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Hullabaloo


Thursday, November 12, 2015

 
The Kochs and the crown jewel

by digby

Luke Russert called Joni Ernst the "crown jewel" of the Republican Party when she was elected in 2014. Turns out she was plucked from obscurity by the Koch brothers network and groomed for just that purpose:

Ernst was being watched closely by allies of the billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch, who saw in her an advocate for their brand of free-market, libertarian-infused conservatism. Operatives affiliated with the Kochs’ political network invited Ernst to the network’s August 2013 gathering of wealthy conservative donors at a posh resort in Albuquerque’s Santa Ana Pueblo.

Ernst later told POLITICO she had no idea "how my name came through those channels." But her appearance at the event impressed donors and was followed by an infusion of support that helped Ernst win the GOP nomination and, eventually, a Senate seat. It also represented a new phase in the rapid expansion of the Koch-backed political network ― its willingness to become involved in primary fights among GOP candidates — potentially putting it on a collision course with the official Republican Party.

Until now, little has been known about the secretive role played by the Kochs' donors and operatives in boosting Ernst. The Koch network has focused primarily on policy fights, mostly leaving the spadework of recruiting and nurturing candidates to the party.

But the network's financial support for Ernst ― detailed here for the first time ― offers the first signs of a move into GOP primaries. The Kochs and their allies are investing in a pipeline to identify, cultivate and finance business-oriented candidates from the local school board all the way to the White House, and Koch operatives are already looking for opportunities to challenge GOP incumbents deemed insufficiently hard-line in their opposition to government spending and corporate subsidies.

The ambitious effort, spearheaded partly by a for-profit consulting firm called Aegis Strategic that’s backed by the Koch network, is one of several ways in which the brothers and their allies are seeking to influence the types of candidates who carry the GOP banner. The network has taken on a vetting role in the GOP presidential primary, offering favored candidates access to its donors and activists. And some within the network have even advocated targeting from six to 12 GOP House members who have run afoul of the Koch orthodoxy on fiscal issues and who are facing 2016 primary challenges, sources told POLITICO
Of course they are. They have a hundred billion dollars between them. They can buy the entire government and still have enough left over to run several countries.

But here's the thing the article fails to grapple with. Yes, the Kochs are backing people who agree with their economic philosophy. But Ernst didn't just run on that. She ran as a military hawk (she's a big veteran, remember) and a hardcore Christian conservative.  Check this out. If anyone wants to know if the Kochs are principled libertarians or if they really just care about getting rid of taxes and regulations only need to look at Ernst to figure that out.

It's great that they're talking about criminal justice reform and saying harsh things about corporate subsidies. They don't really care about that either but it's helpful when they use their lack of principles for good. Still, nobody should confuse what these people believe with anything but economic libertarianism --- which translates to unfettered, laissez-faire capitalism, period.

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