Wednesday, February 24, 2016

'Dark Money': Koch Brothers' Donations Push Their Political Agenda

Somebody on Facebook made reference to public radio being liberal. Note that they didn't report on this for forty years. Note that there was never a mention in any of the media, including public radio, of ALEC, until people could get information out on the internet, and we still almost never hear a reference to ALEC.

You can hear the podcast of the interview at the following link:

Updated January 20, 20162:11 PM ET Published January 19, 20165:18 AM ET

Steve Inskeep talks to author Jane Mayer about her new book Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right.

JANE MAYER: Out in California at a resort, there were some of the wealthiest conservatives in America who had gotten together to deal with what they regarded as a catastrophe, which was the election of Obama. And they were organized by Charles Koch, who is one of the two brothers known these days as the Koch brothers, who owns Koch Industry, which is the second-largest private company in America.

INSKEEP: Mayer says that in that meeting, multiple billionaires discussed how to use their money to offset the election results. Jane Mayer's book is called "Dark Money: The Hidden History Of The Billionaires Behind The Rise Of The Radical Right." Charles and David Koch are at the center of her story, big Republican donors who are not always fans of Republicans.

MAYER: People think that the Kochs are going to just line up straight behind the Republican Party. It's not so. They have a very distinct and interesting worldview. Charles Koch in particular, much more so than David Koch, is an ideological true believer in some of the most hard-line libertarian philosophy that you can come across in American politics. It's kind of - marks the far right poll, in some ways, of American politics. And he wants the Republican Party to go where he is.


INSKEEP: How long has he been politically engaged?

MAYER: Charles Koch has been politically engaged since the 1960s. I've got documents in here, including a paper that Charles Koch wrote in 1976, in which he describes how he wants to create a movement to destroy the statist paradigm. And if you take a look at the group that Charles Koch and his brother gather around him, it includes a number of very important people - Supreme Court justices, well-known members of the media on the right, people like Glenn Beck and a number of intellectuals on the right too. And so he's achieved a surprising amount of what he set out to do long ago, when he was just dreaming about it in Wichita, Kan.

INSKEEP: So in describing this 2009 meeting and other meetings, you've given us an idea of where the money comes from. Where does it go?

MAYER: It goes through a network of groups, organizations, mostly nonprofit groups. And it's funny. The libertarians had their own word for it long ago. Some libertarian wag (ph) called it the Kochtopus 'cause it's got so many arms and tentacles. It's very hard to keep up with all the things it does. But it encompasses both charitable groups and more political groups. The charitable groups create position papers. The political groups mobilize voters and advocate for positions. And the even more political groups back candidates. And so the largest of these groups is something called Americans for Prosperity, which is the Kochs' main political advocacy group now. And by now, it's become a rival power center to the Republican Party in size.


MAYER: What people need to understand is the Kochs have been playing a very long game. And it's not just about elections. It started four decades ago with a plan to change how America thinks and votes. So while some elections they win and some elections they lose, what they're aiming at is changing the conversation in the country.


How the Kochtopus Went After a Reporter
In Jane Mayer's new book, she reports how the conservative machine sicced private detectives on her.

—By David Corn
| Thu Jan. 21, 2016


January 19, 2016 Dave Davies Off Mic
What you didn't know about the Koch brothers - on Fresh Air


She said big contributions and dark money are a problem throughout American politics in the post Citizens United era, but that wealthy conservative spending far exceeds wealthy liberal spending these days.

She cited a couple of numbers: The Democracy Alliance, a group of heavy-hitting liberal donors, plans to raise $40 million for the 2016 election cycle. The Koch brothers' network has an $889 million goal.

I want to say that I've covered government for years, and conservatives' suspicion of wasteful, unaccountable government bureaucracies is not crazy.

But a system that allows a relative handful of the wealthiest families to pump unlimited money into politics without leaving fingerprints is so far from our founding principles that it ought to scare all of us.


tags: influence

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