In case you missed it, Americans for Prosperity is coming to Tennessee. AFP is an organization started by billionaire industrialist Charles and David Koch. It is "committed to educating citizens about economic policy and mobilizing those citizens as advocates in the public policy process." Americans for Prosperity consists of two separate entities: Americans for Prosperity, a 501(c)(4) organization established in 2004, and the Americans for Prosperity Foundation, a 501(c)(3) organization established in 1984.
AFP calls itself the "nation’s leading grassroots organization." On the Americans for Prosperity Tennessee Facebook page they say, "We are a statewide grassroots organization of 20,000 members." I knew of AFP as a national organization but had never heard of a state chapter until reading about it in the Tennessean and am surprised to learn they already have 20,000 members.
The Tennessee Chapter, as reported my Michael Cass in the Tennessean, will focus on issues including school choice and the estate tax while working to educate residents "on the benefits of economic freedom rather than top-down control." Andrew Ogles, a former deputy director of Newt Gingrich's 2012 presidential campaign and former President & COO of Abolition International, an organization dedicated to eradicating Sex Trafficking. He is a graduate of MTSU and Vanderbilt University's Owen Graduate School of Management.
I guess we should be pleased that the conservative movement is being strengthened in Tennessee, however, I am not so sure there was a niche that needed filled. Our state is as about as red as you can get except for our own little island of blue in Davidson County and another island of blue in Shelby County. We have both houses of the state legislature with a walk-out proof super majority, a Republican governor, both Senators, and seven of nine of the U.S representatives. We are the state with the lowest state debt per person in the country, and we have no state income tax and are in no danger of getting one and we have positive economic growth and a business-friendly environment. We have made considerable progress in school choice and reducing the estate tax. These efforts are slatted to continue. We already have numerous real grassroots tea party and other grassroots conservative groups. We have Republican Assembly, Tennessee Eagle Forum, 9-12ers, pro-second amendment groups and pro-life groups and numerous other conservative advocacy and economic education groups.
One of the groups that has been doing the most to educate the public and our state legislators and to advance school choice policy and a phrase out of the estate tax, policies which AFP say will be their focus, is The Beacon Center. It is none of my business how the Koch brothers want to spend their money, and I have already "liked" AFP on Facebook and will no doubt become a member, but I wonder if the money spend establishing a new group in Tennessee would have not been better spend in a blue state and making contributions to existing groups here in Tennessee, such as The Beacon Center.
Do we really need one more group? Will it grow the corp of conservative activist or simply compete for people who are already involved.