Protests against COVID DISTANCING funded by Billionaires

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The Anti-Quarantine protests are funded by the usual Right-Wing Billionaires

Eric O’Keefe, board president of Citizens for Self-Governance, the parent organization of the Convention of States Action.
A longtime associate of the conservative activist Koch family, O’Keefe helped manage David Koch’s 1980 bid for the White House when he served as the No. 2 on the Libertarian ticket.

The Convention of States project launched in 2015 with a high-dollar donation from the family foundation of Robert Mercer, a billionaire hedge fund manager and Republican patron.
It had support from two members of the Trump administration — 

  1. Ken Cuccinelli, acting director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, and
  2. Ben Carson, secretary of housing and urban development.

Aimed at curtailing federal power, it is now leveraging its sweeping national network and digital arsenal to help stitch together scattered demonstrations across the country, making opposition to stay-at-home orders appear more widespread than is suggested by polling.

  Aug 1st The video of doctors praising Hydroxychloroquine was organized by Tea Party Patriots, a conservative group that is part of a coalition to end state lockdownsorganized with DARK MONEY . Republican Rep. Ralph Norman of South Carolina introduced the doctors. Breitbart, a conservative news site, recorded it.

June 1st -- More than half of Twitter's ‘Reopen America’ calls were from bots, study finds
Of the 200 million tweets touching on the coronavirus - a whopping 82% of the top 50 influential retweeters are bots, the study found, and more than 60% of the top 1,000 retweeters are bots.

May 15th Secretive Right-Wing Nonprofit Plays Role in COVID-19 Organizing -- CNP Action is the 501(c)(4) nonprofit affiliate of the Council for National Policy (CNP) -- "the genuine leaders of the Republican Party," -- " a secret society of far-right-wing conservatives and religious extremists."

Asking for a $5 donation “to support our fight,” the paid Facebook posts are part of an online blitz called “Open the States,” which also includes newly created websites, a data-collecting petition and an ominous video about the economic effects of the lockdown.

The group’s president, Mark Meckler, said his aim was to act as a “clearinghouse where these guys can all find each other” — a role he learned as co-founder of the Tea Party Patriots.
FreedomWorks
, a libertarian advocacy group also active in the tea party movement, is seeking to play a similar function, creating an online calendar of protests.

Meckler, draws a salary of about $250,000 from the Convention of States parent group, a tax-exempt nonprofit organization.

Stephen Moore, who has also worked at the right-leaning Heritage Foundation said he had located a big donor to aid in the effort.

In Michigan, among those organizing “Operation Gridlock” was Meshawn Maddock, who sits on the Trump campaign’s advisory board and is a prominent figure in the “Women for Trump” coalition.
Funds to promote the demonstrations on Facebook came from the Michigan Freedom Fund, which is headed by Greg McNeilly, a longtime adviser to the family of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos.

One of the most vocal groups opposing the lockdown in Texas is an Austin-based conservative think tank called the Texas Public Policy Foundation.
The board vice chairman of the Texas Public Policy Foundation, oil executive Tim Dunn, is also a founding board member of the group promoting the Convention of States initiative. And the foundation’s former president, Brooke Rollins, now works as an assistant to Trump in the Office of American Innovation.

The John Hancock Committee for the States — the name used in IRS filings by the group behind the Convention of States — gave more than $100,000 to the Texas Public Policy Foundation in 2011.

The Convention of States project, meanwhile, has received backing from DonorsTrust, a tax-exempt financial conduit for right-wing causes that does not disclose its contributors. The same fund has helped bankroll the Idaho Freedom Foundation, which is encouraging protests of a stay-at-home...
Disobey Idaho,” say its Facebook ads, which use an image of the “Join or Die” snake woodcut emblematic of the Revolutionary War and later adopted by the tea party movement.

In 2014, the year before it launched the Convention of States initiative, Citizens for Self-Governance received $500,000 from the Mercer Family Foundation.

“The involvement of the Koch institutional apparatus in groups supporting these protests is clear to me,” said Robert J. Brulle, a sociologist at Drexel University whose research has focused on climate lobbying. “The presence of allies on the board usually means that they are deeply engaged in the organization and most likely a funder.”

Brulle said the blowback against the coronavirus precautions carries echoes of efforts to deny Climate Change, both of which rely on hostility toward government action.
“These are extreme right-wing efforts to delegitimize government,” he said. “It’s an anti-government crusade.”

SOURCE: https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/inside-the-conservative-networks-backing-anti-quarantine-protests/2020/04/22/da75c81e-83fe-11ea-a3eb-e9fc93160703_story.html
 

FUNDING

Citizens for Self-Governance,

Convention of States Action

 is not required to disclose its funders, so they remain unknown.
Through an examination of IRS filings, however, funders of related non-profits Convention of States Foundation and CSG Action have been uncovered and are available on  Sourcewatch .

========================================================

Secretive Right-Wing Nonprofit Plays Role in COVID-19 Organizing

May 15th 2020: By 

A shadowy right-wing nonprofit is helping coordinate coronavirus response strategy and promoting the lockdown protests.

Working alongside close allies that have helped coordinate the protests, including Stephen Moore of the Heritage Foundation and FreedomWorks,
Council for National Policy Action (CNP Action)
has been hosting conference calls and publishing action memos around reopening states’ economies.

CNP Action is the 501(c)(4) nonprofit affiliate of the Council for National Policy (CNP), a coalition of far-right political advocacy and think tank figures that has worked largely behind the scenes since its founding in 1981.
CNP’s membership includes conservative Republicans and right-wing extremists who work together to shape policy. 
Trump allies, including senior adviser Kellyanne Conway and former chief adviser Steve Bannon, were CNP members as of 2014.
Trump’s lawyer Jay Sekulow has also been a member, according to a recently published book by Anne Nelson.

Since last month, CNP Action has hosted weekly conference calls to coordinate coronavirus response tactics. The first call featured Moore, who founded the Committee to Unleash Prosperity, the Heritage Foundation’s Ed Meese, and Al Regnery, chairman of CNP’s Conservative Action Project and the cousin of prominent white nationalist William Regnery.

Moore has called the lockdown protesters “the modern-day Rosa Parks” for “protesting against injustice and a loss of liberties.”

The email announcing the second call, which featured ALEC CEO Lisa Nelson and State Policy Network CEO Tracie Sharp, links to information about an April 21 car protest at the Alabama Capitol Building in Montgomery, organized by the anti-LGBTQ group Eagle Forum. The forum’s founder, the late Phyllis Schlafly, was a CNP member, and several current staffers are part of the CNP-connected “Save Our Country Task Force.”

The announcement directed readers to the private Facebook page of the group ReOpen PA, which was one of three groups that organized an April 20 lockdown protest at the Pennsylvania state capitol. The other two groups’ Facebook pages have been deactivated.

In an announcement of the third call, CNP Action directs allies to send links to op-eds, articles, and social media posts to a TeaPartyPatriots.org email address, indicating that the group is involved in CNP’s organizing efforts. “The Save Our Country Task Force will send it out for others in the coalition to share and cross-promote for a multiplying effect,” the announcement says.

“We need to share the stories of people who have been affected by the lockdowns, to show that we must be concerned with both sides of this crisis,” states the Tea Party Patriots Action website.

The Save Our Country Task Force is an overlapping group, tied closely to ALEC, that’s chaired by Trump economic adviser Art Laffer and includes Moore and CNP’s president Bill Walton, a trustee of the Heritage Foundation, in its leadership. Laffer sits on ALEC’s Board of Scholars and co-authors ALEC’s annual “Rich States, Poor States” publication with Moore.

Last year, Trump gave Laffer, a former Ronald Reagan adviser and a supply-side economics evangelist, a Presidential Medal of Freedom.

On the May 4 call, Robert Alt of the Charles Koch-funded Buckeye Institute spoke, and his remarks were posted online.

An announcement for the fourth weekly CNP Action call links to the ReOpen PA Facebook page as well as to a “Zoom Grassroots Briefing on #ReOpenAmerica with Steve Moore and [conservative pollster] Scott Rasmussen.”
Moore
and FreedomWorks have been helping coordinate on-the-ground lockdown protests.

The announcement links to the Open the States website, a project of Convention of States Action, which has also helped coordinate protests.
Check out the Open the States online community to connect with other Americans concerned about how the COVID-19 response is affecting our communities and liberties,” it states.

The call took place on May 11 and featured Mercedes Schlapp, a lobbyist and senior advisor to Donald Trump’s campaign, and her husband, Matt Schlapp, a lobbyist and the head of the American Conservative Union.
No one mentioned the protests, but the speakers disputed the severity of the coronavirus. In one exchange, Walton and the Schlapps tried to downplay the risks of the deadly virus.

WALTON, introducing a caller’s question: We’re now discovering, as the science rolls out, that there are tens of millions more people infected with this virus than previously imagined…. It’s decidedly reduced the lethality of it.

MERCEDES SCHLAPP: …I think that the reality is, is that when they looked at the modeling…it depends what assumptions you put into the modeling to see, and so I think the thing is, let’s go from millions of deaths to having more like, if you can get it down to not millions of deaths we’re in better position.

MATT SCHLAPP: …Even if you’re in some of these really, really serious demographic categories, the survival rate is so high, so we should feel optimistic about it instead of pessimistic.

The call largely revolved around what the Trump campaign is doing to win the election in the face of the current crisis.

CNP did not respond to a request for comment.

Extremists at the Center for National Policy

The Southern Poverty Law Center published a leaked full roster of CNP from 2014, which identified 413 members. “The list is surprising, not so much for the conservatives who dominate it,” wrote Heidi Beirich and Mark Potok, “but for the many real extremists who are included.”

At the time, populating CNP’s executive committee, board of directors, board of governors, and general membership were a number of extremists from hate groups such as:-

  • the anti-LGBTQ Family Research Council and

  • Liberty Counsel;

  • the neo-Confederate League of the South; and

  • the anti-Muslim Center for Security Policy.

On the board of governors was Michael Peroutka, who was on the board of League of the South and appeared on a white nationalist radio show.
Also involved with CNP were:

  • Liberty Council’s Mat Staver, who has tried to re-criminalize gay sex;

  • Alan Sears of the anti-LGTBQ hate group Alliance Defending Freedom

  • Tim Wildmon, president of the anti-LGBTQ hate group the American Family Association; and

  • conspiracy theorists Jerome Corsi, who was investigated in the Trump-Russia probe, and Joseph Farah.

The recent CNP Action announcements link to a Liberty Counsel initiative led by Mat Staver called ReOpen Church.

CNP’s founders include multiple members of the conspiracist John Birch Society and Paul Weyrich, co-founder of the Heritage Foundation and ALEC.

As of 2018, the most recent tax year on record for CNP, the board of directors included Tony Perkins, who was president at the time, and Kenneth Blackwell of the Family Research Council. The current board of governors and general membership rosters are unknown.

Perkins will be a speaker during next week’s CNP Action call on May 18.

Billionaire Funding

In 2018, CNP Action had a small budget, having spent $127,000 and received only $95,000 in contributions. Bill Walton was chairman, and Blackwell, Adam Brandon–the president of FreedomWorks–and Perkins were directors.

CNP is a much larger operation, having spent $2.9 million and taken in a total of over $3.2 million in 2018.

Richard DeVos, the father-in-law of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, is a former president of CNP, and his family foundation has funded the group.
DeVos’s parents’ family charity, the Edgar and Elsa Prince Foundation, are regular donors, having given money in the 2018 fiscal year, the most recent on record.

The family foundation of Robert Mercer gave $75,000 to CNP from 2013-14. Another right-wing political megadonor, Foster Friess, has been part of CNP and likely funded the organization.

Tim Phillips, a Tea Party organizer and president of Koch’s Americans for Prosperity, was listed as a member of CNP’s Board of Governors in 2014.
The Claude R. Lambe Charitable Foundation, which is now defunct but was run by the Koch family, donated $75,000 to CNP from 2011-12.

Institutional donors include the Family Research Council, the Heritage Foundation, and Judicial Watch, as well as from the donor-advised fund sponsors the National Christian Foundation and National Philanthropic Trust.