Tea Party Movement, SourceWatch.org

The Tea Party Movement gained national attention in the summer of 2009 when organized protests occurred at Congressional "town hall" meetings that discussed healthcare reform.

While promoted as a spontaneous "grassroots" movement, many of the activities of Tea Party groups were organized by corporate lobbying groups.

Financial support

In an article in the August 30, 2010 issue of The New Yorker magazine, author Jane Mayer links the billionaire brothers David Koch and Charles Koch, owners of Koch Industries to tea party movement funding. Mayer writes,

The anti-government fervor infusing the 2010 elections represents a political triumph for the Kochs. By giving money to "educate," fund, and organize Tea Party protesters, they have helped turn their private agenda into a mass movement. Bruce Bartlett, a conservative economist and a historian, who once worked at the National Center for Policy Analysis, a Dallas-based think tank that the Kochs fund, said, "The problem with the whole libertarian movement is that it's been all chiefs and no Indians. There haven't been any actual people, like voters, who give a crap about it. So the problem for the Kochs has been trying to create a movement." With the emergence of the Tea Party, he said, "everyone suddenly sees that for the first time there are Indians out there--people who can provide real ideological power." The Kochs, he said, are "trying to shape and control and channel the populist uprising into their own policies. 1

Reports indicate that the Tea Party Movement benefits from millions of dollars from conservative foundations that are derived from wealthy U.S. families and their business interests. Is appears that money to organize and implement the Movement flows primarily through two conservative groups: Americans for Prosperity and FreedomWorks.

In an April 9, 2009 article on ThinkProgress.org, Lee Fang reports that the principal organizers of Tea Party events are Americans for Prosperity and Freedom Works, two "lobbyist-run think tanks" that are "well funded" and that provide the logistics and organizing for the Tea Party movement from coast to coast. Media Matters reported that David Koch of Koch Industries was a co-founder of Citizens for a Sound Economy (CSE), the predecessor of FreedomWorks. David Koch was chairman of the board of directors of CSE.[2] CSE received substantial funding from David Koch of Koch Industries, which is the largest privately-held energy company in the country, and the conservative Koch Family Foundations, which make substantial annual donations to conservative think tanks, advocacy groups, etc. Media Matters reported that the Koch family has given more than $12 million to CSE (predecessor of FreedomWorks) between 1985 and 2002.[3][4]

Koch Industries has denied specifically funding Freedomworks or tea parties directly, however. The company's director of communications wrote ""Koch companies value free speech and believe it is good to have more Americans engaged in key policy issues. That said, Koch companies, the Koch foundations, Charles Koch and David Koch have no ties to and have never given money to FreedomWorks. In addition, no funding has been provided by Koch companies, the Koch foundations, Charles Koch or David Koch specifically to support the tea parties." Koch's director of communications did affirm, however, that the company funds Americans for Prosperity (AFP). TPM's Lee Fang reports that "AFP was founded in part by the company's Executive Vice President, David Koch. He is currently the chairman of the board of the Americans for Prosperity Foundation." [5][6]

Media Matters also lists the Sarah Scaife Foundation as having given a total of $2.96 million in funding to FreedomWorks.[7] The Sarah Mellon Scaife Foundation is financed by the Mellon industrial, oil, and banking fortune. [8]

The Claude R. Lambe Foundation, also controlled by the Koch family, has donated more than $3 million to Americans for Prosperity. [9]

Media support

Brendan Steinhouser, Dir. of Federal and State Campaigns for FreedomWorks, discusses FreedomWorks' role in organizing Tea Party movement events

Fox News support

Fox News Channel took ownership of Tax Day Tea Parties around the nation by promoting them on-screen as "FNC Tax Day Tea Parties"

The Tea Party has also gotten substantial support in the form of promotion from Fox News Channel and its talk show hosts, including Glenn Beck. Karl Frisch of Media Matters wrote that Fox News "frequently aired segments imploring its audience to get involved with tea-party protests across the country." Fox has also provided organizing information for the events on air and online. [10]

Media Matters also noted that "While discussing the April 15 protests on his April 6 program, Glenn Beck suggested that viewers could "[c]elebrate with Fox News" by either attending a protest or watching it on Fox News. Beck stated that in addition to himself, hosts Neil Cavuto, Greta Van Susteren, and Sean Hannity would be "live" at different protests. While Beck spoke, on-screen text labeled those protests as "FNC Tax Day Tea Parties." [11]

Tax Day Tea Party protests

The Tax Day Tea Party protests occurred on April 15, 2009. This event was organized by Americans for Prosperity (AFP) and Freedomworks, corporate astroturf organizations.

Articles and resources

Related SourceWatch articles

1 Jane Mayer Covert Operations: The billionaire brothers who are waging a war against Obama, The New Yorker, August 30, 2010

2 Bloomberg Business Week Profile of David Hamilton Koch, Executive Vice President and Director, Koch Industries, Inc., Background, accessed July 27, 2010

Media Matters Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation Conservative Transparency, accessed January 27, 2010

3 Lee Fang Spontaneous Uprising? Corporate Lobbyists Helping To Orchestrate Radical Anti-Obama Tea Party Protests ThinkProgress.org, April 9, 2009, accessed January 27, 2010

4 Justin Elliott Koch Industries: We Don't Fund Tea Parties (Except For The Tea Parties We Fund), TPMMuckraker, April 15, 2010

5 Lee Fang Spontaneous Uprising? Corporate Lobbyists Helping To Orchestrate Radical Anti-Obama Tea Party Protests ThinkProgress.org, April 9, 2009, accessed January 27, 2010

6 Media Matters Action Network Sarah Scaife Foundation grants, accessed January 27, 2010

7 Media Matters Sarah Scaife Foundation Overview, accessed January 27, 2010

8 Media Matters Claude R. Lambe Charitable Foundation, accessed January 27, 2010

9 Karl Frisch Warning: This tea may cause severe damage to journalistic integrity Media Matters, April 10, 2009

Media Matters for America REPORT: "Fair and balanced" Fox News aggressively promotes "tea party" protests Special Report. April 8, 2009

External resources

External articles