Koch Brothers, where art thou?
May 17, 2016 12:12 PM   Subscribe

In case you were wondering about [a conspicuous lack of] the Koch Brothers' involvement in the 2016 US political elections, here is the inside scoop. posted by Johann Georg Faust (40 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
 
TL;DR: All the donors and politicians looked up and shouted "Save us!" and the Koch Brothers looked down and whispered "No."
posted by Johann Georg Faust at 12:13 PM on May 17, 2016 [49 favorites]


They're not pulling out of politics. They're redirecting their money to the state level, and into policy projects laying the ground work for future ratfucking to come, things like the Tax Foundation and Cato which formed the "intellectual" underpinnings for the Ryan budget, and the anti-Obamacare suits. Which they've been massively successful at outside of the presidency. This isn't a withdraw, it's a tactical admission that Trump is probably a lost cause. There's no good news here.
posted by T.D. Strange at 12:20 PM on May 17, 2016 [81 favorites]


Kochs Pulling Out of Politics
posted by indubitable at 12:23 PM on May 17, 2016 [6 favorites]


Yeah, instead of spending $150 million changing the minds of twenty mercenary federal officials, they'll spend $150 million changing the minds of thousands of True Believers at the local and state level. This isn't good news.
posted by infinitewindow at 12:27 PM on May 17, 2016 [20 favorites]


I don't really understand all the paranoia about the Kochs. They've always been outspent by Tom Steyer and George Soros.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 12:27 PM on May 17, 2016 [3 favorites]


They know what they're doing. 2016 is pointless to them, even if it hadn't been Trump.

If Trump (or any other Republican) wins in 2016, they win.

if Clinton (or any other Democrat) wins in 2016, they probably still have Congress. Even if the heavily gerrymandered House somehow flips, it'll only be by a couple of seats, and the Kochs will invest in certain targeted GOP-leaning and GOP-safe House and Senate seats for 2018, putting enough of those seats in play early enough that the Dems will hardly ever be able to whip that majority sufficiently into line.

And then, in 2020, they go full-press in state legislatures to ensure that gerrymandering keeps the House crazy-ass Tea Party Republican for another decade.
posted by Etrigan at 12:27 PM on May 17, 2016 [13 favorites]


Well, we can't verify that because they can hide their spending in innumerable ways, so take this with the largest grain of salt possible
posted by glaucon at 12:29 PM on May 17, 2016 [2 favorites]


They consider the presidential election a sideshow (or Trump has made them claim that they consider it as such). The state and local level is where they are really changing things. Trump may be making all the noise and blowing all the hot air, but the changes at the state and local level are what are truly hollowing out what is left of the American political system, and the Kochs are some of the biggest termites doing the hollowing.

As the exchange with AC's Jon Karl makes clear:
“When you look back over the years, over the last several cycles, hundreds of millions of dollars in electoral politics, what have you gotten for that?” Karl asked. “What’s been the return on that investment?”

“Well, I’ve gotten a lot of abuse out of it,” Koch said. “What have we gotten for it? Well, I think there have been some good things, particularly at the state and local level.”

“At the federal level,” he added, shaking his head, “we haven’t in any way changed the trajectory of the country.”
posted by blucevalo at 12:31 PM on May 17, 2016 [6 favorites]




Kochs Pulling Out of Politics

And for a day, all of Metafilter was really into K-Pop.
posted by explosion at 12:33 PM on May 17, 2016 [8 favorites]


"The Kochs are known for their data-driven operation, one in which assessments and reassessments are routine. They commissioned a painstaking after-action report on the 2012 election, concluding they hadn’t properly understood the factors at play, and its findings sparked change inside the network."

Can anybody say more about this after-action report?
posted by MonkeyToes at 12:33 PM on May 17, 2016 [2 favorites]


Kochs Pulling Out of Politics

I think it is too late for them to try the withdrawal method.
posted by nubs at 12:35 PM on May 17, 2016 [5 favorites]


The baby is already here.
posted by Artw at 12:37 PM on May 17, 2016 [1 favorite]




So finally, an American mega-corporation candidly admitting to a failed strategy, deftly pivoting to a new direction and it has to be Koch Inc. That's just so great.
posted by klarck at 12:45 PM on May 17, 2016 [4 favorites]




Can anybody say more about this after-action report?

Read Mayer's Dark Money. They aren't going away, and they're attempting to corrupt American political thought at every level, down to buying economics departments so they can control faculty hiring, to better promote their ideas by giving them the imprimatur of Learning.

If I'm remembering correctly, one of the big takeaways from 2012 is that they need to do better at obfuscating what they're after, even more than they do already.

There was talk about moving the rhetoric away from "freedom" and "liberty" to "well-being." As in less govermnment == more well-being.

edit:

It's also deeply misleading to compare Steyer or Soros' spending with the Kochs 1-to-1: the Kochs direct an enormous donor network that tops a billion per election nowadays, not to mention literally hundreds of "grassroots" organizations they use to launder money throughout the wingnut welfare network.

The Kochs aren't just the Kochs. They're a network of billionaires and a few sorry millionaires trying to control the future of our nation in pretty much any way they can.
posted by turntraitor at 12:50 PM on May 17, 2016 [15 favorites]




They even kind of look like Noah Cross.
posted by The Card Cheat at 1:02 PM on May 17, 2016 [3 favorites]


In fact, the Koch bothers are hard at work building up the GOP, while the Clintons, Wasserman Schultz, etc. weaken the Democratic party by keeping down progressives.

The GOP Doesn’t Seem To Be Cracking Up In Down-Ballot Races
posted by jeffburdges at 1:12 PM on May 17, 2016 [3 favorites]


One thing missing from this article is the extent to which the decline in oil revenues (which accounts for a lot of Koch wealth) may have left them less cash to toss around.
posted by humanfont at 1:14 PM on May 17, 2016 [4 favorites]


[Friendly reminder, please don't use edit to add content. Just make a second comment.]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 1:15 PM on May 17, 2016 [1 favorite]


We're seeing it at the local level in my town. Very slickly produced website and a full-time conservative activist has been actively meddling in local budgeting and zoning issues of my very small town - funded by big pro-business thinktank at the state level that's funded by a larger thinktank operating at the national level that is funded by one of the Koch organizations.

Fucker forced the school board to raid the rainy-day account to fund full-day kindergarten, and is looking to cut the budget pretty steeply in a surprise election on Tuesday I'm still having trouble getting details on, while slickly produced lawn signs for the smaller, more punitive budget are all over town.
posted by Slap*Happy at 1:19 PM on May 17, 2016 [7 favorites]


I believe they've stopped spending because they saw what happened to Kansas when the trickle-down tax-cut driven economic boom failed to materialize, and they're reconsidering their position on the political spectrum so they can help provide a wider social safety net for everybody.

...wait, why's everyone laughing?
posted by fragmede at 1:26 PM on May 17, 2016 [15 favorites]






Really disappointing to see the same anti-Soros/Theyer/et al propoganda that your average anti-Semitic bigot posts on Facebook.
posted by zombieflanders at 2:00 PM on May 17, 2016 [11 favorites]


I don't really understand all the paranoia about the Kochs. They've always been outspent by Tom Steyer and George Soros.

Tom Steyer has committed to contributing up to $50 million for a "Super Pac".


Now you're just making random points to try and connect dots that don't exist. Anyway, not only did the Kochs massively outspend Soros and Steyer in the last presidential election, they also spent a lot of undisclosed "dark money" while Soros and Steyer disclosed where their donations went.

As the article title says: nothing really compares to the Koch brothers’ political empire.
posted by zombieflanders at 2:09 PM on May 17, 2016 [12 favorites]


They're not pulling out of politics. They're redirecting their money to the state level, and into policy projects laying the ground work for future ratfucking to come...

Pretty much this. And that's a smart-money plan.

If the last twenty or so years have shown anything, it's that state-level politics rules all, and establishes the solid foundation for a national takeover.

If you want to see what the next several decades in the US will look like, take a look at who controls (and stands to take over) state legislatures and governorships. That level of control sets-up effective gerrymandering and voter limits, which sets-up success at the national level, at a fraction of the cost of bankrolling Senate and Presidential races. In addition, you have compliant legislatures, happy to enact your pet social and economic legislation.
posted by Thorzdad at 2:58 PM on May 17, 2016 [7 favorites]


The baby is already here.

he's stupid and orange and he won't stop screaming and everything he touches is immediately covered in poo
posted by poffin boffin at 3:18 PM on May 17, 2016 [17 favorites]


Thorzdad, I'd that were entirely true, Mitt Romney would be president. Local and state elections are super important, but they aren't everything. Particularly when you've got demographics in your favor and a judicial branch willing to slap down gerrymandering & voter disenfranchisement.
posted by leotrotsky at 3:50 PM on May 17, 2016


This isn't a withdraw, it's a tactical admission that Trump is probably a lost cause. There's no good news here.

Other than, you know, the admission that Trump is probably a lost cause.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 3:56 PM on May 17, 2016


The judicial stuff is truly terrifying, and it's an area that the left hasn't even looked into. They have poured millions into building a huge network of conservative lawyers and judges, starting in law school. And there's no counterbalance other than the fact that law schools have always been fairly liberal places.
posted by cell divide at 4:28 PM on May 17, 2016 [1 favorite]


I think gerrymandering will become less of an issue in the coming years. Florida, despite being under Rick Scott's spell, voted in a Constitutional amendment that required nonpartisan, compact districts. The Legislature tried their damnedest to ignore it, but they got smacked down in court, so the packing is nowhere near what it once was.

There are similar efforts in other states, and it seems that most people, even conservatives, prefer to root out the corruption that is gerrymandered districting. (Sort of like how many Republicans are firmly on the NeverTrump bandwagon)
posted by wierdo at 5:55 PM on May 17, 2016


Re the judiciary thing (sorry for impenetrable wonk jargon): Abandoning Defensive Crouch Liberal Constitutionalism.
posted by No-sword at 6:36 PM on May 17, 2016 [1 favorite]


(Sort of like how many Republicans are firmly on the NeverTrump bandwagon)

Heh. Give it a couple of weeks.
posted by Artw at 6:39 PM on May 17, 2016 [3 favorites]


don't forget ALEC...
ALEC's 2016 Agenda Moving in the States: A Snapshot - "Working in tandem with deep-pocketed corporations, trade associations, conservative groups and mega-donors--including operatives of the Koch brothers--ALEC is driving an agenda you should know about... the Center for Media and Democracy, publishers of ALECexposed.org, has the lowdown on ALEC bills moving in states this year."
More than a quarter of all the state legislators in the country belong to ALEC, although the secretive group does not disclose its list of more than 2000 legislative members. ALEC gets 98 percent of its funding from corporations and sources like the Koch family foundations, and it acts as a conduit for special interest influence in state legislatures. ALEC convenes legislators, corporate lobbyists, and right-wing think tanks to vote as equals, behind closed doors, on "model bills" that benefit ALEC's corporate members, industry funders, and right-wing allies. These bills are then introduced, often word for word, in state legislatures around the country.

ALEC's long-term agenda is reflected in the current crop of bills now being filed in state houses. They undermine action on climate change and environmental protections; promote school privatization; defund unions and stop progressive wage and benefits policies; and, among other things, call for a convention to amend the U.S. Constitution to restrict the federal budget.

ALEC is also the force behind the increased use of "preemption" laws designed to strip local governments of their power to ban fracking, pass minimum wage hikes, and enact earned sick day laws. ALEC is pushing bills to stop cities from banning plastic bags, made from derivatives of oil refining. ALEC is funded by some of the biggest fossil fuel companies in the world, like Koch.
posted by kliuless at 1:04 PM on May 18, 2016




I've always wondered why the Kochs didn't donate more to libertarian candidates. They're in favor of drug legalization and marriage equality, things they've had to fight the GOP tooth and nail on in the past.
posted by stolyarova at 2:23 PM on May 19, 2016


Yeah, I wonder that too. The article says the brothers have been disappointed their money hasn't been able to push the GOP in a liberation direction, nor have any of the presidential candidates been sufficiently libertarian. So I am curious as to why they would not support Rand Paul then.
posted by riruro at 6:49 AM on May 20, 2016


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