SURPRISE! Tea Party Group Funded By Wealthy Donors, Not Grassroots

Cup of tea with money bag.

Progressives have always strongly suspected that the Tea Party — a supposedly “grassroots” über-conservative group that’s actually funded by the Koch Brothers and other evil rich people, as opposed to the genuinely grassroots Occupy Wall Street — is a sham. After all, who but a few deep-pocketed individuals would have any interest in promoting cruel and counterproductive policies which aren’t even supported by much of the 1% they’re supposed to benefit? So, it comes as no surprise that muckraking Mother Jones has gotten hold of documents that prove FreedomWorks — the Tea Party’s powerful financial backer — relies almost exclusively on a handful of wealthy donors. To peruse the documents from Andy Kroll’s article, click here.

A December 2012 report prepared for a board of directors meeting by FreedomWorks’ head honchos shows that $33 million — 81 percent of the total $41 million FreedomWorks raked in during 2012 — came from “major gifts” from rich individuals through FreedomWorks and its various non-profits. The organization is not legally required to disclose the names of its benefactors. The report — which Kroll refers to as The Board Book — also includes confidential strategy discussions, including a memo from FreedomWorks President and CEO Terry Kibbe who dismissed Former GOP Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney as another “old white guy,” and stressing the need for “younger, more diverse, more substantive voices for freedom in America.”

Of course it doesn’t occur to Kibbe or his colleagues that the majority of Americans who aren’t “old white guys” are likely to find the conservative policies repellent. Nonetheless, there are plenty of “old white guys” out there and FreedomWorks has four million Facebook fans, 2.1 million members on its email list, and 81,000 small donors last year.

According to an article by Addicting Info‘s Stephen D. Foster Jr., FreedomWorks “helped to create the Tea Party, [works] closely with the Koch brothers, seeks to deregulate and tear down healthcare reform, and is largely responsible for [the] hatred, paranoia and anti-government sentiments displayed at town halls during the health care debate.” My December 11th article about Rachel Maddow’s report on right wing scams also explores former US Representative Dick Armey‘s controversial (and bizarre) resignation as FreedomWorks’ chairman in early December, for which he received an $8 million golden parachute, and wrote a lengthy resignation letter stipulating that FreedomWorks can no longer use his name or likeness in their materials. As Maddow succinctly explained, this “did not seem very grassrootsy at all for a supposedly grassroots group.” Armey and Kibbe had battled over Kibbe making, um, ‘liberal’ use of FreedomWorks’ staff and resources while a book for Harper Collins, while not sharing any of his earnings with the organization.

Mother Jones was also the first to break that bit of news, in an article by David Corn entitled “Dick Armey: ‘This Kind of Secrecy Is Why I Left’ FreedomWorks.” When an organization is so secretive even a rock-ribbed conservative can’t handle it, you’ve gotta wonder. As Maddow concluded during her segment about right wing scams, “Anybody donating to FreedomWorks was effectively paying for the staff time and the resources to produce a project that just personally profited one of the people who work there. [That’s] a scam.”

Click here, then scroll down to read my article and see Rachel Maddow’s video.


Elisabeth Parker Elisabeth Parker is a writer, Web designer, mom, political junkie, and dilettante. Come visit her at ElisabethParker.Com, “like” her on facebook, or follow her on Twitter. For more articles by Elisabeth, click here.