Thanks to a reader for a notice of a robocall from Asa Hutchinson urging turnout for an anti-health-legislation stop in Little Rock Wednesday by a front group powered by money from Americans for Prosperity, an astroturf lobby funded by Kochs, Scaifes, the tobacco lobby etc.
The theme of the bus tour is "hands off my health care" -- meaning the billionaires are doing just fine, thank you, and they have no interest in paying a dime more for those who aren't. The so-called First Patients Bus Tour will be joining hands to sing "We're in the Money" at the Capitol at 4:30 p.m. The dog-and-pony show apparently will be in Beebe and Searcy Monday.
UPDATE: Democratic Party does more backgrounding on this 'bagger caravan.
DEMOCRATIC PARTY RELEASE
'Take It With A Grain of Salt'
Washington Front Group Arrives Today
As a national bus tour begins a three-day swing through the Natural State, the Democratic Party of Arkansas released a fact sheet outing the background of the organization sponsoring the tour and encouraging Arkansans to take this latest political stunt in the ongoing health reform debate with a "grain of salt."
"The Washington political strategists sending their road show to Arkansas are the same ones paid to manufacture grassroots support for Enron and for Indian casinos at the behest of now-jailed lobbyist Jack Abramoff. They're coming to our neighborhoods to tell Arkansans what they should think about health coverage reform, and its worth taking with a grain of salt," DPA Chairman Todd Turner said.
Patients First is a front group for a Washington-based organization, Americans for Prosperity, part of a web of organizations that manufacture and recruit support for corporate clients and their causes.
The "Patients First Tour" begins its swing through Arkansas today with a stop in Beebe. Previous tour stop speakers have compared health care reform to the Holocaust. The fact sheet, released today, follows.
Truth About "Patients First"
Patients First is a front group for a right-wing, special-interest organization, led by a man infamous for having "excelled in launching fake grassroots groups" for "Enron, the Peoples Republic of China and Indian casinos at the behest of now-jailed lobbyist Jack Abramoff."
Now, he and his organization are sending their front-group to Arkansas.
They already spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on TV ads in the Natural State this month and were part of a coalition of special-interest groups organizing disruptions at town hall meetings across the country. At the front group's other tour stops, speakers have even compared health care reform to the Holocaust. Now this Washington organization is peddling its misinformation in our neighborhoods.
Patients First is just one of the health care front groups for a rightwing, special-interest organization. "Patients First is a project of Americans for Prosperity (AFP), a 501(c)4." [joinpatientsfirst.com] "Patients United Now is a project of Americans for Prosperity Foundation, which is a nonprofit organized under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code." [patientsunitednow.com] Americans for Prosperity, founded by David H. Koch, "split off from an earlier Koch-backed enterprise, now called FreedomWorks, which promotes similar goals." [New York Times, 7/10/08]
The parent organization is led by Tim Phillips, infamous for having "excelled in launching fake grassroots groups" for "Enron, the Peoples Republic of China and Indian casinos at the behest of now-jailed lobbyist Jack Abramoff." The Colorado Independent wrote, "Americans for Prosperity is led by Tim Phillips, a political strategist and an associate of ex-Christian Coalition chief Ralph Reed. The duo formed the consulting firm Century Strategies that excelled in launching fake grassroots groups, known as Astroturf, for such luminaries as Enron, the Peoples Republic of China and Indian casinos at the behest of now-jailed lobbyist Jack Abramoff. Century Strategies is also linked to Abramoff's work to weaken worker protections in Northern Marian Islands sweatshops, a scandal that touched then-U.S. Rep. Bob Schaffer of Fort Collins." [The Colorado Independent, 4/15/09]
AFPF Ran $1.7 Million Eight-State Anti-Health Reform Ad Campaign. The Wall Street Journal reported that, "Americans for Prosperity Foundation, a conservative advocacy organization, on Wednesday plans to launch a $1.7 million television-advertising campaign ... [in]... Montana, Virginia, Arkansas, Louisiana, South Dakota, Indiana, Alaska and Nebraska. The group is scheduling rallies in Virginia and elsewhere starting this weekend to muster opposition to proposed changes." [Wall Street Journal, 5/27/09]
Americans for Prosperity and FreedomWorks, the Lobbyist-Run Groups that Orchestrated Tea Parties, Are Pushing Aggressive Strategy of Disrupting Town Halls. "The lobbyist-run groups Americans for Prosperity and FreedomWorks, which orchestrated the anti-Obama tea parties earlier this year, are now pursuing an aggressive strategy to create an image of mass public opposition to health care and clean energy reform. A leaked memo from Bob MacGuffie, a volunteer with the FreedomWorks website Tea Party Patriots, details how members should be infiltrating town halls and harassing Democratic members of Congress." [ThinkProgress, 7/31/09]
"At other stops on the tour, speakers have compared health care reform to the Holocaust." [Sharon Herald, 8/10/09]