The Kitchen Table Patriots, a local tea party group, played a role in the 2010 elections in the greater Philadelphia area. Something in a recent New York Times article caught my eye. In “Tea party finds power leads to policy splits,” by Katie Zernike (6/28/2011) . It mentions Ana Puig and her fellow KTP activist Anastasia Przybylski a number of times. The two women held an event in 2009 to protest the federal stimulus bill which brought their group to the attention of FreedomWorks, a national organization led by a one-time House Republican leader Dick Armey. After the 2010 election the article states that FreedomWorks hired the two to lobby for a school choice bill in Pennsylvania. Przybylski said working with FreedomWorks allowed KTP to “professionalize ourselves.” The article is an interesting analysis of some of the national lobbying associated with the bill.
Even as someone who tends to follow local politics I was surprised to read that Puig and Przybylski were hired by the national organization. Having seen their names in the papers I wondered how widely known their employment by FreedomWorks was. So I did some checking.
Tom Barnes of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette mentions the support the national organization supplied local supporters:
The idea is getting a serious political push this year, with Mr. Piccola and other Republicans, joined by Democrat Mr. Williams plus conservatives such as Ana Puig of The Kitchen Table Patriots and a national group called FreedomWorks, headed by former congressman Dick Armey. ("HUNDREDS VOICE SUPPORT OF 'SCHOOL CHOICE' IN CAPITAL - VOUCHERS WOULD ALLOW STUDENTS TO CHOOSE THEIR SCHOOLS," Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (PA)-January 26, 2011 Author: Tom Barnes, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
in another article:
Mr. Armey is chairman of a Washington, D.C.-based group called FreedomWorks, which is helping a suburban Philadelphia group called The Kitchen Table Patriots press the state Legislature to enact taxpayer-funded tuition vouchers. Low-income students could use them to escape their "failing" local public school, supporters say.
A leader of The Kitchen Table Patriots is Ana Puig of Doylestown, Bucks County, who also attended the recent state Capitol rally. She is also active in the tea party political movement. She said FreedomWorks has provided her volunteers with advice on contacting legislators and alternatives to public schools where many students don't meet state standards in reading and math. ("ADVOCATES LINE UP MONEY, ADS, SUPPORT FOR SCHOOL-CHOICE BILL," Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (PA)-February 6, 2011 Author: Tom Barnes, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
However, the paper didn’t say anything about Ms. Puig personally being on FreedomWorks’ payroll.
A reporter at the main Bucks County paper stated it more specifically:
“That puts him in direct opposition to other tea party organizations, such as the Doylestown-based Kitchen Table Patriots, whose co-chairwomen Anastasia Przybylski and Ana Puig have also been working as field coordinators for FreedomWorks, a national conservative group pushing for school choice.
Puig also was a member of the education committee on Corbett's transition team.”
(“Tea party at odds on school choice legislation,” Intelligencer, The (Doylestown, PA)-March 16, 2011 Author: Gary Weckselblatt)
That same month, the same paper ran an op-ed by Przybylski that described her only as: “Anastasia Przybylski is co-chairwoman of the Kitchen Table Patriots and the mother of three children. She lives in Doylestown.” No mention of FreedomWorks. The same op-ed, or a slight variation of it also ran in at least two other papers, the Bucks County Courier Times and the Morning Call. Both used the same author description.
Puig wrote an op-ed for a Harrisburg paper that references education but only mentioned her KTP association, not FreedomWorks:
Editorial “"As I See It" (regular feature?)
Grassroots movement must sustain itself
Patriot-News, The (Harrisburg, PA)-April 15, 2011
Author: Ana Puig
It will take decades of hard work to undo the damage that has been done to our country by the infiltration of Marxist ideology into our education system; the rewriting of our history and the implementation of class warfare ideology; the wide use of voter fraud and intimidation; brainwashing and diversion through mass communication and, finally, the making of hollow promises to the lower economic classes that can never be implemented due to the real and hidden agenda of politicians.
Ana Puig is co-chair of the Southeastern PA Kitchen Table Patriots.
A number of other papers in the state reported on either or both women’s advocacy of the school voucher bill, all referenced the association with KTP but not FreedomWorks. Here is a list:
“Anastasia Przybylski, a member of the Kitchen Table Patriots, a Bucks County tea party group that favors the Senate bill.” (“Schroder introduces school choice legislation - Next two days will determine outcome of voucher battle in state,” by Eric Boehm, PA Independent, Daily Local News (West Chester, PA)-June 21, 2011
“Anastasia Przybylski, a member of the Kitchen Table Patriots, a Bucks County Tea Party group that has been pressing hard for school-choice legislation.”
(“House leader expected to endorse school choice bill,” Mercury, The (Pottstown, PA)-June 19, 2011 Author: Eric Boehm, PA Independent
Ana Puig, co-chair of the grassroots Tea Party organization Kitchen Table Patriots, said there was no reason to delay passage of a voucher bill and said waiting would only give unions "ample time to go after our legislators." ("Time may run out on push for voucher plan," Pittsburgh Tribune-Review June 25, 2011 Author: Sari Heidenreich)
“Ana Puig, KTP's co-chairwoman, is a member of Corbett's transition committee on education. And Anastasiz Przybylski, KTP's co-founder, has spent several months researching the topic.”
("PSBA opposes latest voucher plan," Bucks County Courier Times January 21, 2011 Author: Gary Weckselblatt)
"We have the Tea Party involved, but there's a lot of push-back from some Tea Party people," said Ana Puig, co-chair of The Kitchen Table Patriots in Bucks County. "They see it as a hand-out (to low-income families). I don't see it that way." ("State senators push state bill on school choice," Pittsburgh Tribune-Review (PA)-January 26, 2011 Author: Brad Bumsted
Ana Puig, of Doylestown, a cochair of the Kitchen Table Patriots, a tea party group, was on hand for the rally and pledged support for the bill.
"We believe in competition in the marketplace," said Puig, who was a member of Corbett's education transition team. ("Hundreds rally for school choice - Senate Bill 1 would provide vouchers to get children out of failing schools," Philadelphia Inquirer, January 26, 2011 Author: Amy Worden)
One group, the Kitchen Table Patriots in Doylestown, has about 20 members running in school board elections Tuesday, cofounder Ana Puig said. She said the entire system deserved new scrutiny. "I feel like schools are being run like a government agency, and they need to be run more like the private sector," said Puig,….. "Continuing to raise taxes is not going to be the solution."
("Schools brace for austere new era - Widespread cuts, layoffs are expected, along with tax hikes in many districts," Philadelphia Inquirer, May 15, 2011 Author: Dan Hardy and John P. Martin)
Ana Puig gained prominence in the past two years through a Bucks County Tea Party group she helps lead. Corbett appointed Puig, a Brazilian-born naturalized citizen, as a member of his education committee
Puig, a mother of four, was chosen for the committee because of her advocacy for home schooling, Harley said.
A co-chairwoman of the group Kitchen Table Patriots, she has spoken at several national and local Tea Party events. ("Transition team member irks Dems," Pittsburgh Tribune-Review (PA)-December 2, 2010 Author: Mike Wereschagin)
Does it matter if the papers mention if activists were volunteer or paid or paid by a local organization or a national organization? The KTP website doesn't say anything about national support, and there is a donation button. Of course, a lot of local groups get some support from larger groups. It is also hard to tell when or definitively if the women were hired by FreedomWorks.
For me, though, the fact that some papers said the women were employed by FreedomWorks and others published their opinions or wrote about them just as grassroots activists presents two different views of their work. I would want to know if it was a paid job or volunteer work. I also wonder why some papers reported it one way and others another. Other people may feel it is not an important distinction.