Who is behind healthcare bus?

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By Staff Brunswick Beacon

To the editor: In interest of transparency and full-disclosure, your piece on the healthcare rally at Rourk Gardens could use a little fleshing-out.

Like dozens of similar “spontaneous” gatherings of “grassroots” organizations intent on blocking desperately needed healthcare reform, the driver behind the wheel of the Americans for Prosperity bus that rolled into Shallotte is a guy named Tim Phillips.

A high-priced Washington lobbyist, Phillips is AFP’s top dog. He plots the destinations of his many buses and instructs his minions in the states on how best to fire up the locals.

Before embarking on his current crusade to manipulate public opinion for the benefit of the powerful corporate health industry, he was the partner of Ralph Reed, one-time boss of the Christian Coalition, in founding the lobbying firm, Century Strategies.

According to the National Journal, their operation “raked in millions of dollars by mounting grassroots lobbying drives.”

They also undertook lucrative political jobs for Enron and for gambling casino clients associated with Reed’s long-time pal and mentor, the former Washington power-broker and disgraced felon Jack Abramoff.

In mobilizing a “national grassroots citizens campaign” to stop healthcare reform, Phillips is following a clever strategy, one in step with the style of his former business partner and mentor, Ralph Reed.

Here’s how Reed described his modus operandi to the Norfolk Virginia Pilot on Nov. 9, 1991: “I want to be invisible. I do guerrilla warfare...you don’t know it’s over until you’re in a body bag.”

Welcome to Shallotte’s Rourk Gardens, AFP protestors. May your next bus ride here be a bumpy one.