How 'Dark Money' Shapes US Politics
March 14, 2016 9:41 PM   Subscribe

Jane Mayer takes on the Koch Brothers [1,2,3] - "For decades, billionaire libertarians Charles and David Koch have spent millions trying to reduce the size of government and slash regulations, making the brothers a target of the political Left and campaign finance reformers. But few people have dug deeper into the Koch empire and family history than New Yorker staff writer Jane Mayer, author of the new book 'Dark Money'. Among other revelations, she alleges that the brothers hired private detectives to investigate her after she published articles critical of them. We talk to Mayer about the book and about what the rise of Donald Trump means for the Kochs and their allies." (previously)
posted by kliuless (20 comments total) 57 users marked this as a favorite
At the beginning of her book (p. 3), Mayer points out that in 1980 when David Koch ran for vice-president of the U.S. on the Libertarian Party ticket (and got 1% of the vote), William Buckley complained that the party views equawled “Anarcho-Totalitarianism.’

At the end of her book (p. 378) she quotes the other brother, Charles: “I just want my fair share – which is all of it.’

In between (p. 58) she writes, “According to [Brian] Doherty’s [2007 history of the libertarian movement], the Kochs came to regard elected politicians as merely ‘actors playing out a script.’ Instead of wasting more time, a confident of the Kochs’ told Doherty, the brothers now wanted to ‘supply the themes and words for the scripts.’”
posted by LeLiLo at 9:55 PM on March 14, 2016 [8 favorites]

This year, maintaining Republican control of the Senate and the House will be top priorities for the Kochs and their network. The billionaire brothers are also continuing to focus on strengthening the G.O.P.’s bench of candidates in the states. Republican governors, attorneys general, and state legislatures are key to their efforts to dominate policy in areas important to Koch Industries.

The presidential race is important, but state and federal legislatures are where the laws are made.
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 9:55 PM on March 14, 2016 [17 favorites]

This is a great book and the interview is well worth listening to. What's especially great about the book, beyond the eyegrabbing statements about Daddy Koch's dealings with Stalin and Hitler, is the way she carefully and convincingly shows how the Kochs have very consciously moved the the Overton window through funding thinktanks and academics.

She also shows how the Kochs' specific policies, despite their protests to the contrary, support their economic interests. What a great book -- do read it.
posted by crazy with stars at 10:14 PM on March 14, 2016 [6 favorites]

How very funny that this not so funny post about the sheer blunt force power of dark money should go up the morning of voting here in my home state!

My hometown has been in the long process of trying to build a new, more functional library, and finally increase it's operating budget after scrapping by on a budget that hasn't seen an increase since 1991. Its smaller town, and its conservative, but they had been doing a good job of informing the public of the plan, and the need, and a group of citizens have really put a lot of effort in getting people out to vote Yes on March 15th (my god, my god, it's really today, isn't it (?!)).

It had finally seemed liked they were making real progress, and in the home stretch, until, for the first time anyone can think of, Americans For Prosperity comes out against the library plan last week, and have been actively working
against the ballot measures. The craziness has even made it to Huffpo!

It really does feel like, from my POV, that they have hit a vertical wall. I don't know if there is much a small town library and it's citizens can do when a Multi-State, Multi-Million Dollar Super PAC rolls into town, but at least, here in this post, I could share this information, maybe encourage others to share it too, and even if it's too late for them, inform others that this is happening, and could/probably is coming for any library in a AFP chapter state now, not just the usual hit list of theirs.

It might be too late to do anything but to light the fire to warn Rohan since the vote starts in six hours, but man, I'm so sick of feeling powerless when it comes to people like the Koch brothers. People should at least know, I feel like at least, here, far away from home and being able to help on the street level, I can at least rage, rage against the dying of the light. Which I guess in today's spread out world, and crazy politics, is all you can do most of the time.

Sorry it was so long for a first real post, I'm just really worked up about this!
posted by VillainProtagonist at 10:38 PM on March 14, 2016 [59 favorites]

The greatest thing about the Kochs is that they will be dead.
posted by five fresh fish at 11:13 PM on March 14, 2016 [11 favorites]

The greatest thing about the Kochs is that they will be dead.

I'm sure they'll figure out a way to repeal the estate tax first!
posted by Arbac at 11:16 PM on March 14, 2016 [4 favorites]

From the last article:

the Kochs have financed seventy-six per cent [76%] of all “GOP-conservative organizations” created since 2002.

Was particularly eye-opening, and the article's conclusions that Koch's funding "almost like a private political party, with paid directors in thirty-five states...instead of functioning as a third party...has effectively subsumed much of the G.O.P." that allows "a gap between the Republican élites and the rank-and-file voters that is big enough for Trump to fly his private jet through" is simple and true.

But I'm posting to comment to:

There are multiple ties between the Koch network and two dark-money “social-welfare” groups that have already mobilized against any Supreme Court nominee that Obama might choose—America Rising Squared, which is digging for dirt on potential nominees, and the Judicial Crisis Network, which has started airing ads aimed at intimidating Democrats who would push for confirmation hearings.

Given how extreme and delusional conservative affiliations have become, how can anyone not see the pendulum swinging back? Democrats have nothing to be intimidated by, and Sanders' momentum further underlines this truth. And I believe this even if Trump defeats Clinton's likely nomination.
posted by lazycomputerkids at 12:28 AM on March 15, 2016 [5 favorites]

A related data point: This morning for the first time I heard a bumper for Koch Industries as a sponsor for the public radio program "Marketplace. " It came as no surprise at all; the program has always been an obvious vector of supply-side propaganda for the totebagger set.
posted by Gelatin at 4:13 AM on March 15, 2016 [3 favorites]

The presidential race is important, but state and federal legislatures are where the laws are made.

And those laws are routinely supplied whole by organizations like the American Legislative Exchange Council, so corporations and millionaires are literally writing their own laws.
posted by Gelatin at 4:16 AM on March 15, 2016 [5 favorites]

How much you want to bet that what emerges from the ashes of the present GOP is called something along the lines of the "Americans for Prosperity" party? With the nomination, Trump and his movement will keep the Republican moniker and ride it into the sunset.
posted by klarck at 5:24 AM on March 15, 2016 [1 favorite]

Don't forget the VA
posted by Max Power at 6:13 AM on March 15, 2016 [3 favorites]

Gelatin: IIRC, The David Koch Foundation has funded Marketplace for a very long time.
posted by tippiedog at 6:40 AM on March 15, 2016

A related data point: This morning for the first time I heard a bumper for Koch Industries as a sponsor for the public radio program "Marketplace. "

Koch ads underwriter spots have been popping up all over PBS this year as well, using folksy portraits of various ethnically diverse and generally low-level minions employees to humanize the Koch name. It's sad and cynical. But then PBS has been taking underwriter money from ADM, Exxon/Mobil, Monsanto and other giant corporate power brokers for decades so I don't know why it should offend me more than those.
posted by aught at 7:20 AM on March 15, 2016 [1 favorite]

There have been a TON of Koch Bros commercials playing here over the past couple months. Palatka is an hour away and their main employer in Putnam county is Georgia Pacific, which has a paper mill that sits right on the bank of the St. Johns river. GP has been exposed for dumping toxic waste in the river and somehow get a permit to build a waste pipeline through protected wetlands. There's been a lot of pushback so now there are cheerful, upbeat ads starring GP Palatka employees telling us how awesome GP is and what an asset to our community they are.
posted by hollygoheavy at 1:51 PM on March 15, 2016

At my 40 year class reunion our MC was a classmate whose job was something in the oil industry. I wasn't really paying attention to it. It's a small town class, 28 graduated and a dozen or so others that were part of our class but ended up elsewhere. Everyone wrote up their biographies and was supposed to list the person most influential in their life. Our MC said it was his boss and said something like "Charlie Coke." A spouse of one of my closest friends leaned in to me and said, "Jesus, is he talking about Charles Koch?" A quick Internet search and yep, the MC worked for a subsidiary of Koch industries. I had another beer or three.

This level of brainwashing is astonishing to me. Why the sweet fuck would a guy who tests pipe fittings think the greatest guy is a billionaire who could give two shits about him and probably would like to cut his salary? Can anyone explain the mindset here? Is there actual propaganda on the right telling the sheep that the Kochs are just a couple of great guys? This is all just making my head swell and then deflate trying to understand it.
posted by Ber at 2:19 PM on March 15, 2016

It's probably because he wants to *be* Charles Koch.
posted by The Card Cheat at 2:45 PM on March 15, 2016 [1 favorite]

Koch donors divided over failure to stop Donald Trump.
posted by adamvasco at 3:15 PM on March 15, 2016

This would normally be the right place for my anti-Koch screed, but since that would be deleted, let's just say I vehemently disagree with much (if not all) of their personal philosophy and long for the day I read their obits.
posted by evilDoug at 3:21 PM on March 15, 2016 [1 favorite]

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