Americans for Prosperity funnels big money, activist anger into attacks on House Democrats

Americans for Prosperity, the “grassroots” Tea Party organization funded by anti-government billionaires, is one of several right-wing groups that glommed on to Glenn Beck’s decision to bring the Tea Party crowd to Washington, D.C. With help from the Koch family, AFP has grown rapidly. In the words of Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell, AFP has grown in a few years from “an idea in a New York apartment” into a network with 32 chapter and more than a million activists. AFP’s Tim Phillips told the 2500 activists (their number) at the “Defending the American Dream Summit” on Friday that “we’re going to take back Washington for two days and we’re going to take back our country over the next few years.” 

During the plenary session and in workshops, AFP speakers insisted that the organization was nonpartisan and will not endorse candidates, disclaimers that seemed like a micro-thin veneer of legalese over plans to pour millions of dollars into attacks on Democratic House candidates between now and November. In fact, the group’s November is Coming! campaign is targeting 40-50 House races where they can “make a difference.” Here’s part of the message it asks voters to sign:
Dear Policymakers, Elected Officials, and Candidates: You know that November is coming and voters care about the issues. Left-wing policies continue to drive Obama’s agenda for even bigger government. We want you to oppose big government programs or any other freedom-killing policies or we will remember in November.
November is Coming includes a publicity-seeking bus tour, and AFP is recruiting activists to engage in door to door “voter education” efforts and make phone calls from home into targeted districts using a sophisticated computer phonebanking system. The calls and visits aren’t about telling people to vote for, AFP says, it’s just doing people the service of letting them know how their representatives voted on issues like health care, cap and trade legislation, and stimulus spending. You can see some of the ads on AFP’s You Tube channel.
AFP group used Colorado as a test case for the November is Coming model, and has held organizing meetings in 20 cities since June. Among its targets in Colorado: Reps. Betsy Markey, Ed Perlmutter, and John Salazar. Campaign organizers showed ads attacking candidates for being in league with Barack Obama and Nancy Pelosi, and said they are currently running a $330,000 ad buy attacking Markey.
Political consultant Dick Morris predicted that the GOP would take control over both Houses after the November elections and promised big attacks on public employee unions and a showdown over government spending. He told the crowd that there would be another government shutdown, like in 1995 and 1996, but this time he’d be on their side, and this time they’d win.