‘Tea Party’ tax day protests brewed by lobbyists, corporate interests

Teabagging just isn’t what it used to be.

And with new revelations that the much anticipated April 15 anti-tax protests are being co-opted by establishment Republican groups and Washington, D.C.-based corporate lobbyists, the term “teabaggery” may well join “douchebaggery” in the pantheon of political recriminations.

While the Denver version of the national Feb. 28 “tea party” protests had a decidedly grassroots vibe — at least, as channeled by Ayn Rand — Wednesday’s events coinciding on Tax Day are being overshadowed by partisan front groups tied to multibillion-dollar corporate interests.

Not very John Galt-like.

The principal groups that have glommed onto the protests:

Americans for Prosperity is led by Tim Phillips, a political strategist and an associate of ex-Christian Coalition chief Ralph Reed. The duo formed the consulting firm Century Strategies that excelled in launching fake grassroots groups, known as astroturf, for such luminaries as Enron, the People’s Republic of China and Indian casinos at the behest of now-jailed lobbyist Jack Abramoff. Century Strategies is also linked to Abramoff’s work to weaken worker protections in Northern Mariana Islands sweatshops — a scandal that touched then-U.S. Rep. Bob Schaffer of Fort Collins.

AFP Colorado is led by Jim Pfaff, the former president and CEO of Focus on the Family-affiliated Colorado Family Institute.

• Former House Republican leader Dick Armey’s anti-tax group FreedomWorks is no stranger to Colorado politics, having carpetbagged its way into the 2006 Referenda C&D debate and 5th District and 7th District congressional races. Freedom Works was formed by the 2004 merger of the Citizens for a Sound Economy — which boasted a long history of astroturfing for corporate donors, such as illegal government wiretapping partner AT&T — and Empower America, which lobbied for Social Security privatization.

American Solutions for Winning the Future is the purveyor of the not-so-grassroots-y professionally designed, four-color official tea party talking points tool kit. The conservative think tank is chaired by former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, who is allegedly flirting with a 2012 presidential bid, following a sparsely-attended Colorado campaign stump dress rehearsal at a July 2007 Muslims for America event.

When millionaire politicians and lobbyists working for billionaire corporate chieftains organize protests that are heavily promoted by FOX News, somebody’s getting bagged alright.

Besides the official site, the tea party fact-checking Web site, Save the Rich.com, also lists protest cities to help the angry rabble find local events.

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Wendy Norris

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