"Real liberty is neither found in despotism or the extremes of democracy, but in moderate governments.
Alexander Hamilton

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Americans for Prosperity: New Hampshires Other "Political Party " Except it Doesn't Have to Follow the Same Rules

NHPR has a story on this pseudo political party that was founded by the Koch brothers, but beyond that, we know little of where the money comes from or much about where it goes. NHPR includes this link : " What we know about American's for Prosperity Operations in New Hampshire" .

“Americans for Prosperity” is a 501(c)(4) nonprofit. And, according to Open Secrets, these groups are allowed to get involved in political activities — “as long as these activities do not become their primary purpose.” But the IRS hasn’t defined what, exactly, counts as “primary." Right now, Open Secrets reports, “the current de facto rule [for what counts as primary] is 49.9 percent of overall expenditures, a limit that some groups have found easy to circumvent.” Other examples of 501(c)(4) groups include NARAL Pro-Choice America and Planned Parenthood Action Fund.

So how much money is spent on political activities? We don't know, because "Neither Americans for Prosperity or the foundation is registered as a political committee with the Secretary of State. And that’s because, under the state’s current campaign finance laws, they don’t have to."

According to this article in the Concord Monitor,  "AFP’s New Hampshire chapter says it is focusing its resources “exclusively” on state-level issues this year". They won't say how much will be spent in NH, but they have focused on opposition to Medicaid expansion and in support of Right to Work.
AFP NH Director Greg Moore was quoted as saying that “I do know for a fact, because of the phone calls I get from these representatives, that it is having an impact, They usually say, ‘Make it stop.’ They start voting better.”

This is an organization that claims to be working on change from the ground up, but the lack of accountability and transparency as to where the money is coming from and what it is being spent on as well as the direction it is given and by whom is quite troubling. AFP opposes in part, labor unions, health care reform, stimulus spending, any effort to combat climate change including President Obama's 2015 Clean Power Plan, a tax holiday on corporate profits earned overseas, blocking the EPA’s new rules on carbon emissions from coal-burning power plants, and a repeal of the Affordable Care Act.
The agenda of the AFB is of direct benefit of the already incredibly wealthy Koch brothers. According to Salon:" Koch Industries transports both crude oil and coal, making the AFP’s work to legalize crude oil exports and to block the EPA from rules that would diminish the coal market in the U.S. particularly important to Koch Industries’ bottom line. As multiple news outlets have reported, Koch also owns a substantial stake of Canadian tar sands, positioning the company to benefit from approval of the Keystone XL pipeline. Indeed, on EPA and other issues, Koch Industries’ lobbying office in D.C. has instructed its influence peddlers to work many of the same issues as AFP."

NH Rep. Steve Shurtleff (D) Penacook had this to say in a recent article also in the Concord Monitor: "Despite Granite Staters believing, by a 3-to-1 margin, that local and state government should be spending more to combat the opioid crisis (WMUR Granite State poll, March 2016), over half of our House Republican colleagues pledged to the Koch-funded Americans for Prosperity organization that they would cut state programs and oppose any continuation of Medicaid expansion. With so many members boxing themselves into such a rigid position, finding Republican legislators willing to consider New Hampshire’s needs first has often been a difficult task."

As a candidate for the NH House, I will always consider New Hampshire's needs first, and you can be certain that the source and use of every cent spent on my campaign will be public knowledge. We shouldn't allow outside influences to change the way our local races are contended, but some legislators it seems vote the AFP line simply out of fear of retribution . That is not the NH way and not the way I will act as a member of the General Court.