Americans for Prosperity
Americans for Prosperity (AFP) is an astroturf front group started by oil billionaire David Koch and Richard Fink (a member of the board of directors of Koch Industries) in 2003. AFP works together with the Koch family’s other conservative foundations promoting right wing and libertarian causes.
A section 501(c)(4) organization, AFP and the Americans for Prosperity Foundation (AFP Foundation), a section 501(c)(3) organization, are "committed to educating citizens about economic policy and a return of the federal government to its Constitutional limits."
Americans for Prosperity has reported spending a total of $1,322,058 on independent campaigning through October 2010, with 96% benefiting Republican candidates.
Americans for Prosperity and its sister organization, Americans for Prosperity Foundation, have 31 state chapters that are active players in organizing Tea Party demonstrations, training activists, and bussing in speakers and participants.
AFP orchestrated the anti-Obama, anti-tax tea party protests beginning in April of 2009. AFP continues to organize tea party rallies currently, bussing speakers and participants all over the country.
According to Jane Mayer in The New Yorker, Americans for Prosperity and its foundation plan to spend $45 million on “some fifty House races and half a dozen Senate races, staging rallies, organizing door-to-door canvassing, and running ads aimed at “educating voters about where candidates stand.”
AFP was involved in the attacks on Obama’s "green jobs" czar, Van Jones, and has crusaded against international climate talks.
AFP has enthusiastically promoted global warming denial and attacked environmental regulation with a series of national PR campaigns. AFP’s "Hot Air Tour,” a national tour that calls predictions of global warming “hysteria,” labels cap and trade legislation a “climate tax,” and features a hot air balloon, is one such stunt.
AFP also runs the website No Climate Tax, which exhorts citizens to send a message to federal and state lawmakers urging them to sign the No Climate Tax Pledge.
In the wake of the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, AFP has positioned itself as a conduit for corporate money entering political campaigns. Americans for Prosperity spent $6 million in ads attacking democratic incumbents in the 2010 elections.
AFP director Art Pope is an ex-legislator in North Carolina who has been dubbed "The Knight of the Right" by Raleigh News and Observer journalist Rob Christensen. Pope has spent $24.1 million (1997-2008) on organizations that deny climate change science including Americans for Prosperity, which has received over one millions dollars from Pope's family foundation. In addition to money from Art Pope's John William Pope foundation, AFP also received money from the Lynde and Harry Bradley foundation, of which Art Pope is a board member.
Americans for Prosperity Vice President Alan Cobb was the “director of Kansas Public Affairs for Koch Industries,” and is the lead policy maker at led two pro-corporate front groups: The Free Enterprise Fund and The Internet Freedom Coalition.
AFP advocates pro-tobacco industry positions on issues like cigarette taxes and clean indoor air laws.
AFP’s highest paid independent contractor in 2009 was FLS Connect, one of the largest GOP pollsters and fundraisers. FLS Connect is a side project of the right wing PR firm DCI Group, which specializes in creating astroturf support for corporate interests and is responsible for organizing climate denial front groups such as Tech Central Station. FLS Connect received well over $100,000 in fees from AFP in 2009. FLS Connect and the DCI Group are “sister companies” says Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor party chairman Brian Melendez. FLS Connect was originally incorporated in 1999 as Feather, Hodges, Larson & Synhorst, according to filings with the Arizona Corporation Commission. In 2001 the firm’s name was changed to FLS-DCI. Then in 2006 the company’s moniker was switched to FLS Connect. Synhorst is a founder and current chairman of the DCI Group, while Feather worked as a lobbyist for the firm from 2001 to 2006. “It’s basically the same group of people who have established and run both organizations” says Menendez.
In conjunction with political donations from Koch Industries to Republican Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, Americans for Prosperity has coordinated support for the Governor's union busting efforts. Wisconsin's budget crisis has been inflamed by corporate tax cuts initiated by Gov. Walker, who then used the lack of income to justify taking bargaining rights from Wisconsin union workers and cutting the salaries and benefits of state employees. Koch Industries holds numerous business operations in Wisconsin.
In March, 2011, Americans for Prosperity sent memos to U.S. senators to support an attack on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's lawful regulation of greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act. An amendment introduced by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) to a small business bill, based on anti-climate legislation authored by Senator James Inhofe (R-OK), was introduced as a partisan tactic with low likelihood for success, although other amendments on the table would also threaten the EPA's ability to curb the consequences of climate change. AFP's effort was complimented by advertisements run by the National Association of Manufacturers and the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity.