This weekend, Glenn Beck will hold a rally on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial that is being billed as a “non-political event that pays tribute to America’s service personnel and other upstanding citizens who embody our nation’s founding principles of integrity, truth and honor.” The “Restoring Honor” rally will feature speeches from Beck and Sarah Palin, but Beck has repeatedly stressed that it’s “not a political event.” Last Thursday, Beck told Bill O’Reilly — who openly questioned how an event featuring Sarah Palin couldn’t be political — that “[t]his isn’t political. This is about restoring honor in our own selves. We will never fix our country unless we stand in the shadows of Abraham Lincoln and George Washington.”
Despite Beck’s claims, however, it is clear that right-wing groups and politicians are helping organize, promote and subsidize the event. Adele Stan at Alternet reported last week that the Koch-funded front group Americans for Prosperity (AFP), which advocates for a number of conservative causes, is subsidizing bus and hotel packages for attendees of Beck’s rally, though not specifically advertising the rates as being for Beck’s event.
A search of the Restoring Honor website, however, shows that AFP is organizing buses for the event. A section on the website allows potential attendees to see if a bus is leaving from their area, and displays contact information for the bus organizer. In Georgia, there are three different buses with the contact Joel Foster, who is the grassroots organizer for AFP’s Georgia chapter. (He even lists his AFP e-mail address). A bus leaving from Raleigh, NC, and another in Baltimore County, Maryland, both appear to be organized by local AFP chapters.
In addition, several other right-wing groups are promoting the event and organizing travel. Among them:
— Grassfire.org, a conservative “grassroots” group with ties to the powerful Republican public relations firm Shirley & Banister, is an approved travel coordinator for the event, and has agreements with 30 area hotels.
— The American Family Association, Kentucky Chapter is running a bus to the event.
— Americans Against Immigration Amnesty advertises a bus, hotel, and event transportation package.
The map of bus organizers also belies Beck’s claim that “[t]he Restoring Honor Rally is neither a 9/12 nor a Tea Party rally.” A vast majority of the buses heading to DC appear to have been organized by local Tea Party chapters; for example, of the 51 bus pickups in Pennsylvania, over 30 are organized by either a Tea Party or 9/12 group. In Georgia, every bus stop but one is organized by either AFP or a local tea party group.
Beck’s insistence that “Restoring Honor” isn’t political is not simply a public relations effort. Funding for the event is provided by an organization called the Special Operations Warrior Foundation, which is a 501 (c)(3) tax-exempt, federally registered charity. In order for that charity to preserve its tax-exempt status, the “Restoring Honor” rally must be non-political. Perhaps Beck’s message this weekend will not be political — but the right-wing is clearly coordinating the rally.