MSNBC has unearthed a leaked memo from a Washington lobbying firm proposing to the American Bankers Association that it develop a "response" to Occupy Wall Street costing $850,000.

A response campain is necessary, the memo says, because of the potential for Democrats to harness the Occupiers' populist rage against the financial industry. "If vilifying the leading companies of this sector is allowed to become an unchallenged centerpiece of a coordinated Democratic campaign," the lobbyists warn, there could be "long-lasting political, policy and financial impacts on the companies in the center of the bullseye."

Despite the grubby appearance of many protestors, the memo says Occupy "bears the hallmarks of a well-funded effort and media reports have speculated about associations with George Soros." (Really? We did a quick Google search and yeah, we missed it at the time but that claim was floating around a month or so ago. Reuters' blogger Felix Salmon critiqued the theory — and his own news organization's reporting on it — in this post.) The memo goes on: "If we can show they have the same cynical motivation as a political opponent it will undermine their credibility in a significant way."

Among other "deliverables," the lobbyists suggest "opposition research" that would try to dig up criminal record, litigation, tax liens and other public records on the movement's leaders (assuming it has "leaders" — we thought the movement was famous for being diffuse).

Readers will recall that we've taken our share of potshots at Occupy Wall Street in the Morning Scan. Early on, this post earned us a nasty-gram from one of the movement's supporters, who called us a mainstream media shill (if we recall correctly, she spelled it "shil"). But we gotta say, this Nixonian memo, which also contemplates monitoring the protestors' social media communications (for "extreme language and ideas that put its most ardent supporters at odds with mainstream Americans"), is pretty chilling. Or it would be, if the K Street folks didn't seem so clueless — as CNBC's John Carney has noted, OWS has been raising a significant amount of money, but it's collected a lot in small amounts, and the movement has tapped unconventional sources (its house organ was funded through Kickstarter, a neat website that matches creative projects with individual donors).

You don't need to pay six figures for this kind of "research," ABA; just surf the web (or subscribe to the Morning Scan; it's free!). Actually the ABA seems to have figured this out; the trade group told Reuters it did not act on the proposals, and that the memo was unsolicited.

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