Oil baron David Koch has made it clear he is no fan of President Barack Obama, but Wednesday night he provided a fresh reason for his anti-Obama views: the president is frightening.
Obama is “a hardcore socialist,” Koch told the New York Magazine at a spring ball, “and he’s marvelous at pretending to be something other than that, but that is what I believe he truly is, a hardcore socialist. He’s scary to me.”
Koch and his brother Charles are owners of the energy company Koch Industries. The brothers were principle financiers of Wisconsin’s Republican Governor Scott Walker and the tea party movement. They are also supporters of free market groups like Americans for Prosperity, the Cato Institute, the Competitive Enterprise Institute, and the Reason Foundation.
In addition to being a scary hardcore socialist, David Koch said that Obama deserved no credit for the operation that tracked down and killed Osama bin Laden.
“He just made the decision, it was obvious where the guy is,” he told the magazine. “He was one of the worst terrorists organizing attacks on the United States. I mean, no president in his right mind would not approve that decision to go eliminate him.”
You knew they were big. You knew they were evil. From the union-busting actions of their minions in Wisconsin and Ohio to their war on health-care reform, to their assault on the environment and their attacks on the science of climatology, Charles and David Koch have earned their place as the focus of progressives’ scrutiny in the age of the Tea Party — the destructive and regressive movement they bankroll. But a new report from the Center for American Progress Action Fund shows that, as bad as you thought the Kochs were, they’re actually worse. And their reach into virtually every aspect of political, economic and physical life on the planet is probably greater than you thought possible.
In The Koch Brothers: What You Need to Know About the Financiers of the Radical Right, author Tony Carrk, policy director of the CAP Action War Room, lays out a case that is breathtaking in its scope, showing how the Koch brothers are using their billions with the aim of reshaping the global economic system in such a way as to enrich themselves and their heirs at the expense of most other inhabitants of the planet.
While much of the report will have a familiar ring (especially to readers of AlterNet, and CAP Action’s own ThinkProgress), The Koch Brothers also addresses elements of the Koch agenda far beyond the well-trodden turf of Americans for Prosperity’s organizing against health-care reform or the pollution rap against Koch Industries, the second-largest privately held corporation in the United States, which the billionaire brothers command. [Read more]
The right-wing libertarian billionaires Charles and David Koch have been the subject of enormous controversy recently. Liberals have fiercely attacked them, and conservative and libertarians have defended them with equal passion. Now we have Matthew Continetti of the Weekly Standard joining in with an 8,000 word cover story. Continetti is the author of “The Persecution Of Sarah Palin,” and in this piece he reprises his role as ghost author for a popular conservative victim-hero. Because the piece so faithful transmits the Kochs’ own views – in no way does it substantively differ from the story the Kochs themselves would write – it’s a fascination transmission of their self-conception.
Unsurprisingly, the Kochs view themselves as brilliant, public-spirited entrepreneurs who have suddenly become victims of a vicious smear campaign. The Kochs have been active in influencing public policy for many years, and they managed until very recently to escape any scrutiny whatsoever, a state of affairs they clearly view as normal and fair.
The premise of Continetti’s article is that liberal critics of the Kochs are “conspiratorial.” (“whenever you turned on MSNBC or clicked on the Huffington Post, you’d see the Kochs described in terms more applicable to Lex Luthor and General Zod.”) It’s certainly true, as Ezra Klein has noted, that that many liberals overstate the Kochs’ influence. They are an important piece in the conservative movement, but just one piece among many. Scott Walker may have received $43,000 from the Kochs, but the Kochs are bit players in the Wisconsin drama, which is primarily the story of a Republican governor trying to advance his party’s interests, not responding to the Kochs’ money. But the Kochs are powerful figures on the right, and Continetti attempts to sweep up all criticism of their influence as rabid conspiracy-mongering. Over and over Continetti dismisses not just the most heated attacks on the Kochs but any critical reporting on the Kochs as liberal paranoia. [Read more]
The Weekly Standard’s Matt Continetti, a writer who gained fame defending Sarah Palin from public scrutiny, has a new article blasting critics of Koch Industries and its billionaire owners, David and Charles Koch. Continetti traveled to Koch’s headquarters in Wichita, gained unprecedented access to the brothers, as well as their top executives, and came away with nothing but praise for the company and its peerless role in financing right-wing front groups.
In over 8,000 words of hagiography, Continetti did not find space to disclose that his fellow opinion editor at the Weekly Standard, Michael Goldfarb, is currently employed by Koch Industries to help improve the company’s political image. Or that the Weekly Standard’s reporters routinely attend Koch’s secret political strategy and fundraising meetings. Or that Continetti had received a fellowship funded by the Phillips Foundation, a nonprofit heavily reliant on Koch funds. Or that the Weekly Standard is owned by billionaire Phil Anschutz, a friend of the Koch brothers and an attendee of Koch donor events.
The article includes a deceptive claim that the Koch brothers do not lobby or fund groups to financially benefit Koch Industries. The evidence would suggest otherwise: [Read more]
In lengthy interviews with a conservative magazine, the billionaire Koch brothers mounted an aggressive defense of their business and political interests, describing their liberal critics as “very, very extreme” and “very dangerous” and President Barack Obama as a “radical” with “Marxist” ideas whose success is owed largely to his “silver tongue.”
Obama is “the most radical president we’ve ever had as a nation … and has done more damage to the free enterprise system and long-term prosperity than any president we’ve ever had,” David Koch is quoted saying in a story posted late Friday on the website of the Weekly Standard.
In a grudging reference to Obama’s rhetorical skills, he added: “It just shows you what a person with a silver tongue can achieve.”
David’s brother Charles Koch said of Obama: “I’m not saying he’s a Marxist, but he’s internalized some Marxist models — that is, that business tends to be successful by exploiting its customers and workers.”
The Weekly Standard story comes after months of intensifying scrutiny of the Kochs’ funding of conservative causes, including the fights to limit carbon emissions and block last year’s Democratic healthcare overhaul, as well as this year’s showdown with public employee unions in Wisconsin. [Read more]
As ThinkProgress has reported, the global conglomerate Koch Industries not only helped elect Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI), but is the leading force orchestrating his union-busting campaign. Koch gave Walker over $43,000 in direct donations and its allies aired millions of dollars worth of attack ads against his Democratic opponent. Then, Koch political operatives pressured Walker to crush labor unions as one of his first priorities. Tim Phillips, a former lobbying partner to Jack Abramoff and current president of Americans for Prosperity, a front financed by David Koch, told the New York Times that Koch operatives “had worked behind the scenes to try to encourage a union showdown.” A Koch-financed front group, the American Legislative Exchange Council, has prepped Wisconsin GOP lawmakers with anti-labor legislative ideas.
Today, the Koch group Americans for Prosperity announced that it will air an ad smearing the protesters in Madison and calling on the state to support Walker’s power grab. As we noted on Friday, Koch has demanded that collective bargaining rights be curtailed for both private and public sector unions, a step beyond Walker’s already extreme move. The ad disparages the pro-labor protesters for allegedly bringing in “out of state political protesters.” In fact, the small pro-Walker demonstration orchestrated by Koch operatives last Saturday included a number of out of state conservative activists, including Herman Cain (from Georgia), Jim Hoft (from Missouri), and Phillips (from Virginia). [Read more]
As some 30,000 protesters overwhelmed the state capitol building in Wisconsin today, Democratic state senators hit the road, reportedly with State Police officers in pursuit. The Dems left the state in order to deprive Republicans the necessary quorum for taking a vote on Gov. Scott Walker’s bill to strip benefits and collective bargaining rights from state workers. Newsradio 620 WTMJ reported that the Democratic senators were holed up in a Rockford, Illinois, hotel, out of reach of Wisconsin state troopers. Now, it seems, Republican lawmakers are beginning to waver on their support for the union-busting bill.
Last week, Walker threatened to activate the National Guard in the event of any disruption in services from public employees that, he said, could occur as a result of his legislation.
Gov. Walker claims that his war on the public workers in his state is simply about balancing Wisconsin’s budget; believe that and there’s a collapsed bridge in MInnesota I’d like to sell you. UPDATE: TPM’s Brian Beutler reports that half of Wisconsin’s budget shortfall results from three of Walker’s own business-coddling initiatives. According to the Capitol Times, as quoted in Beutler’s piece, in January, Walker pushed through “$140 million in spending for special interest groups.” Walker claims a budget shortfall of $137 million. You do the math. [Read more]
Wisconsin Republican Governor Scott Walker, whose bill to kill collective bargaining rights for public-sector unions has caused an uproar among state employees, might not be where he is today without the Koch brothers. Charles and David Koch are conservative titans of industry who have infamously used their vast wealth to undermine President Obama and fight legislation they detest, such as the cap-and-trade climate bill, the health care reform act, and the economic stimulus package. For years, the billionaires have made extensive political donations to Republican candidates across the country and have provided millions of dollars to astroturf right-wing organizations. Koch Industries’ political action committee has doled out more than $2.6 million to candidates. And one prominent beneficiary of the Koch brothers’ largess is Scott Walker.
According to Wisconsin campaign finance filings, Walker’s gubernatorial campaign received $43,000 from the Koch Industries PAC during the 2010 election. That donation was his campaign’s second-highest, behind $43,125 in contributions from housing and realtor groups in Wisconsin. The Koch’s PAC also helped Walker via a familiar and much-used politicial maneuver designed to allow donors to skirt campaign finance limits. The PAC gave $1 million to the Republican Governors Association, which in turn spent $65,000 on independent expenditures to support Walker. The RGA also spent a whopping $3.4 million on TV ads and mailers attacking Walker’s opponent, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett. Walker ended up beating Barrett by 5 points. The Koch money, no doubt, helped greatly. [Read more]
The billionaire brothers David and Charles Koch no longer sit outside Washington’s political establishment, isolated by their uncompromising conservatism. Instead, they are now at the center of Republican power, a change most evident in the new makeup of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.
Wichita-based Koch Industries and its employees formed the largest single oil and gas donor to members of the panel, ahead of giants like Exxon Mobil, contributing $279,500 to 22 of the committee’s 31 Republicans, and $32,000 to five Democrats.
Nine of the 12 new Republicans on the panel signed a pledge distributed by a Koch-founded advocacy group — Americans for Prosperity — to oppose the Obama administration’s proposal to regulate greenhouse gases. Of the six GOP freshman lawmakers on the panel, five benefited from the group’s separate advertising and grass-roots activity during the 2010 campaign.
Claiming an electoral mandate, Republicans on the committee have launched an agenda of the sort long backed by the Koch brothers. A top early goal: restricting the reach of the Environmental Protection Agency, which oversees the Kochs’ core energy businesses. [Read more]
On the first anniversary of the Supreme Court’s ruling in Citizens United, which overturned nearly a century of restrictions on campaign spending, a progressive group has asked the Department of Justice to look into “conflicts of interest” two justices may have had when issuing the ruling.
In a petition to be sent to the department this week, Common Cause will argue that Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas should have recused themselves from the campaign finance decision because of their involvement with Koch Industries, a corporation run by two conservative activists who many say directly benefited from Citizens United.
“It appears both justices have participated in political strategy sessions, perhaps while the case was pending, with corporate leaders whose political aims were advanced by the decision,” the letter alleges, as quoted at Politico.
The group will urge the department to disqualify Scalia and Thomas from the ruling. [Read more]
To mark Friday’s anniversary of a court decision that allowed corporations to sink millions into politics, Common Cause, a reform group, is asking the Department of Justice to investigate alleged conflicts of interest involving two Supreme Court justices – in hopes of forcing the court to vacate the 5-4 ruling.
Common Cause officials and at least one legal expert acknowledged the difficulty of getting the landmark case overturned in this way. But in a document to be submitted to the department Thursday, Common Cause President Bob Edgar cites appearances by Justice Clarence Thomas and Justice Antonin Scalia at retreats sponsored by Koch Industries, a corporation run by two major Republican donors who helped finance some of the new GOP groups founded after the ruling.
“It appears both justices have participated in political strategy sessions, perhaps while the case was pending, with corporate leaders whose political aims were advanced by the decision,” the Common Cause petition asserts. [Read more]
In 2006, Koch Industries owner Charles Koch revealed to the Wall Street Journal’s Stephen Moore that he coordinates the funding of the conservative infrastructure of front groups, political campaigns, think tanks, media outlets and other anti-government efforts through a twice annual meeting of wealthy right-wing donors. He also confided to Moore, who is funded through several of Koch’s ventures, that his true goal is to strengthen the “culture of prosperity” by eliminating “90%” of all laws and government regulations. Although it is difficult to quantify the exact amount Koch alone has funneled to right-wing fronts, some studies have pointed toward $50 million he has given alone to anti-environmental groups. Recently, fronts funded by Charles and his brother David have received scrutiny because they have played a pivotal role in the organizing of the anti-Obama Tea Parties and the promotion of virulent far right lawmakers like Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC). (David Koch praised DeMint and gave him a “Washington Award” shortly after the senator promised to “break” Obama by making health reform his “Waterloo.”) [Read more]
Reports that two Supreme Court Justices have attended seminars sponsored by the energy giant and conservative bankroller Koch Industries has sparked a mild debate over judicial ethics.
On Tuesday evening, the New York Times reported that an upcoming meeting in Palm Springs of “a secretive network of Republican donors” that was being organized by Koch Industries, “the longtime underwriter of libertarian causes.”
Buried in the third to last graph was a note that previous guests at such meetings included Supreme Court Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas, two of the more conservative members of the bench. [Read more]
A secretive network of Republican donors is heading to the Palm Springs area for a long weekend in January, but it will not be to relax after a hard-fought election — it will be to plan for the next one.
Koch Industries, the longtime underwriter of libertarian causes from the Cato Institute in Washington to the ballot initiative that would suspend California’s landmark law capping greenhouse gases, is planning a confidential meeting at the Rancho Las Palmas Resort and Spa to, as an invitation says, “develop strategies to counter the most severe threats facing our free society and outline a vision of how we can foster a renewal of American free enterprise and prosperity.”
The invitation, sent to potential new participants, offers a rare peek at the Koch network of the ultrawealthy and the politically well-connected, its far-reaching agenda to enlist ordinary Americans to its cause, and its desire for the utmost secrecy. [Read more]