Unions Fund Anti-Tea Party Group Scheme

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Posted: Feb 10, 2010 11:54 AM
Fox News is reporting that a website portending to represent an anti-tea party grassroots organization is actually "the front end of an elaborate scheme that funnels funds -- including sizable labor union contributions -- through the offices of a prominent Democratic party lawyer."

Democrats and labor unions working together to subvert the tea party movement?  Noooo... Who ever would've predicted such a thing!?
"This movement is a fad," proclaims TheTeaPartyIsOver.org, which was established by the American Public Policy Center (APPC), a D.C.-based campaign shop that few people have ever heard of.

But a close look reveals the APPC's place in a complex network of money flowing from the mountainous coffers of the country's biggest labor unions into political slush funds for Democratic activists.

Here's how it works: What appears like a local groundswell is in fact the creation of two men -- Craig Varoga and George Rakis, Democratic Party strategists who have set up a number of so-called 527 groups, the non-profit election organizations that hammer on contentious issues (think Swift Boats, for example).

Varoga and Rakis keep a central mailing address in Washington, pulling in soft money contributions from unions and other well-padded sources to engage in what amounts to a legal laundering system. The money -- tens of millions of dollars -- gets circulated around to different states by the 527s, which pay for TV ads, Internet campaigns and lobbyist salaries, all while keeping the hands of the unions clean -- for the most part.

The system helps hide the true sources of funding, giving the appearance of locally bred opposition in states from Oklahoma to New Jersey, or in the case of the Tea Party Web site, in Illinois.

And this whitewash is entirely legal, say election law experts, who told FoxNews.com that this arrangement more or less the norm in Washington.

"It's not illegal but it is, I think, dishonest on the part of the organizations," said Paul Ryan, a legal counsel at the Campaign Legal Center. "And there's a reason they do it: they know voters don't like outsiders coming in to sway the vote."

Apparently Varoga and Rakis play host to a slew of other political shops that offer liberal candidates money -- "from measly thousands to game-changing millions" -- in elections across the country.  Fox reports some of the biggest backers of Varoga and Rakis' scheme include theService Employees International Union (SEIU), the National Education Association and the Teamsters.

Full story here.