Political Animal


October 11, 2011 11:25 AM The Koch Brothers’ big bucks

By Steve Benen

In case anyone needed a reminder about the kind of forces Democrats will be up against next year, the Koch brothers are putting together their plan to help buy the 2012 elections.

The billionaire industrialist brothers David and Charles Koch plan to steer more than $200 million — potentially much more — to conservative groups ahead of Election Day, POLITICO has learned. That puts their libertarian-leaning network in the same league as the most active of the groups in the more establishment-oriented network conceived last year by veteran GOP operatives Rove and Ed Gillespie, which plans to raise $240 million.

That’s financing for an awful lot of attack ads, nearly all of which will be dishonest, and which a whole lot of voters will believe.

It’ll be interesting, though, to see whether Democrats are able to make the Koch money toxic. We learned last week that there’s ample evidence that Koch Industries made “improper payments” (read: bribes) to “secure contracts in six countries dating back to 2002.” One of those countries, it turns out, is Iran, which has purchased millions of dollars of petrochemical equipment from the Kochs’ company, despite a trade ban and the U.S. labeling Iran a state sponsor of terrorism. The Kochs’ business also stand accused of having “rigged prices with competitors, lied to regulators and repeatedly run afoul of environmental regulations, resulting in five criminal convictions since 1999 in the U.S. and Canada.”

This is the money that’s going to buy elections for Republicans?

Over the summer, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) declared, “Plain and simple, if you do business with Iran, you cannot do business with America.”

Follow-up question for Cantor, who’s accepted tens of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from Koch Industries: those who do business with Iran cannot do business with America, but can they partner with the Republican Party to swing an election cycle?

Steve Benen is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly, joining the publication in August, 2008 as chief blogger for the Washington Monthly blog, Political Animal.


Post a comment
  • martin on October 11, 2011 11:38 AM:

    That puts their libertarian-leaning network

    I know it's not your construct Steve, can we find something besides "libertarian leaning" do describe these guys or their network. They are right-wing capitalists who are totally in favor of government when it is to their benefit and against it when it cuts into their money supply. The right wing organizations they fund support a myriad of groups and persons of the social conservative philosophy that are anything but libertarian.

    Quite frankly (and this is one of my problems with big "L" libertarians) if you believe in corporations, which are a gov't granted charter with special privileges and protections, you can't be a libertarian.

    The Koch's are I-got-mine conservatives of the purest form.

  • Anonymous on October 11, 2011 11:42 AM:

    Itíll be interesting, though, to see whether Democrats are able to make the Koch money toxic
    I wouldn't wager any money on it .
    Mr. & Mrs Average TeeVee viewer probably don't hav a clue who the Kochs are and our esteemed TeeVee misinformation conglomerates will make sure it stays that way.

  • Jose Padilla on October 11, 2011 11:54 AM:

    Making "improper payments" to buy foreign offcials isn't any different than spending hundreds of millions of dollars to get certain officials elected in the US. It's buying influence either way.

  • Josef K on October 11, 2011 11:59 AM:

    Does this qualify as "providing material support to the enemy"?

    Haven't people been detained and...stuff...for that?

    Just askin'.

  • samsa on October 11, 2011 12:00 PM:

    I am supremely confident that Democratic leaders will immediately start a campaign to successfully convince the voters that such shenanigans do not make a healthy contribution to our democracy. They have been so successful in the past on such matters.

  • dalloway on October 11, 2011 12:35 PM:

    If only this could be hammered into the Big Media narrative -- but, alas, then they wouldn't have time to parse whether Mormons really are Christians. We're being had, boys and girls. The Kochistocracy owns the airwaves, too.

  • jjm on October 11, 2011 12:41 PM:

    Yes, I too was upset with the term 'libertarian' -- unless you mean Ayn Rand's style of hypercapitalism absent any last vestige of democracy.

    The Kochs are radicals; they insist on John Birch Society principles: principles that this country was firmly against in the 1960s -- but then, Reagan, a member, was permitted to run for governor of California despite secretly being a member of this banned group. The rest is a sad history.

    The Birchers believe that World War III -- fighting communism -- is imminent, even though how many communist countries are left?

    They fight against 'Leninism" and workers' rights...

    They want an overthrow of the working classes, using Leninist tactics.

  • Genevieve on October 11, 2011 12:53 PM:

    Isn't the follow-up question to Cantor about whether he intends to keep the $$?

  • Slf on October 11, 2011 3:41 PM:

    Why is the Dept. of Justice not investigating alleged law breaking and cheating by the Koch brothers in Iran and elsewjere? If the Koch brothers suddenly had need of very very very expensive lawyers in an attempt to stay out of jail, perhaps they would be distracted from destroying the democracy that allowed them to become so filthy rich. Why is the Justice Dept. spending valuable time and personnel hours threatening CA medical marijuana dispensers, who provide medicine to the weak and vulnerable (another Obama campaign promise apparently forgotten), when those who have done ruinous damage to the democracy and not incidentally allegedly broken laws right, left and center (Koches, Cheney, Bush, etc.) swan around signing books, glad handing, and funding the destruction of the middle class?

  • Doug on October 11, 2011 8:46 PM:

    "Why isn't the Dept. of Justice not investigating alleged law breaking and cheating by the Koch brothers in Iran and elswjere)sic)?"...Slf @ 3:41 PM.

    And who says it's not? Any premature revelations about such an investigation might halt it before enough evidence had been accumulated to warrant going before a judge for sub poenas. Most likely the first news we would hear about ANY investigation into the Koch brothers' activities will be from twitter as the raids take place.
    Almost makes me wish I had an account...