The Conservative FreedomWorks PAC Lays Plans to Keep Texas Red [CORRECTED]]

Categories: Buzz

UPDATE: FreedomWorks spokesman Julie Bodnar sent Buzz a message informing us we made an error in linking the Koch brothers and FreedomWorks in this post. Specifically:

Hey Patrick,

Hope you had a great 4th of July weekend! I saw your post about FreedomWorks and BGTX, and there was a major inaccuracy that I was hoping you can correct.

FreedomWorks has no connection with the Koch brothers. No founding, no funding. I think you are confusing it with the original organization, Citizens for a Sound Economy, which split into two groups in the early 2000's. The Koch's moved on and founded Americans for Prosperity, while our organization became FreedomWorks.

If you could take out the factually incorrect Koch references in your post, I would really appreciate it.

Jackie Bodnar

We've adjusted the following and we're very sorry about any confusion Buzz might have caused by reading things like this from Right Web:

FreedomWorks is an influential conservative advocacy organization that has been a key backer of the Tea Party movement. Although the group has claimed on its website to have originally been created in 1984, the current manifestation of FreedomWorks appears to have emerged in 2004 as the result of a merger between Citizens for a Sound Economy (CSE), a rightist pro-free market organization, and Empower America, a neoconservative-aligned pressure group founded in 1993 ...

and this from The New Yorker:

"Ideas don't happen on their own," Matt Kibbe, the president of FreedomWorks, a Tea Party advocacy group, told me. "Throughout history, ideas need patrons." The Koch brothers, after helping to create Cato and Mercatus, concluded that think tanks alone were not enough to effect change. They needed a mechanism to deliver those ideas to the street, and to attract the public's support. In 1984, David Koch and Richard Fink created yet another organization, and Kibbe joined them. The group, Citizens for a Sound Economy, seemed like a grassroots movement, but according to the Center for Public Integrity it was sponsored principally by the Kochs, who provided $7.9 million between 1986 and 1993. Its mission, Kibbe said, "was to take these heavy ideas and translate them for mass America..."

And this from Source Watch...

Just prior to Citizens for a Sound Economy morphing into Freedomworks and Americans for Prosperity Dick Armey was CEO/President and Tom Posey was Treasurer, with David H. Koch and C. Boyden Gray sharing seats at the the Board of Directors. Tom Posey was the bagman in the Iran-Contra Scandal transporting money and weapons to the Contras in Nicaragua through his mercenary group Civilian Military Assistance. During this moment C. Boyden Gray was heir to American Tobacco Company fortune participating with CSE, Armey, Koch, and Posey carrying out activities to further the 50-year RICO Organized Crime tobacco frauds. It is significant looking forward that this organization tolerated and approved employee-officers who engaged the overthrow of a popular democratically-elected government.

And then there's this from Crooks & Liars from this: "Koch Industries denies funding tea parties, but official filings say otherwise."

Regardless, Bodnar attests that there's no link between FreedomWorks now and the Kochs, and we regret our misunderstanding of the long and various organizational ties between these groups, and have adjusted the following post. In our defense, remember the old saying "all cats are gray in the dark." Speaking of which, here's another interesting read from Mother Jones: "Exposed: The Dark-Money ATM of the Conservative Movement."

The corrected post is after the jump:

We'd basically forgotten about Battleground Texas, that voter-registration effort by former Obama campaigners trying to turn the state blue. Despair will do funny things to the brain, and despite all the talk of shifting demographics this and majority-minority that, we don't see Texas becoming a people's republic anytime in the next 30 centuries.

"But what about Senator Wendy Davis' filibuster over abortion rights and the thousands of people at the grrl power rallies in Austin?" you ask, lacing up your new pink Mizunos. Well sure, that was nice, but call us when the Legislature's vote is in. If there are more than four abortion clinics left when this is finished, maybe we'll celebrate.

In Texas, progressives hold rallies. Conservatives hold power. And unless you really like clever T-shirts and yelling, power is better.

Still, hope lives on like a tiny mustard seed, ready to sprout at the oddest times. So when Politico revealed last week that FreedomWorks, the conservative, Koch Bros.-founded, Tea Party-bankrolling PAC, was preparing to spend $8 million to counter Battleground Texas, we found the news cheering. If FreedomWorks thinks it needs to spend its money in Texas of all places, maybe Battleground Texas is doing something right after all.

Also delightful, in a schadenfreude-y kinda way: Eight million bucks is roughly what FreedomWorks reportedly paid former Texas representative and conservative stalwart Dick Armey in going-away money during a highly publicized bit of infighting last year. Plus, the name of FreedomWorks' project is "Come and Take It," a slogan borrowed from Texas' split from Mexico. One imagines hearing angry white conservative Texans say "come and take it" will do wonders for the GOP's Latino voter outreach. "Hey, immigrant! Come and take it! Our campaign literature, we mean."

Jackie Bodnar, communications director for FreedomWorks, told us that fear of Battleground's possible success isn't exactly what prompted her group's new effort. "Come and Take It" is a community-building effort, she said. It came about because small-government-loving Texans asked for support in spreading the conservative gospel. It's a bottoms-up effort of native Texans, unlike those Battleground Texas carpetbaggers.

Bodnar, by the way, is described as a "proud New Jersey native" on the FreedomWorks website, but that's cool. Every Koch right-wing dollar spent here isn't going to be spent elsewhere, and Texas' economy could use the dough. So, like Lyle sang: "That's right, you're not from Texas, but Texas wants you anyway."

Well, not you, per se, but your money will do nicely.

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ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul topcommenter

This is an odd story.  Just how is "Battleground Texas" any different than "Come and Take It"?  After all both projects are about building a political base to elect candidates of a particular party.

For that matter, how is it any different from what the Libertarians, Greens and Socialists do?

Or for that matter, what Ross Perot did a few years back?


Where ever one or more Koch's are assembled there is sure to be a Dick Armey coming up the rear.


"As part of their effort to position themselves as a credible alternative to Warren Buffett, the Koch brothers make two promises: We won’t string you along, and we won’t go hostile."
"Billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch's closely held company, Koch Industries Inc., made a splash in June by acknowledging an interest in buying newspapers. But Koch Industries also is looking at other possible investments, particularly in energy and agriculture-related businesses. See the deals completed by Koch Industries over the past 15 years."

How the Kochs Got Into the Glass Business"

Koch Brothers Angle for Bigger Role in Wall Street Deals

holmantx topcommenter

Better red than economically dead.

Sharon_Moreanus topcommenter

" fear of Battleground's possible success isn't exactly what prompted her group's new effort. "Come and Take It" is a community-building effort"

Then wouldn't it be called - Come and Build It.


@JackJett Sorry, but this isn't the comment section for 8th-graders.  Come back when you have something substantive to say.

scottindallas topcommenter

@holmantx The conflation of utilities with free markets has made the middle class economically dead.  You bitch about taxes, but they can be legally avoided.  How do you avoid paying twice for gas what it should be, thanks of unregulated commodities speculation?  How do you avoid soaring utilities costs?  Those kill/burden middle class disposable income.  It's the middle class consumption that is 70% of our economy, and by stagnating their wages, and increasing the corporate and financial taxation on them, the economy IS lagging, disposable income IS drying up, and the rich get richer and the poor have babies.


@Sharon_Moreanus building things isn't really in line with the Koch Bros.'s "Fuck You, Got Mine" philosophy. 


@mcdallas @JackJett ..I apologize for my flaccid attempt at lame penis humor but appreciate your work as cyber heckler.  I will hold off on comment until the 9th grade.


@monstruss@Sharon_MoreanusEr, they have built quite a large business and employ thousands of people.  

"The brothers inherited the business from their father, Fred C. Koch, and have since expanded the business to 2,600 times its inherited size."  

60,000 employees on $115B revenue.

Perhaps you ought to borrow some money to buy a clue?


@ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul @roo_ster @monstruss @Sharon_Moreanus Read the question I answered, not the question you thought I answered.

Every last penny of all income & payroll taxes of employee salaries come from the company's revenues, directly or indirectly.  I could toss in property taxes (from Koch-owned property) and countless others, too.

Of course, if employees have income from other sources, that may not ultimately derive from monies made by Koch.

scottindallas topcommenter

@roo_ster @monstruss @Sharon_Moreanus   Rooseter you're an idiot.  Their entire business model is in selling to the USGov, or in utilities, and in lobbying to remove venerable regulation of those utilities, which is an unavoidable tax on the economy.  How do you get pwned and forget so quickly, reverting to the fairy tales of your sophists?   Why do you keep listening to people who take you for a fool?

scottindallas topcommenter

@roo_ster @monstruss @Sharon_Moreanus Their net worth more than doubled under Obama.  They're the leaders in deregulation of utilities, which is a zero sum game, that they win, and taxes the entire economy.  You might get a clue and remember that utilities markets aren't free markets.  I keep proving it/reminding you, and you go back to your sophistry

ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul topcommenter


" At minimum, there are the income, social security, and medicare taxes on 60k+ employees."

 I am not sure if you were referring to the employee payroll withholding or the employer paid taxes.

At best, the payroll burden for taxes paid by Koch would be the employer portion of FICA and Medicare.

The FIT, FICA and Medicare withholding from employees pay is just that, withholding.


@monstruss @roo_ster @Sharon_Moreanus More than you, I'd expect.  

At minimum, there are the income, social security, and medicare taxes on 60k+ employees.

 If they are able to arrange their affairs such that they pay something less than the maximum possible amount of taxes, good for them.  They will use it more wisely than some bureaucritter.  In doing so, they are following in the footsteps of such humanitarian luminaries as Bono and John Kerry.

Your bleat is pretty funny in that the Kochs despise crony capitalism and corporate welfare as much as they do over-regulation and big gov't.   Their position on all that mess is that they will remain in full compliance with the law even as they work to change the law such that there is less of all of it.

OTOH, gov't teat-suckers like all those "green" companies, General Electric, Sallie Mae, etc. manage to avoid your ire, despite their advocacy for more & more corporate welfare.


@roo_ster @monstruss @Sharon_Moreanus How much in taxes do they pay on that $115 billion revenue? The Koch Brothers have shown through the massive amount of money they've spent on conservative politicians and bullshit grassroots groups that their interest is in empire-building.

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