You may have seen ads, opinion columns, or TV appearances by a group that dubs itself “Stop Too Big To Fail.” At first glance, maybe even at second glance, they seem to be coming at financial reform from the left, arguing that the proposed reform doesn’t go far enough in breaking up the big banks. But unlike most advocates for tougher reforms, this group is actually urging that the current bill be voted down, which seemed a bit odd. So we started looking into the group.

It turns out it’s a project of a notorious astroturf outfit based in Indiana that has a long track record of taking industry money to set up phony “grassroots movements.” But their effort this time with Stop Too Big To Fail was so convincing that it actually roped in uber-reformer Simon Johnson, the former IMF economist who’s been on a one-man crusade to topple the banking oligarchy. Now he’s trying to get his name and photo removed from the group’s website. Some news outlets have been duped, too. It’s a great story, and Justin Elliott got it for us.


David Kurtz is Managing Editor and Washington Bureau Chief of Talking Points Memo where he oversees the news operations of TPM and its sister sites.