Republican presidential hopeful Herman Cain has cast himself as the outsider, the pizza magnate with real-world experience who will bring fresh ideas to the nation's capital. But Cain's economic ideas, support and organization have close ties to two billionaire brothers who bankroll right-leaning causes through their group Americans for Prosperity.
Cain's campaign manager and a number of aides have worked for Americans for
Prosperity, or AFP, the advocacy group founded with support from billionaire
brothers Charles and David Koch...
Cain credits a businessman who served on an AFP advisory board with helping devise his "9-9-9" plan to rewrite the nation's tax code. And his years of speaking at AFP events have given the businessman and radio host a network of loyal grassroots fans.
The once little-known businessman's political activities are getting fresh scrutiny these days since he soared to the top of some national polls.
His links to the Koch brothers could undercut his outsider, non-political image among tea party fans who detest politics as usual and candidates connected with the party machine...
Through his AFP work he met Mark Block, a longtime Wisconsin Republican operative hired to lead that state's AFP chapter in 2005 as he rebounded from an earlier campaign scandal that derailed his career.
Block and Cain sometimes traveled together as they built up AFP: Cain was the charismatic speaker preaching the ills of big government; Block was the operative helping with nuts and bolts.
When President Barack Obama's election helped spawn the tea party, Cain was positioned to take advantage. He became a draw at growing AFP-backed rallies,
impressing activists with a mix of humor and hard-hitting rhetoric againstObama's stimulus, health care and budget policies.
Block is now Cain's campaign manager. Other aides who had done AFP work were also brought on board.
Cain's spokeswoman Ellen Carmichael, who recently left the campaign, was an AFP coordinator in Louisiana. His campaign's outside law firm is representing AFP in a case challenging Wisconsin campaign finance regulations. At least six other current and former paid employees and consultants for Cain's campaign have worked for AFP in various capacities.
And Cain has credited Rich Lowrie, a Cleveland businessman who served on AFP's board of advisors from 2005 to 2008, with being a key economic adviser and with helping to develop his plan to cut the corporate tax rate to 9 percent, impose a national sales tax of 9 percent and set a flat income tax rate of 9 percent...
While Cain is quick to promote his career at the helm of the Godfather's Pizza chain, his ties to AFP aren't something the candidate appears eager to highlight.
His campaign did not respond to inquiries seeking comment, and Cain does not include his AFP work on his biography on his website.
Further, according to AP, in a statement announcing a Cain Wisconsin tour in 2006, AFP sent out a press release touting Cain's "in-depth understanding of the battle to control out-of-control government taxes and spending." But, time has proved this press release inaccurate. Cain, himself, in the latest debate, admitted that his 9-9-9 tax plan won't cut taxes that it is revenue neutral. Further, as Michelle Bachmann has pointed out, Cain's proposal for a national sales tax creates a new pipeline by which government revenues can increase. So much for "battling out-of-control taxes".