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Recently I've focused on the Wisconsin and how the Koch brothers and M&I Bank have taken over Wisconsin politics. Today I've decided to turn my analysis on my home state of Colorado.  As many know I was formerly involved with Republican politics here in Colorado. The 2010 race was confusing because the Colorado GOP appeared extremely disorganized. For example, during the 2010 caucuses it was literally impossible to get ANY information on the district 4 Congressional candidates. This is what I said at the time:

The caucus I attended was literally the most boring I have ever attended (and I have attended almost every caucus since 1992). We had eleven attendees which was the same number for the one my daughter attended. Multiples caucuses were held in the church and it was very lightly attended. A KUNC reporter wandered about the very sparsely attended proceedings. One of the attendees openly wondered why nobody was there given "what was going on this week".  The same individual ran for the state assembly with the rationale for his running being his personal edification! He had no idea who to support. None of us knew squat about any of the candidates. There was only one speech where one woman endorsed some personal friends. Two of the candidates she supported were running for the Congressional seat but she gave nothing substantive on why we should support either or why one was preferable over the other. The only candidate that stopped by was running for Sheriff. Another of the participants asked to delay the straw poll until some of the candidates stopped by (which never happened). The winners of our straw poll were Diggs Brown, Scott McInnis, and Jane Norton. At the county level  Gardner, Maes, and Buck won handily.

So, the effect of the Tea Partiers at the local level was to purge the moderates and even mainstream conservatives out of the GOP. I saw no evidence of inside-the-party enthusiasm I have seen in local OFA meetings. Most of my friends in county leadership are long gone.

Note the last paragraph as I will comment on that shortly. More recently there came the resignation of Dick Wadhams as chair of the Colorado GOP.

Since that time, State Senator Ted Harvey announced that he would challenge Wadhams's bid, saying that "a lot of the grass-roots activists and county officers believe we need to go a different direction."

Harvey was referring to the grass-roots Tea Party groups that became influential within the GOP in 2010. Many of these activists were harshly critical of Wadhams' performance during the 2010 election cycle.

Wadhams told KDVR's Eli Stokols on Monday that he was stepping down because he was "tired of the people who see a conspiracy behind everything we do, people who don't have any clue what the role of the state party really is."

“I have loved being chairman, but I’m tired of the nuts who have no grasp of what the state party’s role is,” he told the Denver Post.

The county officers are completely disorganized and as we know here the grass-roots activists are astroturf. (Much more on this later.)  The Larimer County GOP got fined big time apparently because their chair didn't pick up their mail.

"Because the election was just hectic and busy and we had stuff going on, we're trying to recruit volunteers, we're trying to get people in for making phone calls, we're just trying to do all the election stuff," [former Larimer County GOP chair, Larry Carillo] said.

In most county parties, the treasurer plays a key role in maintaining campaign finance reports. But the Larimer GOP's most recent treasurer Terri Fassi resigned in late July or early August 2010 and hasn't been replaced, interim party Chairwoman Devon Lentz said.

A political party does three things:

  1. Fundraising
  2. Messaging
  3. Organizing

As we see above the party was failing on all three counts, particularly on point 3. Because of that I wasn't very worried going into the elections because of it. What I failed to appreciate is that the powers that be have made the GOP (and its little-d democratic style organization) irrelevant. Even people as savvy as Rachel Maddow assumed that a disorganized GOP means that hyper-conservative candidates will not be able to win. Note her comments on the Nevada GOTV:

As outside organizations run by people like Karl Rove start supplanting what the traditional party has done in terms of fundraising and messaging and organizing, is there a cost to that?  Is there a cost to outside groups like those run by Karl Rove doing that instead of the parties doing it?

Here‘s a specific example from this past election in Nevada.  It‘s the 2010 Nevada Senate race between Harry Reid and Sharron Angle.  All of the polls right before that election, right up until the election said Sharron Angle would be the United States senator from Nevada right now.  She is not.

Why?  Because for all of the anti-Harry Reid sentiment in Nevada, for all of the fundraising prowess of Sharron Angle, for all of the bad indicators for the guy in charge staying in power in Nevada, in November, there was something missing.  The Republican Party was notably absent on the ground in Nevada in the days leading up to that election.  There was no organizational capacity, it seemed, to turn all of those pro-Republican factors in that election into actual Republican votes.

There was no Republican Party get-out-the-vote machine there.  It‘s something that we found out when we were in Vegas just a couple of days before the election.

Rachel's error was she focused on a Senate race where there was a substantial union GOTV operation in place and a statewide electorate. I contend there isn't really a cost to the outsourcing of the entire Republican party to corporations. I'll will follow the money with Cory Gardner, where the outsourcing produced a different effect below the fold.

Update: Thanks for the rec list. First time. I'm honored.

Update: There was a good question in the comments about how long has this been going on. Here's an early history of the Koch front group Citizens for a Sound Economy provided by CSE later split/merged to become FreedomWorks and Americans for Prosperity.

In 1984 Charles G. Koch, David H. Koch and J. P. Humphries asked Rich Fink to develop a concept for a new organization that could advocate free-market policies effectively in Washington. Fink (now executive vice president at Koch Industries) produced a 110-page business plan and the CSE, along with the CSE Foundation, started operations later that year. Fink became the first president. Ever since, Koch Industries and the Koch Family Foundations have continued to give substantial financial support to the CSE and the CSE Foundation.

In 1988, Jim Miller, President Reagan's Director of the Office of Management and Budget, joined CSE's staff and board of directors. This helped raise the profile of the CSE enormously. Until then, it had campaigned mostly on tax issues (advocating a low, flat-rate tax), but now it started focusing on legal and regulatory issues, starting with a telecommunications and financial services.

In 1989, Wayne Gable succeeded Rich Fink as President. That year CSE Foundation rescued the Tax Foundation from financial trouble and restructured its management and board of directors. Gable is currently Managing Director of Federal Affairs at Koch Industries. In 1991, Gable went on the become president of the Tax Foundation, and Paul Beckner took over as president. That year, CSE launched Citizens for Congressional Reform, which went on to become U. S. Term Limit.

In 1993 C. Boyden Gray became Chairman, and CSE led a major press and public relations campaign to defeat the Clinton administration's 1993 proposal for an energy tax. "Our belief is that the tax, over time, may have destroyed our business," said Fink, who by then had left CSE's employ. While the Koch Foundations could not legally lobby against the tax, CSE rallied public opposition, especially in Oklahoma, where then-Senator David Boren agreed to help kill the tax. [2]

First of all, let me give some context on CO-4. We have a substantial alternative energy business presence here.  

Fueled by a surge of clean-energy projects and research, the northern Colorado economy is regaining some of its lost strength.

The state's fledgling "new energy economy" is gaining an impressive foothold on the plains of Weld County, along the Interstate 25 commercial corridor and in the research labs of Colorado State University.

More than 40 businesses involved in clean or renewable energy have set up shop in the region in recent years, bringing more than 1,300 jobs. Other shops such as Woodward Governor Co., which makes components for power-generation equipment, also have added jobs.

The gains fall short of making up for the more than 4,000 high-tech jobs northern Colorado lost earlier this decade in a devastating round of layoffs by Agilent Technologies, Advanced Energy, Celestica, Hewlett-Packard and LSI Logic. But regional officials say they're optimistic that projected growth in the alternative-energy sector will generate thousands of relatively high-paying new jobs.

Solar-panel manufacturer AVA Solar expects to have 400 to 500 workers on its Fort Collins payroll by the end of next year. Vestas Wind Systems, a maker of wind-turbine blades, says its new Windsor plant will employ up to 600.

Like the rest of the state, northern Colorado has witnessed a slowdown in new jobs, population growth and housing starts, as well as rising rates of foreclosures and bankruptcies.

But economists expect the clean-energy sector to start making up for a 2 percent drop in the region's per-capita income since 2001 — a direct result of the high-tech job losses.

Cory Gardner got a plum assignment on the Energy and Commerce Committee, so he would be pumping the new energy economy vital to jobs in CO-4, right? Wrong.

Gardner shills for his oil and gas buddies as told in this 2010 story. Like all the Congressional Republicans he voted for continuing the oil and gas subsidies. He voted for denying the EPA the ability to regulate greenhouse gasses and denied the reality of anthropogenic global warming. He also voted for anti-renewable energy budget priorities in the Republican budget:


But how did someone who is not representative of the interests of his district get elected, particularly when the Republican Party in Northern Colorado is so disorganized? Answer: The Republican party is not who got him in but rather it was his corporate buddies.

Let's go through the three facets of the political party. First off, fundraising. According to Open Secrets Gardner got $10,000 from the Koch brothers and 16,500 from Houston-based Anadarko Petroleum that worked with him while he was in the Colorado legislature to try to reduce regulation on gas wells on the eastern plains. These are just the direct helps. He also got some help indirectly. Note this "party" before the Colorado primaries:

For: Cory Gardner (R, CO-04)
Hosted by: Brian Conklin Koch Industries PAC Lake Coulson Tim Powers Vin Weber Mark Isakowitz Dan Meyer Mary Hanagan
When: June 24th, 2010 (12 p.m.)
Where: Bistro Bis - 15 E Street NW
Type of Event: Luncheon
Other Lawmakers Mentioned: Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R, TN-7) Erik Paulsen (R, MN-3)
Contribution Information: $1,000
Make Checks Payable To: Gardner for Congress - 507 Capitol Court NE #100 Washington, DC 20002
RSVP: Steve Gordon | Katherine Ferriter; 202-546-0900;
Distribution Paid for by: Gardner for Congress

Note the Kochs are there. Another name to pay attention to is Steve Gordon. Steve Gordon is a longtime Republican operative. His company Total Spectrum provides the following services that look strangely like what a political party would do:

At Total Spectrum, each client enjoys a personalized strategy, developed by our experienced professionals. We can equip each client with a wide range of political tools.

Grassroots Programs
Grasstops Initiatives
Fundraising and PAC Development
Contribution Strategy
Relationship Building
Issue Advocacy
Coalition Building
Web-Based and Direct Mail Campaigns
Political Analysis
Public Relations
Polling and Data Research

Of course there's the messaging part. Since we all know this very well I'll gloss over it other than to note the communication part of the campaign came more from the independent groups than the parties. This is the focus of the Citizens United ruling. The ruling wrongly assumed that this is the bulk of what the independent organizations do for a candidate.

Finally and most importantly is the organizing part. Unlike the fundraising and messaging activities this is more in the shadows. Two independent organizations stuck out in Gardner's FEC filings: Americans for Jobs Security and Americans for Tax Reform. The latter is funded by the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation who is one of the puppet masters pulling Wisconsin Governor Walker's strings. These organizations are 501 c(6) organizations and do not disclose their donors. According to the tax code:

"it is not prohibited from intervening in political campaigns so long as political campaign intervention is not its primary activity."

Let's see if this is the case with respect to Gardner.  ALL the expenditures for both organizations were to one company (it was also a common donation for supporters of Scott Tipton and opponents of Gabby Giffords).


So what is Direct Response? It's a company by Jack Padovano that does microtargeting.

DIRECT RESPONSE GROUP - one of the many faces of primarily DCI Group principals with 2005 AZ corporation filings indicating Doug Goodyear, Tom Synhorst, Charles Gately, Christopher Holt and Jack Padovano as then-principals. aka GPS VENTURES

What's microtargeting?

In 2006, oddly enough, a Computerworld reporter sought out Mike Connell -- rather than Karl Rove -- to inquire into the GOP's electoral outlook. It was Connell (not Rove) who described how substantially the GOP was counting on microtargeting to make the difference in a difficult year. Two years earlier, Connell was the strategist who summarized  "A Republican Perspective: What Worked Online in the 2004 U.S. Elections"in a presentation slidedeck.  In that analysis, he emphasized email list development, microtargeting and the big data push of 2004, 72-hour programs, and special GOTV emails detailed even to the level of providing driving directions to the polls.

So there you have it. A political campaign where all the functions of a political campaign are outsourced to corporations who are friendly to oil and gas interests. Not only that they can make unlimited donations in secret. We don't even know if they're Americans. For example, it could be the Chinese undermining our alternative energy industry. So, it comes as no surprise when Cory Gardner chooses between his patrons and his constituents who gets the goldmine and who gets the shaft.

Originally posted to Colorado COmmunity on Sun Mar 20, 2011 at 11:43 AM PDT.

Also republished by J Town and Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Outstanding investigation. (17+ / 0-)

    You might want to post it at ColoradoPols or SquareState. This is a well focused diary.

    No one is outside the circle of the heart

    by kafkananda on Sun Mar 20, 2011 at 12:27:51 PM PDT

  •  Follow the Money (15+ / 0-)

    It was a hugh factor in the governor's elections in the midwest industrial states.   Before 2010, television ads in MI, WI, IL, IN and OH had been 50/50 attack ads but the 2010 elections were something much different.  The bulk of the attack ads were anti-Democratic, generic (insert target candidate name) and dominated the local and national news shows on the networks.

    While they were telling the audience how bad the Democratic candidate was, they didn't mention the Republican candidate and how bad he was.  The audience is finding out now.

    Don't look back, something may be gaining on you. - L. "Satchel" Paige

    by arlene on Sun Mar 20, 2011 at 12:28:21 PM PDT

    •  The attack ads in OH (12+ / 0-)

      blamed Ted Strickland for the jobs lost in the Bush recession.  The attack ads in FL blamed Sink for the drop in the value in the state pension fund, forgot to mention the stock market collapse brought on by the failed GOP economic policies.  

      How do you combat 24/7 ads with false information and ignorant voters?

      "I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel." Maya Angelou

      by ahumbleopinion on Sun Mar 20, 2011 at 01:48:41 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Weell-crafted ads addressing the falacies (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        camlbacker, Ckntfld

        being promoted in a way that anyone can understand, coupled with well-trained 'feet on the ground' who can point out the damage these people will do once in office.  The uprisings in WI, MI, OH, and elsewhere (coming to a state near you...), will make this task easier.

        Conservatism is a function of age - Rousseau
        I've been 19 longer'n you've been alive - me

        by watercarrier4diogenes on Sun Mar 20, 2011 at 03:03:41 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  How you fight this (9+ / 0-)

        Turnout. Turnout. Turnout. Just as only thinly traded stocks get their price manipulated the same is true for low turnout elections. I heard too many Democrats who were unenthusiastic about Markey and didn't show up. This allowed the Fox News watchers to be microtargeted for GOTV robocalls. Since Senate elections are whole states they are harder to be manipulated. This why there was a huge difference in the Senate and House races. We don't need the fancy databases and can be more indiscriminate about GOTV. The higher the turnout the better we do.

        •  I'm on the ground in a WI recall district. (0+ / 0-)

          At every home we visit and get a signature we remind people the importance of their vote and every vote they bring in. We remind them is important to overwhelm the Republicans in the April 5 election.

          Yet, having said this, I've worked for the best Democratic candidates in a number of elections only to find that we are shutdown by unions, special interests, DNC, DCCC, DSCC and any D with letters. They claim we are unelectable for crapass reasons. Now I watch as our current WI effort is met with crickets by most of the national Democrats.

          Point . . . if all the hooping and hollowing doesn't get the national Democrats to pay attention then we need to move on. The passionate in the US -- left and right are DONE -- and if someone doesn't grab this anger, a third party is ripe for the pickings.

          Sorry to say, Sharron Angle gets it as she is backing teachers. Don't know if she really does. But, she's figuring out how to tapping the anger.

      •  Showing up to vote would be nice. (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Back In Blue, abe57, Frank Palmer

        Seriously, we did ourselves no favors with our piss-poor turnout.

        Ideology is an excuse to ignore common sense.

        by Bush Bites on Sun Mar 20, 2011 at 06:46:49 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Be there first long and loud (3+ / 0-)

        Don't stand around with one finger testing the wind and another up your butt and then scramble when your opponent "defines" you because you haven't "defined" yourself.  "Define" yourself by doing, and making sure those actions get attention.    Even in today's insane mediated information environment, actions have a habit of speaking louder than words.  Act with clarity, decisively, and before you it is seen as political eyewash.   Do the right thing because it's right and it's amazing what protection against sleazy attacks that  course of action provides.  Being principled is (in all but the shortest term narrowest personal or partisan opportunism) also the most pragmatic thing.

        "Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will." ~Frederick Douglass

        by ActivistGuy on Sun Mar 20, 2011 at 08:50:37 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  You are spot on! (0+ / 0-)

          Elections are about two things: issues and character.  If you don't define your own character and what you stand for to the electorate, your opponent will.  Republicans specialize in character assassination.  They win elections by defining Democratic candidates for the electorate.  

          Unfortunately, there are a significant number of Democratic pollsters who are well trained and well educated on all of the technical aspects of polling, but frankly don't have good political instincts. Because character issues are so much more difficult for these pollsters to understand and survey for, they tend to downplay their importance.  When they don't have numbers to talk about, they are at sea.  To them it's "you can move three points on education, four points on the environment, maybe a couple on healthcare but biographical ads don't move the electorate."  This strain of pollsters in effect tells their clients to bring a knife to a gunfight.  Better not to hire them.

          If you are a candidate who has meaningful accomplishments  in your life, you must be prepared to communicate your story to the electorate and define your own image, or you won't even recognize the person that Republicans describe to  the voters.

      •  especially willfully ignorant voters (0+ / 0-)
  •  Good gosh that's well written and informative (13+ / 0-)

    I'll finish when I get back. Just wanted to drop by and say how, well, enjoyable or something it is to read. Don't like what's said but the way you say it.

    We need a two party system. Instead of a corporate party and the rest of us.

    "Don't fall or we both go." Derek Hersey 1957-1993

    by ban nock on Sun Mar 20, 2011 at 12:28:56 PM PDT

  •  I guess this is why we need to make the effort to (8+ / 0-)

    win the 2012 election even harder, we have a lot of corporate money working against us.

    Despite all the money thrown in during 2010 we did win the Senate and the Governorship. We lost congressional districts 3 and 4 but they leaned Republican, it's up to us to win them back.

    "Don't fall or we both go." Derek Hersey 1957-1993

    by ban nock on Sun Mar 20, 2011 at 02:26:58 PM PDT

  •  The same forces are at play in Wa, State.... (5+ / 0-)

    Rep. Rick Larsen's race was much closer that it should have been. This article by Joel Connelly of the Seattle PI sums it up.

    Thank you for the interesting and well sourced diary. I especially agree with your comment re turnout.

    The higher the turnout the better we do.

    Love is the lasting legacy of our lives

    by princesspat on Sun Mar 20, 2011 at 05:39:09 PM PDT

  •  Republished in J Town (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    You've been Republished in the J Town Babbling Brook

    burble burble

    Thank you.

    Love is the lasting legacy of our lives

    by princesspat on Sun Mar 20, 2011 at 05:40:27 PM PDT

  •  This should be another anecdote (5+ / 0-)

    to show why we need public financing of elections and to find a way to get the corporations out of the process.

    Thanks a million from a fellow Colorado Kossack.

    liberal bias = failure to validate or sufficiently flatter the conservative narrative on any given subject

    by RockyMtnLib on Sun Mar 20, 2011 at 06:35:24 PM PDT

  •  as usual, i would say (5+ / 0-)

    dems can make a big difference if they finally challenge the talk radio megaphone that allows GOP corporate to create national and local made to order constituencies for or against any purpose by managing what shows up on the radio talkers' desks every morning.

    Progressives will lose all major messaging battles until they picket the limbaugh/hannity megastations and boycott those stations' local sponsors.

    by certainot on Sun Mar 20, 2011 at 07:12:01 PM PDT

  •  Otero County, CO Republican Party (0+ / 0-)

    just got fined $50,000 for not filing their reports since 2007.  It made the front page of our local paper last week. :D

    The Larimer County GOP got fined big time apparently because their chair didn't pick up their mail.
  •  I Like Your Palst Paragraph -They Could Be Chinese (3+ / 0-)
    So there you have it. A political campaign where all the functions of a political campaign are outsourced to corporations who are friendly to oil and gas interests. Not only that they can make unlimited donations in secret. We don't even know if they're Americans. For example, it could be the Chinese undermining our alternative energy industry. So, it comes as no surprise when Cory Gardner chooses between his patrons and his constituents who gets the goldmine and who gets the shaft.
    Yep it could be the Chinese, it could be the Arabs (gee yah think?) it could be the Russian mafia.
    •  Wikileaks (0+ / 0-)

      This needs to be one of their targets.  If they could get copies of the Thugs records and find out who is financing besides the Koch boys it would be a bombshell for the next election.

      The party of No is well on their way to becoming the party of nobody. Alan Grayson

      by Leftleaner on Sun Mar 20, 2011 at 10:10:36 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Corporatists don't need boundaries (0+ / 0-)

      To them, the boundaries are corporate, not political. That's why NAFTA was the monstrous victory that it was for corporatism in general. NAFTA goes a long way toward making political boundaries irrelevant. The Dow, Goldman, the banks, and the energy industry, among others, would all agree.

      We are watching the corporate takeover of the United States.

  •  It would be helpful to know... (0+ / 0-)

    Which individuals, specifically, are members of the "Tea Party groups"? Who are they, where are they from, what do they do to make a living, and how are they being paid to do what they do?

    No one seems to know how many or just who it is who makes up the Tea Party, and who are the spokespeople for these groups, AND-- who is giving them money?

    It's always... "Tea Party activist" or "Tea Party" spokesperson.

    There's a mechanism behind the Tea Party "Movement". There are people behind the scenes who are financing and engineering "Tea Party" events, and Tea Party campaigns. There's big money behind them. Who are the Tea Party activists who are speaking to the media, what are their backgrounds, who are their present employers, and who is giving money to keep them focused?

    Journalism, anyone?

  •  Could you kindly explain... (0+ / 0-)

    Could you kindly explain or help me understand where this nationwide strategy for eliminating public employee unions, especially teachers, emanated?

    I'm looking for fingerprints but i don't know where to look. However, the pattern is now obvious so we should be able to identify the finger prints, funding resources, lines of communication and trace all to their source(s).

    Who developed the strategy and when?
    Who funded it?
    Who organized it?
    Who taught the model?
    Who decided now is the moment?
    Who developed the messaging?
    Who is communicating strategy to the states every day?
    Who is sustaining it?

    This obviously is not an overnight event. Mitch Daniels started several years ago, and Walker is merely an ambitious follower not a leader. Kasich held back - perhaps too long - to be a pioneer.

    •  The Messaging Game (0+ / 0-)

      Is run by a bunch of non-profits who may not be behind an electoral run. A good place to research is which documents the interlocking boards of the "think tanks". All the global warming denialist, hyper-liberterian, religious right, anti-science, anti-GLBT organization are related. In fact, it goes back to the 40s and 50s when rich donors such as George Pepperdine convinced evangelicals that they should depend on them rather than the government to educate their children. While the goals of the followers are varied, the goals of the leaders are unified: decrease government regulation and taxation of corporations. You must not only look at when the corporatists have been recently successful, though. I'll close with an example of a "tea party" from August 2001!

      The John Locke Foundation and Citizens for a Sound Economy are Koch front groups. The latter is now known by the more familiar name, FreedomWorks.

      •  thanks! (0+ / 0-)

        I've been busy with a medical device startup so I can't spread my time too thin digging.

        I saw these people face-to-face during the "healthcare debate" (sic) and instantly discovered that we who actually knew the facts, US model vs international numbers, worked with international healthcare systems, etc. literally were being silenced by the well funded know-nothings.  

        Interesting that a group that chose the name John Locke Foundation should be involved as they really do prefer to punish anyone who is less than wealthy.

  •  Campaigning corporation (0+ / 0-)

    When you have a corporation doing the campaigning for a politician, then donatino disclosures don't matter.

    My company will do a direct mail piece for you for $1 plus the cost of postage. How can we make a profit like that? Well, ous stockholders would rahter take a loss on you campaign than make a reported donation.

    Corporations are people; money is speech.
    1984 - George Orwell

    by Frank Palmer on Mon Mar 21, 2011 at 10:12:00 AM PDT

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