The liberal organization, People for the American Way (PFAW), published a laughable smear earlier this week attacking a conservative group as being “Koch-funded” and “targeting Hispanic voters” as an exposé. It was laughable as an exposé because the information about the Koch connection has been publicly available for years.
The PFAW article is labeled as a “new report” that “exposes” the LIBRE Initiative, a nonpartisan organization that promotes free market principles and economic freedom in the Hispanic community, receives funding from organizations affiliated with the Koch Brothers and is targeting Hispanic voters.
The ridiculous thing is that this information is neither new nor secret. LIBRE’s affiliations with Charles and David Koch’s financial network have been public knowledge for years, and their outreach to the Hispanic community has always been their stated goal since their founding. From a January 17, 2014 Yahoo News article titled “Koch-affiliated group ramps up Hispanic outreach”:
LIBRE is not a new group — it was founded in 2011 and conducted similar programs on a smaller scale around last year’s presidential elections — but it is currently implementing a wide-ranging outreach initiative that began late last year. The organization has funding ties to Charles and David Koch’s donor network and is led by Daniel Garza, a former White House aide to President George W. Bush…
The organization is part of a sprawling network of advocacy groups coordinated in part by the Koch brothers, who support a variety of philanthropic and political causes. Through the vast web of conservative and libertarian donor programs, which received a thorough examination recently by the Washington Post and the Center for Responsive Politics, LIBRE has received $3.8 million in funding from the Koch-affiliated Freedom Partners and TC4 Trust, which provide grants to free-market nonprofit groups. LIBRE’s Arlington, Va., headquarters also shares a floor in the same office building as Freedom Partners.
The article also describes in detail LIBRE’s efforts to reach out to voters during that election year, including advertising strategies and organizing grassroots volunteers to phone bank and campaign door-to-door.
Even before the Yahoo News article, there was an April 30, 2013 New York Times article, “Koch Brothers Plan More Political Involvement for Their Conservative Network,” that contained this information:
And much like other conservative groups, those in the Koch network are preparing new initiatives aimed at Hispanic voters, who they believe will be attracted to a small-government message unburdened by the hard-edged social conservatism that hamstrung Republican candidates in several critical races last year.
Many of those efforts will emanate from the Libre Initiative, a Hispanic-oriented conservative group for which the Koch network plans to expand financing this year.
And then there was this April 26, 2013 Huffington Post piece, “New Koch Brothers Group Revamps Billionaires’ Dark Money Operation,” that also had the information about LIBRE’s Koch affiliations:
In the last few years, the Koch donor network has stepped up its financial backing for a few Hispanic and women’s groups that take conservative stances on lower taxes and less regulation, efforts that should increase given the GOP’s poor 2012 results with these constituencies. Among those groups receiving money from the Koch donor network, GOP operatives say, are Concerned Women for America and the Libre Initiative, which was launched by Dan Garza, a former White House aide under President George W. Bush.
In fact, LIBRE’s association with the Koch network was covered in the media as early as 2011, the year they were founded. From Politico on October 10, 2011, an article titled “Karl Rove vs. the Koch brothers,” which discussed how different conservative groups were planning to target voters during the 2012 election cycle:
They also have spent big on seemingly competing infrastructure. The networks recently launched similar initiatives to woo Hispanic voters. And their allies are spending millions to build dueling voter files to help their respective camps get out the vote…
The two sides have also mounted seemingly competing initiatives to target Latino voters. The Libre Initiative, a recently formed Hispanic-voter targeting effort, was funded by one of the Kochs’ foundations, according to a video on its website…
Dan Garza, the GOP operative running the Libre Initiative, said he hasn’t spoken with the other groups but didn’t see them as competitors.
Essentially, PFAW is claiming to have a new “exposé” that exposes little more than information that was publicly available in 2011, partially due to information that LIBRE itself posted on its website or was discussed by its representatives in media interviews.
Breitbart Texas reached out to LIBRE’s Executive Director, Daniel Garza, for comment on this story. “It takes a lot of gall to write something like that and present it as an exposé,” said Garza, who described PFAW’s report as “condescending” and “ridiculous on its face.”
What is happening here, according to Garza, is that the Left is threatened by groups like LIBRE who are reaching out to Hispanic voters, and doing so successfully. A recent NBC News op-ed described efforts by the Right to reach out to Hispanics, and singled out LIBRE for praise:
A great source of private funding is coming from the Koch Brothers with their support of The Libre Initiative. The Arizona Chapter of Libre, which has planted its office near a majority-Latino high school in Mesa, AZ offers English classes that fill the room with eager immigrants and their families who could care less who the Koch Brothers are and only know that someone is trying to assist them with anything from civics classes to computer access…
If there are any hopes among Democrats that a center-right outreach effort wouldn’t work among Latinos, they should know that The Libre Initiative classes in Mesa, AZ are regularly overbooked. Libre Initiative says that over a thousand Latinos have signed up for classes that can only hold three hundred. This is remarkably counter-intuitive to yesterday’s thinking about politics, particularly since a recent study by researchers at UCLA and MIT ranked Mesa, AZ as the most conservative big city in the country.
“This is an attempt to censor voices they don’t agree with,” said Garza. “Upholding the Constitution, the virtues of the free market, our message of self reliance — it goes against their agenda.”
“That’s their concern,” he said, “and the reason they started to demonize us…it’s an arrogant attempt to control what they perceive as their territory, the Hispanic voter.” Indeed, a significant portion of the full PFAW report is dedicated to expressing outrage that LIBRE is promoting a conservative message.
Liberal groups, along with the media, have “created this perceived impression that if you’re Latino, you think [like the] Left, which is absolutely false,” he continued, pointing out a Pew study that showed that one-third of Hispanics self-identify as conservative, one-third as moderate, and one-third as liberal.
“They need to know and recognize that the conversation will no longer be dominated by one side,” said Garza. “We believe at LIBRE that freedom drives real sustainable prosperity and growth, and individual freedom, and Latinos believe this as well.”
Garza said that LIBRE was “sending notice to these folks,” that they would continue to oppose anyone who supports more spending, more government control and bureaucratic growth.
“If you’re a big government advocate, you’d best be worried,” concluded Garza.
Last November, LIBRE posted the results of a post-election poll of Latino voters that backed up Garza’s optimism. According to the poll, the most important issue for Latino voters was jobs and the economy, not immigration, the issue that the Left has sought to exploit as a single-issue wedge to drive Latinos away from voting for Republicans.
The poll also cited several elections where the Republican candidate had a strong showing with Latino voters, including the Colorado, where Senate candidates Cory Gardner (R) and Mark Udall (D) each received 48 percent of the Latino vote; and Florida, where Governor Rick Scott (R) won 54 percent of the Latino vote to Charlie Crist’s (D) 41 percent and Carlos Curbelo (R) defeated Joe Garcia (D) among Latinos by a 26 point margin, 63 to 37 percent, in their Congressional race.
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