I've always suspected that Evertytown for Gun Safety, the supposed grassroots organization devoted to making sure that most Americans won't be allowed to own guns, had its roots more in elite-class culture than in the grass.
And it turns out that I'm right. This fascinating story appeared on the blog of Washington Post media reporter Erik Wemple
On June 17, NPR’s Chris Arnold turned in a seven-minute feature story on the evolution of a “powerful new gun control group,” Everytown for Gun Safety. The organization is the result of a merger between Mayors Against Illegal Guns — founded by former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, among other mayors — and Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, a group launched by Shannon Watts in the aftermath of the Newtown massacre.
Here's how NPR described Moms Demand founder Watts:
For a woman named Shannon Watts, she was drawn in by another mass shooting — the murder of 20 schoolchildren 6- and 7-year-olds in Newtown, Connecticut. Watts wasn’t there: She lived 800 miles away in Zionsville, Indiana. She was folding her kids’ laundry, actually, when the news broke. And she wanted to do something. ‘
Uh-huh. Just a stay-at-home mom from flyover country tending to her housework and her kids.
Here's the NPR transcript:
SHANNON WATTS: I was obviously devastated. But I was also angry. And I went online. And I thought surely there is a Mothers Against Drunk Driving for gun safety. And I couldn't find anything.
ARNOLD: Watts had never done anything political before. But she made a Facebook page. And she called it "One Million Moms For Gun Control."
WATTS: I only had 75 friends on my personal Facebook page. And it was amazing. I mean, I can remember watching the likes go from the hundreds to the thousands to the tens of thousands.
Overall, Shannon Watts, who until only recently went by the last name Troughton, began work fresh out of University of Missouri in 1993 as a public affairs officer for Missouri Governor Mel Carnahan, the Missouri House of Representatives, and the Missouri Department of Economic Development.
In 1998 Watts (Troughton) moved on to further develop her propaganda acumen as Vice President of Corporate and Public Affairs at the major PR firm Fleishman-Hillard, where she remained until 2001. Watts then became Director of Global and Public Affairs at the Monsanto Corporation “where she led external initiatives designed to generate positive, proactive media coverage of the company’s agriculture biotechnology products.”
Between 2004 and 2006 Watts served as Director of Global Communications for GE Healthcare, General Electric’s $15 billion medical and diagnostics device unit. She then joined WellPoint, the nation’s largest health insurance corporation, as its Vice President of Corporate Communications.
At WellPoint Watts oversaw an impressive “30-person corporate communications team” until 2008, when she stepped down to begin VoxPop Public Relations. Watts “started the firm because she saw a need for boutique agencies that can provide the same service at a lower cost during the recession,” PR Week observes.
That's a lotta folded laundry.
So NPR has now appended this facepalm correction:
We should have noted that Watts has a background in corporate communications. From 1998 to mid-2012, she was a corporate communications executive or consultant at such companies as Monsanto and FleishmanHillard. Before that, Watts had what she says was a nonpolitical job as a public affairs officer in the Missouri state government.
Our report also stated that Watts had never "done anything political" before the shootings at Sandy Hook. We should have noted that Federal Election Commission records show she began contributing money to Democratic campaigns and political action committees earlier in 2012. According to those records, she has made about $10,000 in such contributions, and about one-third were made before the Sandy Hook shootings.
Ten thousand dollars in non-deductible political contributions from a stay-at-home mom? Hey–I'd be standing all day at the clothes-drier if someone paid me enough money to afford that.