AFP president: Reid tries to 'silence and intimidate' Americans
February 27th, 2014
04:51 PM ET
7 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. rs

    "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,"
    _____________
    But it must be certainly fine for the Kochs to buy $1 billion is fact-free ads against the ACA, or flood Republican causers with millions and millions of dollars to buy elections, or fund crackpot politicos. The Kochs are a wee bit more than mere citizens- they OWN the GOP.

    February 27, 2014 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  2. Lynda/Minnesota

    @ Rudy

    I had to LOL at the end of your DM4O re: smith comment. Kudos.

    February 27, 2014 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  3. Silence DoGood

    There is a lot money being spent and schemes being hatched and angry talk and threats from clowns like this to attack a program that is going to fail on its own. Think about it. Or if that conservative lie dead now? What is the next one?

    February 27, 2014 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  4. Sniffit

    ""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 "

    He called you liars because the story being told was fact-checked and found to be very untrue. No "state action" has been taken to "silence" anyone. Politicians are allowed to call people liars when they lie. Maybe if you stopped trying to fabricate untrue horror stories about the ACA, you wouldn't be at risk of being called the liars that you are. It has happened numerous times now that people like AFP, Hannity, et al, have paraded a group of people in front of the Amurikan public to tell horror stories about the ACA that are subsequently proven completely full of crap. Enough is enough.

    February 27, 2014 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  5. ThinkAgain: Don't like Congress? Get rid of the majority repub/tea bag members

    What's scary and intimidating is how the AFP wants to buy elections – and thanks to Citizens United, they have the ability to do so.

    February 27, 2014 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  6. Sniffit

    "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.""

    Another completely unsupportable lie. The data simply doesn't support that claim in any way shape or form. Regulations create jobs. Deny it all you want, but it's true. They create the need for consultants, attorneys, all sorts of people from all sorts of professions. Moreover, specific job creation programs have clearly created more jobs. Heck, Obama's created millions of jobs during his presidency, but this conservative ideologue paid-to-lie dillhole just doesn't want to admit it unless it's a white conservative plutocrat in the WH doing the same things Obama's done.

    February 27, 2014 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  7. Sniffit

    "What's scary and intimidating is how the AFP wants to buy elections – and thanks to Citizens United, they have the ability to do so."

    And you can be sure CNN and the rest of the MSM send them thank you letters for all the ad revenue.

    February 27, 2014 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  8. Lynda/Minnesota

    "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."

    No. They will not be intimidated. Quite the reverse: they intimidate.

    February 27, 2014 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  9. just asking

    ThinkAgain: Don't like Congress? Get rid of the majority repub/tea bag members
    What's scary and intimidating is how the AFP wants to buy elections – and thanks to Citizens United, they have the ability to do so.
    --

    but george soros and the unions buying elections for the democrats is ok right?

    February 27, 2014 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  10. Gurgyl

    Koch brothers have created jobs in China, India, Philippines, etc. Yes, this guy is right. Not in USA. Folks, if you care for USA–don't go thru self-check-outs. They take away jobs–greed.

    February 27, 2014 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  11. Sniffit

    "We do want to make sure Obamacare is the number one issue in the country,""

    It's not and hasn't been for a very long time. Loudest complaining =/= top concern.

    February 27, 2014 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  12. smith

    Dominican mama 4 Obama

    smith
    Ah. You missed it smith.
    I was wrapping up our little exchange from the Teatards 5th anniversary.
    I am aware that you call yourself an independent.
    I'm with whoever is trying to help our country.
    It just so happens that at this point in our history the Republicans are not those people

    Lol..ok ok..Enjoy the rest of your Thursday,be well, and I've got to get to my Law & Order..:)

    February 27, 2014 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  13. Lolo

    He definitely has it backwards. No one intimidates Americans more than the republican/Tea Party Klan. They prey on the old people and the old people prey on the young people of their party. You cannot be judge, jury and executionor all at once, but the GOP/TP Klan do not see it. The nerve of them trying to block gay people in Arizona with that BS bill. Brewer knew what was the best descision or she was going to lose her job. People please wake up. They are counting on people not turning out for the mid-term elections. Come rain or shine and vote. We voted President Obama in twice because we came out in full force and we can di it again in full force to vote the crazies out of the house. They need to go. All of them are on an ego trip.Vote out the crazy gop/tea party Klan!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    February 27, 2014 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  14. Sniffit

    It's a very VERY simple recipe:

    Take 1 sick person under severe physical, emotional, mental and FINANCIAL duress.
    Offer to pay their medical bills by handing them a large check for doing an anti-ACA commercial.
    Make said payment conditional upon a script full of lies.
    Shake.
    Garnish with ideological frippery.
    Serve to the MSM with a side of advertising revenue as a bribe to deter any critical analysis of the substance of the person's claims.

    February 27, 2014 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  15. Tommy G

    Sniffit
    -–
    ""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 "
    -–
    No "state action" has been taken to "silence" anyone.
    -–

    I'm sure now that Harry Reid has painted a big target on them all of the liberals and Democrats in the IRS, FBI, DEA, ATF, FDA, OSHA, etc. will be knocking on their door for audits, inspections, and a general mugging, just the TEA Party got. This is exactly what happened when Democrat Senators stated the TEA Party needed to be investigated.

    This is the way the corrupt and criminal Democrat Party operates.

    February 27, 2014 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  16. Sniffit

    "but george soros and the unions buying elections for the democrats is ok right?"

    Oh give it a rest. Every argument we're making against the money in politics, Citizen United and the plutocratic policies the GOP/Teatrolls are pushing would apply to unions and Soros just as equally to everyone else. The Citizens United decision applied quite specifically to unions, not just giant corporations, so it's 100% clear you're just full of feces with your constant attempts to try to manufacture a hypocrisy argument about this.

    February 27, 2014 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
  17. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Sniffit, I give you credit for reading through all this filth. I find I can't stomach it ... but you are a gem to do so
    -------------------------------------------------
    Lynda allow me to co-sign that post.
    These folks can rake it out of you.

    February 27, 2014 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  18. Sniffit

    "I'm sure now that Harry Reid has painted a big target on them all of the liberals and Democrats in the IRS, FBI, DEA, ATF, FDA, OSHA, etc. will be knocking on their door for audits, inspections, and a general mugging, just the TEA Party got. This is exactly what happened when Democrat Senators stated the TEA Party needed to be investigated."

    You're supposed to wear the tinfoil hat, not smoke it.

    February 27, 2014 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  19. it must be said

    It is truly hilarious that the Democrat Party that lied and conned the American people for years about Obamacare has the gall to call others liars when they report on all of the damage this train wreck is doing to people every day.

    Democrats are doubling down on their lies, even after a majority of Americans don't believe them and trust them. Yes, the smell of desperation is in the air. But they did it all themselves so they need look no further than the mirror, and to the White House, for the people to blame for their demise in November.

    February 27, 2014 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  20. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    smith
    Lol..ok ok..Enjoy the rest of your Thursday,be well, and I've got to get to my Law & Order..:)
    -------------------------------------------------
    Somethings we have in common a sense of humor and Law and Order!
    Thanks for the good wishes the very best to you as well smith :).

    February 27, 2014 05:43 pm at 5:43 pm |
  21. Harold Read

    Sorry Senator Reid, in regards to lies and Obamacare, "You can keep your policy. Period." won Obama the 2013 Lie of the Year.

    Term limits need to be set for all (Rep and Dem) Congress-persons.

    February 27, 2014 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  22. Javier

    Obama – you can keep your health plan. You can keep your doctor.
    Reid – if you got canceled and your new insurance completely stinks due to my legislation – then you are a liar.
    These deliberate, lying liberal idiots should be put in Jail. Obama for perjury to 600 million Americans on public TV.

    February 27, 2014 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  23. LacrosseMom

    The AFP is a joke! They do not speak for Americans....... but for SOME Americans, a small angry, bigoted, fear mongering minority!

    They are terrified that in the end Americans will LOVE the ACA because it will SAVE LIVES!

    February 27, 2014 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  24. smith

    @Rudy-I was just throwing in my 2 cents. I think Tom l can think for himself and will draw his own conclusions. Implying the man can't think for himself is a show of poor judgement of charcter on your part.

    February 27, 2014 05:51 pm at 5:51 pm |
  25. More bad news..

    Just keep on hoping for more "Hope & Change".......
    Reid and his pack of liars – and FYI Obama got the "Liar of the Year" award for 2013 from Politifact, nice party you got there, but it's really the Republicans fault, right? They must have made him lie.........look up "Harry Reid Lies" and see what you get returned, then sift through them and figure out what's real and what's partisan – in the end, it's just another dirty politician playing games with our tax money.
    Love how everyone says "my party is better than yours"......keep on believing that, see how far that gets you in real life.

    February 27, 2014 05:52 pm at 5:52 pm |
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