CNN has finally, even belatedly, with the publication of Jane Mayer's background piece in The New Yorker (COVERT OPERATIONS: The billionaire brothers who are waging a war against Obama) begun to acknowledge that the so-called "grassroots" Tea Party has some powerful and extremely wealthy backers (or as Matt Kibbe puts it, "patrons").
Now, as a background piece, a 7-minute interview on weekend CNN isn't going to be highly informative, and this is not Rachel Maddow or 60 Minutes. But it's still worthwhile getting out there who really pulls the strings in American politics and who are the willing dupes. The Kochs will spend $45 million for the coming midterms alone, funneling the cash through such organizations as Americans for Prosperity. They have also given the Republican Governor's Association (RGA) another million, joining FOX News in that dubious distinction. In short, they are the ultimate power players within Republican ranks.
Read the Jane Mayer 10-page article online here.
With his brother Charles, who is seventy-four, David Koch owns virtually all of Koch Industries, a conglomerate, headquartered in Wichita, Kansas, whose annual revenues are estimated to be a hundred billion dollars. The company has grown spectacularly since their father, Fred, died, in 1967, and the brothers took charge. The Kochs operate oil refineries in Alaska, Texas, and Minnesota, and control some four thousand miles of pipeline. Koch Industries owns Brawny paper towels, Dixie cups, Georgia-Pacific lumber, Stainmaster carpet, and Lycra, among other products. Forbes ranks it as the second-largest private company in the country, after Cargill, and its consistent profitability has made David and Charles Koch—who, years ago, bought out two other brothers—among the richest men in America. Their combined fortune of thirty-five billion dollars is exceeded only by those of Bill Gates and Warren Buffett.
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.