The same party accusing their political opponents of deploying paid protesters was just caught red-handed paying protesters.
According to the Arizona Republic, the Arizona Republican Party offered to pay activists to go to a “Coffee Club” event hosted by Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Arizona) and disrupt it. Because the event cost $25 to enter, the party offered to reimburse anyone who had to front the money to get in.
“It would be absolutely wonderful if we had as many of her Republican consituents (sic) as possible attend this event to ask her why she accepted thousands of dollars from the creator of Backpage.com,” wrote Arizona GOP political coordinator Kyle Pierce in an email. “I’m sure most of you have been keeping up with the news on this. It’s pretty bad, and we’re trying to hold her accountable for it.”
“If someone does have to pay, the Party is willing to reimburse the expense,” Pierce added.
The Arizona Republic’s discovery is all the more notable, considering how both President Trump and leading Republican figures have been using the “paid protester” trope to belittle the opposition for months. Shortly after he was elected President of the United States, Donald Trump accused his political opponents of paying protesters to demonstrate against him across America, with zero evidence to support his claims.
Just had a very open and successful presidential election. Now professional protesters, incited by the media, are protesting. Very unfair!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 11, 2016
One in three Trump voters surveyed by Public Policy Polling believed that participants in the Women’s March on Washington — which was later deemed as the largest single-day mass mobilization in American history when taking in attendance of similar marches around the country — were paid by liberal billionaire George Soros. Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) accused his own constituents of being paid protesters after he was shouted down at a town hall in his home district. And after President Trump’s first executive order banning immigration from predominantly Muslim countries was met with fierce protests at airports nationwide, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said protesters were “absolutely” being paid by liberal groups.
“Protesting has become a profession now… They have every right to do that, don’t get me wrong, but I think that we need to call it what it is. It’s not these organic uprisings that we’ve seen through the last several decades,” Spicer told Fox News’ Brian Kilmeade in February. “The Tea Party was a very organic movement. This has become a very paid, ‘astroturf’ type movement.”
The National Cancer Institute of the National Institute of Health confirmed in 2013 that the Tea Party was founded and funded by the tobacco industry and by the billionaire Koch Brothers.
Kevin Wallace is a journalist with five years’ experience in print and digital media, and covers politics, media, and culture for the Resistance Report. He lives in Tallahassee, Florida.