CORALVILLE, Iowa– Yesterday, Blog for Iowa reported that there would be a counter protest to the Americans for Prosperity (AFP) event at the Coralville Holiday Inn. Since our party chair wanted to talk to me on another matter, and he was participating, I decided to spend an hour holding a sign protesting the explosion of corporate money in the political process after the Citizens United Supreme Court decision. The Koch Brothers are the founders of AFP, so the hubbub about Joe the Plumber, Senator Rand Paul and Representative Steve King attending drew me off the campaign trail for a while. I was not disappointed.
First, Joe the Plumber called off. We did not hear why, just that he was not coming. We were told Paul and King did arrive, and the assembled group would be viewing the latest attack ad about President Obama. There were three Johnson County Democrats, the two of us in the photo and a young female college student who took the photo. Emily Schettler of the Iowa City Press Citizen was covering the event and interviewed the three of us before going inside. Her account is here. IMHO she does good work, but then I admire people beginning a career in the fifth estate.
Schettler pointed to what many of us have heard, that AFP “bills itself as a grassroots movement.” What we know is they are more astro-turf, founded by the Koch Brothers, a wealthy pair of Republicans, and their money. They claim to be non-partisan, but everyone who believes that stand on your head.
I hailed a local conservative blogger making his way inside. I had not seen him since the two of us appeared on Talking with… Yale Cohn back in October 2010. He looked at me, said he was not a billionaire (referring to my sign) and went inside. He did not make time to chat, maybe his astro-turf dreams lived on, but I wouldn’t know much about that since he had little to say in person.
Next came a gent who said he came because he was a friend of the organizer. He had some issues with the Des Moines Register, the Iowa City Press Citizen and NBC, but I was not sure why he was telling us about these corporate media outlets. I don’t think he knew I was a blogger. He said something about the Constitution, tried to pick on the young student (who held her own), and when I asked him to tell us more about himself, he said he was going inside.
After a few minutes, we decided that the attendance would not be much more and headed across the parking lot to leave. Two people wearing name tags, presumably hotel staff, hailed us from across the parking lot. We couldn’t hear, so the three of us walked back across the asphalt to talk. They asked what we were doing there. I said we were protesting the AFP event, but were finished. Apparently someone had made an issue of our protest inside. Like many things with the Republicans, they catch on… too little, too late.
~ Paul Deaton is an occasional contributor to Blog for Iowa.