Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Koch Bros. Jump the Shark in Iowa, Focus Own Spotlight, Sow Discord

Koch Bros. Jump the Shark in Iowa, Focus Own Spotlight, Sow Discord (UPDATEx2)

The Koch Bros. Grimm seem to have overreached and drawn unwanted attention to themselves in a small town Iowa race for City Council. As their Tea Party pawns reap a harvest of negative public opinion, The Koch's have apparently been moving right along into Local elections in largely unprecedented fashion.
CORALVILLE, Iowa — Election seasons in this small eastern Iowa town are usually cordial affairs. But this year, a group backed by the billionaire Koch brothers has changed that. The group, Americans for Prosperity, has jumped into the race to elect Coralville’s next mayor and City Council with an aggressive campaign, mailing fliers, advertising in newspapers, calling voters and knocking on their doors. Its latest leaflet hit mailboxes last week, denouncing the town’s growing debt and comparing it to the financial woes of Detroit. “Coralville is fast becoming Iowa’s version of Detroit,” it read.
Guessing Small Town Iowa doesn't cotton to this? Over the hump for payback...
Americans for Prosperity, the Koch backed interest group is at the helm on this one. They are sinking their money into small races because they know it is the best and fastest way to build public support for policies that are against the public interest, forcing hard politics onto a soft target unused to bitter races. Says their National President:
Tim Phillips, the national president of Americans for Prosperity, said the organization could have a real effect on local races, where it does not have to deal with all the Washington special interests. The main reason “we fight local issue battles is because they result in good policy outcomes, generally promoting economic freedom via less taxes, less government spending,” he said.
That may work in places that are already in line with the meanness of their agenda. Apparently it doesn't play in Coralville. People in Coralville, a town of less than 20k residents, are not happy about it:
Even residents who agree with Americans for Prosperity’s core argument — that the city’s debt is out of control — question the group’s motives for wading into the race. That has forced the candidates who share the group’s beliefs to keep the organization at a distance. Chris Turner, a first-time candidate for the City Council who has spoken out against the debt, said that although he disagreed with Americans for Prosperity on most issues, he could not seem to catch a break because his campaign platform aligns with the organization.
“Every time I go to a debate or anything, I’ve tried talking about the budget, and then they just go, ‘Koch brothers, Koch brothers, Koch brothers,’ ” he said of his critics, adding that he wished Americans for Prosperity “would just go away.”
And there it is in a nutshell. People know who the Koch Brothers are now, and they don't want anything to do with them messing in their communities. It's one thing when it's NIMBY, another altogether when they are using scare tactics (DETROIT!!!) on the leafy streets and backroads. But, hey! Don't let's think the Bros. are running the show here. Got to get out in front of that trope:
Americans for Prosperity is not openly promoting specific candidates, and Mr. Lucas would not say how much money it is spending. “For me as a state director, I’m the one who picks the strategy,” said Mr. Lucas, a native Iowan. “It’s not, like some people think, the Koch brothers are telling us, ‘You need to play in the Coralville City Council race.’ That’s absolutely not true.”
It's the hubris of the ideology that would lead even a native Iowan to try and pass this off in a state known to be finicky and prickly when it comes to national partisan politics, and make no mistake this is a national move for the Koch's. It is part of the new playbook. And the Iowa State Dems know this (they probably read Daily Kos):
But David Jacoby, a Democratic state representative from Coralville, questions the motives for Americans for Prosperity’s involvement in a local race in which eight people are running for three council seats and four people for mayor. “I think right now, too, that they’re doing whatever groundwork they can for the 2014 elections — so any inroads they can make anywhere,” Mr. Jacoby said.
The Koch's are pushing local because it is their last best hope to secure their legacy. Tea Party is well on the ropes, the ACA is the law of the land and can not be rolled back, however much chaff gets thrown up. Dems are in ascendency and set to dominate for a generation or more in the not distant future. Too bad for for the Koch's it will only play in places that already share their proclivities, because in this Iowa town people have their number:
Thumbing through a survey at Kathyl Jogerst’s door on a rainy afternoon last week, John Sevier, a 22-year-old volunteer with Americans for Prosperity, started a question to her by saying the City Council had moved $5 million out of the school district budget. Ms. Jogerst, 61, cut him off.
“No, they didn’t,” she said with a skeptical chuckle.
“Are you sure?” Mr. Sevier said.
“Yeah, yeah,” she said, quickly explaining her position without allowing him to get a word in. “I know the agenda with your group.”
UPDATE from the comments: HT to operculum fro posting the following:  Somewhat local coverage from today's Cedar Rapids Gazette.
A political organization is accusing three Coralville City Council incumbents running for election of receiving special privileges, but the government official in charge of the information upon which that claim is based says the group is wrong.
The claim is essentially an accusation not just against the three council members but also the Johnson County Assessor’s Office because it sets the property valuations upon which taxes are assessed. County Assessor Bill Greazel on Monday disputed the charge from Americans for Prosperity.
"I was kind of miffed that they tried to draw a parallel that I was trying to show favoritism," he said.
In an email, Mark Lucas, Iowa director for Americans for Prosperity, said the figures are for the property where Hoeft's wife has her medical practice with other doctors, where Gill's dental practice is located and a rental property for Lundell.
Lucas said he was too busy for an interview.
Related CRG articles here
Candidates have raised more money than ever before in a Coralville City Council and mayoral race that has unexpectedly generated interest well beyond the borders of this suburban community of 20,000 people.
Americans for Prosperity spent more than $33.5 million trying to defeat President Barack Obama's re-election bid last year. The local chapter has been stirring interest in the race, including sending a flier critical of current officials Gill, Lundell and Hoeft.
Iowa director Mark Lucas previously told the Gazette he wouldn't say how much money his organization would spend, but that he doubted "anyone's going to outspend me."
and here
At least two state  lawmakers say they want to update Iowa’s so called "magic word" law, which has shielded the financial influence of one of the country’s largest political groups as it swept into a small city election predicting it wouldn’t be outspent.
National conservative group Americans for Prosperity, backed by the billionaire Koch brothers, and a local group called Citizens for Responsible Growth, have been actively criticizing incumbent candidates as it rails on the city of Coralville's debt and spending.
By Thursday afternoon, city council candidates were required to disclose their fundraising and spending. Record financials reported by some candidates may have been topped by AFP. But reports for AFP and Citizens for Responsible Growth were nowhere to be found.
And, they had good reason.
Despite heavy involvement in the race, such as phone calls and mailings, the groups were not required to file a report.
Iowa does not have electioneering rules.
This has created quite a stink in Coralville. I hope the good people there do not fall for AFP's BS.
Fight for Peace. by operculum on Tue Nov 05, 2013 at 12:06:45 AM CST
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5:00 AM PT: Fully expected this to drop to the bottom of the sink, but here we are at the top of the morning. Thanks night owls. Also, as a community we need to peer pressure Kossack operculum, who has provided great context in the comments, into writing extensively about Iowa and the Koch connection.
Scroll down past my comments and look for them, because they are the real deal.

8:23 AM PT: Just to note: Coralville is not a "small town" and I need to correct that but am stuck in front of classes and won't be able to edit until later today, but will edit to reflect as soon as I am able (can't edit on my phone, which I used to be able to do. Not sure why. ) Anyhow, thanks to folks in comments for pointing that out.

Originally posted to bastrop on Mon Nov 04, 2013 at 09:12 PM PST.

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