By Chris Butler | Tennessee Watchdog
NASHVILLE — Eager tea party protesters went toe-to-toe in Nashville Thursday against a progressive nonprofit, Organizing for Action, devoted solely to advancing President Barack Obama’s agenda — while both groups waited for Obama’s motorcade to pass them by.
This story, however, doesn’t quite play out the way you might expect.
Both groups held signs either for or against Obama, although the OFA clearly had an advantage with professionally made signs, while tea partiers’ signs were mostly homemade.
Both organizations say they are grassroots.
Darlene Shelton told Tennessee Watchdog that Organizing for Action, designed to promote President Obama’s agenda, is spreading throughout Tennessee.
And while both groups are nonprofits, Time magazine recently documented that one of them has very wealthy financial backers.
And no, tea partiers are not the recipients of this largesse, and the Koch brothers are not the financial backers in question.
Actually, OFA received $21 million last year from 19 wealthy businessmen and women, all of whom donated or raised amounts ranging from $100,000 to $500,000 each, Time reported.
Newsweb Corp. CEO Fred Eychaner, for instance, donated $500,000.
One of the OFA protesters in Nashville, Darlene Shelton, told Tennessee Watchdog that the nonprofit has established itself at chapters all over Tennessee, including Knoxville, Murfreesboro, Franklin and, recently, Nashville.
“We recruit people. We have phone banking. We call different people to get them involved and volunteer,” Shelton said.
“We then call representatives and try to get them to push for the issues that the president has set forth. We are the ones who voted for him.”
According to its website, OFA operates as a social welfare organization, as a 501(c)(4).
The Huffington Post reports that OFA operates Obama’s Twitter account. The organization’s Facebook page for Tennessee, which has more than 7,000 followers, seems to revolve around the personalities of Obama and his wife, Michelle, and their pet political platforms.
Obama came to Nashville Thursday to speak at that city’s McGavock High School about jobs.
Edward Adam, a 2003 graduate of the school who didn’t say if he belonged to OFA,
Despite sharply differing political views, the pro-Obama supporters and the Tea Party protestors managed to have civil discourse with one another. In this photo a man who identified himself only as “Joe Citizen” speaks to an unidentified Obama supporter.
held up a sign promoting Obamacare and said it has improved his life — even though he later said something that seemed to call that testimony into question.
“I’m getting better from a situation where I needed health care, and I didn’t have it before, but now I can take care of my medical issues. I don’t know why anybody would want to protest it,” Adam said, when asked about the new law.
But does he have health insurance only because of Obamacare?
“Well, I already had it through my work,” Adam said.
“Obama means well. He is well-intentioned and he is only trying to help people advance beyond where we were under Bush.”
Meanwhile, on the tea party side of the road, protesters, who were greater in number, said they had to exercise due diligence and warn others not to hold inflammatory signs. To do otherwise could invite trouble from the mainstream media, they said.
Tea Party members awaiting President Obama’s motorcade in Nashville Thursday said they were very careful about making sure the mainstream media didn’t portray them in an unflattering light.
“It’s just a matter of not having signs that are crass and tasteless,” said Ben Cunningham, president of the Nashville-based Tennessee Tax Revolt.
“If somebody puts up something that’s over the top then that will be the media’s story. The message we want to get across is our opposition to the president’s agenda.”
Another tea partier, Scott Nicoll, of Manchester, told Tennessee Watchdog he has personally witnessed national mainstream media outlets distort the nature of tea party movement protests he participated in while visiting Washington, D.C.
“With every protest I’ve been to the news has been that we are violent or ignorant. They claimed that racism was prevalent,” Nicoll said. “As a matter of fact I was right next to a black man protesting with me. If we don’t show up then the media will just say that we don’t care anymore. Either way, it’s going to be negative.”
Tea Party member Mel London (front) said the only offensive signs he saw while awaiting President Obama’s motorcade were the ones being held by the people behind him.
Another tea partier, Mel London, who is black, said he saw only a few hateful signs.
“You see those signs over there that say ‘Go Forward with Obama’?” he asked, while pointing. Those are the only destructive signs here that I see.”
Like Watchdog.org? Click HERE to get breaking news alerts in YOUR state!
Please, feel free to “steal our stuff”! Just remember to credit Watchdog.org. Find out more
The post Pro-Obama nonprofit with wealthy donors spreading through TN appeared first on Watchdog.org.