Billionaire Koch Brothers Gear Up To Spend Hundreds Of Millions in 2014
It’s a been busy month for the billionaire right-wing donors and industrialists Charles and David Koch. The brothers, along with their spiderweb of dark money groups, are actively raising vast sums of money to influence federal, state, and even local elections and promote policies that benefit their bottom line at the expense of everyone else.
Here is some of the latest reported news of what the Kochs are up to these day:
- Planning To Spend Nearly $300 Million On The 2014 Elections. In an exclusive retreat at a fancy California resort near Laguna Beach last week, the Koch brothers and wealthy allies unveiled a new strategy for the 2014 elections with an initial fundraising target of $290 million. The retreat, which featured political allies including Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida and libertarian political scientist Charles Murray, is the most recent of a number of big and small gatherings so far to appeal to select wealthy conservative donors.
- Starting A New Dedicated Anti-Environment Effort. As leaders of a vast oil-and-gas conglomerate, the Koch brothers have a direct financial interest in blocking regulations to curb carbon pollution. They already fund a multitude of right-wing anti-environment groups, including the American Energy Alliance, which has targeted Democrats for potentially supporting a carbon tax. Now, the Kochs are dedicating a new initiative under their central fundraising network Freedom Partners that will aim to repeal successful state renewable energy standards and block the president’s proposed regulations to cut carbon emissions from power plants.
- Launching A New Super PAC To Spend Millions In Direct Support For Right-Wing Candidates. Previously, the Koch brothers mostly funneled their unprecedented political spending into issue-based attack ads slamming progressive policies. That’s now changing. As reported yesterday, the Koch network is starting a new Super PAC called Freedom Partners Action Fund that plans to spend at least $15 million in 2014 supporting right-wing candidates (as well as attacking progressives, as you might expect).
- Continuing To Invest Heavily In State And Local Policymaking. Americans For Prosperity, traditionally the Koch brothers’ most active political arm, is ramping up staff in states across the country to prepare for the 2014 elections and give a more intense focus toward state and local politics and policy. Paid staff is now at 240 in 32 states, up from 100 in 2010. The group’s president, Tim Phillips, isn’t shy about their desire to influence policy at any level: “at the state level, I would argue, it’s been a once-in-a-generation moment of free-market policy victories.”
Meanwhile, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has been working to expose the influence that the Koch brothers have on American politics. In the wake of the recent Supreme Court decisions striking down contribution limits, he has forcefully pushed for a constitutional amendment to put limits on campaign spending and called the flood of dark money like the Koch brothers’ “the greatest threat to our democracy that I have witnessed during my time in public service.”
BOTTOM LINE: The Koch brothers’ enormous spending to influence elections and policy outcomes is not slowing down at all in 2014. If anything, it is becoming more expansive, with new organizations joining the network and an increased focus on the state and local level. The more they spend trying to influence our political system to protect their bottom lines at the expense of everyone else, the more important it becomes to expose their goal and work to stop their outsized influence.