Every day on the news there are stories of well-organized protests. I report from the California State Capitol which almost daily is ground zero for some group protesting a grievance. As a political journalist, I am skeptical of most protests. It does not matter if the protestors are wearing hard hats and orange vests and stand all day in front of an office building under construction, or a prominent restaurant feigning outrage showcasing a giant inflatable rat to passersby.
The recipe is always the same whether it’s a faculty walkout, a nurses walkout, minimum wage protests, Wall Street protesters, union members, or recently, students protesting University of California, Davis Chancellor Linda Katehi.
While every citizen is entitled to his or her own voice for a cause, the professional paid protesters who appear at protests all across the state and even across national borders are mercenaries.
The average employed American does not have the time to protest, yet we often see the same people at different protests around the state. Where does the funding for these rent-a-mobs come from?
Wealthy Foundations Fund Unrest
Recently, at anti-Trump protests, protesters admitted they answered ads on Craigslist and were getting paid to protest Trump. Orchestrated by supporters of Hillary Clinton, the protests are largely paid for by George Soros, MoveOn.org, reclusive billionaire Jonathan Lewis, and pushed by David Brock at Media Matters for America, the Daily Caller reported.
We also see protests coordinated by a few wealthy foundations bent on changing public policy. Even more disturbing is the foundation grants aren’t disclosed publicly the same way campaign contributions are reported. Foundation nonprofit tax filings often do not become public until two years after money is spent.
While nonprofit organizations are legally allowed to do this, there are tax rules and restrictions on activities, which many manipulate and violate. But voters have a right to know what interest is trying to get them to vote a certain way.
The California Way
Only paid professional activists and those paid to organize by their employers have time to protest. Most protests we see are not naturally occurring events, but highly orchestrated, well funded actions designed to push a political agenda for powerful special interest groups.
One example is a young woman named Maile Hampton, who in the span of only ten days, led protests against UC Davis Chancellor Katehi, then two days later appeared in Mexico protesting labor conditions for Mexican farmworkers, and a week later was seen on the steps of the State Capitol with the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment, protesting in favor of a $15 minimum wage. Hampton, who goes by the name KwameKahlo on Twitter, and is a self-described “Marxist Leninist☭” is either a trust fund baby, a highly committed cause omnivore, or a pro who is paid by the protest. (Hampton has recently limited access to her Twitter page)
When you pay people to show up at your protest, how sincere can your cause really be? The travel, food and countless hours holding a protest sign, marching and screaming with a bullhorn or at a reporter’s camera has an associated cost. Who, in the end, has time to protest – unless it is as a paid profession?
To understand how the other two percent lives, though, just follow the money. Much of the money for these protests flows from so called charitable and “philanthropic” foundations, endowments, unions or wall street and hedge fund billionaires like Tom Steyer and George Soros (see charts below). They distribute money to one organization — or to many — that then funnel their millions of dollars downward to other groups and individuals, (the same way ACORN did) from non profit causes to church groups and a few for profit entities that take care of details like arranging transportation, printing signs, taking out permits, and the like.
Many of these people are hired to help build the movement and protest for the specific causes listed in grant proposals and invoices long before the news crews arrive.
Here is a quick look at Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment Action, or ACCE, a successor organization to ACORN (Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now) making millions with organizers focused on housing, paid sick days, minimum wage, voter registration, health care and raising taxes.
The next time you see Maile Hampton or any protester in a yellow shirt with ACCE across it or the logos of other familiar or unfamiliar organizations, remember, those efforts are likely not coming from the heart, but from an invoice, which is attached to a check.