All Links Will Open In New Window
Tom Perkins, a very wealthy venture capitalist, proposed the following: "You pay a million dollars in taxes, you get a million votes"; suggesting, in essences, that only the wealthy should elect our officials. What Perkins isn't saying is that's basically already happening --- his alternative simply allows the rich to keep the money they're currently using to buy elections. And nobody buys elections better than David and Charles Koch.
During the 2012 elections, the Koch's pledged $200 million to get the 'black Democrat' voted out of office. Because of current laws - mainly Citizens United vs. the FEC - no one really knows how much they actually spent. However, we do know that political networks linked to the Koch's spent more on the 2012 election ($407 million) than all the candidates spent on the entire 2000 Presidential Election. They nearly matched Mitt Romney's entire 2012 campaign fund (see following graph by Thinkprogress). To add insult to injury, their political networks are tax exempt - which allows them to hide contributions.
To bring the power of Koch spending down to the most elementary level, know that at least 1 in every 4 dark-money dollars spent on the 2012 election was linked to the Koch brothers. That is a huge level given there are dozens of organizations who spend dark money on elections that are not linked to the Kochs, including other conservative and many liberal & progressive groups.
While the Koch brothers aren't the only ones who are buying votes, they are unquestionably the most aggressive at doing so, both in action and money spent. As of March 2014 their combined net worth is $80 billion ($12 billion more than just one year ago), so they can certainly afford to buy as many votes as they want. They could spend a billion dollars on an election and earn the money back in just one month. If for no other reason at all, this is what's wrong with unfettered capitalism.
The flag-ship political organization owned by the Koch brothers is Americans for Prosperity (The "Prosperity" part is meant to apply only to the Koch's and their wealthy friends). Tax documents, which were never intended to become public, show that David Koch himself provided $850 thousand dollars for their start up in 2003, and he is the chairman of the board at AFP. AFP is used to funnel money to many other organizations which do the Koch's political bidding although their central banks are Freedom Partners, Center to Protect Patient Rights and TC4 Trust. An earlier tax document shows that the Koch's contributed more than $4 million to AFP's predecessor political organization, Citizens for a Sound Economy Educational Fund.
The Koch brothers' network is mind-boggling. In fact, if you think the federal government is a complicated mess, you might want to take a look at the following image of the Koch brothers' political empire (thanks to the Washington Post). The only difference is that the Koch brothers' is a fine-tuned machine.
Another image reflects an even more complicated web of influence.(Click on image for larger popup)
The political maze of buying elections is much like the deliberate planning by Wall Street banks to complicate their internal operations --- which results in the Justice Department making claims like this: It's just too hard to convict them. Translation: They've become too powerful for prosecution. Thus the reason the Koch's complicate their network.
The Koch's have a lot of financial help from many other wealthy people who stand to benefit from a GOP/tea party-controlled government. After their first of two annual gatherings this year to plan their strategy, someone left a list of donors on a table. It reads like a who's who of some of the most influential and wealthy people in the country, some of which you probably never heard of. But you probably do know very well the two headliners for their second meeting last year: None other than GOP Representative's Paul Ryan and Eric Cantor. Ironically, it was only a month later when the government was shut down over the debt ceiling, which appears to have been on orders from the Koch brothers.
One conservative talking point is that unions spend more on elections than do the Koch brothers. While that may have been true at one time, the Koch's have reversed that trend, and in a big way. For the 2012 elections the kings of America spent nearly three times as much as did all unions combined. They, along with their puppets, want nothing more than slave labor so that their billions can grow even faster. Therefore look for their spending to be even a bigger gap over unions for the 2014 and 2016 elections.
The Koch's don't spend all their political money on elections. To get friendly laws passed and unfriendly laws struck from the books, they spend an awful lot of money lobbying lawmakers. For example, in 2010 and 2011 they spend more than $8 million each year on lobbying efforts followed by more than $10 million each year in 2012 and 2013. In fact, over the past 6 years they have spent nearly $70 million lobbying state and federal lawmakers. And every cent of that is meant to expand their power and enslave the commoner.
The Koch brothers, along with Rupert Murdoch of Fox News fame, are the financial powers behind the tea party. In fact, a recent study by the National Cancer Institute of the National Institute of Health found that the Koch brothers were a primary force in planning the tea party more than a decade before tea even showed up. These two facts are the reason you hear so much about how the tea party is nothing more than a front group for big business and wealthy individuals --- using millions of ordinary and uninformed commoners as pawns to advance their cause.
A parody of the Koch brothers influence over America is portrayed in the following video. While it may be a bit comical, it should be taken very serious because it does indeed reflect how they're buying America's federal and state governments. Below the video is an image reflecting the categories of their influence.
ProPublica has put together a neat little inactive chart that shows how dark money flows through the Koch Network. Click the following image and give the chart a test drive. I think you'll be impressed as well as more informed.
It's not just elections that the Koch's want to control - they are the lead players in fighting any and all efforts to address climate control. Given their vast fortune has been obtained and continues to grow at the expense of the climate, this should come as no surprise. The following video is a glimpse into the Koch's attempts to kill climate control.New "Kochtopus" Graphic Maps the Influence of Billionaire Koch Brothers on Climate Policy
The Koch brothers has a long, sometimes evil & deadly, history of breaking or skirting laws they don't like or stands in the way of making their billions. In 2011, Bloomberg reporters Asjylyn Loder and David Evans published their investigation into the Koch's criminal activities. "Koch Brothers Flout Law Getting Richer With Secret Iran Sales" details not only their illegal activities with Iran - which had a total blackout saction against them by several world governments including the US - but on several other fronts including inside the US (a preview is farther below with link to Bloomberg article).
Just two of the many illegal acts here in the US defines the Koch's:
Safety department employee Sally Barnes-Soliz was asked by her bosses and company lawyers to "falsify data for a report to the state on uncontrolled emissions of benzene, a known cause of cancer" in their Corpus Christi, Texas refinery. She refused, reported it to government authorities and was later fired for her trouble. However, "[d]uring the next three years, investigators compiled evidence that included hundreds of internal memos about benzene emissions. In 1999, Koch's lawyers tried to stop prosecutors from using the documents in court." David Uhlmann, who oversaw the prosecution of the Koch refinery division when he was chief of the environmental crimes unit at the U.S. Department of Justice, said "The Koch case was a classic case of environmental crime, significant violations of law occurring alongside widespread efforts to conceal those violations, which Koch has admitted."
The Koch brothers conspired to steal oil from an American Indian reservation which not only shortchanged Indian families but also royalties to the government. Upon learning about the crimes, a Senate committee sent federal agents to investigate, whereas the "agents hid in ditches, crouched behind scrub cedars and ducked behind cows to avoid detection" in order to catch the Koch's at their theft.
The investigators caught Koch Oil's employees falsifying records so that the company would get more crude than it paid for, shortchanging Indian families. Koch's records showed that the company took 1.95 million barrels of oil it didn't pay for from 1986 to 1988.
The committee concluded in a November 1989 report that Koch Oil had engaged in a widespread, sophisticated scheme to steal millions of barrels of oil. The Senate referred the case to the Justice Department, which convened a grand jury that never indicted the company (Reagan / Bush I Justice Department).
At a civil suit brought by Bill Koch, a third brother, on behalf of US taxpayers, retired employee Phil Dubose said Koch Industries trained them to steal oil: "The Koch Method is to cheat the producer out of crude oil." He said he was able to steal about 2,000 barrels each month from one customer. At today's prices, that would be $20,000 the producer lost each month. Dubose said "You used every available tool to mismeasure the crude oil in Koch's favor."
In the end, the Koch's were found to have made 24,587 false claims in buying oil over a four-year period - 17 per day. Yet, the GOP Justice Department could have cared less.
In closing, reporters Asjylyn Loder and David Evans said "For six decades around the world, Koch Industries has blazed a path to riches -- in part, by making illicit payments to win contracts, trading with a terrorist state, fixing prices, neglecting safety and ignoring environmental regulations. At the same time, Charles and David Koch have promoted a form of government that interferes less with company actions." [Bold mine]
ABC News reported on this investigation at the time. The following video is their report.
Other than paying several "get-out-of-jail-free" fines, the Koch's got to keep all their ill-gotten billions from their crimes.
You get a taste of what the Koch's are made of in a little history the Bloomberg reporters gave about them:
Fred [David & Charles' father] was an early adviser to the founder of the anti-communist John Birch Society, which fought against the civil rights movement and the United Nations.
In 1980, David Koch ran for vice president on the Libertarian ticket, pledging to abolish Social Security, the Federal Reserve System, welfare, minimum wage laws and federal agencies -- including the Department of Energy, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Central Intelligence Agency.
What many people don't know is how the Kochs' anti-regulation political ideology has influenced the way they conduct business.
More insight to the Koch brothers:
Inside the Koch Brothers' Toxic Empire - Together, Charles and David Koch control one of the world's largest fortunes, which they are using to buy up our political system. But what they don't want you to know is how they made all that money.
The enormity of the Koch fortune is no mystery. Brothers Charles and David are each worth more than $40 billion. The electoral influence of the Koch brothers is similarly well-chronicled. The Kochs are our homegrown oligarchs; they've cornered the market on Republican politics and are nakedly attempting to buy Congress and the White House.
Three New Ways the Koch Brothers Are Screwing America - The fourth-richest men in America target low-wage workers, minority voters and unions.
They are truly cowards in the worst way,says filmmaker Robert Greenwald, of the notorious billionaires Charles and David Koch. And he should know.
Koch Brothers EXPOSED: 2014 - FULL DOCUMENTARY - BRAVE NEW FILMS
A Fact Sheet - Koch Brothers Exposed: Why We Must Act - And How (PDF)