Koch Brothers

RNC discovers a problem with the Koch brothers’ operation

David Koch (Photo by Phelan M. Ebenhack/AP)

MSNBC 

The more Charles and David Koch provided the resources for a massive political operation, the more it seemed as if the far-right billionaires were creating a political party of their own. The Kochs had an army of field organizers, blanketed the airwaves with political ads, and even had their own voter lists.
All of this, of course, raises important questions about the role of money in the political process, and just how much influence wealthy interests can wield in a democratic system. But as Yahoo Newsreports today, for the Republican National Committee, the Koch brothers’ power is raising very different kinds of questions.
The Yahoo News report notes, for example, that in the 2014 election cycle, the RNC and the Kochs’ operation struck a deal to share voter data, though the arrangement evaporated once the season came and went. Now, however, the two sides are sharply at odds, creating what one Republican operative described as “all-out war.”
Interviews with more than three dozen people, including top decision-makers in both camps, have revealed that the Kochs’ i360 platform for managing voter contacts – which is viewed by many as a superior, easier-to-use interface than what’s on offer from the RNC – is becoming increasingly popular among Republican campaigns.
The RNC is now openly arguing, however, that the Kochs’ political operation is trying to control the Republican Party’s master voter file, and to gain influence over – some even say control of – the GOP.
Katie Walsh, the RNC’s chief of staff, told Yahoo News, “I think it’s very dangerous and wrong to allow a group of very strong, well-financed individuals who have no accountability to anyone to have control over who gets access to the data when, why and how.”
I can appreciate why fights over data may seem like the ultimate in inside-baseball, but this is a fight worth paying close attention to.
Remember, for many modern campaigns, this data is the foundation for any successful endeavor. The more reliable and comprehensive the data, and the easier it is to use, the more effective the targeting, messaging, advertising, and grassroots organizing of any major campaign.
In this case, as one might expect, the Republican National Committee controls the Republican voter file, but the Kochs’ operation seems to have discovered that it really doesn’t need the Republican National Committee – the Kochs have their own platform to manage the data, and their own relationships with campaigns that want to make use of the data.
If that’s the case, some of you may be wondering why the Republican National Committee is needed at all – and you wouldn’t be the only one. From the Yahoo piece:
The core issue, from Priebus’ point of view, is one of loyalty and allegiance. The RNC is a permanent entity, committed to the Republican Party without question. The Koch network is too independent from the party to be trusted with possession of the GOP’s most valuable core assets. If the Kochs – whose political history is steeped more in libertarianism than it is in any loyalty to the Republican Party – decided next week to use their database to benefit only their massive multinational corporation, they could do so. […]
The Kochs’ political arm, Freedom Partners, which oversees i360, views the issue as one of capability. Koch aides – several of whom used to work at the RNC – want to win elections, and in their view the RNC has inherent challenges to helping the party win. Party committee fundraising is severely limited by federal election law, while building, maintaining and enriching a database is expensive.
The other angle to keep in mind is just how striking it is to see Republican officials discover their heretofore non-existent concerns about outside money and the political process. The RNC’s Katie Walsh didn’t even rely on anonymity – she straight up told Yahoo News, on the record, that she believes it’s “dangerous” to extend too much power to “well-financed individuals who have no accountability to anyone.”
Ya don’t say. We might want to think twice before turning over parts of the democratic process to unaccountable, wealthy players with their own agenda? I’ve heard similar concerns for many years, but I don’t recall them ever coming from RNC officials.
H/t: DB

Scott Walker Celebrates Earth Day by Proposing To Fire 57 Environmental Agency Employees

Zach Roberts/ZUMA; NASA/Wikimedia Commons

Mother Jones

Happy Earth Day! Today is a day we can all band together and share our love for this beautiful planet—or at least drown our sorrows about climate change with nerdy themed cocktails. Later today, President Barack Obama will mark the occasion with a climate-focused speech in the Florida Everglades. Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, a frontrunner for the GOP presidential nomination, had a different idea: Fire a big chunk of the state’s environmental staff.

From the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel:

Fifty-seven employees of the state Department of Natural Resources began receiving formal notices this week that they might face layoff as part of Gov. Scott Walker’s budget for the next two fiscal years…

The DNR’s scientific staff conducts research on matters ranging from estimating the size of the state’s deer herd to to studying the effects of aquatic invasive species. Work is paid for with state and federal funds…

All told, Walker’s budget would cut 66 positions from the DNR. Of this, more than 25% would come from the science group. Cosh said a smaller number of employees received notices than the 66 positions in the budget because some positions targeted for cuts are vacant.

It’s no secret that a signature tactic in Walker’s controversial environmental recordhas been to degrade the DNR, which in addition to carrying out research is tasked with regulating the state’s mining industries. Still, the timing of this particular announcement is striking. I guess no one marked Earth Day on Walker’s calendar.

Neither Walker’s office nor DNR immediately returned requests for comment.

As consolation for this depressing news, here’s is a webcam of pandas at the San Diego Zoo.

How Rand Paul bombed at Koch brothers gathering

Sen. Rand Paul is pictured. | Getty

“Jeans might work for a younger audience,” said one attendee, “but these are old bulls who put on a tie every day to go to the office.” | Getty

Politico

His laid-back style turns off big money donors.

Some of the most influential players in big-money conservative politics gathered late last month to discuss government’s role in society, but their focus kept shifting to a less weighty topic: Rand Paul’s outfit.

The Kentucky senator and prospective GOP presidential candidate — whose libertarian politics mesh with those of the billionaire megadonor brothers Charles and David Koch — appeared at the annual winter meeting of the Koch donor network wearing a boxy blue blazer, faded jeans and cowboy boots.

Some attendees commented that Paul’s appearance was “cavalier,” said Frayda Levin, a Paul supporter and major donor who attended the conference at the Ritz-Carlton in Rancho Mirage, California. It was organized by Freedom Partners Chamber of Commerce, the nonprofit hubthat oversees the Koch network. “This is an older crowd and much more establishment crowd. They are used to a Romney. They are used to a Jeb Bush,” Levin said.

“Jeans might work for a younger audience,” said another attendee, “but these are old bulls who put on a tie every day to go to the office.”

The sartorial criticisms hint at a potentially more serious challenge for Paul — securing the backing of enough big-money donors to be competitive in a crowded Republican primary that could include prolific fundraisers such as Jeb Bush and Chris Christie.

During a Sunday afternoon speech at the Koch forum , Paul drew skepticism among some donors by touting tax breaks as a means of spurring economic growth in blighted inner cities. That stance is anathema to the brand of small-government conservatism espoused by the industrialist brothers and many of their network’s donors, who object to marketplace interference. Even Levin admitted she was “a bit surprised. But he’s just exploring ideas right now. People didn’t quite understand where he was coming from.”

Donors were further put off by Paul’s performance later that evening in a forum for prospective GOP presidential candidates that also featured Sens. Marco Rubio of Florida and Ted Cruz of Texas. At times slouching in a cushy arm chair, Paul, with his legs crossed, gave rambling answers that contrasted sharply with other participants.

At one point, he opposed eliminating tax benefits to the oil and gas industry — from which Koch Industries, the brothers’ multi-national conglomerate, benefits but which the brothers philosophically oppose. Paul seemed less prepared than Rubio, who gave detailed answers and was by far the most sharply turned out of the trio (pressed Navy blue suit, crisp white shirt, red tie and American flag lapel pin). Cruz, tieless in a light blue shirt and tan sports coat, laced his remarks with one-liners.

The next day, when 100 donors participated in an informal straw poll conducted by veteran consultant Frank Luntz, Paul finished dead last. Rubio came in first, followed by Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who stopped by the conference, but could not make it for the panel.

Paul’s spokesman Sergio Gor noted the event was mostly off the record (though the forum was streamed live online) and said his office wouldn’t comment on specifics. But, he added “we can assure you Sen. Rand Paul made great inroads with countless individuals who attended the event. His individual meetings with attendees proved very, very fruitful and he was well-received by the hosts. Finally, since the event was closed to the press, it is impossible for any reporter to accurately reflect the opinion of 300 attendees.”

Still, several attendees characterized Paul’s performance as a missed opportunity for him to significantly broaden his base of megadonor support headed into a presidential election in which the two major party nominees and their allies are expected to spend upward of $1.7 billion apiece.

Big-money support is seen as a key weakness for Paul, much as it was for the presidential campaigns of his father, former Texas Rep. Ron Paul. While there are key differences between father and son in both style and substance, major donors still look skeptically upon both Pauls’ brands of libertarian-infused conservatism — particularly their noninterventionist foreign policies.

Supporters argue that Rand Paul, who has opened offices in Silicon Valley and Austin, can overcome that by looking outside the traditional GOP megadonor community

“Mainstream donors were never his primary target. He is bringing in guys from Silicon Valley, from the tech world, who were never comfortable with the Republican Party,” Levin said, describing Paul’s donor base as “transpolitical.”

Indeed, Paul has met with a number of tech tycoons who defy party labels, such as Peter Thiel, the PayPal co-founder and early investor in Facebook and LinkedIn, who gave more than $2.7 million to super PACs supporting Ron Paul’s 2012 presidential campaign; Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg; PayPal board member Scott Banister; Joe Lonsdale, founder of Palantir who is considered a Thiel protégé. Napster co-founder Sean Parker, who has waded increasingly into national politicsin recent months, donated $5,000 to Paul’s leadership PAC in November, according to the latest campaign finance reports.

Paul might not raise the most, but he will have necessary donor support, said Aleix Jarvis, one of the few Paul backers among the K-Street lobbying world of Washington. “Money is not going to be a problem for him,” said Jarvis, a lobbyist at Fierce Government Relations. “It won’t match what Jeb does, but I think that’s an advantage in Rand’s mind.”

Yet with mixed results, Paul has continued to try to court allies among the traditional megadonor community.

During a 2013 major donor summit organized by the Karl Rove-conceived American Crossroads super PAC, Paul was aggressively challenged on whether he would support a military strike on Iran if it became apparent that the regime had enough uranium to build a bomb.

The Freedom Partners conference seemed like fertile turf for Paul, given that Paul’s libertarian sensibilities align closely with the Koch brothers and some of their key donors.

In fact, Charles Koch is thought to favor Paul most among all the prospective 2016 candidates. And Paul has traveled to Koch’s home turf of Wichita to court him, playing at least one round of golf with the 79-year-old billionaire. (Paul’s PAC late last year paid $406 to Koch Industries for a “golf expense” according to a recent campaign finance filing).

Some have viewed Charles Koch as a bridge to other network donors. The Koch network intends to spend $889 million in the run-up to the 2016 election on a combination of political organizing and advertising, as well as academic research and advocacy on free-enterprise issues. While the brothers and their network have not said whether they will try to influence the GOP presidential primary, the political world is closely watching its every interaction with prospective candidates.

Some conference attendees say Paul was well-received in a small group break-out session on one of Koch’s key issues — criminal justice reform.

But when Paul defended his noninterventionist positions in response to a question on Cuba at the candidate forum, sources say he got mixed results from the Koch donor network, which has become increasingly diverse and now includes several donors who are more aligned with the hawkish GOP orthodoxy on foreign policy.

Asked about his support for President Barack Obama’s move to normalize relations with the communist island nation, Paul said “We’ve tried an embargo for 50 years. It hasn’t worked. The reason I call it a form of isolationism is if you apply the embargo … if you do that for China, for Vietnam, for Laos, for any of the other countries that have human rights abuses, that would be a policy of isolationism.”

Levin conceded that Paul’s foreign policy isn’t for everyone. “That’s what differentiates him. I don’t think he came across as extreme libertarian. Rand Paul just thinks we can’t patrol the world,” she said. As for the Rancho Mirage, she said “I don’t think it was a missed opportunity. He tried to court them, but there are some issues — some key issues — that he’s not going to back down on.”

The Kochs Plan to Buy the 2016 Election for $889 Million

Charles Koch | Attribution: None

PoliticusUSA

The New York Times calls it $900 million. The Washington Post“nearly $1 billion.” CNN simply calls it “staggering.” Ben Ray, spokesperson for Democratic-aligned American Bridge put it best, telling USAToday: “What an obscene amount of money.”

The actual amount announced Monday at the Rancho Mirage Ritz Carlton is $889 million, and that is what the Koch brothers’ political network (17 Koch-funded organizations) plans to spend buying the 2016 elections for corporate America and the 1 percent.

It is, as CNN informs us, “[M]ore money than any private network has ever spent on an election cycle.” It is also as much as either the Republicans or Democrats spend: Compare this to the $675 million spent by the Republican Party in 2012. And the Kochs can spend the money however they want, unlike the RNC.

How much money is that? With a budget of $20 per person you could feed nearly 50 million people better meals than most of them have ever had for one day.

If you go by the approximately $3 the USDA reimburses schoolsfor free student lunches, that $889 million would feed 296 million children. The USDA Food and Nutrition Service said 21 million kids received free or reduced-price lunches in 2013. You do the math.

Oxfam has already announced to the world that the “Richest 1 percent will own more than the rest by 2016.” Apparently, that isn’t enough for the Kochs. They’ve got to have their own country, too.

As The Washington Post reported,

The massive financial goal was revealed to donors during an annual winter meeting here hosted by Freedom Partners, the tax-exempt business lobby that serves as the hub of the Koch-backed political operation, according to an attendee. The amount is more than double the $407 million that 17 allied groups in the network raised during the 2012 campaign.

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), Rand Paul (R-KY) and Ted Cruz (R-TX) were all on hand at the Koch’s retreat for seminars and strategy sessions, greedily rubbing their fingers in anticipation. Not coincidentally, Newsmax tells us that,

Most of the 450 who attended the weekend event weren’t interested in another Mitt Romney run. They leaned more toward Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, and Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul.

What we can take from Charles Koch’s welcome speechSaturday, is that the Big Lie is alive and well in the Koch family: “Americans have taken an important step in slowing down the march toward collectivism,” he said. Of course, collectivism is not a threat and the Kochs are huge corporate welfare queens, more than happy to take our tax dollars from the federal government they excoriate.

Like his bought men, Walker, Rubio, Paul, and Cruz, Charles Koch is simply inventing threats out of whole cloth, and reassured guests and employees both,

But as many of you know, we don’t rest on our laurels. We are already back at work and hard at it! In fact, the work never really ends. Because the struggle for freedom never ends.

He claimed that,

Much of our efforts to date have been largely defensive to slow down a government that continues to swell and become more intrusive – causing our culture to deteriorate. Making this vision a reality will require more than a financial commitment. It requires making it a central part of their lives.

So the Kochs are presenting themselves as defenders of American culture now. This, from a man so far removed from American culture he cannot begin to imagine an average American’s life. Yet he claims to be defending our culture. This is the point of Koch’s speech at which the Greek gods would begin casting lightning bolts, for hubris was always mankind’s greatest sin.

Just keep in mind, that freedom he is talking about is serfdom for you and me.

The impact of this amount of money cannot be ignored. As Ben Ray of American Bridge put it, “If they are spending more than the RNC, I know exactly who the (Republican) presidential candidates will listen to.”

And even Grover Norquist told The Washington Post that, “It’s not like a Chicago political boss where Charles would say, ‘We’re all for this guy.’ But if he said, ‘I really like this guy’ and did an op-ed, it would matter.”

Which means Mother Jones is not engaging in mere hyperbole when they say, “It’s official: The Kochs and their rich friends are the new third party.”

Democrats, who have neither a plethora of corporations nor a bevy of 1 percenters to fund their campaigns, will have to work a lot harder to find that kind of cash. Of course, Democrat money will reflect the views of actual Americans rather than the insatiable appetites of the 1 percent.

According to the Post, “The $889 million goal reflects the budget goals of all the allied groups that the network funds. Those resources will go into field operations, new technology and policy work, among other projects.”

The one thing a billion dollars can’t buy are a viable platform or likeable candidates. It remains to be seen whether it is enough to convince blacks, Latinos, women and others that the Republican Party actually cares about them.

But make no mistake: this represents a full-scale assault on American democracy. Ted Cruz was quoted as saying Sunday night that, “There are a bunch of Democrats who have taken as their talking points that the Koch brothers are the nexus of all evil in the world.” He said that thinking is “grotesque and offensive.”

While you have to respect Cruz’s loyalty to his owners, he is wrong. What is grotesque and offensive is what he and his fellow employees of Koch Industries have been up to at the Rancho Mirage Ritz Carlton: plotting the murder of American democracy.

They Hope You Won’t Wake Up

The Huffington Post

Here’s the bottom line. The Tea Party Republicans and their Big Business and Wall Street allies plan to grab what they want while ordinary people sleep through this election.

They want ordinary Americans to stay home on Election Day.

To them, high voter turnout is like daylight to a burglar — or for that matter to a vampire. It stops them cold.

The corporate CEO’s and Wall Street bankers together with Tea Party extremists control the Republican Party. They see this traditionally low-turnout mid-term election as the perfect opportunity to take over the United States Senate, Governors’ mansions and State Houses with politicians who represent their interests.

They don’t want Senators from Iowa, Louisiana, Georgia, Kentucky, North Carolina, Alaska, South Dakota or Michigan. They want Senators from the Koch Brothers and their corporate and Wall Street allies — Senators who actually represent them and will do whatever they are told.

They want to know that when the chips are down they can count on government officials to continue rigging the economic game so they can continue to siphon off all of the economic growth for wealthiest one percent of the population.

That’s why, at the beginning of this cycle, the Koch Brothers’ network vowed to invest $300 million to smear Democratic candidates for office. That’s why Wall Street has redirected most of its giving to the GOP. And that’s why Republicans have spent the last two years passing laws to suppress voter turnout — especially among African Americans and Hispanic voters.

In order to continue taking our money, they need to take our votes. Where they can, they’ve passed “voter ID” laws that disenfranchise hundred of thousands — and impose what amounts to a poll tax — allegedly to stop the non-existent problem of voter identity fraud. Where they can, they’ve curtailed early voting periods and access to mail ballots.

In Georgia, the Republican Secretary of State has gone so far as to refuse to process 40,000 new voter registrations.

The smaller the turnout, the better for the plutocrats who want to continue to have unfettered access to virtually all of the economic growth generated by the American economy — just as they have for the last 30 years.

The fact is that over the last three decades our Gross Domestic Product per person has gone up by 80 percent. That means we all should be 80 percent better off than 30 years ago. But instead, wages have stagnated for most Americans because the rules of the game have allowed the CEO’s and Wall Street speculators to take all of that growth in income for themselves. They want to keep it that way.

But that requires that ordinary people stay away from the polls, because when most Americans vote, the electorate represents the whole population of the United States. And the fact is that most Americans support a progressive program that would change all of that.

Bottom line: they want to steal your family’s security while you sleep through the election.

There’s only one problem with this strategy: you don’t have to go along. Ordinary Americans can stop them by going to the polls.

It’s really up to us.

If you don’t have an ID, get one.

If they don’t have enough voting machines, camp there. Stand in line as long as it takes.

In 2012, thousands of people stood in line for hours – even after Barack Obama was declared the winner for President – because they were unwilling to allow the Republicans to steal their votes. If necessary, join them and do the same.

Don’t let them steal your vote.

Of course, in many places they can’t try these kind of overt voter intimidation tactics. Instead, they try to lull ordinary people to sleep by trying to convince us that the elections don’t matter anyway.

Tea Party extremists masquerade as moderates. Politicians who owe everything to rich plutocrats parade around in old cars and workshirts to look like they understand the “common man.”

They come out with mushy position papers on issues that are overwhelmingly popular — like raising the minimum wage. But they never mention that if you elect enough Republicans for them to control the House or Senate, the leadership in those bodies will simply refuse to call a minimum wage bill for a vote — just like John Boehner did this year.

Want to pass immigration reform? Then get out and vote against Republicans, who blocked an up or down vote in the House on comprehensive immigration reform — a bill that would have passed the House if the Republican leadership had simply called the bill to the floor.

Want to restore long-term unemployment compensation benefits? A bill passed the Senate that would have been signed by the president, but the House Republican leadership refused to call it for a vote.

Want to cut the cost of student loans? The Republican leadership in the House refused to take up the very popular measure sponsored in the Senate by Elizabeth Warren. If Mitch McConnell becomes Senate Majority Leader, the Senate won’t call it for a vote either.

Want to stop cuts in Social Security and Medicare? The House Republicans passed a budget that would end the Medicare guarantee and replace it with vouchers for private insurance that would raise out-of-pocket costs for retirees by thousands of dollars.

Want tax policies that shift the burden from ordinary working people to the one percent that has received all of the benefits of our growing economy? It won’t come from Republicans — ever.

In fact, elections matter enormously to the economic well-being of every American. And no one’s vote counts more than yours — unless you don’t vote. Because if you don’t vote, everyone’s vote counts more than yours. In political terms, if you don’t vote, you don’t count. And we know that if you’re not at the table, you’re on the menu.

If nothing else will convince you to vote, think about this. If millions of ordinary middle and working class Americans sit this election out and let the Koch Brothers of the world have their way, can’t you just imagine how they will yuck it up over drinks in their exclusive private clubs, or onboard their private jets?

They have no respect for working people — or the value of hard work. Many of them disdain ordinary working people. To them, it will just confirm their view that ordinary people can be sold a bill of goods if they just spend enough money and repeat enough lies.

In the end we will prove them dead wrong. The moral arc of the universe does in fact bend toward justice. But don’t give them the satisfaction — even for a few fleeting months at the end of 2014 — to think that their money can buy our democracy and there is nothing we are willing to do about it.

At Koch Retreat, Top GOP Senate Candidates Credited Koch Network For Their Rise

The Huffington Post

Three top Republican Senate candidates heaped praise on the political network built by the conservative billionaires Charles and David Koch during a secretive conference held by the brothers this past summer, according to audio of the event.

Iowa state Sen. Joni Ernst and Arkansas Rep. Tom Cotton directly credited donors present at the June 16 retreat in Dana Point, California, for propelling them forward. Colorado Rep. Cory Gardner told attendees that his race would likely be decided by the presence of “third party” money — an obvious pitch for generosity from the well-heeled crowd.

The presence of Gardner and Cotton was previously reported by The Nationmagazine, though it is unclear if Cotton ever confirmed his appearance. Ernst’s attendance had not previously been reported.

For all three, the association with the Koch brothers’ network is likely to provide kindling for their opponents, who have already argued that the Republicans are steered by deep-pocketed conservatives.

Audio of the event, held at the St. Regis Monarch Beach resort, was obtained by The Undercurrent and shared exclusively with The Huffington Post. In it, the three Republican candidates, appearing on a panel titled “The Senate: A Window of Policy Opportunity for Principled Leaders,” speak for several minutes each about the state of their respective races. Because the discussion took place in mid-June, some of the comments are dated. In addition, some of the audio was redacted to preserve the anonymity of the individual who provided it — “a source who was present at the event,” per an official with The Undercurrent — and to remove sections with too much cross-talk. A separate source, who helped organize the retreat, confirmed each candidate’s participation.

During their speeches, both Cotton and Ernst noted that this was actually the second Koch brothers’ retreat they had attended. Last year, the two had gone to the New Mexico event as politicians of less stature. The Koch network has since helped usher them to the doorsteps of the United States Senate.

“I was not known at that time,” Ernst said. “A little-known state senator from a very rural part of Iowa, known through my National Guard service and some circles in Iowa. But the exposure to this group and to this network and the opportunity to meet so many of you, that really started my trajectory.”

“We are going to paint some very clear differences in this general election,” she said earlier in her talk. “And this is the thing that we are going to take back — that it started right here with all of your folks, this wonderful network.”

Cotton went further, crediting Koch-funded groups for helping change the political landscape of Arkansas.

“Americans for Prosperity in Arkansas has played a critical role in turning our state from a one-party Democratic state [inaudible] building the kind of constant engagement to get people in the state involved in their communities,” he said.

Such discussion is franker than that offered during the daily grind of the campaign trail — for obvious reason. The talk was private. At one point, Cotton flatly claims that former Majority Leader Eric Cantor lost his seat because he “endorsed immigration principles.” At a separate panel on congressional races, the audio of which was also sent to The Huffington Post, officials with two Koch-funded organizations — Americans for Prosperity’s president, Tim Phillips, and Freedom Partners’ president, Marc Short — also spoke more candidly about Senate races than they would have on a public panel.

“Michigan is a state that’s basically an uphill climb honestly,” said Short, mentioning the battle to replace Sen. Carl Levin (D).

“Minnesota, everyone’s favorite comedian, Al Franken. He, against all expectations, actually has kept his head down and not made stupid comments, and has been in decent shape in a relatively blue state,” said Phillips, referring to another Democratic senator, who is up for re-election this year.

Listen to highlights from both panels here…

Continued…

 

Here’s How Much Fox News Hosts Are Intertwined With The Koch Brothers

FOX KOCH

Fox News

The Huffington Post

More than a dozen Fox News personalities have made appearances at events for groups funded by the Koch brothers, even as many of them were also defending the controversial billionaires on the network’s airwaves, according to a new study from Media Matters.

Charles and David Koch, founders of Americans for Prosperity (AFP) and the Americans for Prosperity Foundation (AFPF), have called on at least 15 Fox News hosts and contributors to publicly promote upcoming AFP and AFPF events, Media Matters said. These hosts include Tucker Carlson, Mike Huckabee, Laura Ingraham, Guy Benson, Dana Perino and Andrew Napolitano.

A recent Politico report showed that AFP “intends to spend more than $125 million this year on an aggressive ground, air and data operation benefiting conservatives.” Since 2012, a growing number of hosts have become the faces of these Koch-funded events in an effort to increase the attendance.

Moreover, many of these hosts have also loudly backed the Koch brothers on Fox News shows, Media Matters noted. Just weeks before Tucker Carlson was set to be the lead speaker at an AFPF in May, for instance, he criticized opponents of the Koch brothers during an edition of “Special Report.” Hosts of “Fox & Friends” and “The Five” have also come to the brothers’ aid and used their shows to promote AFP and AFPF material.

Networks have often frowned upon hosts when they’ve veered from normal opinionating into more explicit party politics. MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough and Keith Olbermann were both briefly suspended in 2010 for making donations to political candidates. Ed Schultz was also pulled from speaking at a Florida Democratic fundraiser when it seemed he might too be crossing a line. Fox News itself has clamped down on hosts, ordering Sean Hannity to return to New York in 2010 after the network found out he was set to lead a Tea Party fundraiser.

11 things the Koch brothers don’t want you to know

11 things the Koch brothers don't want you to know

Screenshot from the “Koch Brothers Exposed” trailer

Salon

Robert Greenwald’s updated documentary reveals the poster boys for the 1 percent are even worse than you thought

This article originally appeared on AlterNet.

The mega-billionaire brothers, David and Charles Koch, stand apart in the world of Republicans.

In 2012, their network of hardcore libertarian political donors spent $400 million on negative campaign ads intended to destroy government safety nets and defeat Democrats. They want to repeal Obamacare, dismantle labor unions, repeal any environmental law protecting clean water and air, roll back voting rights, privatize Social Security, stop a minimum wage increase and more. They don’t care about destroying the checks and balances in American democracy to get their way.

In an updated documentary by Robert Greenwald’s Brave New Films, Koch Brothers Exposed: 2014 Edition, we learn many things the Kochs don’t want you to know, from the origin of their radical agenda to other issues they’ve championed that haven’t made the national news, such as resegregating public schools.

Here are 11 things the Kochs don’t want you to know about them.

1. The family’s $100 billion fortune comes mostly from a massive network of oil and gas pipelines, and investments in other polluting industries like paper and plastics. The brothers inherited the seed money for their holdings from their father Fred Koch, who made his first fortune building oil pipelines for the Russian dictator Joseph Stalin in the 1930s. Back in the states, Fred Koch supported racial segregation and white supremacist groups like the John Birch Society.

2. Koch Industries is the second largest privately held company in America, worth upwards of $80 billion. It is one of the country’s top 15 polluters, responsible for more than 300 oil spills. It has paid over $100 million in fines and been found guilty by a federal jury of stealing oil from Native American lands.

3. The Kochs have invested multi-millions in more than 85 right-wing organizations over the years to push an anti-government, libertarian agenda. Many local Tea Party chapters were fronts for Americans for Prosperity, one of their groups. Another big recipient, ALEC, or the American Legislative Exchange Council, drafts bills and talking points that Republican officials cite again and again. In the 2012 presidential election cycle, the Koch’s right-wing donor network spent $400 million on electioneering.



4. The brothers work to create legal decisions to empower their efforts. They brought two U.S. Supreme Court Justices, Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas, to give speeches at their invitation-only gatherings for libertarian industrialists. That was before the Court issued itsCitizens Unitedruling, gutting federal laws that restricted the kinds of outside campaigns they bankroll. They funded groups that filed thousands of pages of legal briefs to attack those election laws. After the Court threw out federal campaign restrictions in 2010—a ruling they help to write—the Kochs began to spend unprecedented sums to sway elections.

5. Americans for Prosperity led a successful takeover of the school board in Wake County, North Carolina in 2009, which then ended student busing to resegregate high schools. They resurrected the coded rhetoric of the old South, using terms like “forced busing” and “neighborhood schools.” After hundreds of students were sent to other schools, the uproar was so great the AFP slate was voted out two years later, but not before the kids experienced racism and prejudice.

6. As donors to higher education, the Kochs have designed grant agreements with more than 150 colleges and universities where they restrict academic freedom by exerting control over who gets hired. The programs they fund present only their views in class, curricula and in their research. They promote pro-business, libertarian inquiry, which does not allow the facts and results to lead to their own conclusions. Faculties at many universities have protested these donations and threats to academic freedom.

7. AFP was one of the lead groups in Wisconsin, encouraging Republican Gov. Scott Walker to revoke collective bargaining agreements with public employees—except for police and firefighters, who tend to support the GOP and law-and-order politicians. Through national legal advocacy groups like ALEC, they have introduced scores of reactionary anti-union bills in dozens of states.

8. Other Koch-funded efforts include the Republican national effort to unduly police the voting process to discourage young people, minorities and senior from casting ballots. The reactionary voting rights bills they have introduced in dozens of states impose stricter voter ID requirements, which do not prevent people from registering to vote but will keep them from getting a ballot if they cannot present specific paperwork. AFP and other Koch-funded groups, such as True The Vote, have recruited and trained mostly white poll watchers to challenge the credentials of mostly non-white voters, creating a climate of fear and intimidation around voting.

9. The Koch brothers make $13 million a day from their investments, but they want to eliminate minimum wage laws and oppose any increases. People earning the federal minimum wage earn about $60 a day. A minimum wage worker would have to work almost 700 years to earn what the Kochs make in a day. (Koch-funded politicians have proposed 67 bills in 25 states to reduce the minimum wage.)

10. The Koch brothers want to destroy the most popular government program of all, Social Security, by funding right-wing think tanks that spread misinformation about Social Security’s long-term financial health, claiming it will not survive. They want people to invest their retirement savings on Wall Street, which is riskier and would earn billions in fees for investment firms. They want to raise the retirement age for Social Security to 70, which would especially penalize blue-collar workers who do manual labor, as their bodies wear out more quickly than white-collar workers.

11. The Koch brothers’ massive investments and holdings are literally killing the planet, because their primary business is transporting gas and oil. That includes the Canadian oil tar sands, which is the dirtiest source of fossil fuel on earth. If these sands are developed for the U.S. or Chinese markets, it would be the biggest carbon bomb in decades, hastening the progress of global climate change.

Koch Brothers’ Secrets Revealed In New Book

The Huffington Post

Charles and David Koch are the unofficial standard-bearers of a new generation of billionaires, willing to spend immense sums to influence politics. Best known for bankrolling the tea party movement, the fiercely private Koch family has achieved a quasi-mythical status in political circles. Yet they remain an enigma to most Americans.

Sons of Wichita: How the Koch Brothers Became America’s Most Powerful and Private Dynasty aims to change that. Written by Mother Jones senior editor Daniel Schulman, the biography, set to be released Tuesday, draws on hundreds of interviews with Koch family and friends, as well as thousands of pages of legal documents. The Huffington Post received a copy of the book on Friday.

Schulman examines the roots of Charles and David Koch’s libertarian worldview through the lens of their family, including the formative relationship that all four Koch brothers had with their father, the cold, ambitious Fred Koch. Schulman also traces the bitter and litigious history of Charles and David Koch’s relationships with their lesser-known brothers: Frederick, the eldest, and Bill, David’s twin brother.

At the center of the saga is patriarch Fred Koch, a staunch anti-communist who drilled his political ideology into his sons from a young age. In 1938, then sympathetic to the fascist regimes ruling Germany, Italy and Japan, Fred wrote that he hoped one day the United States would resemble these nations, which had “overcome” the vices of “idleness, feeding at the public trough, [and] dependence on government.”

Elsewhere, Fred warned of a future “vicious race war” in which communists would pit black Americans against white. “The colored man looms large in the Communist plan to take over America,” he wrote.

In private, Fred Koch “ruled the house with an iron fist” and faith in social Darwinism. Schulman recounts how the former boxer encouraged his sons to fight each other, sometimes with horrifying results. “During one bout, Bill bashed his twin over the head with a polo mallet,” Schulman writes. And “David still bears a scar from the time Bill pierced him in the back with a ceremonial sword.” Those early lessons left a deep imprint on the brothers.

Frederick, the oldest, was an outsider in the rough-and-tumble boys club of the Koch house. “Freddie was a sophisticate, a man of the world, in addition to the fact that he was gay, [which] wasn’t easily accepted in those days,” said a family friend.

Instead, it was Charles, the middle child, who became the vehicle for his father’s ambitions. According to a friend, the father worried that he had been “too kind to Freddie, and that’s why he turned out to be so effeminate. When Charles came along, the old man wasn’t going to make that mistake. So he was really, really tough on Charles.”

The result was a serious, extremely disciplined man, who along with his younger brother David, would transform their father’s medium-sized oil refining business, Koch Industries, into one of the largest privately held corporations in the world. But their success came at a high price.

Schulman describes how Charles, unable to convince brother Frederick to sell his stake in Koch Industries, allegedly resorted to “a homosexual blackmail attempt to force Frederick to sell his shares.” And when the youngest twin, Bill, launched a bid to wrest control of Koch Industries from his older brothers, Charles’ legal team responded by releasing a dossier of opposition research on Bill, filled with sordid details of his personal life.

In 2000, Bill’s then-wife Angela, the mother of two of his children, called the police to accuse Bill of punching her in the stomach and threatening “to beat his whole family to death with his belt.” Bill was charged with domestic assault and threatening to commit murder. Angela later recanted parts of her account, shortly before receiving a divorce settlement worth $16 million.

Nonetheless, Bill spent decades waging vicious legal battles against Charles and David, which cost the family tens of millions of dollars. Much of the book revolves around Bill’s failed attempts to gain control of Koch Industries.

As Schulman recounts, Bill hired private investigators to bug his brothers’ offices and pick through the garbage cans at their homes. He planted false memos aimed at rooting out spies in his own company, Oxbow, who he suspected were secretly working for his brothers.

While Bill’s anger may have been rooted in childhood rivalries, according to Schulman, it was exacerbated by Charles’ ultra-libertarian business philosophy, which Bill considered bad for business. Schulman describes how Charles, and by extension Koch Industries, regularly ignored environmental regulations on principle, believing them to be a hallmark of “Big Brother” government.

After losing a string of huge regulatory battles in the 1990s and paying heavy fines, Charles softened his stance somewhat. Still, the company remains a libertarian venture to this day. Schulman writes that Charles believes the role of government should be “only to keep a check on those who might attempt to interfere with the laws of supply and demand.”

Charles still lives in their hometown of Wichita, Kansas, with his wife, Liz, and generally avoids drawing attention to himself or his family.

By comparison, his brothers can seem like dilettantes, despite Schulman’s exceptionally fair treatment.

As a bachelor, David was known for hosting hundreds of people at champagne-soaked, all-night parties at his homes in Aspen, Colorado, and Southampton, New York. He once boasted that at least a third of his guests were “beautiful, wild, single women.” A guest told Schulman, “A lot of the crowd were these L.A. chicks who had just bought a new pair of tits and wanted to make sure that they did not go unnoticed — those parties got pretty wild.”

In 1996, Bill went to court to evict his former girlfriend from the Boston apartment he had set her up in. Included in the court records were faxes the couple exchanged, some of them sexually explicit. One of the notes was signed “Hot Love From Your X-Rated Protestant Princess.” In another, the woman described herself as “a wet orchid,” writing, “every inch of my body misses you.” Bill succeeded in having her evicted.

For his part, Frederick lives an intensely private life and apparently has little contact with his three brothers. He maintains a collection of historic houses around the world, as well as smaller homes in which he actually lives. The historic houses, which Frederick fills with priceless art, essentially serve as his own private museums.

Sons of Wichita hits bookstores on May 20.

After Getting Pummelled By Fact Checkers Koch Brothers Dump Obamacare Horror Story Ads

Koch-fail

PoliticusUSA

The Koch brothers spent millions of dollars on ads that focused on bogus ACA horror stories, but after being eviscerated by fact checkers, the Koch boys have changed their course.

The infamous cancer Obamacare victim ad that Sarah Jones described as, “An ad so misleading that even conservatives won’t back its Obamacare claims. In the Americans for Prosperity ad aimed at destroying Michigan Democratic Senate candidate Rep. Gary Peters, Julie Boonstra inaccurately claims that Obamacare is threatening her cancer treatment and that it “jeopardized my health.”

It turns out that Boonstra was a Republican through and through, and her story of ACA victimization was widely debunked by fact checkers everywhere because it failed to mention that Boonstra would save $1,200 on her health insurance premiums under Obamacare.

The Koch funded ad completely backfired in Michigan, and has helped its target, Democrat Gary Peters, to lead the U.S. Senate race.

These completely fabricated tales of Obamacare woe have been turning up in states all across the country, and they have been called out for being false at every turn.

Because of the negative backlash, it appears that the Koch brothers are trying a new approach. Instead of claiming that the ACA will literally kill you, Koch money is now being spent on ads that argue that the law doesn’t work.

Here is the latest ad:

Notice the difference? The new ads have retreated back to the same widely debunked lies about millions of people losing their health insurance. The Kochs have been reduced to treading over the same old tired ground that Republicans have been working for the past four years.

The dramatic tales of Obamacare killing granny are out, and in comes the same batch of lies that almost destroyed the Republican Party during the government shutdown last fall.

Koch front group, Americans For Prosperity, denied to TPM that they were changing tactics, “We are currently on-air with many different types of ads, including personal testimony of Obamacare impact. This is the same strategy we’ve been using for 6 months. This does not represent a shift in strategy.”

The Koch strategy of claiming that Obamacare will kill you has completely failed. Judging by the millions who are still flocking to sign up for the ACA, people don’t believe what the Kochs are selling.

One of the biggest signs of their defeat is the desperate manner in which the right is flailing about trying to find that one Obamacare lie that will carry them to victory.

The Koch brothers had their lies called out, so they changed tactics. Like copies of copies, each new tactic is weaker than the previous attempt. It all appears to be a futile effort. Not even the Koch billions can stop the Obamacare lies from slowing fading away.

The truth is that the stench of defeat has once again consumed both the Republican Party and their billionaire puppeteers.