Our Country Deserves Better (OCDB) spent around $1.33 million from July through November, according to FEC filings examined by TPMmuckraker. Of that sum, a total of $870,489 went to Sacramento-based GOP political consulting firm Russo, Marsh, and Associates, or people associated with it.
OCDB, which built the Tea Party Express, is essentially a Russo, Marsh creation, as we’ve detailed. The PAC’s site was registered in July 2008 by Sal Russo, the firm’s founder. That site also lists Russo as the PAC’s “chief strategist.” Tea Party Express fundraising emails, sent by OCDB and obtained by TPMmuckraker, come from another Russo, Marsh employee, Joe Wierzbicki.
With Dick Armey making $200 an hour at FreedomWorks, it’s plain the whole teabagging fad was a scheme to keep Republican operators in clover. Which is why it has taken control of the party, and also why the rabble they roused now complains that “their” movement has been hijacked.
In truth, it was never their movement. It was an artificial creation, a Frankenstein monster. The object was to keep the Republican party alive and relevant. To pay for it, the GOP gave their contributors a solemn oath to stop the most progressive president since FDR or LBJ (which is a setting a fairly low bar). This new, greener America would not happen.
Not that they are always against recycling. In the 1950s, the John Birch Society declared the Civil Rights movement a communist plot to turn the southeastern United States into a new, black country. Change the color to brown, the direction southwest, and you have the present day rhetoric of latter-day John Birchers among the “minutemen” movement. Change the color to green, and you have Teh Watermelon Principle™: “enviroweenies are green on the outside and red on the inside!”
Birchers also said President Eisenhower and Martin Luther King were communists, and that water fluoridation was a communist mind-control conspiracy. If that, too, sounds familiar, it’s because the same wacky fantasia has been recycled for a new era — and even by the exact same people.
John Birch Society sponsor Fred Koch also created the second largest family business in America. His sons have inherited both his business and his politics; the Koch Family Foundation supports dozens of right-wing “charitable” organizations. In turn, these intermediaries fund FreedomWorks and Americans For Prosperity, the fake-grassroots (“astroturf”) organizers of the tea party “movement.”
Another is the Objectivist Society, a cult grown up around the science fiction novels of atheist, abortion advocate, and social Darwinist Ayn Rand. In February 2009, Objectivist and CNBC commentator Rick Santelli made a bizarre, on-the-air rant from the floor of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. Santelli had gotten the “tea party” idea from Illinois Libertarians and a young man named Eric Odom.
Shortly before online activist Eric Odom helped kick-start the Tea Party movement, he was new media director for Sam Adams Alliance. This put him in charge of (among other things) setting up websites, coordinating Facebook groups, managing Twitter accounts and other social networking tasks. Odom’s first known acts as a Tea Partier were to set up the OfficialChicagoTeaParty.com site and Facebook pages within hours of Rick Santelli’s February rant, then spreading word through Twitter, initially utilizing #TCOT, a Twitter list and hashtag for Top Conservatives on Twitter.
Odom waited until Santelli’s rant before unveiling the first of dozens of Koch-funded, Objectivist-schwag peddling websites praising Santelli and declaring the existence of a movement. He didn’t even bother to remove the astroturf fingerprints:
Most website creators are excited when a new website goes live, especially if it is related to a cause that they are passionate about, but Odom didn’t post his new website to his Twitter feed until 10:35 PM. He was coy with his followers, imploring them to “wait for Santelli” three times, saying his people were in discussions with Santelli, before posting, “#Dontgo Movement is putting together a Chicago Tea Party Planning Committee http://officialchicagoteaparty.com #optwtp.”
Odom did make sure to promote the new Tea Party Facebook page, “Make sure you join this Facebook group. It has the RIGHT orgs running it.” Phil Kerpen of Americans for Prosperity (an organization funded, at least in part, by the infamous Koch family of Koch Industries) is listed as the Creator.
Throughout the year, FreedomWorks and AFP used those websites to spread talking points and strategies of town hall disruption. In need of both media coverage and a unifying theme, the tea party project moved to Faux Noise. September 2009 marked the first time a cable “news” network has ever sponsored a Washington protest.
Glenn Beck, the Fox News point man for teabagging, is a fan of John Bircher screeds and frequently brings Birchers on as guests. Beck works for Roger Ailes, a longtime Republican campaign operative responsible for some of the most disgusting racist attack ads ever made. Ironically, the network owner is far closer to actual Chinese communists than Obama is to the imaginary ones on Beck’s chalkboard.
Anyone who would serve such a beast has earned names of scorn and ridicule.