Category Archives: Koch

NAACP Booed Mitt Romney For Calling On Repeal of Obamacare

I wonder if Romney realized who his audience was when speaking at the NAACP convention. Did he think he was at the Koch brothers fundraiser in the Hampton’s, one of the three he attended over the weekend? Because it is hard to image why he would call for a complete repeal of the Affordable Care Act to an audience whose majority of constituents would benefit from it.  

He also told the audience that he would “support traditional marriage” I assume forgetting that the NAACP came out in support of same-sex marriage a few months back. 

Yet again, more examples of just how out of touch this man is. I think it is safe to say he failed at making any headway in gaining support from the people attending. Nice try though, Willard!

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Campaigns For Sale — The Highest Bidder Wins

Since the SCOTUS ruling on Citizens United, it has been so interesting to see how our campaign finance has changed. We now have candidates who are being funded by just a handful of people. We have Newt Gingrich who would not be in the GOP primary race right now if it wasn’t for billionaire casino owner Sheldon Adelson and his family funding his super PAC. Mitt Romney’s campaign raised $18 million in the last half of 2011 from just 200 donors, and over $30 million throughout 2011. Jon Huntsman’S super PAC received over 70% of its funding from his father, Huntsman, Sr.  

Despite your party affiliation, this should be upsetting to you. These very few 0.5 percenters in our country are not giving this money to these candidates because they feel charitable. You have to ask yourself, if they do manage to get their candidate elected, what will they want. 

The billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch are two of the biggest spenders for the Republican party. Despite their attempts to stay in the shadows and not draw attention to themselves, they have been making a lot of news in the last few years (most notably for their creation of the tea party movement). Last weekend they hosted a three-day conference in Coachella Valley in which several hundred deep-pocketed donors attended. Among the most notable attendees were Eric Cantor (R-VA) and Sheldon Adelson. At the end of the event, the Koch brothers and their guests had promised to pledge $100 million in order to defeat President Obama.   

Ed Pilkington of The Guardian wrote about the Kochs and their supporters. 

Though the Kochs have already stamped their influence on the American right, their impact to date looks like small beer compared with their ambitious plans for 2012. According to Kenneth Vogel of Politico, the brothers intend to use their leverage among billionaire conservatives to pump more than $200m into the proceedings, focusing in particular on the presidential race. 

Their potential to sway the electorate through the sheer scale of their spending has been greatly enhanced by Citizens United, last year’s controversial ruling by the US supreme court that opened the floodgates to corporate donations in political campaigns. The ruling allows companies to throw unlimited sums to back their chosen candidates, without having to disclose their spending.  

That makes 2012 the first Citizens United presidential election, and in turn offers rich pickings to the Koch brothers. They have already made clear their intentions. At their most recent billionaires’ gathering in Vail, Colorado in June, Charles Koch described next year’s presidential contest as “the mother of all wars”. A tape of his private speech obtained by Mother Jones said the fight for the White House would be a battle “for the life or death of this country”.  

As for President Obama, we do have a bit of good news. Reuters recently reported that in the FEC financial disclosures released last week, it showed in 2011 his campaign raised 60 percent of the funds, or $58.5 million, from donors who gave less than $200.  

We have entered into a new wild west style of politics where for some of our candidates there is just a small group of people who fund their campaigns and the rise of super PACs who now can have access to unlimited funds and can use those funds in unlimited ways in order to sway our elections. For the middle and lower classes, both Republican and Democrat, this is not a promising sign for our survival.

Koch Brothers Stranglehold On Our Politics — Documentary On The #Kochs

If you need more reasons why Occupy Wall Street supporters have taken to the streets, this documentary is loaded with them.

This documentary goes into the long history of political influence and funding Koch Industries and the Koch brothers have had and the effect of their lobbying through ALEC and lobbying firms.  

Lee Fang, one of the people interviewed, is an investigative reporter with Think Progress. He has been investigating the “web of influence” of the Koch brothers on state and federal politicians. The film touches on the Koch role in everything from health care to energy policy. 

The video is about 24 minutes but is well worth a watch. Below the video, you will see that I have transcribed some of the significant findings that this documentary uncovered about the Koch brothers.   

  • Koch hold 2 meetings a year attended by people who fund the right-wing movement and right-wing politicians. Attendees of Koch meetings are sworn to secrecy.   
  • Koch and their partners spent $40 million in the 2010 elections. 
  • Koch brothers essentially oppose everything since the New Deal. 
  • The Koch’s expect to spend more than $200 million dollars to defect Obama next year.  
  • They have created a web of influence that stretches from State Houses all the way to the halls of Congress.  
  • Koch brothers gave birth to the Tea Party. American for Prosperity was founded and funded by Kochs. They were the first to organize Tea Party rallies. When the Tea Party movement began they consistently denied that they were a part of it but eventually it became impossible to deny because you could just connect all the dots.  
  • They organized the “Hands off my Healthcare” movement. 
  • AFP has 33 state chapters.  
  • ALEC is another group that brings corporate lobbyists and conservative legislators to draft model laws. The anti-union laws passed represent model legislation by ALEC the fact of which they try to keep under wraps.  
  • At the ALEC meetings they vote on drafted legislation that then are used in State House legislation and eventually get passed into law but the lawmakers do not let that fact be known. 
  • The voter ID legislation passed throughout the states this year were based on an ALEC written preapproved bill. The legislations passed are constructed to restrict voting in by minorities, students, and the elderly.  
  • The Koch brothers are using their money to buy State elections. It is actually a lot cheaper to buy State elections than it is for the U.S. Congress.  
  • Since 1998 Greenpeace has traced over $50 million that Koch has sent to various front groups and think tanks in D.C. and around the country who have run various elements of a campaign against global warming policy or against the science of global warming. 
  • The think tank The Cato Institute was founded by Koch Industries. Cato Institute receives about 40% of their funding from fossil fuel industries. 
  • The Koch’s have spent upwards of $50 million since 2006 on lobbyists. They are now the largest funder of campaigns within the oil and gas sector exceeding Exxon, Chevron.  
  • In 2010 the Koch’s contributed to 62 of the 87 new members of Congress.  
  • After the 2010 election, David Koch was one of the first people to visit the newly elected Speaker Boehner’s office.  
  • Koch brothers are suspected of being responsible for a large amount of the speculation in the oil and gas market, which is a leading reason for high gas/oil prices.

Koch Brothers “Man Up” — They Are Called Out For Intimidation

The last segment of Maddow’s show last night was devoted to a recent effort by the Koch brothers (the people who fund the Tea Party) to intimidate her staff in response to posting of an article on the number of jobs Koch Industries has open right now and comparing their job openings with the number of people currently unemployed. 

The video of that segment is below for you to watch, and I encourage you to because she truly stands up these billionaire titans of industry…the little guy standing up to these thugs who use their wealth to buy our politicians and their votes. 

Here are few facts about Koch Industries that Rachel mentioned: 

  • Koch Industries is the 2nd largest privately held company in the country founded by Fred Koch, the daddy of Charles and David Koch.  
  • Koch brothers are richer than Warren Buffet. They have fired thousands of Koch Industries employees as the brothers have gotten more and more rich.  

    In 2007 Koch net worth was $34 billion and employed 80,000.  
    Now in 2011 Koch net worth is $50 billion and they employ 67,000.  

  • Koch brothers fund Republicans as well as the “Astroturf Tea Party”. All the funding for Americans for Prosperity who is the driving force behind the Tea Party is Koch brother money.  
  • Koch Industries operate in 60 countries. Recently it was discovered they were doing business illegally with Iran.  
  • When the Democrats passed the first stimulus in 2009 for job creation, The Koch funded Americans for Prosperity ran ads attacking Democrats who voted for this stimulus, and when the money started going to the states to promote job creation, Americans for Prosperity demanded that local governments reject this money — in essence do not do anything to help the economy. 

Rachel went on the attack and here is a transcript of parts of what she said. Watch the video for the full segment:  

If I had become billions and billions and billions of dollars richer while firing thousands and thousands and thousands of Americans from their jobs and then I had decided to spend multi-million dollar chunks of my fortune trying to make sure that teachers and firefighters would get laid off and stayed laid off, if I was that kind of guy. If I was the kind of guy who minted gold dimes with my own head on them, if I was the kind of guy who wanted to take money out of my pocket and see my own face looking back at me from the money……[they did this when running a Koch brother was running for VP in the 80s]……but even I was the kind of guy who minted myself onto coins, even if I was that kind of billionaire, I still could not imagine using my multi-billion dollar oil and chemical conglomerate to take shots……    

Your right Republicans…there is class warfare but you are instigating the war…you and your billionaire handlers. Rachel calls them out and I am thrilled that she is not backing down. 

I read a sign from one of the OWS protesters that read: They [Republicans] only call it class war when we fight back!”

Another Scandal for ALEC, Atlantic Bridge, and the Koch Brothers

Atlantic Bridge, the British affiliate organization to the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), is in the midst of a scandal in the UK that is bringing into light the corruption-laced practices of these right-wing groups on both sides of the pond.  

To refresh your memory, ALEC whose motto is “Limited government, free markets, federalism” is a powerful lobbying organizations. So, in case you’re wondering who funds this group, you won’t be surprised because they include companies like Exxon Mobil, tobacco giant Philip Morris and the NRA.  

They regularly hold conventions where our legislators and lobbyists can get together. Center for Media and Democracy, non-profit media research group, reported that “during these events state legislators are presented with pre-drafted bills drawn up on behalf of its members.”  

The Guardian wrote in its article:  “Each year, close to 1,000 bills, based at least in part on ALEC model legislation, are introduced in the states. Of these, an average of 20% become law.” One of its biggest supporters is the Koch Foundation, whose founders, the oil barons Charles G Koch and David H Koch, have funnelled about $55 million to climate-denial front groups and are generous donors to the Tea Party movement.  

ALEC had a partnership with Atlantic Bridge, which was a think tank founded in 1997. Its purpose was to “bring people together,” i.e., John Ashcrot, Karl Rove, Jon Kyl, Lindsey Graham, Joe Lieberman, “who have common interests.”  

In my research about Atlantic Bridge, I found this out via Wikipedia: They were given charitable status in 2003 as “an education and research scheme.” In a 2010 report by the Charity Commission, it ruled that it was “not evident that [it] had advanced education” and “may lead members of the public to call into question its independence from party politics”. It was ordered to enact a 12-month review to bring it into line with its charitable objectives. 

In 2003, David Cameron’s Defense Secretary Liam Fox and Atlantic Bridge’s London-based director, Adam Werritty, partnered with ALEC to form the Atlantic Bridge nonprofit. ALEC supplied staff to the Atlantic Bridge, and Fox and his associates spoke at ALEC events. These “events” included meetings between American politicians and business lobbyists.  

Here is what ThinkProgress recently wrote about the scandal going on in the UK and their findings after investigating ALEC.  

Earlier this month, the U.K.’s Charity Commission shut down Atlantic Bridge after an investigationrevealed that the nonprofit has operated as little more than a front for various corporate lobbying and Tory party interests.  

The scandal has already forced the resignation of David Cameron’s Defense Secretary Liam Fox after the revelation that the Atlantic Bridge’s London-based director, Adam Werritty, had improperly acted as a high level advisor to Fox while employed by a number of military industry and lobbying clients.  

ThinkProgress has covered ALEC for years, and what we have found closely resembles the pay-to-play allegations against Atlantic Bridge. Our investigations helped expose the fact that health insurance lobbyists used ALEC to write anti-health reform legislation, that Koch Industries and coal lobbyists had used ALEC to kill clean energy programs, and that private prison corporations pushed immigrant detention laws with assistance from ALEC. 

Watch the ThinkProgress video report of the 2011 American Legislative Exchange Council conference:    

Speaking at a 2008 ALEC conference in Chicago, Fox said, “we at Atlantic Bridge have been delighted at the success of our partnership with ALEC and we’re excited about what we might achieve together in the future.” “In particular,” he added, “we are patting ourselves on the back at having chosen such a disguised and solid values-based organization to be our partner because the values that you have need to be embedded at every level of government — not just national or federal government.” Given the way Fox exported ALEC’s stealth lobbying agenda to the UK, one must wonder when the Atlantic Bridge corruption scandal will hit the United States.  

Shortly after news broke of the Atlantic Bridge controversy, the websites for ALEC and Atlantic Bridge went down. Both now claim to be undergoing maintenance.  

Presidential candidate Herman Cain’s spokesperson and foreign policy adviser also has strong ties to Atlantic Bridge.

Koch Industries Caught in Illegal Iran Scandal

The Koch brothers who among other things is responsible for funding the Tea Party movement (along with Karl Rove, founder of American Crossroads) has been caught paying bribes to win contracts, engaging in possible illegal trade with Iran, price fixing, and ignoring environmental regulations. 

The report in Bloomberg Markets also discovered Koch Industries documents admitting that they had violated federal law. “It’s a document right there on the record, right out of the lips of Koch Industries,” Bloomberg Markets reporter David Evans told ABC News. “I think there are enough of these payments that I think any prosecutor would want to look further,” Columbia University Law School professor John Coffee explained. The video below is a report on this scandal by ABC News during which the reporter confronts David Koch coming out of his Park Avenue apartment. 

I would love to have seen a much more in-your-face confrontation, but it does show him quickly being escorted into his SUV avoiding the report’s questions. In my neck of the woods, they call this “the chickens coming home to roost.” I’m not going to get my hopes up for any real justice here since the power of the Koch brothers goes up to the highest levels of our government and governments around the world. 

How To Rig An Election

GOP has long been a party of Christian and “small-government” conservatives. Since their wins at the state and federal levels in 2010, which they won on a platform of creating jobs, jobs, jobs and deficit reduction, their sole focus, like a laser, has been on busting unions and cutting benefits to people like police, firefighters, and teachers, cutting education for our schools, and getting rid of women’s healthcare (that is to just name a few). At the same time they have been cutting taxes for the very wealthy and corporations, i.e., big oil, Wall Street.

These constituents that used to identify themselves as conservatives are now realizing the GOP do not have their best interest in mind. Since the GOP has been pushing away the people who used to support them, they are now trying to devise a way to win elections without having the majority of Americans behind them anymore.

Since their constituents are now just the wealthy and the people who run those corporations (whose numbers are in the thousands, if that), they have now come up with a way to win elections without a majority of voters behind them. Donna Brazile recently wrote an op-ed:

From coast to coast, the GOP is engaged in what appears to be a coordinated, expensive effort to block voters from the polls. The motivation is political — a cynical effort to restrict voting by traditionally Democratic-leaning Americans. In more than 30 states, GOP legislators are on the move, from a sweeping rewrite of Florida’s election laws to new rules for photo identification in Ohio, Wisconsin, North Carolina and more than 20 other states.

As a result, 11% of Americans — 21 million citizens of voting age who lack proper photo identification — could be turned away on Election Day. And these people tend to be most highly concentrated among people of color, the poor, the young and the old.

This shows that GOP and Republicans are not just racists (their insistence that President Obama show his birth certificate, i.e., “his papers“), they are now waging class warfare. GOP won such huge majorities at the state level that this has allowed them to practically push through any bill they wish, written any way they want, and they are now working to exclude as many people from our elections as possible.

It seems there isn’t much we can do about it; however, as I mentioned in previous posts, the one thing we have that they do not is our enormous numbers. We have that working for us and can use it. It is working across the globe from the uprisings across the middle east to Spain, Britain, Germany, etc. We need to learn from them, stop being complacent with the current system, and take to the streets. We can make a change. This is no longer a country divided by race, we are a country divided by class, plain and simple!