AFP president: Reid tries to 'silence and intimidate' Americans
February 27th, 2014
04:51 PM ET
6 months ago

AFP president: Reid tries to 'silence and intimidate' Americans

Washington (CNN) - One day after Senate Majority Harry Reid repeatedly attacked the conservative billionaire activists, the Koch brothers, and their well-financed conservative organization Americans for Prosperity, the head of that group, Tim Phillips, said Reid is using scare tactics against detractors.

"For a politician to try and silence and intimidate an American citizen solely because they don't like the facts that are coming out and the story they are telling says more about the politician than it says about Americans for Prosperity," Phillips told CNN in a sit-down interview near his office in Arlington, Virginia Thursday morning.

Americans for Prosperity is an influential conservative organization that is working, in part, to unseat Democrats in local and federal races across the country. The organization is largely bank-rolled by energy and manufacturing titans Charles and David Koch, commonly referred to as the Koch brothers.

In two separate speeches on the Senate floor Wednesday, Reid attacked the Koch brothers as being "un-American," having "no conscience," and that the "vast majority" of their political advertisements are untrue.

"The irony," Phillips said, "is that David and Charles Koch have created more prosperity for Americans in the form of jobs… in one year than Harry Reid and his ilk on the left in Congress have created in decades with their big government policies."

AFP has been a serious impediment to Democrats for at least the past two election cycles. This year, Phillips pledges to spend "a substantial" amount of money this year defeating members of Congress – all Democrats – who voted for the Affordable Care Act in 2010.

That could mean a lot of money. Phillips declined to say how much, but noted that in 2012 elections, AFP spent a whopping $130 million dollars against Obama and Democratic candidates. It's an incredible amount of money but it's paltry to the Koch's empire that is estimated to be worth tens of billions of dollars.

So far this year, the group has spent "a hair" over $30 million running radio, TV and digital ads in numerous states, including Alaska, North Carolina, Louisiana, Arkansas, and West Virginia – all states with vulnerable Democrats.

Vice President Joe Biden said the Koch vault worries naturally worries Democrats, who are at risk of losing control of the Senate. But Biden attempted to raise Democrats' optimism at the Democratic National Committee's winter meeting.

"I'm still one of these guys who believes money can't buy an election when you're selling a bad set of goods," Biden said.

The ad that caused Reid to publicly lash out is one that is running in Michigan, specifically targeting Democratic Rep. Gary Peters who is running to keep an open Senate seat in party hands.

The emotionally griping 60-second ad features Julie Boonstra, who has leukemia, saying she had "a great health care plan" before Obamacare forced her into a new health insurance plan.

"The out of pocket costs are so high, it's unaffordable," Boonstra said in the ad.

Directly addressing Rep. Peters, Boonstra said, "Your decision to vote for Obamacare jeopardized my health."

That ad prompted Reid to take to the Senate floor in two separate occasions to call out the Koch franchise. "You see, when you make billions of dollars a year, you can be as immoral and dishonest as your money will allow you to be," he said.

Phillips, the long-time conservative political power player who has run AFP since 2004, said he is "very comfortable" with Boonstra's personal account.

While he would not say how AFP found Boonstra or heard of her story, he said they didn't give Boonstra, or others featured in similar ads, pre-written scripts, but they turn the camera on and let them talk about their experience with Obamacare.

Multiple fact checkers looked into the ad and concluded that it had problems. The Washington Post's fact checker "raised serious questions about her allegations," pointing out that Boonstra's monthly premiums decreased from more than $1000 per month to about $500 per month. While her out of pocket expenses are higher than under her previous plan, her new Obamacare plan has an annual cap on spending that taps out at just over $6,000, much lower than her previous plan.

While Boonstra said in the add that her new Obamacare plan provides "unaffordable" coverage, Phillips clarified Thursday, saying that her lower premiums and higher out of pocket costs leads to unpredictability. While leaving some months financially manageable, medical expenses of other months could become unaffordable, he said of her new plan that is barely two-months in.

While people say the ad is misleading, Phillips said "Obama lied."

Philips said AFP hasn't been nearly as misleading as President Obama has been; Obama lied, Phillips said.

He pointed to Obama's claim that people can keep their health insurance, noting that it was rated the "lie of the year" from Politifact in 2013.

"Sometimes we like their Pinocchio's," Phillips said, referring to the grading scale the Washington Post gives. But in the case of the Boonstra ad, "we don't really buy them."

Phillips also addressed other criticism, but this one was coming from a Republican.

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal told the Washington Post in an interview published Wednesday that making 2014 solely a referendum on Obamacare is "a mistake" and that the Republican Party needs to also offer new ideas.

"There's always people giving their analysis, and they're entitled to it," Phillips responded.

He has no plans of taking Jindal's advice. "We do want to make sure Obamacare is the number one issue in the country," Phillips said. "We want the senators who are up this year to have to explain that vote and to explain the ongoing impact of the law."

He has the backing to do it.

"We're very proud to have their support," he said of the Koch brothers. "We are going to keep doing this. We're not going to be intimidated."

soundoff (71 Responses)
  1. Jeff Brown in Jersey

    Look at this tool. Just the kind of weasel who would sell his soul for a Koch nickel. Pathetic.

    February 27, 2014 08:48 pm at 8:48 pm |
  2. Slotiac

    Reid is an enemy of the US, and needs to be sent over to the nearest rest home-he's senile.IMHO

    February 27, 2014 08:59 pm at 8:59 pm |
  3. S. B. Stein

    I find the fact that Koch brothers don't bother putting their name on their speech questionable. Why don't they go on the air and tell the American people what they believe and why people should believe what they do. If they did that, then I would have less of a problem with them. They are still doing what is wrong for the country.

    February 27, 2014 09:19 pm at 9:19 pm |
  4. CaliforniaAC

    Intimidate Americans? You mean those bought and paid for by the Koch brothers to spout lies that have been debunked.

    February 27, 2014 10:20 pm at 10:20 pm |
  5. wendel

    more bad news you really are. That's why repos cant get elected. They talk trash instead of having ideas.

    February 27, 2014 10:20 pm at 10:20 pm |
  6. jan53

    Reid is a professional liar.

    February 27, 2014 10:28 pm at 10:28 pm |
  7. Bubba

    They say "money talks", and in the case of "conservatives", money will just not shut up. There is no end to their self serving bull.

    February 27, 2014 10:30 pm at 10:30 pm |
  8. Norma jean

    This is silly but every time I look at those arrogant Koch Bros. I say to myself that at least I have something they don't have................I have my own teeth!!!!....I told you it was silly but.....true!!!!!!

    February 27, 2014 10:49 pm at 10:49 pm |
  9. jerrylax

    the deems must really be running scared when their leader stands before the senate and tells a bold face lie like that….weird. But then, you can keep your health plan if you wish.

    February 27, 2014 11:18 pm at 11:18 pm |
  10. grimice84

    First of all, he did not won Liar of the year" but the phrase "you can keep your doctor" won lie of the year. If your going to cite something at least make sure its accurate.

    Second, the Koch brothers received their money from their father. Their father earned his money by selling oil information to Joseph Stalin. So basically they made their billions by helping Americas enemy at the time!

    Third, it is a good idea to get the money out of politics on both sides.

    February 27, 2014 11:26 pm at 11:26 pm |
  11. J.V.Hodgson

    Para graphs 2and 5 of this post by CNN are quotes from a guy representing the Koch's and are exactly as Harry Reid portrayed them as not selling the whole truth and nothing but the truth in their ads Boonstra a prime example and the jobs claim. M y god under Obama 6,000.000 recovered if Kochs had been responsible for more we would have zero unemployment.
    What gets worse about todays journalism you neither critique what's quoted or report the facts against such outlandish claims.
    That's not reporting that's cow towing.
    Regards,
    Hodgson.

    February 27, 2014 11:48 pm at 11:48 pm |
  12. Tim

    The corruption and evil coming from Obama, Reid, Pelosi, and their cronies is appalling. America deserves better.

    February 27, 2014 11:57 pm at 11:57 pm |
  13. Roger

    "We will not be intimidated." ?? Not even by the Koch Boys ?

    February 28, 2014 12:57 am at 12:57 am |
  14. Anonymous

    Reid is like the darth palpatine of the democrats. Some modern day dark wizard dude. Behind some of the worst governance policies period. This guy voting and encouraging some of the most disgraceful legislation and problems. He's had his seat for far too long. Vote him out at all costs or force him to retire. Let him just go back to living his luxurious life as a private citizen and hopefully do better in that realm.

    February 28, 2014 03:01 am at 3:01 am |
  15. Anonymous

    The Kokk brothers shoould have their assets frozen and be tried for treason....

    February 28, 2014 03:39 am at 3:39 am |
  16. Marie MD

    This from the party that thinks of pregnant women as "hosts" (Steve Martin – R – VA) with no personal rights.
    Keep it up teaklans. The more you talk the worst it's for you.

    February 28, 2014 04:40 am at 4:40 am |
  17. croaton999

    Americans need to make Harry Reid a minority leader this fall. How many lies is lies enough?

    February 28, 2014 06:11 am at 6:11 am |
  18. NATHAN WIMBERLY

    HILARIOUS watching Guns Over People tea potty wingnuts whine as they walk the plank toward another November. They can run(voter ID) but they can't hide from the American people.

    February 28, 2014 07:01 am at 7:01 am |
  19. Name jk. Sfl. GOP CRUZ lee&rubio 24billion dallar LOSS of your tax money conservatives,the garbage of America.

    The Koch brothers are the garbage and sewage of America with their sewage pipe from Canada TAR SANDS that only benifits THEM and their oil company and CHINA.

    February 28, 2014 07:18 am at 7:18 am |
  20. Anonymous

    Like the Koch brothers would have to worry about anything happening from Reid. They're too powerful.

    February 28, 2014 07:21 am at 7:21 am |
  21. salty dog

    Harry's right, and they know it.

    February 28, 2014 07:25 am at 7:25 am |
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