Crooks & Liars: Koch Industries denies funding tea parties, but official filings say otherwise

April 18, 2010- For some odd reason, the Koch folks want to be one degree of separation from the tea parties. I don't understand it, since the good tea party people are simply grassroots, everyman movements, based on Mom, apple pie, the American Way, and various homegrown flavors of tea, right?

When it comes to the tea parties, not so much. I expect this stems from Koch's desire to have us believe the tea party groups are simply organically grown magic groups who needed no fertilizer from large US corporations.

From a statement provided to TPM:

"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. Thanks for your consideration."

Parse the statement very carefully. Their keyword is "specifically". And on that level, their statement appears to be true. They have not earmarked any funds that I can see to "specifically" fund tea parties, nor is there evidence of any involvement from them in the FreedomWorks organization.

Yet it is true and it is false. I built a genealogy for FreedomWorks and some of the other right-wing organizations last fall when the health care debate was being hijacked. I pulled every 990 and financial statement for every player I could find for a ten-year period and compiled the results.

FreedomWorks' predecessor was Citizens for a Sound Economy Foundation. Of the three major players who donated large sums to Citizens for a Sound Economy, Koch charities were by far and away the largest donors, with nearly $13 million donated between 1985 and 2005. Other large donors include the Olin Foundation, the Coors Family, and the Scaife foundations.

Citizens for a Sound Economy (CSE) underwent a transformation in 2004 when it merged with Empower America and was reborn as FreedomWorks. CSEF was renamed, becoming Americans for Prosperity. Just like that, one Koch-Scaife-Coors-Olin venture became two. Twice the voice; twice the reach.


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