March 23, 2014

Pity the poor billionaires. As we already discussed here, Harry Reid took to the Senate floor to let the Koch brothers have it for the amount of spending they're doing running lying attack ads against Democrats and the fact that they're attempting to buy our democracy with the amount of money they're pouring into our elections.

Never mind that the Koch brothers have been getting filthy rich ever since the "blah guy" got elected and their wealth has increased by 800 percent in the last ten years, they want their friends in the GOP back in power, and the pundits at Fox are going to do their best to help them along in that endeavor.

The Wall Street Journal's Kimberley Strassel has apparently never met a dead horse she didn't enjoy flogging, because that's exactly what she was doing on this Saturday's The Journal Editorial Report on Fox. First she attacked Reid for even daring to mention the Koch brothers on the Senate floor:

GIGOT: So Kim, it's not everyday you see the Majority Leader attack two businessmen from the floor of the Senate in such personal terms. What is he up to?

STRASSEL: Well, this is a sign of desperation on Harry Reid's part Paul. Look, the story here is that the Kochs helped found some groups, outside conservative groups, that are now playing very effectively in a lot of races in which there are vulnerable Democrats. They are talking about Obamacare. They're bringing up issues that voters want to hear.

Harry Reid doesn't like this. And so there's two things going on here. One, this is an attempt to change the conversation, to suggest that in fact this is all about, as he said, evil wealthy Americans, special interests, trying to buy an election.

It's also I think about Harry Reid trying to scare his own donors into giving some more money for this race, because right now the Democratic base is quite dispirited about this midterm.

I don't know if the Democratic base is dispirited about the midterm elections or not, but that does seem to be a running theme with our corporate media where it makes me wonder if they're hoping to do what they can to depress turnout by repeating it over and over again.

Strassel went on to attack labor unions once again, and to try to equate dollar amounts given by them to the money pouring in by the Kochs. She's already been debunked for these same talking points here: Easy Math: 1 Koch Brother Equals 515,000 Union Workers.

And The Nation's Lee Fang took her apart here as well: The Koch Brothers Spent Twice as Much on the 2012 Election as the Top Ten Unions Combined.

Credit: The Nation

The Wall Street Journal’s Kimberley Strassel either has no understanding of campaign finance, or is willfully misleading her readers. In either case, her column today about the Koch brothers’ political spending—which parrots a meme that has bounced around conservative blogs and websites like a bad chain e-mail—gets the facts about Koch spending versus union spending completely wrong.

In her column, “The Really Big Money? Not the Kochs,” Strassel cites a Center for Responsive Politics list to claim that unions “collectively spent $620,873,623 more than Koch Industries” on political races. Of course, if you actually visit this page on the CRP website, the list runs below a disclaimer noting that it does not include certain Super PAC spending or most undisclosed dark money spending, the preferred route for the Koch brothers for decades. In fact, the CRP site notes that union spending might appear inflated since unions’ traditional PAC spending is coupled with outside Super PAC spending. For the purposes of this chart, union spending is inflated compared to the giving of companies like Koch or Super PAC donors like Sheldon Adelson.

For the last election, Koch PACs spent $4.9 million in disclosed contributions (figures that appear on the chart referenced by Strassel). But they also spent over $407 million on undisclosed campaign entities, which does not show up in the CRP chart.

Republic Report broke down the figures for the last election and found that Koch groups alone spent more than double the combined political spending (including to undisclosed group) for the top ten unions combined. The chart includes union spending on dark money Democratic groups and Koch spending on dark money groups like Americans for Prosperity.

This undisclosed campaign system is nothing new for the Koch brothers. In 1995 and 1996, Koch set up a shell company called Triad Management to spend millions in secret money to help the Republican Party. Of course, this type of spending never shows up in databases like the one cited by Strassel. Read on...

Don't expect a few pesky facts to get in the way of Faux "news" continuing to air segments like the one above any time soon.

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