In 2006, Koch Industries owner Charles Koch revealed to the Wall Street Journal’s Stephen Moore that he coordinates the funding of the conservative infrastructure of front groups, political campaigns, think tanks, media outlets and other anti-government efforts through a twice annual meeting of wealthy right-wing donors. He also confided to Moore, who is funded through several of Koch’s ventures, that his true goal is to strengthen the “culture of prosperity” by eliminating “90%” of all laws and government regulations. Although it is difficult to quantify the exact amount Koch alone has funneled to right-wing fronts, some studies have pointed toward $50 million he has given alone to anti-environmental groups. Recently, fronts funded by Charles and his brother David have received scrutiny because they have played a pivotal role in the organizing of the anti-Obama Tea Parties and the promotion of virulent far right lawmakers like Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC). (David Koch praised DeMint and gave him a “Washington Award” shortly after the senator promised to “break” Obama by making health reform his “Waterloo.”)
While the Koch brothers — each worth over $21.5 billion — have certainly underwritten much of the right, their hidden coordination with other big business money has gone largely unnoticed. ThinkProgress has obtained a memo outlining the details of the last Koch gathering held in June of this year. The memo, along with an attendee list of about 210 people, shows the titans of industry — from health insurance companies, oil executives, Wall Street investors, and real estate tycoons — working together with conservative journalists and Republican operatives to plan the 2010 election, as well as ongoing conservative efforts through 2012. According to the memo, David Chavern, the number two at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and Fox News hate-talker Glenn Beck also met with these representatives of the corporate elite. In an election season with the most undisclosed secret corporate giving since the Watergate-era, the memo sheds light on the symbiotic relationship between extremely profitable, multi-billion dollar corporations and much of the conservative infrastructure. The memo describes the prospective corporate donors as “investors,” and it makes clear that many of the Republican operatives managing shadowy, undisclosed fronts running attack ads against Democrats were involved in the Koch’s election-planning event:
— Corporate “investors” at the Koch meeting included businesses with a strong profit motive in rolling back President Obama’s enacted reforms. Several companies impacted by health reform, including Allan Hubbard of A & E Industries, a manufacturer of medical devices and Judson Green, a board member of health insurance conglomerate Aon, were present at the meeting. Other businessmen at the meeting, like Omaha Burger King franchiser Mike Simmonds, are owners of fast food stores which have fought efforts to provide health insurance to their employees. Many corporate attendees of the meeting represent the financial industry impacted by Wall Street reform. For instance, attendee Bill Cooper is the CEO of TCF Financial, a corporation involved in the mortgage banking industry. Cooper recently filed a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of Wall Street reform. Other financial industry players in the meeting hail from firms ranging from Bank of America, JLM Investment, Allied Capital Corp, AMG National Trust, the Blackstone Group and Citadel Investment. Annie Dickerson, a representative of Paul Singer, a powerful hedge fund manager who also gives tens of millions to Republican causes, was present. In addition, Koch Industries itself has a hedge fund and other financial derivative products in its portfolio of interests, which include oil pipelines, coal shipping, asphalt, refineries, consumer goods, timber, ranching, and chemicals.
— Corporate “investors” at the Koch meeting included businesses with a strong profit motive in preventing progressive reforms promised by President Obama. Several executives at the meeting have an incentive to stop Democrats and President Obama from addressing climate change and enacting clean energy reform. The meeting included oil executives from Aspect Energy, Murfin Drilling, Anschutz Company, GeoPark Holdings, Smoky Oil, and several members of Koch’s various subsidiaries. The meeting documents explicitly state that funding efforts to curb “climate change alarmism” were discussed.
— Fred Malek, Karl Rove’s top fundraiser for his $56 million attack ad campaign against Democrats, attended the meeting, along with leaders of other secret attack groups. Heather Higgins, who leads the Independent Women’s Forum, a shadowy group that has spent millions of dollars in attack ads on health reform, attended the meeting. So did Gretchen Hamel, a former Bush flak who now runs an attack ad group called “Public Notice,” which denounces spending programs.
— Participants collaborated with infamous consultants who specialize in generating fake grassroots movements, as well as experts on how corporations should take advantage of Citizens United. One session, about how to “mobilize citizens for November,” involved a discussion with Republican strategists Tim Phillips and Sean Noble, anti-union leader Mark Mix, and longtime Koch operative Karl Crow. Phillips — a veteran astroturf lobbyist who previously managed a deceptive grassroots lobbying campaign to help the Hong Kong-based Tan family maintain their forced abortion sweatshops in the Mariana Islands — now leads the day-to-day operations of Americans for Prosperity, the group ThinkProgress first reported to have helped organize many of the initial Tea Party rallies against Obama. Americans for Prosperity, founded and financed by David Koch, has a field team of over 80 campaign staffers spread out around the country, and additionally plans to spend $45 million dollars worth of attack ads against Democrats. Shortly before the planning meeting, Crow authored a campaign finance memo explaining that because of the Citizens United Supreme Court ruling, he advised specifically that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s 501(c)(6) and Americans for Prosperity’s 501(c)(4) can “now use general treasury funds to produce communications materials opposing or supporting specific candidates” and corporations can aggressively pressure their employees to vote a certain way.
The memo notes that participants in the 2010 election planning meeting “committed to an unprecedented level of support.”
Interestingly, the Koch meetings are managed by Kevin Gentry, an executive who doubles as a staffer in the Koch Industries lobbying office in Washington and as the key point person who helps deliver Koch charitable foundation grants. As ThinkProgress has documented, Koch Industries has dramatically boosted its own profits by using conservative front groups to manipulate public policy. The fusion between the “intellectual” conservative movement and big businesses opposed to regulations and accountability has a history in America dating back to the New Deal. During the thirties, the Du Pont family and other wealthy interests organized an assortment of “Liberty League” front groups to try to defeat New Deal agenda items and repeal President Roosevelt’s Social Security program. Now, corporations fund groups like the Heritage Foundation and the American Enterprise Institute — both had representatives at the Koch meeting — to further their lobbying agenda. The American Enterprise Institute even changed its name from the New Deal-era American Enterprise Association to try to dispel the notion that they were nothing more than a glorified business trade association.
As the memo states, Beck has addressed this regular gathering of conservative corporate executives in previous years. Past Koch meetings have included various Republican lawmakers, including DeMint, and Supreme Court Justices Clarence Thomas and Antonin Scalia as speakers.
After ThinkProgess published its exclusive investigation of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce revealing that the Chamber has been actively fundraising from foreign corporations for its 501(c)(6) account used to run a $75 million attack ad campaign, Chamber lobbyists found common cause with Beck and many of the conservative talking heads. Shortly after our investigation, Beck hosted an on-air fundraiser, asking his audience to give to the Chamber. Casual observers might have been surprised by the Chamber’s swift alliance with Beck (Chamber executives appeared on the Beck radio program and sung Beck’s praises on the Chamber blog), who has compared Obama to Adolf Hitler and called the President a “racist” who has a “deep-seated hatred for white people.” By telling his listeners to give money to the Chamber, Beck, who owns a media company worth more than $32 million dollars and an experimental Mercedes Benz, essentially told his working class viewers to give their wages back to their employers. However, Beck never disclosed his long working history of discussing political strategy with America’s largest corporations. The Koch memo clearly shows that Beck has been collaborating with the Chamber, as well as other titans of industry, for years. In his latest appeal for support to the Chamber’s foreign-funded trade association, which already counts JP Morgan and ExxonMobil as dues-paying members, Beck yesterday told his audience that the Chamber simply “defends the little guy.”
Click below to view a letter inviting corporate executives to attend the next Koch meeting in January, along with a list of the sessions held by Koch for the last meeting in June of 2010. An attendee list of the June, 2010 meeting is attached at the bottom of the document:
CAPAF interns Salvatore Colleluori, Riley Waggaman, and Ben Kaldunski contributed to this post.
Some of the donors at the Koch meeting were longtime Bush fundraisers, like Cintas Corporation CEO Dick Farmer and wholesale executive Art Pope. However, many names appear to be relatively new to conservative movement “investment.” Click below for a listing of the attendees
Name(s)IndustryNotes Jack and Rose Marie AndersonFinanceCulver Corp, Rose Marie and Jack R. Anderson Foundation- Financial Advisor Neil Anderson and Amy Fisher-Smith Runs Rose Marie and Jack R. Anderson Foundation Phil and Nancy AnschutzInvestmentIndustrialist, Owner, Weekly Standard, Examiner newspapers Cliff AsnessInvestmentAQR Capital Management Nate and Lynda BachmanFinanceThe Bachman Group-Financial Advisor Whitney BallThink TankOwner of a firm that helps corporations give anonymous gifts to front groups Michael BaroneMediaFox News Frank and Kathy BaxterBankingAmbassador Frank E. Baxter is Chairman Emeritus of Jefferies and Company, Inc., a global investment bank focusing on mid-cap companies. Steve and Betty BechtelEngineeringOwns the Bechtel Group (Corporation), Largest engineering company in United States Glenn BeckMediaFox News Bernard and Margaret BlasingameManufacturing President and owner of Aqua Dynamics Systems, Inc Alan and Lisa BoeckmannOilCEO Fluor Corporation Boysie BollingerShipping/CommerceChairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer of Bollinger Shipyards Patrick and Paula BroeReal EstateFounder and CEO of Denver-based real estate asset management firm, The Broe Group Arthur BrooksThink TankPresident, American Enterprise Institute David and Ann BrownThink TankHeritage Foundation John Bryan Bob and Martha BufordOilC. Robert Buford has been President and owner of Zenith Drilling Corporation Tim Busch Shelby and Nell BushEnergyVice President, Legal and Administration — Hillwood Energy Tim CarneyMediaPolitical Columnist, Washington Examiner Charlies and Marla Chandler David ChavernLobbyistExecutive Vice President and COO at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce John ChildsInsuranceChairman and CEO of J.W. Childs and Associates Paul and Lea Clifton Runs Robert and Marie Hansen Family Foundation Susie CoelhoeMediafounder and CEO of Susie Coelho Enterprises Inc. Bill Cooper and Kristin TollefsonFinance/BankingCEO of TCF Financial Dino and Joan Cortopassi Joe CraftCoalJoseph W. Craft III is president, chief executive officer and director of Alliance Resource Partners LP Alex CranbergEnergyAspect Holdings, LLC — Chairman Jeff CrankAmericans For Prosperity / Radio PunditAFP State Director Karl CrowPolicy AnalystCapital Research Center Eric Crown and Isabella KingTechnology SalesSell Technology Equipment Kevin CrutchfieldCoalKevin S. Crutchfield serves as Chief Executive Officer of Alpha Coal Sales Co., LLC. Ravenell and Beth Curry Jim and Shirley DannenbaumEngineeringMr. Dannenbaum, Chairman of Dannenbaum Engineering Corporation Veronique de RugyThink TankSenior research fellow at the Mercatus Center Rich and Helen DeVosBusinessFounder and CEO of Amway Annie Dickerson BusinessCBRE analyst Ned and Nancy Diefenthal Jim and Dorothy PattersonOilGulf Stream Petroleum Dan and Kellie PetersNon-for ProfitDaniel S. Peters is president of the Ruth and Lovett Peters Foundation in Cincinnati, Ohio Tom PetrieBankingCo-founder of BofA Merrill Lynch Petrie Divestiture Advisors Dixon and Carol DollTechnologyCo-Founder and General Partner of DCM Karl and Stevie EllerAdvertising Ron and Kris EricksonRetailRonald A. Erickson is the Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of the Board of Directors of Holiday Companies Melvyn and Suellen EstrinNatural GasDirector of WGL Holdings INC Dick Farmer Peter FarrellBiomedFounder of ResmedBob KohlheppManufacturing/ServicesVice Chairman, Cintas Corp.Charles KrauthammerMediaWashington PostJim and Zibbie FerrellFuel OilFerrellgas Partners, L.P. engages in the distribution and sale of propane and related equipment primarily in the United States. Dave FettigNatural GasTank Craft, Duracraft Fuel energy Bob FettigNatural GasTank Craft, Duracraft Fuel energy Steve FettigNatural GasTank Craft, Duracraft Fuel energy Jerry and Nanette FingerBankingManaging Partner, Finger Interests LTD Richard FinkKoch IndustriesDirector of Georgia-Pacific, EVP of Koch Industries Budd and Lauri FlorkiewiczManufacturingFoam Fabricators Charlie and Kaye Lynn FoteFinanceFounder and Chief Executive Officer, Fotec Group LLC Randy and Jean FoutchOilChairman and Chief Executive Officer, Laredo Petroleum, Inc. Foster FriessInvestmentMr. Foster Stephen Friess is the Founder and Chairman of Friess Associates, LLC Steve and Polly Friess Jerry and Leah FullinwiderEnergy/PetroleumVice Chairman, Hillwood International Energy, L.P. Richard and Leslie GilliamCoalRichard Gilliam has been President of Cumberland Resources Corporation since 1993. Susan GoreThink TankFounder, Wyoming Liberty Group Oliver and Carolyn Grace Jr.Med and TelecomPresident and chief executive officer of Anderson Group, Inc., Judson and Joyce GreenEnergy and MedMr. Judson C. Green is the President and Chief Executive Officer of NAVTEQ Corp. Ken and Anne GriffinInvestment BankingFounder and CEO of Citadel Investment Group Gretchen Hamel Fred and Jane HamiltonOilMr. Frederic C. Hamilton served as the President, Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of the Board of BHP Petroleum, Hamilton Oil Company and various Hamilton Oil Corporation subsidiaries and affiliates Bob and Mary Sue HawkCommunicationsPresident of Hawk Communications Dick and Ethie HaworthRetailHead of Haworth Furniture, Multi-national corporation, 3rd largest corporate furniture company in US Robin and Barbara HayesGovernmentFormer NC Congressman Dan and Carolyn HeardManufacturingExecutive Officer of John H. Carter Co., Diane HendricksManufacturingHusband of Ken Hendricks Steve and Regina HennessyAuto SalesAuto Sales James and Heather HigginsThink TankIndependent Women’s Forum Paul HillOilPaul J. Hill serves as the Chief Executive Officer and has been President of Harvard Developments Inc. since 1978. Mr. Hill serves as the Chief Executive Officer and President of The Hill Companies. John and Joan HotchkisEducationBoard of Directors for Teach for America UC Berkley Allan and Kathy HubbardChemicals and ManufacturingFounder and Chief Executive Officer, E & A Industries, Inc. Stan and Karen HubbardCommunicationsExecutive Chairman, Chief Executive Officer and President, Hubbard Broadcasting, Inc. Ethelmae HumphreysThink TankCato Institute Manley and Mary JohnsonPolitical Consultant Merritt Johnson Gerry and Priscilla O’ShaughnessyOilGerald Eugene O’Shaughnessy Co-founded Geopark Holding Limited in 2002. Michael O’ShaunessyTechnologyPetters Consumer Brands, LLC develops consumer electronics and appliances. Tim O’ShaughnessyMediaHungry Machine, Inc., doing business as LivingSocial.com, is a social discovery and cataloging network. Marshall Johnson Kyle and Kirsten Johnstone Mike and Beth KasserReal EstatePresident, Holualoa Inc Ken and Randy KendrickEducation/TechnologyChairman, Datatel Phil and Joanna KerpenAdvocacy Group/Think TankVP of Policy, Americans for Prosperity Gerry and Kathryn KingenRestauranteurRed Robin, Happy Guests Int’ll Scott KirkpatrickInvestorTeton Capital Charles and Liz KochKoch Industries Chase and Annie KochKoch Industries David and Julia KochKoch Industries Elizabeth KochKoch Industries Bob and Cindy KochKoch Industries Bob KohlheppManufacturing/ServicesVice Chairman, Cintas Corp. Dennis KuesterBankingRetired CEO of M&I; Bank Andrew KupersmithConsultantMD, Cardiology Consultants Andre LacyInvestmentChairman, Lacy Diversified Industries Ken and Elaine LangoneRetailInvemed, Home Depot Jay and Sally LapeyreServicesLaitram Corp Ken and Frayda LevyInvestmentJLM Investment Mgmt Tom LoveRetailCEO, President, Love’s Country Stores Bob LuddyManufacturingPresident, Captive Aire Systems Fred and Marlene MalekInvestment ManagementThayer Capital Partners Elaine Marshall Homemaker Pierce MarshallAdministrative ManagementMAROPCO Preston Marshall Bill MayerHealth CareMD, Mayer & Cope Family Practice Glen and Diane MeakemBusiness SolutionsCEO, Freemarkets Inc. Ed MeeseThink TankHeritage Foundation Lew and Suzy MeibergenGoods/ServicesPresident, Johnston Enterprises/WG Johnston Grain Co Don and Deede MeyersAttorneySelf Employed Jerry and Caroline MilbankInvestment ManagementCEO/Principal, Milbank Winthrop & Co. Jack and Goldie MillerRetailCEO/President, Quill Corp. Mark MixAdvocacy GroupPresident, National Right to Work Committee Joe and Mary MoellerKoch IndustriesVice Chairman Steve MooreMediamember of the Wall Street Journal editorial board David MurfinEnergyPresident, Murfin Drilling Co. Walter and Suzette Negley Mina Nguyen Larry and Polly NicholsEnergyExecutive Chairman, Devon Energy Corp Sean NobleFront GroupAmericans for Prosperity Tim and Teresa OelkeAdvocacy Group/ConstructionTeresa — State Director of Americans for Prosperity, Tim — Crossland Construction Corp Eric O’KeefeFront GroupSam Adams Alliance Kurt and Nancy PfotenhauerMediaPresident of MediaSpeak Strategies/former political commentator on Fox News, CNN and MSNBC and former Senior Policy Advisor and National Spokesperson with the 2008 John McCain presidential campaign Tim PhillipsAdvocacy Grouppresident, Americans for Prosperity Ramesh PonnuruMediaNational Review magazine Art and Kathy PopeGoods/ServicesSenior Exec, Variety Wholesaler Russ RobertsAttorneyRoberts, Ashby & Parrish Corbin and Barbara RobertsonEnergyPresident, Quintana Minerals Corp Richard Roder and Karin Hsu Construction ManagementCEO, Cmt-Construction Management Gary and Kathleen RogersGoodsFormer CEO, Dreyer’s Grand Ice Cream Durk RorieManufacturingUnited Air Specialists Chris RuferGoods/ManufacturingMorningstar Company Peter Schiff and Martha O’Brien InvestorSchiff: Euro Pacific Capital Inc., Steve and Christine SchwarzmanFinancial ServicesCEO/founder, Blackstone Group Rick and Sherry SharpRetailFormer CEO, Circuit City Mike and Lin SimmondsServicesCEO, Simmonds Restaurant Mgmt Peter SmithServicesCEO, Service Group of America Dick StrongInvestment ServicesStrong/Corneliuson Capital Mgmt Michael SullivanInvestment ServicesCR Intrinsic Investors Ray and Ladeline ThompsonManufacturingPresident/CEO, Semitool Lynn TiltonInvestment ManagementCEO, Patriarch Partners LLC Dave and Melanie TrueOilPartner Steve TwistConsultantRose & Allyn PR Consultants Jim and Gayla Von EhrResearch/DevelopmentCEO, Zyvex Corp Rick and Debra WallerManufacturingOwner, Rollmeister Inc Peter WallisonThink TankFellow, American Enterprise Institute Bill and Sarah WaltonReal Estate Allied Capital Corp Lew and Myra WardOilWard Petroleum Corporation owns and operates wells. It engages in oil and gas exploration and production. The company was founded in 1963 and is based in Enid, Oklahoma. Dick WeekleyReal Estate Weekley Properties Fred and Susie WehbaReal Estate Bentley Forbes Real Estate Nestor Weigand and Darcy BuehlerReal Estate JP Weigand & Sons Real Estate Dick and Mary Beth Weiss Life InsuranceWells Fargo, Hawthorne Rances Howard and Rhonda Wilkins InsuranceDiversified Insurance Don and Sue Wills Oil Bob KohlheppManufacturing/ServicesVice Chairman, Cintas Corp.Bob KohlheppManufacturing/ServicesVice Chairman, Cintas Corp.Larry and Lorraine Winnerman Real EstateWin Win Enterprises Joe Woodford Earl WrightFinanceAMG Natinal Trust Karen Wright and Tom RastinEnergy/ManufacturingTom Rastin, vice president of marketing and engineering, Ariel Corp — Karen Wright, Ariel CEO Cliff and Susan YonceInvestment BankingGoldman Sachs Fred and Sandra YoungServicesDiversified Search, LLC provides senior-level executive and corporate board search services in the United States and internationally. It provides recruitment services for various organizations in consumer and industrial, education, not-for-profit, arts and culture, financial and professional services, business, healthcare and human services, life sciences, media and entertainment, sports and leisure, energy and utilities, private equity, retail, and technology and communications industries.