Want to know how the right-wing astroturf machine works? Want to see how they use power and money to drown out the voice of the people? Want to see the motivations behind the Koch Brothers' hit man in California?
Well then, meet David Spady, "California State Director of Americans for Prosperity," the wholly owned subsidiary of Koch Brothers, Inc. Mr. Spady crashed a pro-Prop. 30 (the measure that taxes the top 2% to pay for schools and other urgent needs) rally in East LA on Saturday because he knew two things: 1. Gov. Brown was dropping by, so the press would cover it; 2. He could not get anyone to turn out a rally for his group because it's fake.
To be clear, David Spady is a paid hack. Have a look at his own self-promotional website:
In 2008 David Spady founded Media and Public Affairs Strategy LLC a strategic media and political consulting agency. He currently serves as State Director of Americans for Prosperity of California, a national grassroots organization focused on economic issues, free-markets and limited government. Spady spent 16 years working in the areas of media and politics.
He joined Salem Communications Corporation (SALM: Nasdaq) in 2000 where he served as Director of National News and Public Affairs. In this capacity he was responsible for developing corporate resources and services to enhance radio program quality and delivery for 35 talk shows and Salem's endeavors to merge radio content with new media. Spady continues to coordinate Salem Communication's political, government and regulatory affairs.
Beginning in the early 1990's Spady consulted for numerous political campaigns and organizations in California, Montana and Tennessee.
Here's how the Prop. 30 rally that Spady crashed went.
Governor Jerry Brown dashed into the big rally at Inner City Struggle, where he was greeted by Executive Director Maria Brenes with tumultuous shouts from a couple of hundred community organizers literally dancing as they called out, "I believe we can pass Prop. 30." Here were members of ACCE, who live, work, walk and phone bank in the neighborhoods most affected by the horrific cuts in California and those who have the most to lose if Prop. 30 fails.
And there were members of SCOPE and AGENDA, groups founded by legendary organizer Anthony Thigpenn more than 20 years ago to build power in communities of color in LA, those communities that so easily disappear in the blur of Westside political fundraisers.
Up in front, key to organizing the day, was Martha Figueroa who leads Mobilize the Immigrant Vote Action, a scrappy, determined group that brings together Latino, Asian and other immigrants who may not vote regularly, but whose lives are upended by people like the Koch Brothers.
And following the governor's talk, Maria Elena Durazo, the energizer bunny of the California labor movement, brought the crowd to a new crescendo before she went outside for an interview with La Opinion.
In a slightly hoarse voice earned from days of non-stop campaigning, Governor Brown reminded everyone that about 10% of voters remain undecided, so if these phone banks and the work we're all doing get only a couple of percent, we win. And California wins. And the nation wins, because the tone is set for Washington to allow the Bush tax cuts to expire since Prop. 30 raises taxes on those making $250,000 or more a year.
As we left, off on the side of the lobby was Mr. Spady holding court in front of a TV camera. The enthusiastic pro-30 party gathered around him to share our joy, apparently at such a pitch that Mr. Spady and the guy from Channel 5 decided to move outside. As Mr. Spady, stood first with KNBC Channel 4 and then KTLA CBS Channel 5, the crowd grew even more excited, determined to get the message across that this was a pro-Prop. 30 rally. The community--real people who care about our future--made their voices heard, demonstrating that money cannot silence the people.
Mr. Spady at first refused to give his name or information to any of us. When we asked him why he came to our event to push his self-interested, negative message, he kept asking about high-speed rail. I guess that's what guys like that do: play with trains on Astroturf.
Toward the end, determined to find out who this guy is, I introduced myself. He seemed a bit shocked that I put my hand out and told him my name. See, we were the only two white guys there. Assuming that I must therefore be capable of understanding him, he put his card out in his hand, to show me his name, but used his thumb to cover up the name of the organization.
At last, he shrugged and handed me his business card, emblazoned with his title and his corporate paymaster, Americans for Prosperity. Soon, he slunk off, mission accomplished.
I told the guy from KTLA that he just interviewed an employee of the Koch Brothers. He said he knew that, but that he "offered the other side." To that I say fooey. Since when does giving "equal time" to an astroturfer (he's not really even good at astroturfing) pass for journalism? Would the TV folks there have given "equal time" to a cigarette company executive who stopped by? How about someone from Orkin Pest Control? I mean really.
Worse still, the Fox LA affiliate conducted an in-studio interview with Hack Spady, pretending that he represents anyone other than some billionaires. And KTLA, unable to use footage from the rally because the people spoke louder than the man with his money, took him to another location, giving him airtime. It's absurd that the public airwaves are used to provide a stage for a puppet without saying, "Here's a puppet." The closest they came was to say, "David Koch is on the Board" of Hack Spady's organization. David Koch owns Americans for Prosperity and he rented (or owns) Hack Spady. To say otherwise is to equate one hired hack with a campaign of hundreds of thousands or even millions of Californians.
It's an indicator of the fear that the Kochs and their brother in money Charles Munger, Jr. have over the passage of Prop. 30 and the defeat of 32 that Mr. Spady showed up, uninvited, to a party for and by the people to peddle his Koch line.
If this were just one event or an isolated incident, I don't think it would be worthy of a post. But the fact of the matter is what I witnessed on Saturday in a poor area in LA is representative of the Koch's entire playbook. Use their big money to lie, cheat and steal their way to more power. Use their out-of-state special interest money to suppress the voice of the working class all in the name of advancing their radical far right-wing agenda, an agenda so far to the right that they could fill a phone booth with to hold their own rally in California.
The just reward is passing 30 and defeating 32. And so we shall win.
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