Americans for Prosperity

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Americans for Prosperity is a pair of Washington, DC based organizations favoring enterpeneurship, fiscal conservatism and free markets. The first group educates citizens " about economic policy and a return of the federal government to its Constitutional limits. AFP Foundation's works to elect candidates. Both describe their mission as enabling local grassroots volunteers.[1] Formed in 2004 by David Koch, brother of Charles Koch, libertarian businessmen and the principal owners of the privately held Koch Industries. The Koch joint wealth is exceeded only by that of Bill Gates and Warren Buffett. Wealth is mentioned only for the context that there are right-wing major contributors comparable to George Soros on the left. Richard Fink, a Koch board member and head of its petroleum drilling subsidiary, cofounded it.

Tea Party movement

The group is one of several claiming leadership of the Tea Party Movement.[2] A Koch company spokesman denied funding, but Venable "a longtime political operative who draws a salary from Americans for Prosperity, and who has worked for Koch-funded political groups since 1994—spoke less warily."
“We love what the Tea Parties are doing, because that’s how we’re going to take back America!” she declared, as the crowd cheered. In a subsequent interview, she described herself as an early member of the movement, joking, “I was part of the Tea Party before it was cool!” She explained that the role of Americans for Prosperity was to help “educate” Tea Party activists on policy details, and to give them “next-step training” after their rallies, so that their political energy could be channelled “more effectively.” And she noted that Americans for Prosperity had provided Tea Party activists with lists of elected officials to target. She said of the Kochs, “They’re certainly our people. David’s the chairman of our board. I’ve certainly met with them, and I’m very appreciative of what they do.”[3]
It sponsored a July 4 summit.
Peggy Venable, the organizer of the summit, warned that Administration officials “have a socialist vision for this country. Five hundred people attended the summit, which served, in part, as a training session for Tea Party activists in Texas. An advertisement cast the event as a populist uprising against vested corporate power. “Today, the voices of average Americans are being drowned out by lobbyists and special interests,” it said. “But you can do something about it.” The pitch made no mention of its corporate funders. [3]
A Democratic strategist, Rob Stein, said while the Kochs are very opposed to Barack Obama, "the Kochs are “at the epicenter of the anti-Obama movement. But it’s not just about Obama. They would have done the same to Hillary Clinton. They did the same with Bill Clinton. They are out to destroy progressivism.”"[3] After the presidential election, the organization issued a news release congratulating both Obama and McCain, saying
There will be many battles to wage for free-market principles in the upcoming months, but we will find common ground with Obama on tax cuts, earmark reform, and greater transparency and accountability in government spending.[4]

Petroleum drilling

The group issued a news release headlined Apparent Repeal of Ban on Offshore Drilling Would Be “Huge Victory” for Energy Consumers, “Stunning Defeat for Environmental Extremists and Their Allies in Congress”"[5] Cofounder Richard Fink is head of Koch Industries' refining division, and president of the Koch-affiliated Claude R. Lambe Charitable Foundation, which gave AFP's foundation $2.2 million from 2005-06, according to the Foundation Center.[6]

Tobacco

Arguing that restrictions on tobacco are restrictions on personal freedom, AFP has taken positions generally supportive of the tobacco industry. It opposed a proposed Texas smoking ban in 2005. According to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, “A proposed statewide smoking ban appears all but dead, supporters acknowledged Monday as they waged a frantic battle to bring the bill up for a vote in the Senate. ‘I think the bill is dead,’ said Peggy Venable, Texas director of Americans for Prosperity, which opposed the legislation, arguing that it is an intrusion on private-property rights." The strategy of portraying [7] can be traced to Philip Morris. That tobacco company, in the 1990s, supported state bills to protect property right infringement with smoking restrictions.

They use a slippery-slope argument which, according to Venable, made the proposal"reckless expansion of government" that "set a dangerous precedent." Although Venable did not testify against the bill directly on behalf of the tobacco industry, the Houston Chronicle reported in 2007 that Americans for Prosperity had, in fact, been underwritten by tobacco companies in other states.[8]

References