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Here's an interesting new documentary by Al Jazeera's Bob Abeshouse on the Kochtopus. There's nothing in it that hasn't been reported elsewhere, but it's quite a nice roundup of the different tentacles and how they influence politics. This comment by Jane Mayer leads it off:
"It was very hard to figure out -- in fact, impossible to figure out -- how much money they've spent on American politics. It was easily 100 million dollars since 1980."
The clause in the middle is highlighted because it truly is impossible to figure out. I believe the number is much, much higher than $100 million. She's underestimating by a long shot. For example, this report published in April of this year by the Center for American Progress (PDF) shows about $75 million spent on the top 17 organizations. The entire list goes on for two columns across two pages. Still, I can attest to Mayer's' claim about the impossibility of knowing exactly how much. They give through donor-advised funds like Donors' Trust in order to disguise the source, and they aren't the only ones. It just happens that they're the front guys this time, just like Scaife was back in the Clintons' day.
Tim Phillips makes an appearance claiming that Americans for Prosperity is just fighting for the average middle class person. One of the more encouraging parts comes toward the middle when Abeston interviews Wisconsin families and union members just after Scott Walker introduced his union-busting bill.
It is remarkable to see any media actually reporting this, and it is certainly expected that US media companies would stay far back from it. Kudos to Al Jazeera for making it and showing it.