This Saturday, right-wing protesters will gather in Washington DC for a march to oppose health reform and President Obama. The event, scheduled intentionally on September 12 to coincide with the anniversary of the day following the September 11 terrorist attacks, was conceived largely by Fox News’ Glenn Beck. However, most of the day-to-day organizing has been orchestrated by a now familiar set of lobbyists and Republican operatives who helped plan anti-Obama “grassroots” tea party events since February. In addition, a set of far-right groups are supporting the event, bringing along their members to join in on the Obama-bashing.
In the past, Beck has said he “hates” the families of the victims of the September 11 terrorist attacks.
Nonetheless, Beck hosted a special program earlier this year announcing his initiative called the “9/12 Project” — an effort to ostensibly recreate the patriotic unity after the September 11 attacks. But far from calls for common ground, Beck explained that the purpose was to demonize his political opponents, declaring that his movement would “surround them.” He has also implored listeners to attend the rally because they “may be the only thing that stands between freedom and slavery.” The 9/12 project website, owned by Beck’s media company Mercury Radio Arts, directs readers to Beck’s radio newsletter.
While Beck and his allies in right-wing media have provided a platform of constant publicity and coverage for the march, FreedomWorks, led by former corporate lobbyist and Republican Majority Leader Dick Armey (R-TX), has turned the gears to make the event possible. The official website for the protest, 912dc.org, is owned and operated by FreedomWorks and most of the logistical work for the march is being coordinated from its offices in DC. Starting in August, Beck began directing viewers to the FreedomWorks website at the end of his Fox News show. Billed as a “grassroots” rally, the event is actually sponsored by organizations run by partisan GOP operatives and corporate front groups:
— Gold Sponsor Tea Party Patriots is a website run by FreedomWorks staffers. When Tea Party Patriots list serv members objected to the 9/12 march symbol, they were rebuffed and told that all final decisions were made by FreedomWorks.
— Gold Sponsor Our Country Deserves Better is a Republican PAC that also operates the Tea Party Express, a bus tour arriving in DC for the 9/12 march. Our Country Deserves Better/Tea Party Express, which has ran an advertisement comparing Obama to Hitler, is managed by the GOP consulting firm Russo, Marsh & Rogers.
— Bronze Sponsors The Heartland Institute and the Competitive Enterprise Institute are phony think-tanks dedicated to churning out academic-appearing reports to discredit global warming. Like FreedomWorks, both organizations are funded by David and Charles Koch of the Koch Industries oil empire, one of the largest privately held companies in the world.
— Bronze Sponsor American Conservative Union is run by David Keene, a lobbyist for a firm that represents private health care companies, including the insurer HealthFirst.
— Bronze Sponsor The Senate Conservatives Fund is a Republican Party PAC run by Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC).
Many of these groups — each of which paid up to $10,000 to FreedomWorks to participate as sponsors — were pivotal in providing assistance (talking points, event lists, signs) to attendees of rowdy town halls in August and anti-Obama tea party protests. Encouraging anger and intimidation against lawmakers supporting health care reform was part of the strategy.
But for the 9/12 march, there appears to be a shift towards a more radical coalition. The official sponsorship list reveals a subterranean, extreme element of the American right in attendance. The National Association for Rural Landowners, a bronze sponsor, references the incidents at Waco and Ruby Ridge to call for attacks on “government entities” and liberals. In a YouTube video posted in July, the group makes the case for a secession, followed by a violent civil war. Similarly, another 9/12 cosponsor, FreeRepublic, is a forum for various radical right causes. As ThinkProgress reported, the shooter at the Holocaust museum found a welcome audience for his writings on the website.
Despite the inclusion of such anti-government extremists, Rep. Tom Price (R-GA), Rep. Mike Pence (R-IN), Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-GA), and Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) plan to attend and speak.
Koch Industries’ Melissa Cohlmia sent ThinkProgress an e-mail, taking issue with some facts in our post:
— Regarding FreedomWorks — Koch Industries, the Koch foundations, and Charles and David Koch have no ties to and have never given money to FreedomWorks. — Regarding The Heartland Institute — Koch Industries’ last donation to this organization was in 1994, 15 years ago; the Koch foundations’ last donation occurred a decade ago, in 1999. In terms of personal giving, neither Charles Koch or David Koch have ever given money to Heartland Institute. — Also, by way of clarification, you are correct in stating that David Koch supports Competitive Enterprise Institute. However, Charles Koch has never given money to this organization. Further, the last donation to this organization from a Koch foundation was in 2004, and the last donation from Koch Industries was in 2003.
Although Koch funded FreedomWorks’ predecessor Citizens for A Sound Economy, Cohlmia informed us that they no longer fund FreedomWorks. However, Cohlmia confirmed that Koch still finances Americans for Prosperity, another group that helped to publicize and support the 9/12 anti-Obama rally. Here are pictures of the Americans for Prosperity bus and its leader Tim Phillips at the rally.