This morning, blogger Brad Friedman, writing in Mother Jones and BradBlog, revealed a set of audio tapes from the last major donor meeting convened by the billionaire Koch brothers. There are a number of startling revelations from the scoop — but the opening remarks from Kevin Gentry, a Koch Industries executive at the firm’s DC lobbying office, blow the cover off the many Tea Party efforts underwritten by the billionaires in the Koch network of donors.
Gentry, who doubles as the official responsible for doling out Koch charitable grants, admits privately what ThinkProgress and others have noted for years: Americans for Prosperity, the front group founded by David Koch, orchestrates Tea Party events simply to elect more Republicans. Gentry said he met with Fred Young, a Wisconsin owner of engine manufacturing plants, at an Americans for Prosperity (AFP) event “designed to help in the Congressional races” during one of their “get out the vote tours”:
KEVIN GENTRY: I’m going to turn it over to a dear friend, Fred Young, for the purposes of an introduction. Fred is a long-time fighter, freedom fighter, in this movement, from Racine, Wisconsin. Former owner of Young Radiator. As part of our efforts last year, in 2010, I was on the road for [TN?] in Wisconsin, here at one of Americans for Prosperity’s last minute kind of get out the vote tours. And I went to an event in Racine, Wisconsin, and met up with Fred. It was sort of a Tea Party AFP event designed to help in the Congressional races. And Fred was kind enough to lend me a sweatshirt because I wasn’t actually prepared for Racine, Wisconsin in November. So Fred, let’s take it away, please.
Too many in the media ignored the Koch network’s transparently partisan agenda last year. A few outlets, like the Washington Post, took the group to task for spending $45 million in attack ads against Democrats using an unaccountable, secret money wing of Americans for Prosperity. However, most failed to report on the millions more spent on four different bus tours designed to promote Republicans. These rallies, which required great resources in terms of staff and logistics, were never reported to the Federal Elections Committee as campaign spending, thus evading the few watchdog groups and reporters interested in serious election coverage.
As ThinkProgress revealed last year, in documents outlining the June, 2010 donor meeting, billionaires like Paul Singer, Ken Griffin, Rich DeVos, and John Childs are regular attendees of these events, which solicit multi-million donations for an elaborate array of right-wing front groups, from Tea Party organizers like Americans for Prosperity to stealth advertising campaigns like “Public Notice.” Unfortunately, many still report on Tea Party groups like Americans for Prosperity as bonafide grassroots organizations.