Who's behind the Wall St. protests?
There has been much speculation over who is financing the disparate protest, which has spread to cities across America and lasted nearly four weeks. One name that keeps coming up is investor George Soros, who in September debuted in the top 10 list of wealthiest Americans. Conservative critics contend the movement is a Trojan horse for a secret Soros agenda.
Soros and the protesters deny any connection. But Reuters did find indirect financial links between Soros and Adbusters, an anti-capitalist group in Canada which started the protests with an inventive marketing campaign aimed at sparking an Arab Spring type uprising against Wall Street. Moreover, Soros and the protesters share some ideological ground.
According to disclosure documents from 2007-2009, Soros' Open Society gave grants of $3.5 million to the Tides Center, a San Francisco-based group that acts almost like a clearing house for other donors, directing their contributions to liberal non-profit groups. Among others the Tides Center has partnered with are the Ford Foundation and the Gates Foundation.
Disclosure documents also show Tides, which declined comment, gave Adbusters grants of $185,000 from 2001-2010, including nearly $26,000 between 2007-2009.Aides to Soros say any connection is tenuous and that Soros has never heard of Adbusters. Soros himself declined comment.
Though billed as a people's movement, the Tea Party wouldn't exist without a gusher of cash from oil billionaire David H. Koch and the vast media empire of Rupert Murdoch. Many of the small donations to Tea Party candidates have been cultivated by either Fox News Channel, a property of Murdoch's News Corporation, or the Americans for Prosperity Foundation, chaired by Koch. The movement's major organizations are all run, not by first-time, mad-as-hell activists, but by former GOP officials or operatives.
Taken together, Americans for Prosperity, FreedomWorks (another far-right political group seeded by the Kochs) and Murdoch's News Corp, owner of Fox News and the Wall Street Journal, form the corporate headquarters of a conglomerate one might call Tea Party, Inc. This is the syndicate that funds the organizing, crafts the messages, and channels the rage of conservative Americans at their falling fortunes into an oppositional force to President Obama and to any government solution to the current economic calamity. Groups such as Tea Party Express, Tea Party Nation, and the FreedomWorks-affiliated Tea Party Patriots; the bevy of political consultants for hire; and various allied elected officials can be understood as Tea Party Inc.'s loosely affiliated subsidiaries. The Web sites of FreedomWorks, Americans for Prosperity and the Tea Party side projects of Fox News Channel's Glenn Beck* are linked with those of Tea Party Express and Tea Party Patriots, all of which in turn solicit support for Tea Party candidates.
The armies of angry white people with their "Don't Tread on Me" flags, the actual grassroots activists, are not the agents of the Tea Party revolt, but its end-users, enriching the Tea Party's corporate owners just as you and I enrich Google through our clicks.
Tea Party Inc. was on full display in our nation's capital in late August, when Glenn Beck gathered his angry white multitudes at the Lincoln Memorial on the anniversary of Martin Luther King's historic "I Have a Dream" speech. The tens of thousands of Tea Partiers who showed up for this political revival were mobilized by untold hours of free promotion on Murdoch's network, while a related "Take America Back" convention, held the day before at Constitution Hall, was convened by FreedomWorks.