, according to the site.

The site also offers a "fact sheet" full of every untrue talking point Walker and his supporters have been spouting for days.

The latest endeavor by AFP to influence the outcome of the Wisconsin situation is a TV ad the group bankrolled to the tune of $342,000. The ad, which will air on network and cable TV from Feb. 23 to March 1, features a narrator saying, "Democratic legislators don’t even have the guts to show up for their jobs, hiding out in other states. President Obama backs the union bosses and floods the state with out-of-state political protesters. Governor Walker has the courage to do what’s right for Wisconsin. Stand with Walker."

Those are fightin' words. And the fight clearly isn't about fixing the budget, as the name of Walker's "Budget Repair Bill" would have us believe -- it's about going after the unions and protecting corporate interests.


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