Leftists Push Back Against Koch Brothers' Right to Free Assembly
5:45 PM, Jan 27, 2011 • By DANIEL HALPER
Guess who’s holding a super secret, ill-intentioned meeting this weekend in Palm Springs, California? The nefarious Koch brothers – nefarious because they donate to conservative causes, of course.
Already, leftist groups are beginning to fulminate (against what, it’s not quite clear), insisting that there’s something inherently corrupt in the free assembly of the Koch brothers and their cohorts.
Take today’s conference call on the subject, conducted by Common Cause, featuring such liberal luminaries as former Clinton Labor secretary Robert Reich, disgraced former Obama official and Center for American Progress scholar Van Jones and his colleague Lee Fang, and DeAnn McKewan, co-president of California Nurses Association (yeah, I hadn’t heard of her either).
Reich sounded the Koch alarm: “their ongoing biannual meetings epitomize the problems that our democracy are facing right now,” he told the participants on the conference call. These meetings, he said, are a “perfect storm for democracy,” because the Koch brothers are rich and can participate in politics, “and we have secrecy – it’s all in secret.”
So, the Koch brothers hold private assemblies, participate in politics, and are, therefore, a threat to our democracy. Got it?
But what about the secrecy of the political groups who hosted this afternoon’s phone call, such as Common Cause and the Center for American Progress? That was essentially the question asked by Ken Vogel of Politico: “I am wondering how when you talked about transparency, you know, about your meeting, and about your organization, the Koch meeting, and the Koch’s funding of various non-profits jives with, you know, Common Cause, for instance, as well as the Center for American Progress’s not revealing their donors?”
“We are revealing our funding, if you contact us, you can have access to that,” Bob Edgar, president of Common Cause, insisted.
How about the Center for American Progress?, Vogel followed-up.
“We don’t speak for” the Center for American Progress, Edgar said.
Vogel pushed on: “There are people who are on the line who are from the Center for American Progress, so if they could address …”
At this point, Edgar sounded very annoyed: “They don’t speak for CAP either, they speak as persons who are part of the CAP operation but not the management.”
Van Jones's Center for American Progress colleague Lee Fang couldn’t hold back, injecting himself into the debate Edgar had wanted to silence: “We’re fundamentally different than they are,” Fang said, referring to the conservative Koch brothers.
“We’re not like the Independence Institute organizing Tea Parties, for any partisan sense either,” Fang went on, ignoring the fact that the Center for American Progress has served as a feeder organization for the Obama administration and that its chief, John Podesta, himself led the presidential transition for Barack Obama.
And then Fang went on the attack: “I should note that Politico doesn’t reveal all its advertisers and all the money it receives from corporations and from people that buy ads on Politico.”
Both Edgar’s and Fang’s desperate attempts to silence the concerns of one reporter who was just seeking transparency is itself transparent. What groups like Common Cause are trying to achieve is not transparency – they just want to give a black eye to their political opposition.
This weekend, Eric Cantor, House majority leader, will be one of the politicos in attendance, Bob Costa reports at National Review Online. There, Cantor will “detail his party’s 'cut and grow' agenda in sessions with business leaders.”
That this scares Common Cause and the Center for American Progress so much makes one wonder whether they simply shouldn't seek treatment for paranoia. Then again, Van Jones might already be too far gone.
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