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June 23, 2014 11:54 AM Democracy Alliance and the Koch Network

By Ed Kilgore

There is no power on earth that can prevent a new piece by Politico’s Kenneth Vogel on the “secret” deliberations of the liberal donor network Democracy Alliance from being used in “so’s your old man” responses to scrutiny of the role the Brothers Koch and their donor network play in conservative politics. But anyone doing so should note Vogel’s own distinctions based on the size and nature of the two “teams’” operations:

[W]hen it comes to sheer volume of cash, the DA isn’t in the same league as the Koch network. While the DA takes credit for steering more than $500 million in donations to recommended groups since its creation in 2005, the Koch network spent more than $400 million in 2012 alone.
Koch network donors are expected to provide almost every penny of the Koch operation’s $290 million 2014 spending goal. By contrast, DA donors — or “partners,” in the club’s parlance — are projected to provide a maximum of $39 million toward the $200 million 2014 spending goal of the 21 core DA groups, according to the briefing booklet. That means most of the cash raised by DA-linked groups actually comes from donors, institutions or revenue streams outside the DA’s cloistered ranks. Another difference: While DA partners are required to donate at least $200,000 a year to recommended groups, they ultimately decide to which group their money goes. The Koch network, on the other hand, collects contributions in the nonprofit political hub Freedom Partners Chamber of Commerce, which then distributes the cash mostly as it sees fit to groups in the network.

So the Koch network is much bigger and much more centralized. And that’s why loose groops like Democracy Alliance are essentially playing catch-up.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.

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