How The Koch Brothers Utilized Their Money To Corrupt American Politics
Have you ever heard the phrase “Follow the money?” This famous line from All The President’s Men is just as relevant today as it was back then.
We are still witnessing the corrupting influence of money in politics, especially at the highest levels of US politics.
Two brothers, Charles and David Koch, have used their vast resources to have a great influence on American political landscape for many years.
So let’s follow the money trail and see how the Koch Brothers brought about a radical shift in politics in the United States.
Through these sections we will learn why they decided enter politics; how they used think tanks and other NGOs to hide their financial involvement; and how they employed the Tea Party movement to further their political agenda.
You’ll be amazed by how deep this rabbit hole goes – so hold on tight, and get ready to Follow The Money!
The Rise Of The Koch Brothers: From Nazi Sympathizers To Political Manipulators
The Koch brothers are at the helm of a network backed by billionaires determined to control US politics.
Charles and David Koch are the owners of Koch Industries, America’s second-largest business entity, inherited from their father Fred Koch in 1940.
Through generations the family has built an intricate web of political donors and organizations.
This power structure is informally known as The Kochtopus – a reference to its vast reach – and seeks to spread libertarian principles like free markets, small government and reduced regulation.
In 1980, David used this platform to launch his bid for vice president on the Libertarian ticket.
Although they only garnered less than one percent of the total vote, it was clear that political action could be achieved beyond electing public representatives.
The Koch Brothers’ Use Of Dark Money To Influence Politics And Avoid Taxes
The Koch network has found an effective way to keep their political donations private and tax-free.
They do this by disguising their agenda as philanthropy through the use of nonprofits.
Nonprofits are both cost-effective and require very little public disclosure, allowing donations to be made anonymously and the amount kept hidden from public view.
This secrecy is known as “dark money”.
Additionally, nonprofit donations are also tax deductible, so the Koch brothers can avoid inheritance taxes while still funneling vast amounts of money into their cause of choice.
The Heritage Foundation is one of their oldest organizations, with assets amounting to around $174 million – enough money to influence public policy without needing to face the scrutiny of voters or transparency laws.
Between 2010 and 2011, big names like Charles Schwab and Richard DeVos donated over a million dollars each to the Kochtopus.
By 2013, they had established over 100,000 private foundations with combined assets of over $800 billion.
The Koch Brothers Seek To Influence Society Through The Nurturing Of Conservative Thinkers And Misleading Research
The Koch brothers’ conservative fundraising network includes more than just political donations; it also includes various educational programs and think tanks that are designed to cultivate a future generation of conservative leaders who will advance their own ideology.
One example is the Olin Foundation, which was set up by John M.
Olin, the head of Olin Industries.
The foundation donated $3.3 million to Harvard’s Mansfield’s Program on Constitutional Government, which provided a conservative interpretation of American government and saw its alumni go on to teach at other universities such as Georgetown and Yale.
Another tactic used by the Koch network to influence public opinion in the long term is through think tanks such as the George C.
Here, people like Fred Seitz and Fred Singer promoted doubt regarding scientific data around climate change while also claiming they’re providing balance to scientific debate – something that was essential during the Reagan administration.
Despite having no expertise in this area, they cast enough doubt to draw attention away from credentialed experts who were providing real facts about the issue at hand.
Ultimately, these think tanks generate intellectually-dishonest arguments that provide misleading information with very little academic merit, but are successful at grabbing people’s attention and potentially convincing them – making them an important part of the Koch network for long term influence.
The Koch Brothers Orchestrate The Astroturf Political Movement That Becomes The Tea Party
The Tea Party movement was a manufactured political uprising that the Koch brothers and other wealthy conservatives hoped would bring libertarianism to the mainstream.
Years of planning went into this orchestrated event, and one of the key factors in creating its appearance of credibility was infusing it with a grassroots feel.
At its core, the backbone of the movement was Richard Fink’s Structure of Social Change manifesto which outlined how to build a legitimate political movement.
One crucial step in that process involved deploying foot soldiers to spread the message from person to person.
This was an effective way of creating the illusion that this movement came from everyday people rather than being an astroturf organization funded by billionaires.
To help gain traction for their cause, Koch-backed networks also supplied money for more publicity and produced right-wing biased media coverage on television and over online channels like Fox News.
This allowed momentum to build up towards their goal without it looking overtly manipulated or bought off.
The Citizens United Ruling: The Power Of Dark Money In Politics
In 2010, a historic Supreme Court decision gave the Koch brothers even more power.
The landmark case of Citizens United vs.
Federal Elections Commission was decided in favor of Citizens United – and this ruling had far-reaching consequences.
It meant corporations now had the right to freedom of speech, allowing unlimited amounts of money to be poured into supporting and opposing political candidates without any limit on how much an individual could donate.
This overturned key laws that had been in place for over a century which kept wealthy donors out of politics, as well as destabilizing liberal groups.
Due to the Citizens United win, organizations such as Citizens United were flooded with donations – with up to 49 percent of overall revenue now being allowed to go toward political activity.
They could also seamlessly transfer whole multimillion-dollar donations throughout their network with anonymity, creating a complex yet untraceable money trail out of public view.
This massive influx of dark money gave the Koch brother’s network tremendous power leading up to the 2010 midterm elections – making it easy for them to not just survive but thrive in American politics even further.
How The Koch Brothers Used Redmap To Gain Control And Enact Their Agenda
The REDMAP plan concocted by Republican strategist Ed Gillespie was a shrewd scheme designed to give the Republicans control over key states and the House of Representatives.
It worked by shifting the borders of congressional districts such that citizens who tended to lean left were conglomerated in one district, leaving the Republicans with majorities in all of the other districts.
Adding momentum to this favorable political situation were millions of dollars in dark money which were used to back Republican candidates while simultaneously attacking Democrats in vulnerable states through vicious attack ads.
North Carolina presents a prime example of how successfully this initiative played out, yielding 18 out of 22 local legislative seats for Republicans–giving them first-time control in both houses of Congress and Senate in 140 years.
What’s more, their slim majority power allowed them to proceed with gerrymandering, thus affording them prolonged U.S.
represented congressional seats for years.
And we can observe its scathing repercussions when North Carolina unemployment benefits were slashed, leaving it with the fifth-highest unemployment rate whilst receiving grimly meagre federal aid allocations –all thanks to the Koch brothers’ small-government agenda ushered in via REDMAP.
The Influence Of The Kochs On The Republican Party: From Government Shutdowns To Climate Change Denial
Despite their ongoing battle with the Obama administration, the Kochs had a newfound hope of victory when a Republican majority was elected to Congress.
With REDMAP proving successful, more and more extremist representatives were brought into power, which posed an even greater threat to Democratic ideals.
One such person was Mark Meadows who managed to engineer the now infamous 2013 government shutdown on behalf of the Republicans.
He wrote an open letter encouraging his Republican counterparts in the House of Representatives to withhold funds needed for Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act (also known as Obamacare).
His actions ensured that any reasonable debate about topics like climate change were now obsolete.
This was due to the fact the Kochs have opposed environmental regulations for years due to their multimillion-dollar lawsuits that put them in danger.
Forcing alternative stories around climate change, they argued that government regulations would attack people’s freedom while continuing to publicly deny well-respected environmental scientists.
The Kochtopus had most definitely reached an alarming level of influence on the Republican party and it seemed there was no way out with their stranglehold firmly in place.
The Koch Brothers: Proving The Power Of Wealth To Subvert Democracy
The fight for the American Dream is becoming harder and harder as the economic divide increases under the influence of networks like the Koch Brothers.
They have become so powerful that they are practically in control of the Republican Party, using their network to elect representatives and punish any politician who dares to disagree with them.
The resignation of John Boehner, then-Republican Speaker of the House and former ally of Koch, is evidence that members of Congress can be pushed around by these super-wealthy people, implying a dangerously close oligarchy rather than a democracy.
Donald Trump was able to ignore this oligopoly with his financial independence but even he had to give in and chose Mike Pence, one of Charles Koch’s favorite politicians, for his vice president during the 2016 election – an election which saw almost $889 million spent by the Koch network alone.
Just 11 people at their June 2010 retreat had enough money to make them part of Forbes 400 Wealthiest Americans list with a combined fortune estimated at $129.1 billion.
In Dark Money, author Jane Mayer introduces us to the world of ‘dark money’, and how it is allowing a handful of billionaires lead by the Koch brothers to shape policies that prioritize their self-interests above all else.
This book sheds light on how billions are being spent to get certain politicians elected and spread an agenda that ultimately harms both the general population and planet as a whole.
The final summary is this: dark money can be used for very nefarious ends, and it’s up to us as citizens to ensure that our leaders are acting in our best interests – not those of powerful special interests.
We must demand stricter laws against dark money and lobbying, because in the end, it is we who pay the price for unchecked power.