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Wednesday, October 26, 2016

by Lee Fang, Republic Report

The Wall Street Journal’s Kimberley Strassel either has no understanding of campaign finance, or is willfully misleading her readers. In either case, her column today about the Koch brothers’ political spending — which parrots a meme that has bounced around conservative blogs and websites like a bad chain email — gets the facts about Koch spending versus union spending completely wrong.

In her column, “The Really Big Money? Not the Kochs,” Strassel cites a Center for Responsive Politics list to claim that unions “collectively spent $620,873,623 more than Koch Industries” on political races. Of course, if you actually visit this page on the CRP website, the list runs below a disclaimer noting that it does not include certain SuperPAC spending or most undisclosed dark money spending, the preferred route for the Koch brothers for decades. In fact, the CRP site notes that union spending might appear inflated since unions’ traditional PAC spending is coupled with outside SuperPAC spending. For the purposes of this chart, union spending is inflated compared to the giving of companies like Koch or SuperPAC donors like Sheldon Adelson.

For the last election, Koch PAC spent $4.9 million in disclosed contributions (figures that appear on the chart referenced by Strassel). But they also spent over $407 million on undisclosed campaign entities, which does not show up in the CRP chart.

Republic Report broke down the figures for the last election and found that Koch groups alone spent more than double the combined political spending (including to undisclosed group) for the top 10 unions combined. The chart includes union spending on dark money Democratic groups and Koch spending on dark money groups like Americans for Prosperity. See below:



This undisclosed campaign system is nothing new for the Koch brothers. In 1995 and 1996, Koch set up a shell company called Triad Management to spend millions in secret money to help the Republican Party. Of course, this type of spending never shows up in databases like the one cited by Strassel.

All NRLB-regulated unions, on the other hand, disclose every outside payment. Payments that cannot be found through the FEC can be found on a database maintained by the Labor Department. Individuals and corporations are under no such similar disclosure rules. The Koch money identified recently by The Washington Post, the $407 million, relates only to the money filtered through foundations and nonprofits. The money Koch spends as a corporate entity, which it has in the past, may have gone unreported.

This article originally appeared on Republic Report

Photo: dpmshap via Flickr

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Copyright 2014 The National Memo
  • raginyank

    Thank U SCOTUS for CU

  • Ford Truck

    You know, two one-dollar 223 cartridges and two good shots could stop the Kochs!

  • terry b

    Apparently being labeled as the retarded right by many of the public that is not enough to scare voters away from those who seem to favor fascist views in politics. I’m hoping that we aren’t seeing the beginning of the rise of the Fourth Reich as Germany was threatened of about 80 years ago. It didn’t happen but the third Reich did. We should never allow for history to repeat itself. Especially not in America.

  • Bryan Blake

    Unions were arm candy for corporations in Citizens United vs. FEC. SCOTUS has become a political pimp through allowing the rich and ultra-rich and their corporations to buy elected officials. Every time I cast my ballot I can smell and feel the slime oozing off of the ballot. No wait! That is a computer with virus throwing up the last meals of democracy.

  • ps0rjl

    Will Rogers was right when he said we have the best congress money can buy.

  • Mark Forsyth

    Has anyone noticed that the Kochs share their last name with one of the worst Nazi’s ever? They sure seem to favor fascism and the slimy members of the Supreme Court opened the door wide for it with C.U..We have more stinking fascists in our government and various bureaus and departments these days that they could start a new reich with little effort.
    Anyone who thinks this trash is not busy making war on our Democratic Republic form of government needs to wake up.Corporate America has been trying to be the government since The Great Depression.

    • ThomasBonsell

      Of course they share their last name of one of the worst Nazis ever.

      They were relatives to the commandant of the Buchenwald extermination camp and his wife, known as “the bitch of Buchenwald” who harvested the tattooed skin of slain prisoners to decorate her lamp shades. May even have ordered the killing of prisoners in order to get their tattoos.

      They also inherited their great wealth from their father Fred who made that fortune selling oil to the Third Reich and to Stalin’s Workers Paradise. It runs in the family.

      Actually, Corporate America has been trying to be the government since the the last great Republican – Teddy Roosevelt – left the political arena.

      • Mark Forsyth

        I knew about the Kochs of Buchenwald but did not know that the brothers Koch were related to them.Talk about creepy,it makes perfect sense but that does not make me feel better.I think those guys need to be gotten rid of.

  • Allan Richardson

    Unions only spend political funds raised by EXTRA VOLUNTARY donations from their members. I belonged to a local in Florida for three years, and we had a “political education” fund to which members could CHOOSE to donate, in ADDITION to the dues, for the purpose of pro-union activity (which, for the last two decades, has been Democratic activity for the most part, because who wants to give to the politician who wants to take away their protection?), and basic dues are NOT used for this purpose.

  • econ1

    Trying to track every dollar spent supporting one idea or another is never going to be possible. I’m not sure we even should. Government’s being able to track down those who speak against them is creepy. Neither Nazi Germany nor the USSR are happy examples. We should be concentrating on the message and what it says, not the messenger.