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Monday, January 31, 2011

Americans for Prosperity v. VA Autism Mandate

Anita Kumar writes in The Washington Post:

Americans for Prosperity, a conservative group that opposes the federal health care overhaul, began robocalls statewide Monday targeting Bill Howell, the powerful speaker of the House of Delegates, for his support of a bill to provide insurance coverage for children with autism.

The calls to the group's 80,000 Virginia members began Monday afternoon and will run through this week's House vote.

"To rail against the mandates in Obamacare then turn around and support mandates in the state level is nothing short of hypocrisy,'' said Ben Marchi, the group's state director.

As we reported earlier, Howell (R) has put his considerable weight behind the bill that would require businesses to provide insurance coverage for children with autism after failing to support similar proposals in past years. provides background on the group:

Americans for Prosperity was founded by David H. Koch of Koch Industries. Koch and his wife, Julia, are major GOP contributors: They have donated more than $2 million to federal candidates and party organizations since 1990, according to the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics. Koch also ran for vice president on the Libertarian Party ticket in 1980, and currently serves on the board of the Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank, according to his biography on the AFP website.

The group’s president is Tim Phillips, a Republican campaign strategist who helped organize tea party protests. Directors of the organization include Art Pope, a former North Carolina congressman, and James Miller, former chairman of the Federal Trade Commission and budget director under President Ronald Reagan.

AFP is registered under the IRS code as a 501(c)(4) — meaning it does not have to disclose its donors. The Wall Street Journal said "some of the group’s funding comes from" Koch. Donations to the group are not tax-deductible.