The Right Wing

Not an Employee? Herman Cain Had Mailing and Email Addresses at Koch's Americans For Prosperity HQ

Cain's campaign staff say he wasn't an employee of the Tea Party group founded by David Koch. But he did have a desk and an email address at its headquarters.

As the New Yorker's Jane Mayer wrote earlier this week, members of Herman Cain's campaign staff are loath to discuss his longstanding ties to Americans for Prosperity and the Americans for Prosperity Foundation, the organizing groups founded by billionaire David Koch, about whom Mayer famously wrote a comprehensive profile last year. AlterNet, which began reporting on Cain's ties to Koch last June, has learned that Cain's work for AFP at one time had all the appearances of a staff position.

In Mayer's 2010 exposé, "Covert Operations," she detailed the network of right-wing think tanks and organizations funded by David Koch and his brother Charles, principals in Koch Industries, the second-largest privately held company in the United States, according to Forbes.

Now, Mayer has turned her gaze to the ties between Koch and Cain, seeking to find out how much Cain earned from Americans for Prosperity and its foundation, and whether or not Cain has ever been considered an employee of either entity. She writes:

Earlier this week, I asked J. D. Gordon, communications director for Cain’s campaign, whether Cain was an employee of Americans for Prosperity. “No,” he said, “He’s not an employee.” I noted that I’d seen Cain speak at an Americans for Prosperity event in Austin, Texas in July 2010....Gordon acknowledged that Cain had received “speaking fees” from Americans for Prosperity. He said he would have to get back to me with details.

As far back as 2005 -- the year Americans for Prosperity was founded -- Cain was fronting the group's efforts to add chapters, as Think Progress reported earlier this month, and the Associated Press explored last weekend, with a campaign called the Prosperity Expansion Project. AlterNet has since learned that Cain was more than simply a cheerleader for the project; he had a mailing address and email address at Americans for Prosperity headquarters.

Here's a screen shot from the AFP Web site, of a 2005 page about the Prosperity Expansion Project (click here to open the image a separate window):

Now, the corporate types are famous for embracing employment models that exempt the people who work for them from the sort of benefits and workplace protections that come with being an actual "employee." Perhaps Herman Cain was just an "independent contractor" or a temp worker. If so, then his campaign would be technically correct in saying that he hasn't been on the payroll.

Truth be told, Cain may not have fared too badly as an independent contractor -- it that's indeed what he was -- for Americans for Prosperity and/or its foundation.

When Mayer began peeling back what appear to be layers of obfuscation, she found, listed on the organization's tax forms, payouts by Americans for Prosperity in excess of $120,000 in 2010 to the speakers bureau that books Cain. She also discovered unspecified payments of $50,000 - $100,000 listed on Cain's filing with the Federal Election Commission as fees paid to his company, New Voice, which, Mayer writes, "he describes as a 'public speaking' and 'publishing' entity."

In June, when Herman Cain announced his presidential candidacy, AlterNet began laying out Cain's relationship to AFP and its foundation, beginning with his campaign manager, Mark Block, the former director of the Wisconsin chapter of Americans for Prosperity, known as both a talented organizer and underhanded player in Wisconsin elections. As we noted in our June report, Block was fined $15,000 and banned from participating in Wisconsin politics for three years because of election-law violations he committed on behalf of a campaign he was managing for a state Supreme Court candidate.

It was Block who recruited Cain, along with the Wall Street Journal's Stephen Moore, to front a Koch-linked operation, Prosperity 101, during the 2010 midterm election campaign. Cain claimed Prosperity 101 was the right's "answer to ACORN." (Among the other things Block busied himself with during the midterm campaign was a voter-suppression scheme in Milwaukee, detailed here in The Nation. As AlterNet reported, at Block's direction, Americans For Prosperity did the initial mailing to voters that would form the basis of the vote-caging scheme, which was done in coordination with local Tea Party groups.)

After the campaign ended, and Block had helped elect Scott Walker to the governor's mansion and fill the Wisconsin state legislature with Tea Party-allied candidates, he recruited Herman Cain to run for president.

When pundits opine that Herman Cain "has no organization," it's only because the conventional-wisdom machine forbids looking behind the curtain labeled Koch. Herman Cain enjoys the favor of an organization that has chapters in 34 states: Americans for Prosperity. That should at least be enough to keep him in the GOP presidential nomination contest until the all-important primary in New Hampshire, where Americans for Prosperity has a very active chapter, is settled.

As we suggested in our earlier reporting, the likely purpose of a Cain candidacy is not to win the presidency. (And given Cain's recent remarks on abortion, in which he seemed to say he's unwilling to criminalize it, it's unlikely he can win the GOP nomination.) The likely purpose of his candidacy is to push former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, the likely nominee, into adopting positions such as those favored by David Koch and Americans for Prosperity. In New Hampshire, Herman Cain may yet achieve that goal.

Related story:As Herman Cain Surges, Corporate Media Ignore His Koch Connections

Adele M. Stan is AlterNet's Washington bureau chief. Follow her on Twitter: She also writes for the AFL-CIO News Now blog.
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