Koch Bros. Group Meddling in Small- Town Politics

Even candidates who agree with Americans for Prosperity want it to go away
By Ruth Brown,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 4, 2013 6:53 PM CST
Americans for Prosperity field organizer Drew Klein talks with a volunteer before beginning door-to-door canvassing during a storm in Coralville, Iowa.   (AP Photo/Ryan J. Foley)
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(Newser) It isn't just state races the Koch Brothers-backed Americans for Prosperity is now getting involved in—the group is also jumping into local politics. In Coralville, Iowa—a town of 19,000 residents—AFP has been campaigning aggressively to influence upcoming mayoral and City Council elections, the New York Times reports. "Coralville is fast becoming Iowa’s version of Detroit," reads one of the group's flyers, which argue the town's $280 million debt is a public crisis. The group is also employing door-knocking, phone calls, and Facebook ads, reports the AP. The problem is, even the local candidates who agree with AFP say affiliation with the group is toxic. One like-minded candidate tells the Times he wishes the group would "just go away."

"Every time I go to a debate or anything, I’ve tried talking about the budget, and then they just go, ‘Koch brothers, Koch brothers, Koch brothers,'" says Chris Turner, who is running for City Council. Another candidate says the group has distracted from issues like painting the local water tower and cleaning up parks. "We have not discussed any of that," she says. "The sad part is, is that that’s really what concerns people who live here." And Coralville is not alone: AFP has recently involved itself in a fight over a food and drink tax in Fremont, Neb., and a tax increase in Gahanna, Ohio. "We fight local issue battles ... because they result in good policy outcomes, generally promoting economic freedom via less taxes, less government spending," says the group's national president. (Read more Americans for Prosperity stories.)

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