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Koch brothers: Tea Party funders' meeting near Vail draws progressive protesters (PHOTOS)

While William Koch was paying $2 million for a photo of Billy the Kid, his brothers, conservative lightning rods Charles and David, were meeting at the Ritz-Carlton resort at Bachelor Gulch near Vail -- a get-together that spurred a protest stirred up in part by ProgressNow Colorado. Why? According to executive director Kjersten Forseth, the Koches "are leading funders of the Tea Party, and the countless unnamed groups who appear on TV every election spreading misinformation."

In a statement on view below, Forseth adds, "This secret conference is where they plot the next steps."

Look below to see ProgressNow photos of the protest and resort, as well as the full release:

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ProgressNow Colorado release:

Colorado Progressives to Koch Brothers: End Your War on the Middle Class

BEAVER CREEK: Progressives from around Colorado gathered today near a top strategy meeting of conservative funders, officials, and opinion makers near Vail, Colorado organized by the billionaire Koch brothers, to demand an end to recent attacks on Medicare and Social Security, and other institutions vital to the middle class in America.

"The billionaire Koch brothers are leading funders of the Tea Party, and the countless unnamed groups who appear on TV every election spreading misinformation," said Kjersten Forseth, executive director of ProgressNow Colorado. "Their agenda is simple: they want to dismantle Medicare and Social Security, cut education and every other source of public funding beneficial to America's middle class, while giving the wealthy and big corporations even more tax breaks."

"This secret conference is where they plot the next steps," said Forseth.

Word of the Koch brothers' unpublicized conference near Vail this weekend first leaked in an obscure Virginia news report about the upcoming travels of that state's conservative Gov. Bob McDonnell. The previous Koch conference, held in Palm Springs, California last January, was met with a large protest of progressives seeking transparency--and more importantly, truth in advertising.

"ProgressNow Colorado does not oppose political donations," said Forseth. "ProgressNow Colorado is against using corporate profits to attack Social Security, Medicare, and vital institutions that the Koch Brothers want to dismantle for future generations. We're against making painful cuts to education, health care, and transportation while giving rich people and big corporations more tax breaks."

"A larger problem for the Koch brothers, and other corporate funders of the right wing, is what happens when their consumers and shareholders figure out how the profits are being spent," said Forseth. "Our message for the Koch brothers for today is simpler: take all of the swanky vacations in our beautiful state that you want, because it's great for our local economy, but please end this war on America's middle class before it's too late."

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