Study shows tea party sprouted on ‘Tobacco Road’
by Kevin Foley
May 23, 2013 11:45 PM | 2370 views | 4 4 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
As an angry President Obama said last week, there is no excuse for IRS agents interfering with partisan political groups. So let’s have a full investigation, not another witch hunt. Perhaps it will lead to reform of IRS power and practices.

Progressives hoped that would happen after the IRS targeted the NAACP in 2004 because its leaders criticized President Bush for not addressing their annual convention. Absent then was outrage from the GOP.

But congressional Republicans are reveling in the recent IRS disclosures. It came just as the Benghazi “scandal” they pushed for months collapsed and the Justice Department’s seizure of Associated Press phone records turned out to be aimed at plugging leaks jeopardizing national security.

It is clear Republicans don’t want to govern. They only want to delegitimize Democrats in general and Obama specifically. If they do that, jobs, immigration reform and sensible gun safety legislation — the Democratic legislative agenda — can be ignored. It’s like basketball’s old four-corner stall.

The IRS flap offers the GOP another opportunity to run out the clock to November 2014. So get ready for a new round of scandal-mongering and Obama-bashing from Republicans.

That didn’t take long.

“I lived through Watergate with the Nixon scandals, and this one is eerily similar to it,” pronounced Bob Barr in the MDJ. “The Nixon scandals, led to the impeachment hearings …”

We haven’t had an independent investigation, but conservatives are already using the “I” word? Be careful there, Bob. The last time you flogged impeachment, Newt Gingrich ultimately was forced to resign as Speaker of the House.

So who or what is the tea party, anyway?

Thanks to a new study funded by the National Cancer Institute of the National Institute of Health, we learned the tea party sprouted more than 10 years ago as an off-shoot of the tobacco industry’s efforts to preserve cigarette profits.

Given the murky nature of the tea party’s provenance and finances, IRS interest in its tax exempt claims may well be justified.

“Nonprofit organizations associated with the Tea Party have longstanding ties to tobacco companies, and continue to advocate on behalf of the tobacco industry’s anti-tax, anti-regulation agenda,” wrote Dr. Stanton Glantz of the University of California, San Francisco, senior author of, “To quarterback behind the scenes, third party efforts: the tobacco industry and the Tea Party.”

The study notes the tea party was conceived in 2002 by Citizens for a Sound Economy, a front group funded by billionaire industrialists David and Charles Koch and their big tobacco allies. Their goal is to gut regulations and the tax code so life is better for billionaire industrialists and big tobacco.

“Our U.S. Tea Party is a national event, hosted continuously online, and open to all Americans who feel our taxes are too high and the tax code is too complicated,” proclaimed the 2002 CSE website, since taken down.

CSE preceded the Koch-funded Americans for Prosperity and FreedomWorks, both of which orchestrate today’s “grass roots” tea party activities from Washington offices. The idea is to deceive average Americans into believing their financial interests align with those of billionaires and giant corporations.

It’s been a tough sell. Only 8 percent of American voters self-identify as tea party, according to a January Rasmussen poll.

Nevertheless, the Koch brothers must have ruefully smiled at the irony of this bit of braggadocio from the current website:

“The Tea Party Movement, born from obscurity, without funding, without planning, is a spontaneous force shaking the very glass foundation of the oligarchy that rules in our name, but without our blessing.”

I think they mean without the Koch brothers’ blessing.

Kevin Foley is a public relations executive, author and writer who lives in Kennesaw.
Comments-icon Post a Comment
George Middleton
May 27, 2013
Hey, Kevin, an investigation of history reveals that the Ku Klux Klan had its roots in, and is a product of the Democratic Party.
Laura Armstrong
May 24, 2013
You've got to be kidding?!

Because kids are out of school and I was bored to death, I decided to actually read your column. Typical bashing, typical bringing up Newt and Barr, old liberal stuff and then whammo! Your tin hat is showing now Kevin. The TEA Party is connected to big tobacco???? How laughable are you?

What you guys don't understand is that the TEA Party is NOT driven by any one or even three entities. It's simply NOT. Oh, a few people came out of the woodwork when they saw an opportunity to "organize" our discontent, but the TEA Party is just a symbol for millions of everyday Americans, free thinkers who love the U.S. Constitution and see this president and Democratic leadership as attacking it daily. We come from all over, we gather or we don't gather. But we READ, we are aware and we consider ourselves to be educators about the issues low info. voters have no clue about. No Koch brothers connection. Just a love for this country. The National Institutes of HEalth???? The U.S. Public Health Service somehow uncovered some bizarre leftist, drug-induced Occupier reality? Just nuts. The TEA Party hasn't gone away, and in fact is stronger than ever. You and your cohorts and even the full force of the U.S. government, the president and the IRS, has not killed it. You might have thought so, but no. Because the TEA Party is the spirit of this great nation and your lies and MSNBC's lies and the IRS lies cannot kill the truth of what is happening in our country.
Nettie Helen Stemm
May 24, 2013
You liberal talking heads are scared to death of the TEA Party.

That's why you keep picking up these tidbits of history and spinning them into a big conspiracy theory.

Trying to justify the IRS persecution of them, are you? How about the Jewish Organizations that they targeted and the Mormons (thanks to you and the other left wing nut cases trying to scare people about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints)?

Tell me, Kevin, are Jews and Mormons part of this big conspiracy you are trying to spin?

You really are ridiculous.
May 24, 2013
Wow, talk about grasping at straws..
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