Tag Archives: Koch Bros. and the RGA

Something Fishy: Republican Governors Association secretly launch fake new site

It seems the Republican Governors Association has decided to quietly start their own online news service. And they only acknowledged the site, launched earlier this summer, as theirs after the Associated Press (a real news service!) made inquires about the mysterious site called The Free Telegraph.somefishynews

[…] It (the Free Telegraph) asks readers to sign up for breaking news alerts. It launched in the summer bearing no acknowledgement that it was a product of an official party committee whose sole purpose is to get more Republicans elected.

Only after The Associated Press inquired about the site last week was a disclosure [small and tucked away on the bottom of the page] added to The Free Telegraph’s pages identifying the publication’s partisan source.

The governors association describes the website as routine political communication. Critics, including some Republicans, say it pushes the limits of honest campaign tactics in an era of increasingly partisan media and a proliferation of “fake news” sites, including those whose material became part of an apparent Russian propaganda effort during the 2016 presidential campaign.

The RGA, funded in part by the ultra-conservative Koch Brothers, is a solid backer of our own Governor Phil Scott and spent heavily ($3 million in 2016 campaign ads) to get him elected.

Some people may recall that when Vice President Mike Pence was governor of Indiana he started a government-run news service he wanted to controlHe later withdrew it, following strong protest (it was dubbed “Pravda on the Plains”).

And now it smells like the RGA has hooked onto a similar fake news tactic. Those Republicans, they just can’t resist the bait of using less-than-factual propaganda to tilt the electorate their way. Something fishy, indeed.

GOP governors fit that image

As you can see from the actual Google news screen shot (not photo-shopped) it’s  easy to confuse one Republican governor’s image and policy for another.

phildouglas

Now, former Vermont Governor Jim Douglas never had to decide whether to sign marijuana legislation. But he did wield threats of a budget veto similar to what Governor Phil Scott is now doing attempting to bend the Democratic majority legislature to his agenda. Some key people now members of Scott’s staff were part of Douglas’ administration eight years ago

In June 2009, Republican Governor Jim Douglas carried out his threat and issued an historic  2,000-word veto message, becoming the first Vermont governor to veto the state budget. He had hoped to draw a line in the sand, but although the move made history it was quickly blown away when the solid Democratic House and Senate majorities overrode his veto.

Fast forward to now. Like Douglas, Governor Scott has threatened a budget veto. He has targeted any budget the legislature sends him not including a requirement for teachers to pay 20% of their health care premiums. Since the Democratic majorities are not as large as in 2009, an override is not guaranteeddriving them into negotiations on Scott’s key demand. Where Douglas’ veto leverage failed, Scott may succeed getting part of his agenda implemented.

As talks on a negotiated deal began and details took form, the teachers’ union begged to differ: Martha Allen, the Vermont NEA president and a librarian at a school in Canaan, said the Scott administration’s “assault on collective bargaining is straight out of the Donald Trump and Scott Walker anti-union playbook.”

Over-stated? Well, the threats are real. It is worth recalling the $3 million in campaign support Phil Scott enjoyed getting from the Republican Governors Association. The union-busting Koch Brothers were the largest contributors to the RGA in 2016. according to opensecrets.org. And in the last election cycle as in the one beforethe Republican State Leadership Council (another Koch Brother project) helped the Vermont GOP by targeting a half-dozen Democratic legislators for defeat.

Sure Google algorithims mix up their images one GOP governor is pretty much just like another, eh? and with great gobs of funds from Koch Brothers organizations behind them all, is it any wonder the playbook and goals are similar? After all, Wisconsinonce progressive, “blue” and heavily unionized and the birthplace of public sector unionsis now in the bottom third of states for unionized workforce.

Given time and small steps and removing teachers’ health care from the collective bargaining process is exactly one of those “small” steps I am not so sure that Trump/Walker anti-worker laws could never happen here in blue Vermont.

Phil Scott to meet with Koch Brothers

Well, not precisely with the Koch Brothers but close enough (and besides, the “evil Koch Brothers” are proven bi-partisan click bait in Vermont). Governor-elect Phil Scott will be flying to Florida this week to attend the Republican Governors Association’s two-day post-election conference.rga201620 At two million dollars the Kochs were the largest contributors to the Republican Governors Association(RGA) in 2016 according to opensecrets.org.

The RGA then, in turn coughed up big bucks – almost $3 million dollars – to support Scott’s campaign win here in Vermont. It is worth noting that with Trump’s ascendance in the national GOP, the Kochs have been channeling more and more resources – reportedly $750 million – to extend their influence to state GOP office holders at all levels.

A theme of this week’s RGA gathering is “leading the change,” and featured speakers include public employee union-busting Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin, climate change denier Gov. Rick Scott of Florida, and Gov. Nikki Haley of South Carolina. Of the three only Haley has been critical of Trump, but she also accepted contributions from him.

Phil Scott’s first national excursion as governor-elect is to go racing off, following the money to schmooze at the RGA conference with union busters and climate change deniers. And the man who spoke so often about “hitting the pause button” will spend time hearing about “leading the change.” Who is this “authentic Vermonter?” Looks pretty different on the road from his campaign image when he’s at home.