The tentacles of the Kochtopus: What you need to know about the financiers of the Radical Right


The Koch brothers outspend Exxon Mobil on pro-pollution disinformation aimed at preventing action to preserving a livable climate.  They also fund and help oversee the extremist Tea Party movement.

To help understand these agents of disinformation better, CAPAF’s Tony Carrk has put together a 31-page report on them.  Here’s his summary:

Any attempt to understand the modern conservative movement will eventually lead to billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch. Using their vast wealth and connections, the Koch brothers are key players in bankrolling right-wing political action groups, think tanks, and individual politicians, using this array of political power to advance their ideological agenda of limited government and less regulation. Chances are they are part of any recent right-wing attack you have seen lately.

The Koch brothers, leaders of a vast family oil-and-gas conglomerate, use this political network to pursue their right-wing agenda at nearly every level of government. Whether they are contributing millions in campaign contributions, spending millions on lobbying, or investing millions in right-wing think tank and advocacy groups, the Koch brothers’ influence is pervasive.

the Koch brothers' issue agenda

Charles and David Koch would prefer to keep their influence behind the scenes but recent reporting by the Center for American Progress Action Fund’s Think Progress and a variety of media and advocacy organizations shed light on the enormous breadth and reach of their network. This report will showcase the players involved in the Koch network, where they operate, and the vast amounts of money involved. The report also exposes the Koch right-wing ideological agenda that often protects their business interests at the expense of everyone else.

But cutting to the chase, here is a brief summary of the report’s findings:

  • The Koch brothers, whose wealth, when combined, is the fourth highest in the nation, run one of the largest private companies in the country. Koch Industries is involved in industries ranging from oil and gas, refining and chemicals, minerals, fertilizers, forestry, consumer products, polymers and fibers, and ranching. They have operations in 45 states.
  • The Koch brothers use their considerable wealth to bankroll the right wing, including the Tea Party. This serves the purpose of furthering not only their right-wing ideology but also their bottom line. Koch Industries has a lot to gain from gutting government oversight and electing candidates who oppose government regulation, especially in the oil-and-gas industry.
  • Chances are the Koch brothers are part of any recent right-wing attack as of late as they have fought health reform, Wall Street reform, collective bargaining rights, and efforts to curb climate change, to name just a few.
  • We have identified at least $85 million the Koch brothers have given to at least 85 right-wing think tanks and advocacy groups over the past decade and a half.
  • Their main advocacy group, Americans for Prosperity, has chapters in 32 states and spent $45 million in the last election, predominantly to help elect Republicans.
  • The Kochs donated directly to 62 of the 87 members of the House GOP freshman class.
  • The Koch brothers are active at the state level, spending $5.2 million on candidates and ballot measures in 34 states since 2003. They donated directly to 13 governors that won election last year.
  • The Kochs are not going away. In fact, they have already pledged to raise $88 million for the 2012 election and have started scheduling events for potential Republican presidential candidates.

As this report will demonstrate, the Koch brothers’ network works hard to advance a right-wing ideological agenda that helps their businesses reap more profits at the expense of our environment, our economy, and the American middle class. Understanding how they operate is the first step in countering their efforts to reshape our nation’s laws to benefit the wealthy even more than they do today.

— Tony Carrk is Policy Director of the CAP Action War Room.

Read the full report (pdf)

Download the introduction and summary (pdf)

JR:  The top image is by Diane Wittner.

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12 Responses to The tentacles of the Kochtopus: What you need to know about the financiers of the Radical Right

  1. PurpleOzone says:

    They blasted New Hampshire with last minute money at the last election. Coincidentally, the Republicans with a 3/4 majority in the House and Senate have voted to pull out of the multi-state Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, thus doing NH out of $13Million but not saving any tax money.

    Last week I was robo-called by NH Americans for Prosperity and asked to call my legislator and tell them to vote for the budget. The house legislators, many of them new, sat there and voted on amendment after amendment to do in programs that improve life and incidentally the economy in NH. One legislator asked if an amendment had been studied in committee. He (silly boy!) was shouted down.

    Local Chambers of Commerce are upset about the ramifications for business. It’ll be interesting to see how it comes out when the Senate is done with it.

  2. John Mashey says:

    Report looks good, but Joe would you please pass along to Tony a suggestion here,
    pp.93-95, which enumerates funding by Kochs (Koch+Lambe), Scaife, etc for the various thinktanks involved in climate anti-science.

  3. Jay Alt says:

    Power grabs never grow old. Vintage political cartooning with a modern face. Nice.

    To artist Diane Wittner: the Kochtopu$ loves to snuggle with SCOTUS pals Anthony Scalia and Clarence Thomas. They’ve earned their rightful place as symbiotic cleaner fish.

  4. Mike Roddy says:

    Swartzenegger bluntly called out Valero and Koch when they came to California to spread their lies. Maybe his movie background helped.

    The Koch Brothers are far worse than movie villains such as Dracula or Darth Vader. The consequences of their acts are almost beyond imagining, matching the horror of their inner lives.

    This means that the American public can relate to the Kochs’ malevolence, if they are shown the evidence in a powerful way. Hollywood, the media, and Democratic politicians have been handed the perfect villains. Why are they afraid to go after them?

  5. John Mason says:

    I’d like to see them brought directly into the debate – for example, questioned on TV to justify their stances in detail and in person.

    What pisses me off about guys like these is that they actually have the resources (and then some!) to help – on a considerable scale – bring about positive change if they could turn their minds to such an apparent anathema. The same applies to many of the corporations – those that operate within the energy/transport sectors, at the very least.

    Is a “Road to Damascus” event possible? I’m not holding my breath…..

    Cheers – John

  6. This report is well timed. Here in New Hampshire, the Koch brothers are busy wooing GOP presidential candidates and prominent Republican/Tea Party activists. Early stump speeches sound a lot like an Americans for Prosperity press release.

    A Koch Party for Ovide Lamontagne: viewArticle.action?articleId=281474979187764

  7. Wrex says:

    Here’s an Onion-ish take on the Kochs new pitchman now the Richard Mullerr is backsliding…not exactly an expert…

  8. Richard W. Patton says:

    I have heard from a reputable source the Koch brothers paid someone to steal the East Anglia emails that ruined us!

    They single handedly made us the laughingstock of the world. Now no one believes in climate change/disruption/global warming/idiocy.

    We need to make people really, really scared this time. Like peeing down the leg scared!

    Joe should tell another big whopper and say the earth is going to warm up 50 degrees in the next 20 years! By executive order, O’Bama will make it the law of the land that US citizens will have to hang on his every word.

    And oh yeah, Joe gets a TV show every evening at 6pm on CBS where he can shriek some more.

  9. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    Of course for the Kochtopus to weave its malevolent magic, it needs an audience. What’s the point of power without responsibility if not to impress the lower depths of humanity? I see one of this group has materialised, a Mr Patton (no doubt a nomme de folie). I really do think that it is high time that the rational, humane fraction of humanity finally realised that this is literally a fight to the (universal)death for our species, and took the gloves off. The forces of evil never show any compunction in lying, misrepresenting, vilifying, stealing, buying politicians etc, and in the poor world, environmentalists are routinely murdered if they get in the way of ‘business prerogatives’. Might I suggest as a good first measure of a new hardened intention to actually beat these bastards, that it become a firm policy to institute laws against deliberate lying and misrepresentation that lead to environmental destruction and human suffering, make them retrospective and without statuary limitation, like other crimes against humanity? That will set the cat amongst the pigeons. Always fighting with one hand behind our backs, against those with no moral or ethical compunction is a recipe for defeat. Fighting the good fight, without restraint, is an absolute moral imperative in this case, as never before in human history.

  10. Russell says:

    What? No spats on the octopus?

  11. Zetetic says:

    @ Richard W. Patton:
    I fail to see how the non-troversy of “Climategate” ruined anything. The denialists have always tried to ignore reality for the sake of dogma, and have always freely made up lies in the past that many other denialists (and those that are just ignorant of the issue) still believe. “Climategate” just gives them one more excuse among many. Maybe the Koch brothers funded the theft (it wouldn’t surprise me) but maybe they didn’t. It could have been paid for by another party with a vested interest, or it might have just been an individual with hacking skills that allowed him/herself to be deluded by ideology that there must be some global scientific conspiracy.

    As to no one believing in global warming, actually the majority of the population in most industrial countries believe in it, even in the USA. The biggest problem is that not enough people seem to realize how close to the edge we actually are, and therefore they fail to understand the urgency of acting now. For many people it seems to be far distant for them to take seriously.

    As for your advice to Joe advising him to tell a “big whopper” and to “shriek some more”. I fail to see how adopting the same tactics as the denialists would ultimately be productive. The denialists primary strength lies with deception to create a sense of uncertainty and frustration among enough people to stall any action, it’s the same tactics they used with denying evolution, denying the health risks of smoking/mercury/sulfur dioxide, etc. (They lost most of those other fights due to not having the funding and political pull of the entire fossil fuel industry and it’s related other industries.) Copying such behavior, especially when it’s not supported by the science, will only add to any confusion/frustration and turn away those that value facts and honesty.

    An unpopular truth will always face an uphill battle, especially when big corporations have a lot of money to loose and much of the population have allowed themselves to be blinded by dogma. For the side of science to lie, is to sacrifice the only real advantage it has… to consistently stick with the facts and the respect such a policy engenders in most people. What we need is for the media and political leaders to start treating the subject as a he-said/she-said issue and treating it as one of a serious scientifically demonstrated threat to people’s children/grandchildren. They also need to make it clear to the public just how much they are really paying (through taxes, wars, and health care costs) to fatten the profit margins of fossil fuel companies, by keeping the real costs hidden.

  12. Chris Winter says:

    Richard W. Patton is obviously making stuff up in hopes of discrediting AGW in general and CP in particular.

    Two can play that game.

    I hear that the Koch brothers are going to rename Koch Industries “the General Welfare Corporation.” Then they can promote their agenda and it will be all nice and constitutional.