Despite all the accusations prompted by MAGA fever dreamers (George Soros paid for those Jewish space lasers over California!), normal Americans don’t have anything remotely commensurate with the funding sources and highly sophisticated organizational infrastructure of the far Right. That worries me.
This one was “Moms for Liberty.” Much like similarly misnamed organizations (“Patriots for Truth, Justice & the American Way,” or “Grandmas for Cuddly Kittens”), “Moms for Liberty” emerged pretty much full grown during the most recent assault on public education. The author applied a four-part test to determine whether any particular educational group was legitimate or contrived.
The first part of the test is financial: has the organization grown at a pace that only an undisclosed donor’s monetary resources could manage?
Moms for Liberty incorporated as an Internal Revenue Code 501(c)(4) organization, a form that lends itself to dark money political shenanigans. It exploded on the scene with its leaders being guests on Fox News and breaking into the Washington Post. It has a well-developed website and extensive social media reach. Moms for Liberty has formed three federal and one state political action committees, one of which is a SuperPAC able to accept unlimited donations. Its careers page is seeking state coordinators to work with the chapter chair coordinator, and a communications officer.
This “grassroots” group of “just-your-average-mom” members also managed to hold a fund raiser with Megyn Kelly (top ticket $20,000), and to co-host The American Dream Conference featuring former Trump Cabinet secretary Ben Carson. An upcoming national summit (presenting sponsorships for $50,000 are sold out), will feature Ron DeSantis, Carson, Sen. Rick Scott and Betsy DeVos.
Just your average PTA members….
So who is really funding these Rightwing mamas? Here’s a clue: they aren’t getting by on T-shirt sales.
They’ve barely even heard of the Koch brothers! Yet perhaps they’ve heard of the Council for National Policy. Two of Moms for Liberty’s National Summit sponsors, the Leadership Institute and Heritage Foundation are critical members of the Council for National Policy, a secretive network of right wing billionaires and Christian fundamentalist leaders that underwrites and coordinates right wing politics.
When the author looked to see who is really running the operation, he found that one of the two purported “founders” –Tina Descovich –is a communications and marketing professional. The other–Tiffany Justice (surely not her real name)– is a former Florida school committee member. He also discovered a third, “silent” founder, one Bridget Ziegler, whose husband just happens to be vice chairman of the Florida Republican Party and the owner of a political marketing firm. He has boasted that Moms for Liberty will provide crucial ground support for DeSantis’ re-election.
Another part of the test revolves around whether the genuinely grassroots folks suckered into joining the organization have any clue what the organization is really all about. Moms for Liberty may have “activated and harnessed” actual anger and grievance, but–as the article notes–that doesn’t mean those people understand that they are being manipulation for partisan political purposes.
Perhaps the most telling aspect of the author’s “deep dive” into the bona fides of Moms for Liberty is the identification of the nefarious network of which it is a part:
Then there’s the odd coincidence of so many grassroots parents organizations arising at the same time with similar missions. Parents Defending Education is Koch-connected. The Koch-funded American Legislative Exchange Council claims credit for the havoc wreaked by anti-Critical Race Theory legislation. The Council for National Policy’s Leadership Institute commenced its own program to take over school boards. The Council for National Policy-connected Turning Point USA initiated a School Board Watch List for reporting “woke” school boards.
Reading all this, I vacillated between disgust and grudging admiration. These interlocking astroturf organizations are dishonest and manipulative–but they’re effective. You’ve got to give the Christian Nationalists credit for their success in controlling the narrative, and making it far more probable that America will continue to be dominated by a minority of truly despicable theocrats.
Meanwhile, the people I consider to be “the good guys” are happily forming circular firing squads and scrounging for five-dollar donations on Facebook. If Soros is funding any of them, I’ve missed it.
Have I mentioned that I’ve been hitting the booze more frequently since 2016?