By Mary Bottari on July 25, 2014

-- by Mary Bottari and Sean Hoey

Generation Opportunity (Gen Opp), a "nonpartisan" youth group funded by the Koch brothers "Freedom Partners" conduit, is backing one of the Koch's favorite politicians and thanking him for his support for a Koch-approved ALEC model bill.

The Arlington, Virginia, astroturf group recently asked Wisconsinites to sign a petition thanking Governor Scott Walker for signing "The CASE for Jobs Act." The tweets signal that the group is trying to capture names in Wisconsin perhaps for use in the election cycle. As CMD previously reported, the group has been spending big money in federal races for the U.S. Senate.

The tweets from @GenOppWI went viral on Twitter, but not for the reasons the group would have hoped. Rather, Wisconsinites reacted viscerally to the call to thank Wisconsin's governor for making progress on jobs.

"@GenOppWI Is this a joke?" was one of the milder and more common responses pouring into the Gen Opp account, prompting one Walker supporter to lament, "I can't believe the negative replies."

Wisconsinites Aren't Buying Gen Opp Spin on Jobs

Gen Opp signaled its support for Walker by thanking him "for giving our generation an opportunity to build our own future." How are Wisconsin youth building their future? Apparently by "crowdfunding" capital.

Just a few months before the election, Gen Opp has begun peddling a petition to thank Walker for signing the CASE for Jobs Act, which he signed into law eight months ago. The bill in question was co-authored by Wisconsin ALEC members Rep. David Craig, Rep. Chad Weininger, and State Senator Leah Vukmir. Vukmir, an ALEC Board Member, was sued by the Center for Media and Democracy for failure to respond to our open records requests. The state attorney general settled the case with CMD in 2014, paying penalties and fees.

Drafting documents obtained by CMD reveal that the CASE Act was modeled on a North Carolina bill, the "Jump-Start Our Business Start-Ups Act" (JOBS Act). It, too, was introduced by a passel of ALEC politicians, including Kelly Hastings, Tom Murry, and Tim Moffitt. So it's not surprising that the bill then moved to ALEC and became ALEC's Local Investment Made Easy (LIME) Act, which was on the ALEC agenda in Kansas City in April 2014. It was approved as a "model" by ALEC's board, which includes Koch Industries, on July 1, 2014. Under the bill businesses are granted exemptions from state securities law and allowed to raise as much as $1 million from investors without an audited financial statement and up to $2 million with an audit (what could go wrong?). In case that was not worrisome enough, the Wisconsin version lowers the threshold to be an accredited investor. The Milwaukee Business Journal raised concerns that the changes would create risk for unsophisticated investors.

Although the bill passed long ago, Gen Opp is trotting it out again to foster the notion that Walker is busy on the jobs front. In June 2014, CMD did an analysis that showed that the Wisconsin Economic Development Authority, Walker's flagship jobs agency which he chairs, had only created 5,800 jobs in the past three years. During the same period Wisconsin's WARN database indicates that 13,000 jobs were lost to plant closings and mass layoffs. Federal data puts Wisconsin in the 37th spot of all 50 states for new job creation and dead last among its Midwestern neighbors in job creation.

But the facts haven't stopped the Koch spin machine. Koch's American's for Prosperity Group recently spent nearly $900,000 on another round of TV ads sticking to their old mantra regarding the Walker agenda -- "It's Working!" after spending millions on the same message during Walker's 2012 recall election. And, a Koch-controlled foundation helped underwrite ALEC's "Rich States, Poor States" report which pumped up Wisconsin's purported economic grade despite the state's actually dismal economic performance. In 2010, Koch Industries PAC contributed $43,000 to Walker's campaign directly.

Wisconsinites who've had the misfortune of living through Walker's divisive and ineffective economic policies, were quick to respond to the Gen Opp spin with snark, facts and outrage, as can be seen below.

Bankrolled by Billionaires

As PR Watch reported earlier this month, Gen Opp launched a massive, nearly $2.3 million ad buy against Senators Kay Hagan (D-NC), Mary Landrieu (D-LA), and Mark Udall (D-CO) – all vulnerable Democrats in tough reelection fights that could determine the control of the U.S. Senate in the next session. Its support for Walker shows it will now be weighing into state races, too.

Where does Gen Opp get all this cash?

In 2012, Gen Opp received $5 million from Freedom Partners, a key part of the Koch political apparatus which raised some $256 million for the 2012 election cycle from deep pocketed donors many of whom have donated a million dollars or more to the Koch network in response to appeals from the Kochs at their donor retreats. It was almost a year after that election that tax filings first revealed the existence of Freedom Partners, which is stocked with Koch operatives, had bankrolled almost the entirety of the "grassroots" opposition to "Obamacare." Gen Opp also received over $2 million from TC4 Trust another Koch-tied conduit in 2012.

Stay tuned.

It is early days for Gen Opp, and analysts anticipate they are likely to jump into more states where hot races are looming this fall.

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I love those Koch Brothers.....

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By Wendell Berry

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more 
of everything ready made. Be afraid 
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery 
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card 
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something 
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know. 
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord. 
Love the world. Work for nothing. 
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it. 
Denounce the government and embrace 
the flag. Hope to live in that free 
republic for which it stands. 
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man 
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers. 
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.


Say that the leaves are harvested 
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus 
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion—put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come. 
Expect the end of the world. Laugh. 
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts. 
So long as women do not go cheap 
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy 
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep 
of a woman near to giving birth? 
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head 
in her lap. Swear allegiance 
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos 
can predict the motions of your mind, 
lose it. Leave it as a sign 
to mark the false trail, the way 
you didn’t go. Be like the fox 
who makes more tracks than necessary, 
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Wendell Berry is a poet, farmer, and environmentalist in Kentucky. This poem, first published in 1973, is reprinted by permission of the author and appears in his “New Collected Poems” (Counterpoint).

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