The Corporate Lobbyists Behind the Tea Parties

Anyone who has watched Fox News of late has seen them talking about
the April 15 "tea party" demonstrations, which they take pains to
characterize as a spontaneous grassroots uprising against government
spending that they are simply "covering."

Neil Cavuto said:

We are are going to be in the middle of these protests because at Fox, we do not pick and choose these rallies and protests. We were there for the Million Man March, even though, as I pointed out, it turned out to be well shy of a million men.

The Million Man March happened in 1995. Fox News didn't go on the air until 1996.

all the effort to distance themselves from the teabaggers? It's obvious
they are integrally involved -- Fox has given them millions in free
publicity, despite the fact that there's no evidence of "ratings gold"
here. Four of their biggest stars will be appearing at the rallies, Fox
Nation will be hosting a "virtual tea party," Glenn Beck is holding a $500 a plate fundraiser for them and Fox has been officially promoting the entire affair as the FNC Tax Day Tea Parties:

they're afraid that if people knew that those behind the demonstrations
were the very same lobbyists and influence peddlers the teabaggers
claim to decry, the whole thing would be revealed to be what it is -- a
hollow excercise in extremist right-wing hypocrisy.

A report by Lee Fang at Think Progress documents the involvement of corporate lobbyists FreedomWorks in organizing the teabaggers. FreedomWorks is run by ladies' man (and registered lobbyist) Dick Armey, and if they're not "organizing" the Tea parties, it's news to him. From a letter he wrote on March 10:

FreedomWorks has been organizing many of these "tea parties" and we are listing the details on our website

you visit the website, you can rsvp for an event near you, and you can
download guidelines to organizing a tea party in your home town if
there isn't one being planned already.

On the Freedomworks website, it says: "If you are not able to organize
or attend a Taxpayer Tea Party, you can still help the cause by donating or buying a t-shirt.

The "donation" for the Tea Parties page goes to -- you guessed it -- the FreedomWorks Foundation.
The "thank you" letter is signed by Matt Kibbe, President & CEO,
who cut his teeth working for Lee Atwater. He was behind the attempt to
get Ralph Nader put on the ballot in Oregon in 2004, prompting a complaint to the FEC of illegal collusion with the GOP.

was launched a GOP version of MoveOn. "We believe that hard work beats
daddy's money," said Dick Armey at the time. Armey seems to be a bit
irony challenged -- Steve Forbes is on the FreedomWorks board. As Krugman notes, their money comes from the Koch, Scaife, Bradley, Olin and other reliable funders of right wing infrastructure including Exxon Mobil.

fact that none of this would be possible without the open checkbooks of
right wing billionaires and the lobbyists who love them is beyond the
grasp of Glenn Reynolds:

aren't the usual semiprofessional protesters who attend antiwar and
pro-union marches. These are people with real jobs; most have never
attended a protest march before. They represent a kind of energy that
our politics hasn't seen lately, and an influx of new activists.

2004, a woman who identified herself as a "single mother" in Iowa,
Sandra Jacques, appeared at a George Bush town hall and gushed about
his plan to privatize Social Security. She left out the part about
being an employee of Freedomworks, who were lobbying on the issue at the time.

any media covering these events accept the idea that this is just a
grass roots outpouring of populist sentiment, they ought to take a look
behind the curtain -- where Dick Armey is laughing and counting his

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