The movement started with Rick Santelli’s call on CNBC for a tea party of city traders to dump securities in Lake Michigan, in protest at Obama’s plan to “subsidise the losers”(6). In other words, it was a demand for a financiers’ mobilisation against the bail-out of their victims: people losing their homes. This is the opposite of the Observer’s story. On the same day, a group called Americans for Prosperity (AFP) set up a Tea Party Facebook page and started organising Tea Party events(7). The movement, whose programme is still lavishly supported by AFP, took off from there.
So who or what is Americans for Prosperity? It was founded and is funded by Charles and David Koch(8). They run what they call “the biggest company you’ve never heard of”(9), and between them they are worth $43 billion(10).
Koch Industries is a massive oil, gas, minerals, timber and chemicals company. Over the past 15 years the brothers have poured at least $85m into lobby groups arguing for lower taxes for the rich and weaker regulations for industry(11). The groups and politicians the Kochs fund also lobby to destroy collective bargaining, to stop laws reducing carbon emissions, to stymie healthcare reform and to hobble attempts to control the banks. During the 2010 election cycle, Americans for Prosperity spent $45 million supporting its favoured candidates(12)."They are radical libertarians..."
For more on these master puppeteers who stole a movement to force it's own plutocratic aims down the throats of an unsuspecting electorate (including many of the duped in the Tea Party), Al Jazeera compiled a documentary about the influence of the people who truly define the 1% in terms of money and influence on the democracy.