Americans for Prosperity (AFP), the Koch Brothers-backed national organization that has been working with Tea Party groups, has abandoned operations in Oregon, according to new research by IREHR.
Without notice, the state organization was shuttered earlier in the year. The chapter’s website was shut off, and references to AFP Oregon scrubbed from the national website.
On May 15, AFP National Media responded to an IREHR inquiry with the first official statement on the closing. “Although we have many activists in Oregon, the organization no longer maintains a chapter in that state,” noted the email.
Even before the birth in 2009 of the Tea Party movement, AFP had a presence in Oregon. IREHR archives show AFP Oregon activity stretching back to late 2007. The group was active in issue advocacy, candidate development, and building local groups.
At the peak of AFP Oregon activity, the group had local chapters in Baker, Benton, Clackamas, Clatsop, Columbia, Coos, Deschutes, Douglas, Harney, Klamath, Jackson, Jefferson, Lane, Linn, Marion, Multnomah, Polk, Tillamook, Union, Wallowa, Wasco, Washington, and Yamhill counties. AFP National declined to comment on what, if any relationship exists between the national organization and the remaining local chapters.
AFP National also declined to comment on the reasons to abandon the state, but there are several possible explanations.
There is a glut of local and nationally-linked Tea Party groups in Oregon. In addition to dozens of unaffiliated local Tea Party groups still active in Oregon, FreedomWorks—a sometimes competitor with AFP—claims multiple local chapters in the state.
Additionally, the AFP Oregon had a leadership vacuum. In August 2011, the original Americans for Prosperity Oregon state director, former State Representative Jeff Kropf, left the organization. He presently serves as executive director of the Oregon Capitol Watch Foundation. Kropf was replaced by Karla Kay Edwards of the Cascade Policy Institute. Edwards moved to Missouri.
There may also have been concern about the downward spiral of some of the AFP Oregon local chapters. Consider for example, Americans for Prosperity – Marion & Polk County (AFP – Marion). The group has plunged into conspiracies about Agenda 21, promoted Islamophobia, demanded impeachment, supported far-right “We will not comply” activists, and more.
A video on the AFP – Marion website by Ann Barnhart was entitled “Stop Being Nice.” The video argues that “Western Civilization is dying. The Constitutional republic that is the United States of America is dying. Orthodox Christianity is dying…. The last 50 years has seen the satanic, Marxist infiltration of every aspect of our lives, and now we are seeing the hyper-aggressive infiltration of Islam, which is a political system very similar to Marxism in its ends. Satan is highly flexible. He uses atheistic systems such as Marxism, and he uses faux-religious systems, such as Islam. He doesn’t care what the means are of our destruction.”
In the fall of 2014, AFP – Marion changed the name of the group to Americas Founding Principles. Their website declared they were “Not an official AFP site. All opinions expressed herein are solely of the individual and do not necessarily reflect that of AFP.”
Whether organizational or political considerations were at play in the decision, Oregonians will not have Americans for Prosperity as intensively meddling in state politics in the near term. IREHR will continue to monitor the activities of other Tea Party-aligned groups in the state.