Anti-Tea Party website linked to union funds

Rick Moran
The fact that TheTeaPartyIsOver.com website was funded by organized labor is not surprise. Bloggers had ferreted out the information that the site was backed by the SEIU within hours of its first appearance last month.

But Joseph Abrams of Fox News has dug a little deeper and uncovered a massive astroturf effort by several large labor unions to attack the tea party movement, and fund ads for Democrats in competitive states and districts:

"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 pure sleight of hand with dummy offices set up for bogus "grass roots" organizations that turn out to be interconnected 527 groups who raise millions from SEIU, the Teamsters, the Communications Workers of America, and the biggest contributor of all - AFSCME. Taxpayer monies paid to AFSCME employees go to dues which are then used to fund partisan political activities.

There ought to be a law but there isn't.

The list of 527's are innocuous sounding enough - "Bluegrass Majority" and "Pioneer Freedom Fund" - except they are cut outs for big labor to influence elections and public opinion. Monies are transferred freely between the fake organizations to further muddy the waters and cover the trail.

And it's all run by two guys and their lawyer - a long time general counsel of the Democratic National Committee.





The fact that TheTeaPartyIsOver.com website was funded by organized labor is not surprise. Bloggers had ferreted out the information that the site was backed by the SEIU within hours of its first appearance last month.

But Joseph Abrams of Fox News has dug a little deeper and uncovered a massive astroturf effort by several large labor unions to attack the tea party movement, and fund ads for Democrats in competitive states and districts:

"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 pure sleight of hand with dummy offices set up for bogus "grass roots" organizations that turn out to be interconnected 527 groups who raise millions from SEIU, the Teamsters, the Communications Workers of America, and the biggest contributor of all - AFSCME. Taxpayer monies paid to AFSCME employees go to dues which are then used to fund partisan political activities.

There ought to be a law but there isn't.

The list of 527's are innocuous sounding enough - "Bluegrass Majority" and "Pioneer Freedom Fund" - except they are cut outs for big labor to influence elections and public opinion. Monies are transferred freely between the fake organizations to further muddy the waters and cover the trail.

And it's all run by two guys and their lawyer - a long time general counsel of the Democratic National Committee.