Last March, Chris wrote a post explaining how Greenpeace uncovered massive anti-climate change payouts of $73 million to right wing think tanks from an obscure company, Koch Industries. This week, Koch Industries is in the news again following an expose by Jane Meyer at the New Yorker titled, “Covert Operations: The billionaire brothers who are waging a war against Obama”:
The Kochs are longtime libertarians who believe in drastically lower personal and corporate taxes, minimal social services for the needy, and much less oversight of industry—especially environmental regulation. These views dovetail with the brothers’ corporate interests. In a study released this spring, the University of Massachusetts at Amherst’s Political Economy Research Institute named Koch Industries one of the top ten air polluters in the United States. And Greenpeace issued a report identifying the company as a “kingpin of climate science denial.” The report showed that, from 2005 to 2008, the Kochs vastly outdid ExxonMobil in giving money to organizations fighting legislation related to climate change, underwriting a huge network of foundations, think tanks, and political front groups. Indeed, the brothers have funded opposition campaigns against so many Obama Administration policies—from health-care reform to the economic-stimulus program—that, in political circles, their ideological network is known as the Kochtopus.
Meyer’s article has been generating a lot of attention.
But, here’s a key piece of information: the Kochs haven’t just given to right-wingers. Back in April of 2001, The American Prospect’s Bob Dreyfuss reported that the Kochs also funded the Democratic Leadership Council (DLC):
And for $25,000, 28 giant companies found their way onto the DLC’s executive council, including Aetna, AT&T;, American Airlines, AIG, BellSouth, Chevron, DuPont, Enron, IBM, Merck and Company, Microsoft, Philip Morris, Texaco, and Verizon Communications. Few, if any, of these corporations would be seen as leaning Democratic, of course, but here and there are some real surprises. One member of the DLC’s executive council is none other than Koch Industries, the privately held, Kansas-based oil company whose namesake family members are avatars of the far right, having helped to found archconservative institutions like the Cato Institute and Citizens for a Sound Economy. Not only that, but two Koch executives, Richard Fink and Robert P. Hall III, are listed as members of the board of trustees and the event committee, respectively–meaning that they gave significantly more than $25,000.
The DLC board of trustees is an elite body whose membership is reserved for major donors, and many of the trustees are financial wheeler-dealers who run investment companies and capital management firms–though senior executives from a handful of corporations, such as Koch, Aetna, and Coca-Cola, are included.
I added the emphasis.
Fitting, isn’t it? The entity that tries to undermine the progressive agenda from within the Democratic Party was getting funding from the guys who are trying to destroy the Democratic Party from the outside.
Just a side note: The DLC’s long-time CEO, Bruce Reed, is now the Executive Director of the Obama administration’s Debt Commission, a.k.a. the Cat Food Commission.