The Koch Brothers' Money and Political Influence

Thursday, March 27, 2014

The billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch have spent large sums of money advancing conservative causes and trying to shape the last two elections. Propublica reporter Kim Barker looks at the Koch's complex network of nonprofits,nicknamed the Kochtopus, and their spending plans for the 2014 election.



Kim Barker

Comments [27]

David Hoo from Ridgewood NJ

I correct myself: Sixteen states have voted to support a Constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United. And 145 members of Congress have gone on the record to do so as well!

Remember, many amendments were historically needed to right a wrong, including suffrage for women, blacks and abolishing poll taxes that effectively blocked the poor and minorities from voting.

Mar. 28 2014 07:50 AM
David Hoo from Ridgewood NJ

The torrent of money gushing into our political system from the less than one percent of the US population is utterly corrupting every one of our politicians, Republican and Democrat alike. All laws and public policy now reflect the lobbied and purchased influence of the elite wealthy.

After the Supreme Court "Citizens United" ruling, we no longer have a one person, one vote democracy but rather a "dollarocracy" of $1 million, ten million votes.

The citizens of the US cannot tolerate an illegitimate, corrupt democracy. We need to amend the US Constitution to override Citizens United. We should organize and work in every state for legislative resolutions and public referendums to accordingly amend the Constitution.

Eleven states and the DC have voted to support such amendment. Though a daunting task, our Constitution has been amended 27 times in our brief history, making the necessary adjustments to the original to make good on preserving and fulfilling the full intent of the greatest democracy in the world. When we also have the greatest capitalistic economy in the world, we must be especially vigilant to preserve both, but also keep them distinct.

Mar. 28 2014 07:39 AM

Please don't tell me that I am confusing two entities when I am not. You don't know me or my views well enough to explain them for me.

Your post was touting free market libertarianism. I was trying to point out there is no such thing as a free market anything. Con/liberal/libertarian/whatever. They would all use gov't action to stamp out any sustained deflation.

Most who jump behind the 'free market' label, do so as long as the market is free to go up. When the overall direction is down, they will take ANY THING to stop the bleeding.

Mar. 27 2014 02:44 PM

RUCB_Alum is confusing liberals and Neocons (re-labeled liberals who joined the Republican party) with libertarians.
Libertarians want to abolish the Federal Reserve, and its welfare and coercive oligopoly for banks.
Classical liberals were libertarians, but the liberal label was stolen by FDR, who then used it to install fascism.

Mar. 27 2014 02:11 PM
Drwill from NY State

Leonard's interview with Kim Barker was pretty shameful; he tried desperately to drag her into the worst kind of speculation but, to her credit, she wouldn't bite. Cataloging the consumer products in our homes (so we can boycott them) and equating the Kochs with Philip Morris and the evils of tobacco; come on! Not what my contribution to WNYC is intended to support.

Mar. 27 2014 02:08 PM
fuva from harlemworld

Well, when these journalists keep saying that fixing these systemic failures is "not gonna happen," etc., and having that resignation reflect in their work, they are discouraging the critical mass...Are they contentedly resigned because they are gainfully employed bourgeoisie and distant from the masses? Seems the current state of journalism is not facilitating change.

Mar. 27 2014 02:07 PM

Look up political contributions by Goldman Sachs, which received $814 billion ($814,000,000,000) from the Federal Reserve, which gave $16.1 Trillion since 2007 welfare to super rich bankers.
Goldman Sachs was a major contributor to both Presidential Campaigns in the last 2 elections.
Federal Reserve's nearly 100 year history was posted on Senator Sander's webpage.

Mar. 27 2014 02:04 PM


"It is not the free market advocated by libertarians."

But do the libertarians actually advocate free markets? Watch how loudly and quickly they DEMAND government action to stamp out a widespread deflation. Deflations re-order prices and wages and that is the last thing that someone with means wants to see happen.

Mar. 27 2014 02:03 PM

The American Revolution was partly against English mercantilism. Favored English companies were given monopolies and advantages by Parliament so they could overcharge captive markets within the Empire. Later, mercantilism was called Fascism. Today in the US it takes the form of regulations that disadvantage small companies and favor large political contributors. It is not the free market advocated by libertarians.
The Kochs advocate the Free Market, not the fascism of the robber barons, who did as much as they could to suppress their father's inventions and enterprises.

Mar. 27 2014 01:57 PM
Amy from Manhattan

David Koch's foundation often appears in the underwriting credits for PBS shows, incl. science shows. Is there any evidence he's exerting influence over content?

Mar. 27 2014 01:56 PM

Be fair! The IRS target both left wing and TP groups. The keyword search pulled up more TP groups than LW. Both ought to be banned.

Mar. 27 2014 01:55 PM
jgarbuz from Queens

To Jeff

"Koch (German pronunciation: [kɔx], although it is often pronounced differently in other countries, as well as by different persons with this name[1]) is a German surname meaning cook.."

Mar. 27 2014 01:54 PM

There's a cellphone app that will tell you which products are theirs in the supermarket- very useful!

The Kochs' wealth has grown tenfold during Obama's years- so why are they attacking everything he does??

Mar. 27 2014 01:50 PM
Jeff from Brooklyn

Why is Koch pronounced like 'Coke' and not like former NYC Mayor Ed Koch (KOTCH)?

Mar. 27 2014 01:46 PM
Jeff from Brooklyn

Why is Koch pronounced like 'Coke' and not like former NYC Mayor Ed Koch (KOTCH)?

Mar. 27 2014 01:46 PM
Joe from nearby

The Kochs' father founded the radical John Birch Society, and they are just following in his footsteps. But they're trying to fool everyone by not using the name John Birch Society for their organizations.

Btw, "Americans For Prosperity" needs to be renamed to the more accurate "Americans For Millionaires' Prosperity." Call it for what it really is.

Mar. 27 2014 01:45 PM
Michael from Manhattan

Let's be sure to mention the Koch's good friend Charles Schwab, who helps fund their schemes -- in case there are any newly-outraged listeners who have money invested with Schwab.

Mar. 27 2014 01:45 PM

Is there a valid (even if I don't agree with it) reason for undisclosed money in politics? What is keeping the nation from substantially financing elections with public money?

Mar. 27 2014 01:41 PM

Too bad Edward Snowden didn't expose all the specifics of their dark money tentacles too.

Mar. 27 2014 01:40 PM
Dave from Sunset Park

Politics is now legalized money laundering, as Stephen Colbert said. With all of these SuperPacs signed on as a way to anonymously donate tax free, with no need to disclose how the money is spent, the most infuriating part is how legal it is.

Mar. 27 2014 01:39 PM

Hey, they only want the best government money can buy. Just like anybody else.

*eye roll*

Mar. 27 2014 01:37 PM
Joe from nearby

Check out what they've been doing behind your back with their political funnymoney:
"A Reading Guide On The Billionaire Koch Brothers
From funding climate change denial to opposition of the Obama administration’s policies, Mayer describes how the brothers’ political views 'dovetail with [their] corporate interests.' "

(There's so much that it my take you a while to get through it all.)

Mar. 27 2014 01:30 PM
Joe from nearby

I've read that Soros has largely gotten out of political funding.

But the Kochs, on the other hand, dwarf all other contributors combined.
Here's an excellent graphic that exposes their dark money shenanigans:

Mar. 27 2014 01:27 PM
Seth Pecksniff

No, I am the real Martin Chuzzlewit. (Or his worst enemy.)

Mar. 27 2014 01:26 PM
Joe Mirsky from Pompton Lakes NJ

From my book, Ornamentally Incorrect

Organized Propaganda

“Washington has seldom seen so numerous, so industrious, or so insidious a lobby. The newspapers are being filled with paid advertisements calculated to mislead the judgement of public men not only, but also the public opinion of the country itself. There is every evidence that money without limit is being spent to sustain this lobby…”
— President Woodrow Wilson, statement to the press, May 26, 1913.

Hold Lobby Exists, But Of A New Kind

It’s the Organized Propaganda, Say Senators, Justifying Wilson’s Charges headlined The New York Times on June 6, 1913.

Wilson charged lobbies of trying to influence the tariff bill of 1913. Tariffs, duties on imported goods, were the primary source of revenue for the government at that time, providing 44% of the budget in 1913.

There was a long list of dutiable goods with different rates and many exempt products. Sugar, cotton, liquor, wool, and many other interests were vitally interested in tariff rates.

North Carolina Senator Lee Slater led a Judiciary subcommittee that found unparalleled lobbying influence seeking to undermine Wilson’s tariff reforms, the first reduction of the tariff since the Civil War. The rationale was to give consumers a break and make businesses more competitive.

To make up for the lost revenue, The Underwood-Simmons Tariff Act also instituted the first income tax pursuant to the 16th Amendment just ratified that February

Copyright © 2013 Joseph Mirsky

Mar. 27 2014 12:00 PM

No, I am none other than Martin Chuzzlewit. LOL.

Mar. 27 2014 08:27 AM

As opposed to billionaire George Soros spending large sums of money advancing liberal causes?

(BTW, I'm neither conservative nor liberal.)

Mar. 27 2014 01:49 AM

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