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Connecting the dots on Americans for Prosperity

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Last week, 20 or so members of Americans for Prosperity converged in downtown Durham to protest the Center for Responsible Lending, a consumer advocacy group that has pushed for tougher banking rules.

The Indy reported on its Triangulator blog about the last-minute robocall placed to some Durham households urging people to take to the streets to protest CRL. Why? CRL received $15 million from hedge fund manager John Paulson, a key figure in the Goldman Sachs scandal. But CRL didn't keep the money; it awarded the funds to the Institute for Foreclosure Legal Assistance, which trains local legal aid centers to help families facing foreclosure, according to Facing South. (Check out Facing South's report and video of the demonstration.)

AFP also protested Eric Stein, a financial reform advocate who used to work for CRL and now is in President Obama's Treasury Department.

"It's time to connect the dots in the ACORN-like scam," the robocall said in its overreaching and incendiary tone, "and let these con men know what you think about their ethics."

So the Indy decided to do some dot-connecting about AFP and its tangled web of conservative cohorts with deep financial ties of their own.

Who's who

Americans for Prosperity: Right-wing, anti-tax and anti-regulation group linked to the Tea Party. Opposed to Obamacare, and more financial regulation. Art Pope is the director of AFP and David Koch is the head of the AFP Foundation. Phil Kerpen is vice president for policy and a contributor to Fox News and In 1997, AFP President Tim Phillips joined forces with Ralph Reed to form the public-relations firm, Century Strategies.

Americans for a Republican Majority PAC (ARMPAC): A political action committee formed by former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas). Koch Industries contributed $43,500 to ARMPAC from 2000-2006 (2000, 2002, 2004, 2006). Lobbyist Jack Abramoff, a close friend of DeLay and Ralph Reed who is now in prison, formed the Greenberg Traurig lobbying firm, which kicked in $21,000. The PAC then doled out the largesse: $3 million to Republican congressional campaigns over six years (2000, 2002, 2004, 2006). ARMPAC went out of business after the Federal Election Commission fined it $115,000 for failing to report contributions and expenditures from 2001-2002. Right-wing blog with frequent attacks on Center for Responsible Lending. Americans for Prosperity leaders are frequent contributors and hand out articles at protests. Editor is Michael Flynn.

Kip Cashmore: Aptly named, Cashmore is a board member with Community Financial Services Association of America (CFSA) and the CEO of USA Cash Services, a payday lender.

Citizens for a Sound Economy: Previous incarnation of FreedomWorks that received large contributions from the Koch family. David Koch was its chairman. Dick Armey and Matt Kibbe were co-chairs. Predecessor of AFP.

Community Financial Services Association of America (CFSA): Established in 1999 to ensure consumer confidence in, and long-term success of, the payday advance industry. CFSA spent $2.5 million in lobbying in 2009.

Consumer Rights League: Founded in 2007 by Michael Flynn and Terry Kibbe. Last fall filed federal complaints against Center for Responsible Lending alleging lobbying violations, which have not been proven.

Defend America PAC: Led by U.S. Rep. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), the ranking member on the House banking committee, this PAC from 2006-2010 has given $797,000 to Republican lawmakers, including $10,000 this election cycle to North Carolina Senator Richard Burr. Koch Industries has kicked in $5,000 to the PAC this year.

Michael Flynn: Editor of and co-founder of Consumer Rights League. Formerly worked for the Reason Foundation and Richard Berman's lobbying firm. Nicknamed "Dr. Evil," Berman has created dozens of pro-business front groups and websites including, which has attacked the Center for Responsible Lending, and, which offers guidance on credit and payday loans.

Freedom Project PAC: House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) leads this committee, which contributes only to Republicans—$2.4 million since 2006. Homegrown Republicans who have received money from the PAC include Virginia Foxx, Patrick McHenry and Robin Hayes (2006, 2008). Burr received $10,000 this election cycle. Koch Industries contributed $10,000 to the PAC in 2008.

FreedomWorks: Right-wing, anti-tax and anti-regulation outfit headed by former U.S. Rep. Dick Armey. The group also launched a fake website,, which claimed to represent "renters and responsible homeowners against a government mortgage bailout." The Wall Street Journal uncovered FreedomWorks' sleight-of-hand. Funded by several foundations, including those overseen by the Scaife families. Aligned with the Tea Party.

Kimberly Gardner: A CFSA board member, she is an executive with Equity Advantages and has given to several conservative PACs whose funders include the banking and financial industries.

Growth and Prosperity PAC: Alabama lawmaker Spencer Bachus, the ranking member of the House Financial Services Committee, spearheads this PAC, which has contributed $1.6 million to congressional Republicans since 2006 (2006, 2008, 2010). GOP stalwarts Foxx , Hayes, Walter Jones and McHenry have benefited from the PAC. Koch Industries threw in $5,000 this year.

John Locke Foundation: Right-wing think tank in Raleigh. Received funding from Koch family. Art Pope is a member of board of directors.

Matt Kibbe: President of FreedomWorks. Married to Consumer Rights League co-founder Terry Kibbe.

Terry Kibbe: Co-founder of Consumer Rights League. Used to work in public affairs for Koch Industries and the Cato Institute. Married to Matt Kibbe.

Koch Industries: One of the largest private corporations in the U.S., with companies involved in commodities trading, energy, fertilizers and other investments. Led by brothers Charles and David Koch. The Koch brothers are staunch supporters of several free-market organizations, including Americans for Prosperity, the Cato Institute and the Reason Foundation.

Art Pope: Conservative Raleigh millionaire businessman and former state legislator who serves on boards for the John Locke Foundation and Americans for Prosperity. A major funder and strategist for the Wake County Republican Party, which helped usher in the new conservative Wake County school board majority.

Richard Rawle: A CFSA board member, he is the CEO of Check City, a payday lender based in Utah. He has also contributed to conservative PACs with banking and financial interests.

Reason Foundation: A public-policy nonprofit group that is libertarian in principle but not affiliated with Libertarian party. David Koch of Koch Industries is on board of trustees. Publishes Reason magazine.

Richard Mellon Scaife: An heir to the Mellon industrial, oil and banking fortune, he runs the three family foundations, which contribute tens of millions of dollars to conservative causes, including Citizens for a Sound Economy, the Cato Institute and the Reason Foundation.

Tony Scales: A CFSA board member, he is an executive at Express Check Advance, a payday lender based in Tennessee. He has also contributed to conservative PACs with banking and financial interests.

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