Anatomy of the Tea Party Movement: Americans for Prosperity

Produced by HuffPost's Eyes & Ears Citizen Journalism Unit

Americans for Prosperity and FreedomWorks are the result of a 2005 split between feuding factions of Citizens for a Sound Economy. Americans for Prosperity is still directly supported by the Koch family. The founder of Americans for Prosperity and chairman of the Americans for Prosperity Foundation, David Koch, the co-owner of oil conglomerate Koch Industries, is the 19th richest man in the world. Americans for Prosperity's director, Art Pope, has donated so much money to the North Carolina Republican Party that it named its headquarters after him.

Americans for Prosperity's propensity for fueling negative hysteria over health care reform and the Obama administration prompted MSNBC's Rachel Maddow to call the group "a parasite that gets fat on Americans' fears."

In the fall of 2008, at least two different state directors for Americans for Prosperity published nearly identical anti-EPA op-eds, each one even including the same misspelling. In June, Americans for Prosperity sent Joe the Plumber around the country on the "Save My Ballot" bus tour lobbying against the Employee Free Choice Act.

Americans for Prosperity is also behind Patients First, which made a name for itself this summer with its "Hands Off My Health Care"bus tours. Events on the tour featured speakers who compared President Obama to Joseph Stalin, Pol Pot, Robert Mugabe and Adolf Hitler.

At a conference in October hosted by Americans for Prosperity, Koch claimed to have orchestrated the Tea Party movement:

"Days like to today bring to reality the vision of our board of directors, when we founded this organization five years ago," Koch told the audience. "We envisioned a mass movement, a state-based one, but national in scope, of hundreds of thousands of American citizens from all walks of life standing up and fighting for the economic freedoms that made our nation the most prosperous society in history."

Tim Phillips, president of Americans for Prosperity, formerly worked at Century Strategies with Ralph Reed. Disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff hired Century to support Abramoff's casino interests.

Americans for Prosperity was a strong proponent of ending the ban on offshore drilling during the 2008 presidential campaign while taking large donations from Exxon/Mobil, as revealed by Rachel Maddow. On August 6, Phillips told MSNBC's Maddow that Americans for Prosperity is "happy to take corporate money."

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