Calling for a “reboot” of public education in Minnesota, hundreds of thousands of dollars flowed into the Minneapolis school board elections this November to try ousting an incumbent and to usher in the ALEC education agenda.
Last week, the Center for Media and Democracy and The Nation magazine worked together to publish a package in The Nation and a new online wiki resource on Pete Peterson and the Campaign to Fix the Debt, an entity we consider an "astroturf supergroup" with a huge budget working hard to create the fantasy that Americans care more about national debt and deficits than jobs and the economy. Fix the Debt is currently exploiting the "sequester" debate in Congress to encourage steep cuts to incredibly popular social programs like Medicare and Social Security.
For better or worse, a bill passed Congress in the wee hours of 2013 averting the much-hyped "fiscal cliff" for now and raising taxes on couples making over $450,000 and extending a lifeline of unemployment benefits to 2 million Americans.
The National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) "I Built My Business" astroturf bus tour started rolling through Wisconsin this week in support of Republican candidates for office. NFIB advertises itself as the nonpartisan "Voice of Small Business," but CMD's new web resource NFIBexposed.org presents a wealth of facts that challenge that assertion.
Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker flew to DC over the weekend to thank the Americans For Prosperity astroturf group for its help with the Wisconsin recall. Walker headlined AFP's 2012 "Defending the American Dream" Summit two months after winning his June 5 recall battle -- with a $10 million assist from the organization that was founded and is funded and led by billionaire David Koch. (The $10 million spent by AFP was $3 million more than what was spent by Walker's opponent.)
Americans for Prosperity (AFP), the Koch-funded astroturf group, held a Tax Day rally in Madison on April 14. This year's Tax Day rally was dramatically smaller than the 2009/2010 rallies at the Capitol and even smaller than last year's rally which took place in the sleet and the snow at the height of the Wisconsin Uprising. With the sun shining down on this year's rally, this year's themes included the supposedly fake "War on Women" and claims about how well Governor Scott Walker's policies are working for Wisconsin.
Wisconsin's chapter of AFP has been very supportive of Walker and his policies over the past year, running ads supporting the passage of Walker's union-busting "Budget Repair Bill," that sparked unprecedented protests in February and March of 2011. In more recent months, they have also partnered with the conservative belief tank, the MacIver Institute, to launch an expensive TV ad and Internet campaign called "It's Working," suggesting that Walker's collective bargaining measure and budget cuts have been successful.
"Energy Citizens," a front group backed by the American Petroleum Institute (API), has launched a new national ad campaign in advance of the 2012 elections to try and make it sound like substantial public support exists for increased oil and gas drilling known as fracking. The print and TV ads, coordinated by the Edelman PR firm, are titled "I'm an Energy Voter." They feature supposedly average people looking into the camera and saying "I vote ...for American domestic energy" and promoting the industry's goals of opening up more land to drilling. The ads link increasing drilling to job creation, economic prosperity and national energy security. (PRWatch has previously reported how, in fact, the increased fracking for "natural" methane gas has actually led to dramatically increased exporting of America's natural gas.) The industry's ad also drives viewers to the website "Vote4Energy.org." The homepage of the website give no indication that Energy Citizens is a creation of the oil industry, as CMD has previously reported. API CEO Jack Gerard insists the effort is "not an ad campaign...It's a conversation with the American people." But when API put out a casting call to recruit volunteers to star in the commercial, a Greenpeace activist showed up. When he started to read his lines, he veered off-script and decried the "lies and influence peddling" of the oil industry and he was quickly shown the door.