Koch-funded Americans for Prosperity pushes Koch-funded Prop 23 at official RNC rally in California

On Saturday, the Republican National Committee (RNC) held a large “Victory Rally,” which ThinkProgress attended, just outside Disneyland in Anaheim, CA. Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin was the highlight of event, while RNC Chairman Michael Steele, several GOP congressmen, and right-wing media tycoon Andrew Breitbart also gave speeches to the excited, mostly-elderly crowd in a hotel ballroom. Notably absent were Carly Fiorina and Meg Whitman, California’s GOP Senate and governor nominees.

But curiously present was the conservative “grassroots” astroturfing outfit Americans for Prosperity (AFP), which held a “No Jobs Fair” to encourage people to vote yes on Proposition 23, a referendum on the ballot this year that would essentially scrap California’s landmark global warming law.  TP has the story and video in this cross-post.

Interestingly, AFP appeared the be the only group aside from the RNC and candidates’ campaigns with any major presence at the event, entirely occupying a large room across the hallway from the rally in the Anaheim Marriott. The only other room being employed, aside from those for the rally itself and AFP, was a small space adjacent where attendees could register to volunteer for GOP campaigns.

While federal election law would prohibit groups like AFP from coordinating with the RNC, AFP California Communications Director Meridith Turney told ThinkProgress that the two groups did not coordinate, but that AFP had to “ask for their permission to use the room” and paid the RNC for its use. Watch a compliation of AFP’s fair, and ThinkProgress’ interview with Turney and AFP California Chairman David Spady:

Turney couldn’t really explain why, of all the countless ballot initiatives across the country “” California alone has 10 “” her group had invested so heavily in Prop. 23. But AFP and the Yes on 23 campaign are a natural fit. The campaign pushing Prop. 23 portrays itself as a broad coalition of Californians concerned about jobs, but it is in fact funded almost exclusively by a small handful of out-of-state oil companies concerned about their bottom line if the state’s global warming law is allowed to be fully implemented. Texas-based Valero and Tesoro, along with Kansas-based Koch Industries alone have provided about 80 percent of the financial backing.

Koch, the country’s second largest privately held company, is owned and operated by brothers Charles and David Koch. Coincidentally, David Koch is the chairman of AFP. In corporate documents, Koch Industries has explicitly stated that California’s global warming law would hurt profits and “be very bad news for our industry.” With the AFP fair, and countless other events, the Kochs seem to be using the astroturfing arm they founded and fund to defend the profits of the corporation they own, all the while disguising their effort as an altruistic “jobs initiative” for average Californians.

This is typical of AFP, which has played a central role in incubating the tea party movement to drum up populist support as a smokescreen to push their self-serving interests. The Koch brothers have repeatedly tried to distance themselves from the tea party movement to protect its guise of independence, but even AFP’s own Meridith Turney has touted her organization’s and David Koch’s involvement in the movement. Last year at a national AFP meeting led by Koch, she proudly told him AFP California “helped organize huge tea parties all throughout the state,” including “one of the largest tea parties in the country.” Recently released video even shows David Koch touting his role in supporting AFP and the tea party movement. At the fair Saturday, AFP offered free cocktails to anyone who enlisted in the effort to push the dirty energy referendum that will preserve their profits.

What was unusual about AFP’s fair Saturday was the fact that it occurred during an official RNC event, underscoring the growing nexus between the Republican establishment, the tea party movement, and the secretive corporate backers that bankroll both.

Notably, when asked by ThinkProgress whether their organization would join increasing calls for electoral transparency by disclosing its donors, both Turney and Spady dismissed the idea, even if progressive groups like were also required to disclose. In defending their secretive donors, Spady trotted out the familiar excuse employed by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and others that their backers would be subject to “retribution” of some kind if their contributions were made public. He also said he supports unlimited donations to individual candidates.

Alex Seitz-Wald, in a Think Progress cross-post.


11 Responses to Koch-funded Americans for Prosperity pushes Koch-funded Prop 23 at official RNC rally in California

  1. Colorado Bob says:

    SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said Tuesday he doesn’t just want to defeat the November ballot measure that would suspend the state’s greenhouse gas emissions law — he wants voters to trounce it to prompt Washington to create a new national energy policy.

  2. Richard Brenne says:

    The Koch Brothers are everything our Founders warned us against.

  3. Colorado Bob says:

    The CS Monitor gave Watts some space –

    Climate change ‘fraud’ letter: a Martin Luther moment in science history

    Esteemed physicist Harold Lewis is calling global warming the ‘most successful pseudoscientific fraud I have seen.’ His resignation letter could mark the unraveling of one of the great scientific mistakes in history and the beginning of a needed reformation of the scientific community.

    [JR: Sad. I’ll do another post.]

  4. JasonW says:

    I love this response left in the comments at CS Monitor by Hawk of May:

    Oh what irony to use Martin Luther as a comparison. Professor Lewis’s grasp on the science of global climate change is as firm as Martin Luther’s grasp on Copernicus…that is to say…none.

    “There is talk of a new astrologer who wants to prove that the earth moves and goes around instead of the sky, the sun, the moon, just as if somebody were moving in a carriage or ship might hold that he was sitting still and at rest while the earth and the trees walked and moved. But that is how things are nowadays: when a man wishes to be clever he must needs invent something special, and the way he does it must needs be the best! The fool wants to turn the whole art of astronomy upside-down. However, as Holy Scripture tells us, so did Joshua bid the sun to stand still and not the earth.” — Luther’s Tablebook (Tischreden)


  5. Michael T says:

    Has anyone ever came across this youtube channel:

    They call themselves “Youth for Oil” and spread lies and disinformation about global warming. Any thoughts on this?

  6. Jeff Huggins says:

    How can you “think progress” while attending such a rally? Brave and optimistic folks, you are!

  7. Chris Winter says:

    “Hawk of May” wins the thread. But most of the comments demolished Watts pretty thoroughly.

  8. paulm says:

    China a surprise leader in clean energy: study
    By Amy Coopes (AFP) – 18 hours ago
    SYDNEY — The world’s top polluter, China, is a surprise leader in clean energy efforts, a study showed Tuesday, outstripping the United States and Japan and leaving Australia lagging far behind.
    The Vivid Economics report, commissioned by Australia’s Climate Institute thinktank, showed China was second only to Britain in the value of its incentives to cut pollution from electricity generation.
    Britain’s efforts were estimated at 29.30 US dollars per tonne of carbon to China’s 14.20 US dollars, with the United States clocking 5.10, Japan 3.10, Australia 1.70 and just 70 US cents for South Korea.

  9. Wit's End says:

    JasonW, thanks for sharing that, it’s brilliant!!

    According to the NYT (, the Koch brothers are planning a pow-wow in Palm Springs in January, JUST WHEN I WILL NEED SOME SUN! Isn’t that nice of them? I’m going to go in my climate zombie costume with my KOCH KILLS banner pictured here in Washington DC:

    Anybody who wants to dress as a zombie and hand out fliers please get in touch – We should mob the place!


  10. catman306 says:

    I wonder if the Koch brother’s were at Cheney’s Energy meeting early in Bush’s first term? That would surely explain quite a bit about energy programs during the past 10 years.

  11. SBnVA says:

    Whenever I hear the words “Americans For Prosperity,” I mentally change it to “American For Prosperity.” I came across the singular (American) version in an article somewhere, perhaps on CP, and it seemed unintentional, but given that it’s Koch’s (evil) baby, it seems a much more accurate title for the group.