Over the past year, petrochemical billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch have gone to great pains to change their public image and sell themselves as social moderates who “don’t want the federal government in your pocketbook” or “in your bedroom.”
But IRS filings released on Tuesday by Freedom Partners, the Kochs’ secretive tax-exempt organization that serves as the ATM for their anti-government activism, show they also continued to help distribute millions of dollars to anti-choice and anti-gay organizations in 2014.
Last December, ABC’s Barbara Walters interviewed David Koch and noted that he was “not well-liked, primarily because of [his] very conservative politics.” She asked him why a supporter of LGBT equality and abortion rights supports social conservatives. Koch, not disputing her characterization of his own public standing, responded, “Well that’s their problem. I do have those views… I want these candidates to support a balanced budget. I’m very worried that if the budget is not balanced, inflation could occur and the economy of our country could suffer terribly.”
Earlier this year, Politico Magazine suggested Charles Koch might now be labeled a “liberal crusader,” based on his work on criminal justice reform, including a partnership with the Center for American Progress (ThinkProgress is an editorially independent news site associated within CAP). After he and his wife hosted MSNBC’s Morning Joe host Joe Scarborough at a closed-to-the-public GOP candidate forum, the former Republican Congressman raved that the Kochs were mainstream social moderates with little patience for those who want “huge bloody battles on social issues.”
On its own website, Freedom Partners reprints a USA Today article that identifies the 501(c)(6) organization (curiously registered under the section of the tax code for chambers of commerce and similar groups) as “the center of the Koch’s expansive operation.” Politico called it the Koch Brothers’ “secret bank,” though as the group does not disclose its donors, it is unclear how much of its hundreds of millions came from the Kochs themselves.
Where did the money go? In addition to going to an array of other Koch network groups like Americans for Prosperity ($16 million), Generation Opportunity (more than $14 million), and the Libre Initiative ($6.5 million), a good chunk of it went to the very anti-LGBT and anti-abortion groups from which the duo has sought to disassociate themselves.
Freedom Partners gave $5,745,000 to Evangchr4 Trust, a Koch-tied Evangelical Christian pastoral outreach organization that itself gave more than $1.3 million in 2013 to Focus on the Family’s CitizenLink and $375,000 to the anti-LGBT hate group Family Research Council Action.
The group also gave $885,000 for advocacy and another $125,000 for general support directly to CitizenLink — which describes itself as “deeply concerned about the hearts and souls of those who identify themselves as gay, lesbian, bisexual or ‘transgendered.’” It also sent $225,000 to Susan B. Anthony List, an anti-abortion and anti-contraception organization, and $150,000 to Heritage Action for America.
Freedom Partners reported giving $0 to socially progressive organizations in 2014.