Americans for Prosperity vs. Metrorail

A Metrorail train arriving at the Naylor Road Station platform.WMATA Photograph by Larry Levine.

For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis, the election, and more, subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter.


What is it with conservatives and trains? They hate Amtrak; they hate light rail; and now, apparently, they are even opposed to subways that are one of the few solutions to permanent traffic gridlock in the nation’s most populated cities. The latest: Americans for Prosperity, the advocacy group that is partly funded by Koch brothers, is currently funding a campaign in Virginia to try to kill off an expansion of the Washington Metrorail system from Reston, Virginia, to the Dulles Airport and into Loudoun County, areas around DC that are choked with traffic.

AFP is sponsoring robo-calls to area residents urging them to contact their local officials and lobby them to fight off the subway project, which they oppose because of potential tax increases associated with the project. According to the Washington Post, the recorded calls tell voters:

Loudoun cannot afford this bail-out to rail-station developers. If the Loudoun County board opts out, the rail will still be built to Dulles Airport, and commuters will still be within five miles of Metro. Come tell the board of supervisors to opt out and save taxpayers billions of dollars.

If the Metrorail expansion doesn’t take place, the wealthy Virginia county will be doomed to a long future of horrible traffic conditions, which are already bad—so bad that it helps keep the Washington metro area at the top of the charts in studies of the nation’s worst commutes and creates miserable air quality. Studies show that Loudoun County would also miss out on a tremendous amount of economic development expected to accompany the new rail stations (lots of people have already paid a premium to buy houses within walking distance of the new stations). The county could reap nearly $400 million in new tax revenue from the project, too. It’s basically a no-brainer. But conservative activists seem dead-set on ensuring that the county’s traffic remains as gridlocked as Washington politics.

DOES IT FEEL LIKE POLITICS IS AT A BREAKING POINT?

Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest