One under-discussed element of the recent upsurge of right-wing populism in the form of “tea parties” and such is how much of it is directly underwritten by the wealthiest people in America. David Koch and Charles Koch of Koch Industries, for example, are #37 and #38 on the Forbes 400 list. They’re also major donors to a number of right-wing causes, including Americans for Prosperity, which is chaired by David. And as several AFPers were willing to discuss with my colleague Lee Fang yesterday, that Koch money helped pay for 40 buses to bring people to the tea parties free of charge, doughnuts, signs, etc.:
A free bus and a free sign, of course, won’t create any turnout unless there’s some genuine level of interest in spending the day protesting in Washington, DC. But still, organizing rallies isn’t easy and it’s made easier when you have well-financed organizers. Which is precisely what AFP and the Kochs are giving the tea party movement.
CORRECTION: I was looking at an old version of the Forbes 400. Charles and David Koch are now the 8th and 9th richest people in America. For context, Larry Page and Sergey Brin founded Google and they’re not quite as rich as the Kochs.