All roads lead to Koch
This blockbuster investigation from Lee Fang at Republic Report should bust the myth once and for all that the right wing billionaire Koch Brothers are only interested in economics. In fact, it's clear that they are interested in electing Republicans by any means necessary:
Charles and David Koch, the billionaire owners of of Koch Industries, are known as big spenders when it comes to lobbying and influencing public policy. Now, a new document filed with the IRS reveals how the Koch political machine funneled over $54.5 million in previously undisclosed funds to a litany of front groups designed to smear Democrats.
The disclosure suggests that a very wide variety of Republican groups active in the last major election, from pro-life organizations that ran ads on abortion to shadowy fronts that aired partisan commercials with the infamous Ground Zero Mosque conspiracy, have been highly dependent on Koch money. The document also reveals that the Koch’s political network spent much more on electing the current Congress than previously known.
Sean Noble, a Republican consultant, was hired to help administer the Koch war chest. According to Politico, Noble was part of a group of GOP operatives who met regularly with Karl Rove’s Super PAC to target 120 House of Representatives races in 2010. The close coordination was pivotal in helping the Republican Party capture 63 seats in one of the biggest midterm election landslides in modern history.
Yesterday afternoon, OpenSecrets.org bloggers Viveca Novak and Robert Maguire were the first to flag a tax form filed by an obscure Arizona-based foundation called the Center to Protect Patients’ Rights, noting the foundation gave huge amounts almost exclusively to conservative groups that use undisclosed nonprofits to air partisan ads. The Center acted as a pass-through to distribute $44,599,946 in grants in 2010, and $10,783,500 the year before. Novak and Maguire also reported that the Center’s tax forms were prepared by at least one employee of the DCI Group, a lobbying business.
Though the document does not reveal where the Center receives its funds, the tax forms available online from 2009 and 2010 indicate that Sean Noble, Koch’s campaign commercial operative, managed the foundation. Heather Higgins, a presenter at the infamous Koch mega-fundraisers, served on the board for part of 2009. The Center paid Noble’s firm a total of $350,000 a year in lobbying and “management services.” In turn, it appears, Noble played a significant role in fueling the most aggressive advertising campaign in the history of midterm elections.
Noble’s grant list features sponsors of the most hard-hitting partisan ads, including Americans for Job Security and the Club for Growth. Many of the Center’s grants, however, went to social conservative groups that clash with traditional libertarian values, particularly in terms of women’s health and foreign policy. Although the Koch brothers are eager to present themselves as small government libertarians, the grants suggest a different set of priorities.
Interesting how they laundered it, isn't it? You can see why. It's obviously better for them that everyone believes that there are numerous groups with varied interests just exercising their rights to free speech as a grassroots uprising took the country by storm rather than a very small group of high level wealthy Republicans buying themselves elections.
Here's the scam:
In all, Koch operative Sean Noble channeled grants to two dozen 501(c)4 nonprofits. As Stephen Colbert has covered, 501(c)4 nonprofits, which he refers to as “Spooky PACs,” can act like Super PACs — raising and spending unlimited corporate, union and individual contributions — but do not have to disclose a dime in terms of where the money is coming from.
The disclosure of Noble’s outfit is the biggest window we’ve seen recently into who purchased the current composition of Congress two years ago. Before this disclosure, the Koch network could only be tied to a few disclosed donations during the 2010 election: about $30-45 million reportedly raised by Americans for Prosperity, the attack-ad sponsoring Tea Party front founded by David Koch, over $2 million in contributions to political action committees through Koch PAC, and $1,050,450 in donations to the Republican Governors Association. The Center’s $55 million grant budget, raised possibly in connection to the Koch fundraisers — one of which Sean Noble and some of the wealthiest Republican billionaires in the country attended only months before the midterm elections — certainly raises the stakes in terms of calculating how much the current Republican Congress owe their current political fortunes to the Koch machine. From cutting the EPA to passing bills to undermine the Clean Act, Congress has handsomely rewarded the business interests of Koch Industries.
Read the whole piece to see just how wide ranging their patronage was. It makes me queasy to tell you the truth. I haven't shed any tears for the loss of the Blue Dogs, but it also means that progressives simply won't be able to compete if these guys get into a race. The amounts are staggering and will have a huge impact on the congressional races, even if the president is able to collect enough to compete from the same small donor pool.