At 12:30 pm today, the billionaire-funded political corporation calling itself “Americans for Prosperity” held a “Paycheck Protection Rally” in the state capitol building in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. The theme of the day: workers should stop organizing for better pay and give corporations a break.
If we are to believe what Americans for Properity says about itself, this “rally” should have been an astounding hit. After all, according to boasts on Americans for Prosperity’s website the group has 117,000 “grassroots” members in the state of Pennsylvania who are “taking action every day” on AFP’s behalf. If that many people really are daily activists for AFP, then we should have seen them in Harrisburg today, shouldn’t we have?
My suspicions about this rally were raised when I noticed that there was hardly any actual grassroots chatter about the event beforehand. Thanks to local news photographer William Seiders, we have a photo of the “rally” from which we can count the number of attendees. To help me (and you) count, I’ve added a blue dot for every attendee:
Including the speakers, that’s 94 people in attendance. 94 out of 117,000 supposed activists taking action for AFP every day = a 0.08% turnout. Either Americans for Prosperity is lying about the number of its “grassroots” activists in Pennsylvania, or 99.92% of its “grassroots” activists have rejected the anti-worker, pro-corporate message of the Americans for Prosperity rally. You decide which is the truth.
While you’re chewing on that choice, consider that some of the people in that photo of the “Pennsylvania protest” at the state capital aren’t even really from Pennsylvania. According to event records, it turns out that Americans for Prosperity shipped some people in on a bus from Monmouth, New Jersey. Why Monmouth, New Jersey, which isn’t even close to the Pennsylvania border? It turns out Monmouth is the headquarters of Americans for Prosperity’s New Jersey headquarters:
As you can see from the photo, almost all attendees are wearing official t-shirts. There’s not one hand-printed sign in the hall, either. These are two more indications that the supposed “grassroots” protest was a fake astroturf stunt.