REPORT: The Vets Group That Fights Against Veterans

Bridge Project and have teamed up to expose the political agenda of Concerned Veterans of America in a new report titled, “The Vets Group That Fights Against Veterans.” CVA promotes extreme right-wing policies that stand in opposition to nearly every other veterans group, as reported in the Military Times today.

From pushing a plan to privatize the VA healthcare system to proposing a transition from the current military retirement system to a private 401(k)-like plan, CVA follows the radical conservatism of the Koch brothers, working to advance the billionaires’ self-interest at the expense of veterans.

Already, Marco Rubio has participated in a CVA town hall in New Hampshire. Bridge Project will be working with partners to hold CVA and the Koch brothers accountable as Jeb Bush, Rubio, Scott Walker, and the rest of the Republican field audition for a slice of the $900 million the Kochs plan to spend propping up GOP candidates and trying to buy the White House.

Read “The Vets Group That […]

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Bridge Project releases Concerned Women for America report

Bridge Project is releasing an in-depth report on Concerned Women for America, another Koch brothers front group. While the Kochs try to promote an image of themselves as libertarians who stay out of controversial social issues, more than $11.5 million of Koch-connected money has gone to the extremist group CWA. CWA’s self-declared mission is to “protect and promote Biblical values” and to “restore the family to its traditional purpose.”

Read the report here.

CWA garners most of their media attention through the outlandish statements made by the group’s leaders. Recently, a male CWA staffer wrote, “I wish that I was Bruce Jenner’s father,” and suggested that if Caitlyn Jenner had validation from a father figure, she wouldn’t be going through this “Caitlyn fantasy.” CWA staff has also criticized the Disney movie Frozen for empowering women while villainizing masculinity and “tearing men down,” and previously accused Harry Potter of “indoctrinating” students in “paganism and the occult.”

Although these […]

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A Timeline Of Years-Long Efforts By Jeb Bush and Florida Republicans to Gut Protections That Would Safeguard the St. John’s River From GP’s Pollution

Background: Economic and Environmental Harm From GP’s Pollution In the St. John’s River

Small Businesses Impacts

Brooks Busey, Owner Of Sadler Point Marina, Warned That Many Individuals’ Livelihoods Depended On A Healthy St. Johns River. According to the Jacksonville Business Journal, “The issue isn’t just an environmental one considering the 4,000 direct and indirect jobs the Palatka plant supports, and the Riverkeeper had made the economic case for cleaning the river through its new campaign, which launched last month. The Cleaner GP campaign, which calls on Gov. Rick Scott to nix the pipeline, features Sadler Point Marina owner Brooks Busey saying his business is hurt when the river suffers. ‘My livelihood depends on a healthy St. Johns River,’ Busey is quoted as saying on the campaign website. Riverkeeper Executive Director Jimmy Orth said an unhealthy river affects marinas and the fishing industry, making the fight more than just environmentalists versus businessmen. ‘Business people want a fair playing field and this is not a fair playing field,’ Orth said. ‘Yes, they provide a lot of jobs, but they should have to meet the same water quality standards as other businesses.’” [Jacksonville Business Journal, 2/11/11]

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How Conservatives Took Over Wisconsin

Wisconsin’s current political landscape looks wildly different than it did just a few years ago. Long a state with reliably Democratic leanings, everything changed in 2010 when conservative outside groups helped flip the state legislature and governor’s office from blue to red.

Led by Governor Scott Walker, the state’s new Republican leadership quickly set about imposing its extreme conservative agenda. They introduced an assault on collective bargaining rights that effectively cut public workers’ pay and destroyed their ability to negotiate over health coverage, safety, or sick leave. The severity of the bill prompted impassioned protests centered around the state capitol and forced Republican lawmakers to use underhanded measures to pass it without a single Democrat. Although a judge initially blocked the law because of the Republican tactics, it was reinstated by the state Supreme Court, which had maintained a conservative majority thanks to a narrowly re-elected justice whose campaign got significant support from right-wing interest groups.

In 2011, Republicans enacted one of the most restrictive voter ID laws in the country – although it was later placed on hold due to court challenges – as well as a Stand Your Ground-style gun law and a measure allowing concealed weapons in public parks, bars, and near schools. They also passed a budget cutting taxes for businesses and the wealthy, increasing the burden on low-income families, and slashing $800 million from K-12 education in a way that hit high-poverty districts the hardest. The next year, they passed an abstinence-only education bill and limited certain types of abortions. In 2013, Walker signed one bill forcing medically unnecessary ultrasounds on women seeking abortions and another – currently under injunction – imposing requirements that could force some of the state’s abortion clinics to close. So far this year, Republicans have stalled a minimum wage increase, interfered with local minimum wage laws, and further limited voting opportunities.

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16 Men, Over $150 Million: The DNA Of A Conservative Megadonor

You haven’t heard of him because he doesn’t actually exist. But if you threw the 16 people who have given more than $2 million conservative super PACs this cycle into a genetic recombinator that would average them according to the amount each gave, you’d end up with a plutocrat straight out of central casting. He would be over 75 years old. He would be a white man. If you pooled his progenitors’ wealth rather than average it, he would be worth something like $51 billion. That fortune comes primarily from the casino and finance industries (but also draws on coal company holdings, real estate empires, entertainment promotion, and even a skin cream sales multi-level marketing scheme). If he were a country, he’d be about the 71st largest economy in the world, well ahead of places like Uruguay, Kenya, and Lithuania.

He’s fond of saying that President Obama will “eliminate free enterprise” in favor of a “socialist-style economy.” But despite that avowed free-market ideology, he’s used his wealth to tilt the playing field in his favor on everything from nuclear waste deals to custom-built regulatory shams in Texas, to complex business dealings in Macau. And his attitude toward his own workforce is far less generous than his philanthropic giving might suggest: His companies brag of being “entirely union-free” (though they’re quieter about their thousands of safety violations), one group of employees resorted to a hunger strike for pay equity with their English-speaking colleagues, and his primary revenue stream – the casino empire – is under investigation by the feds and mired in a nasty legal battle with his former business partner.

Here’s a rundown of the 16 real men who’ve combined to give over $150 million – just that we know about, and not counting reported donations to anonymously funded groups – to conservative super PACs during this cycle.

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The Week In Conservative Attack Ads

After last week’s wave of House ads, conservative outside groups focused most of their attention on the Senate this week. Of the 14 ads we fact-checked, eight of them targeted Senate hopefuls (five from Karl Rove’s Crossroads groups and three from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce), compared to only two hitting House candidates (both from the Congressional Leadership Fund). We also answered presidential ads from Restore Our Future, Americans for Job Security, and American Future Fund. Finally, Americans for Prosperity joined the conservative campaign to oust three Florida Supreme Court justices.

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Meet The Man Behind The Claim That Obama ‘Gutted’ Welfare Reform

Following a July 2012 Health and Human Services memo offering states a chance to apply for waivers that would allow them more flexibility in complying with welfare’s work requirements, conservatives began claiming that President Obama had ‘gutted’ the 1996 welfare reform law and waived all work requirements associated with receiving assistance. This is false. Currently, activities that fulfill work requirements are narrowly defined by changes made during the law’s 2005 reauthorization, and the waivers would let states try out new approaches to moving welfare beneficiaries towards stable employment while maintaining the principle that recipients must be progressing towards work. Yet the allegation remains popular among conservatives, thanks largely to the efforts of the Heritage Foundation’s in-house welfare expert, Robert Rector.

In the past two months, Rector has published at least 16 items on the subject of welfare reform, including the July 12 blog post cited in Mitt Romney’s now-infamous television ad that provoked a storm of fact checks. Given his role in promoting the attack on the administration, Rector’s record deserves a closer look.

Rector was involved in crafting the 1996 welfare reform law and has spent more than two decades arguing that Americans who live in poverty are not truly “poor” because they own “modern amenities,” such as vehicles and household electronics. To bolster his position, Rector has cited statistics showing that impoverished Americans are “more likely to be overweight” than better-off Americans and outright denied that poverty is “harmful” to children. The clear intent of these claims is to undermine the logic behind the safety net. In fact, Rector has stated explicitly that welfare is based on the “idiot premise” that more resources will cause poor Americans to “behave more like middle-class people.”

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The Week In Conservative Attack Ads

Earlier this week, Crossroads GPS made the unusual decision to pull its support from a competitive Senate race, dropping planned ads attacking Missouri Democrat Claire McCaskill after tasteless comments on “legitimate rape” from her Republican opponent, Todd Akin, made headlines. The group’s multi-million-dollar assault on the airwaves continued across other states, however. Of the 13 ads we fact-checked this week, Crossroads GPS was responsible for five of them, attacking Tammy Baldwin in Wisconsin, Bill Nelson in Florida, Martin Heinrich in New Mexico, Sherrod Brown in Ohio, and Jon Tester in Montana. We also looked at three ads from Koch-funded Americans for Prosperity, three from the American Future Fund, one from the National Federation of Independent Business, and one from pro-Romney super PAC Restore Our Future.Most of the spots mentioned the Affordable Care Act, with many misrepresenting the facts to sell support for the law as support for a budget-busting behemoth. All three American Future Fund ads referred to the “$2 trillion health care law,” a willful distortion that counts the law’s costs but none of the savings to obscure the fact that the law reduces the deficit. Five of the ads (three from Crossroads GPS, one from AFP, and one from Restore Our Future) spread misinformation about the “failed” or “wasteful” stimulus, which actually helped save the economy from an even deeper recession.

Focus On Florida

This week showed particularly heavy interest in the Florida Senate race between Democrat Bill Nelson and Republican Connie Mack. Three separate conservative outside groups targeted the Sunshine State, each ad taking a different tack. Crossroads GPS took advantage of public confusion over the Affordable Care Act’s impact on Medicare, dishonestly suggesting to Florida’s seniors that their benefits will be cut and they’ll lose control of their health care decisions. American Future Fund focused on the national debt, though it also mentioned the health care law and threw in a gratuitous line calling for Nelson to “protect seniors.” NFIB, a business group that received $3.7 million from Crossroads GPS in 2010, took a more personal approach, highlighting a Florida business owner who claimed that a “conglomeration” of regulations were impairing his businesses’ ability to grow.

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U.S. Chamber Of Commerce: “Wrong”

The the Chamber of Commerce – which has received millions from the insurance industry to oppose health care reform – attacks Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) for stating that the Affordable Care Act “pays for itself, actually reduces the deficit.” Instead, the Chamber claims, the law will add over $300 billion to federal debt. But the Chamber gets its figures from a dishonest study by a GOP operative who works for the Koch-funded Mercatus Center. The nonpartisan CBO, meanwhile, has affirmed that overall the health care law reduces the deficit by more than $200 billion over the next decade.

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Future45: GOP Megadonors Form Another Shady Group To Buy Republicans The White House

The Wall Street Journal reports that GOP megadonors are kick-starting another special interest group to push the GOP’s out-of-touch agenda and attack Democrats.

Future45 “will be bankrolled by some of the biggest donors to Republican candidates and causes, including hedge-fund billionaires Ken Griffin and Paul Singer and the family of TD Ameritrade founder Joe Ricketts, whose wife, Marlene, donated more than $5 million to super PACs backing candidates in the first half of the year.”

Read more about who’s behind yet another special interest group formed to buy the GOP elections at Conservative Transparency: 

Conservative Transparency: Future45

Future45 is a super PAC created by a trio of conservative megadonors focused on electing a Republican to be the 45th – hence the name – President of the United States in 2016. The group is headed by “veteran GOP operative Brian Walsh,” who told the National Journal that the PAC was “focused on the general” and […]

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