These “protests” at townhall meetings are really a bunch of hired goons, bussed from state to state by people like Tim Phillips, who’s paid by industry. These are the people who are trying to prevent a reasonable healthcare system from being developed, one that won’t bankrupt the country or its citizens.
Last night on MSNBC, host Rachel Maddow interviewed Americans for Prosperity (AFP) head Tim Phillips. AFP, a group that employs dozens of field staff and public relations operatives, is a prolific creator of front groups to fight reform on clean energy, the environment, labor, and most recently, health care. AFP’s work against health care reform has included running a multimillion-dollar ad campaign, busing people from state to state to rally against pro-reform politicians, and collaborating with allied right-wing groups to organize disruptions of town hall events.
Trying to create a veneer of grassroots legitimacy, Phillips denied claims of running an astroturf operation and smirked to Maddow, “Hey I’m a community organizer.” Maddow pressed him to reveal his contributors, and Phillips eventually acknowledged being largely funded from Koch Industries, a $90 billion oil and gas conglomerate and one of the largest privately held companies in the world. Maddow then asked Phillips if his organization had ever been funded by ExxonMobil:
MADDOW: Are you, guys, funded in part by Exxon or have you been?
PHILLIPS: No, absolutely not.
MADDOW: No Exxon money.
PHILLIPS: Absolutely not. But I’ll tell you again, though, we would be happy to take funding from broader groups like that. […]
MADDOW: Exxon does list the Americans for Prosperity Foundation as a recipient of, in some years, tens of thousands of dollars, in other years, hundreds of thousands of dollars, even for things just like general operations. But you’re saying Americans for Prosperity, no Exxon money?
PHILLIPS: This year, we haven’t had any Exxon money.