Wisconsin Family Action bills itself as an organization with a mission of “advancing Judeo-Christian principles and values in Wisconsin by strengthening and preserving marriage, family, life and liberty.” They do the political work of the Wisconsin Family Council, Inc. one of those wonderful, non-profit, tax-deductible organizations that provides the infrastructure for the political work.
Contributions to Wisconsin Family Action are not tax-deductible, however, they are deductible if you send them to Wisconsin Family Council, Inc. (*wink-wink.) Their issues include things like promoting school choice, advancing an anti-choice agenda for Wisconsin women, trying to get creationism into schools (under its more contemporary branding of “intelligent design,”) and “decreasing the tax burden faced by hardworking Wisconsin families, as this burden harms both communities and children alike.” In short, they spread right wing dogma.
Americans for Prosperity is “committed to educating citizens about economic policy and mobilizing those citizens as advocates in the public policy process. AFP is an organization of grassroots leaders who engage citizens in the name of limited government and free markets on the local, state, and federal levels. The grassroots activists of AFP advocate for public policies that champion the principles of entrepreneurship and fiscal and regulatory restraint.”
Interesting that the word “grassroots” comes up twice in the first three sentences of the AFP introduction. Created and funded by billionaire David Koch, AFP is actually a poster child for Astroturfing, which the Urban Dictionary aptly describes as “a form of propaganda whose techniques usually consist of a few people attempting to give the impression that mass numbers of enthusiasts advocate some specific cause.”
Of course, contributing to AFP’s political activities is not tax-deductible, but folks will not be surprised to learn that there is an AFP Foundation, for which Koch and his friends can write off their donations (*wink-wink.) The AFP Foundation is “committed to educating citizens about the value of limited government and a free market economy. AFP Foundation’s educational programs and analyses help policymakers, the media and individual citizens understand why policies that promote the American enterprise system are the best method to ensuring prosperity for all Americans.” In short, they spread right wing dogma.
This past week, it came to light that Americans for Prosperity sent out absentee ballot applications in at least two recall districts listing a deadline for returning votes that was two days after the respective elections. The applications were to be sent to the “Absentee Ballot Processing Center” in Madison (which also happens to be the post office box of Wisconsin Family Action, we are now told.) AFP Executive Director Matt Seaholm, a former aid to Congressman Sean Duffy, says it was just a typo and it only went out to their members. The latter contention has pretty much proven to be a lie and there is a very good chance that the “typo” characterization is, too.
Far be it from me to suggest that these fine folks would be engaging in election fraud, but it’s kind of a convenient mistake, don’t you think? I mean, it’s not like the typo was for getting your vote in two days early, instead of two days late. And since Wisconsin Family Action is so proud of their work, why wouldn’t they have included their name in the return address? (Maybe because they don’t want you to know?) Only to members? AFP now claims to have more than 100,000 of them in Wisconsin, though very few have actually ever contributed anything to AFP.
The point? Well, I’ve always found it to be a good idea to walk right up about 12 inches from the the television screen to read those nearly illegible “paid for” disclosures on each political or “issue” ad that I see. It’s nice to know if you’re dealing with people with a penchant for lying and cheating before you accept their message as gospel (Judeo-Christian values or not.) Granted, it can be challenging, since these Astroturf groups often make up new names for the disclaimers as they go along, but you can often chase them down with a little time on your Internet search engine.
What you’re likely to find is that for all their incarnations, it generally boils down to a few fantastically wealthy ideologues and their various front groups. Right now, I’m watching an anti-Holperin commercial from “Citizens for a Strong America.” As Sourcewatch reports, “CSA’s website lists no employees, board members, or funders and an examination of its domain registration disclosed that it was registered to the same street address and building in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, as the controversial David Koch’s Americans for Prosperity.” And before I finished writing this, there was another anti-Holperin ad from AFP. For some reason, they all like Scott Walker and his rubber stamp Republican senators, a half dozen of whom risk falling on their swords next Tuesday in support of an agenda that has strayed far from the values of most people in Wisconsin.
Just remember that for all Walker and his legislative enablers have done, it probably still isn’t nearly enough for people like David Koch.