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High-Profile Tennessee Republicans Lash Out at Koch Brothers Group: 'We're Aggravated By It'

May 6, 2015 in Blogs

By Zaid Jilani, AlterNet

More signs of a growing revolt within the GOP against the billionaire brothers' out-sized influence?

The Koch Brothers are America's most powerful siblings, heavily funding both political campaigns and a network of right-wing propaganda. They reportedly plan to spend up to a billion dollars on the 2016 election. But there are signs the Kochs' influence is starting to produce a backlash even in the Republican Party they finance.

Over the past few months, a group of Tennessee Republicans led by the state's governor Bill Haslam, tried to use federal Medicaid dollars to expand the number of people covered by health insurance. They narrowly failed, and much of the failure has been blamed on intense activism by Americans For Prosperity (AFP), a group financed by the Kochs.

In a long article published by The Tennessean, a series of high-profile Republicans finally lashed out at AFP, decrying its disproportionate influence over the state's politics.

First, there's Tom Ingram, top political adviser to Haslam:

Still, long-time political consultant Tom Ingram, Haslam's top political adviser, said what happened is also Exhibit A for outside groups' growing influence on state politics and state government.

“To some degree the same thing is going on nationwide,” said Ingram, who blames the U.S. Supreme Court's 2010 Citizens United decision that removed restrictions on independent political campaign spending by nonprofit organizations and corporations.[...]

“They (AFP) have a full-time staff, they've poured in a lot of money indirectly and directly,” said Ingram, who was registered to lobby last session for a pro-Insure Tennessee business group. “It's largely to push whatever agenda they have and influence, frankly, our elected officials, our issues, disproportionately more than any of us as individual voters can. “I find something out of whack about that,” Ingram added.

Ingram followed up by saying even if the Tennessee GOP isn't “intimidated” by AFP, it's at least “aggravated” by it. Meanwhile, Tennesee's House Majority Leader said AFP represents a small group of people and donors, and isn't a broad organization representing his state:

House Majority Leader Gerald McCormick, R-Chattanooga, who sponsored Insure Tennessee, said he felt AFP …read more


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