Sarasota ensnared in ‘Defeat Obama’ sign controversy

By | 03.19.12 | 10:17 am

President Barack Obama (Pic by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Kevin S. O'Brien, via Wikimedia Commons)

The city of Sarasota has become ensnared in controversy over a large, “Defeat Obama in 2012″ sign that has been placed on private property at one of the town’s most visible intersections. A city attorney has responded to requests to remove the sign by arguing that, because it doesn’t endorse a specific candidate or political party, the sign isn’t actually an “election sign” and will stay up.

The sign was installed by investor Michael Fox – a Bird Key resident who, according to his own spokesman, has close ties to the billionaire Koch brothers.

Via Sarasota Patch:

Bob Willis, spokesperson for Michael Fox, said that it is Fox’s intention that this campaign be a grassroots effort.

“People need to make their own signs, put them up in the own yards, and exercise their right to free speech,” Willis said.

Willis clarified that Fox is providing funding for 10,000 signs to be placed in strategic locations throughout the country, in places that are highly visible, similar to the sign placement on Tamiami Trail but Fox is not providing funding for individual signs.

Willis also noted that Fox is not associated with any clothing retailer as has been erroneously reported in several news stories. Willis stated that Fox is a local investor with close ties to the Koch Brothers.

Willis said that this is the first of 10,000 signs Fox hopes will be erected throughout the country before Independence Day, in people’s front yards and businesses, on their private property.

Charles Koch and his brother, David, are not only two of the richest men in the country, but are arguably some of the most powerful. The Koch brothers are well known for their libertarian leanings, as well as their many stealth political attacks against the Obama Administration. They have reportedly pledged $200 million, through the outside nonprofit group Americans for Prosperity, to help defeat Obama in November.

Just last month, the Obama administration publicly sparred with the Koch brothers regarding their attacks on the president and their connection to Americans for Prosperity, which ran a $6 million ad campaign against Obama leading up to the State of the Union. The group ran a separate, $2.4 million campaign last fall that focused on the controversy surrounding solar-power company Solyndra.

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