Smart. Sharp. Funny. Fearless.
Sunday, December 11, 2016

Charles and David Koch are the billionaire brothers who raise and “invest” millions for conservative political causes, and at a June event, they spelled out their plans for taking out Barack Obama next fall:

Charles Koch would probably not publicly compare the president of the United States to a murderous dictator. (As a general rule, he and his brother don’t do much politicking or speechifying in public at all.) But Mother Jones has obtained exclusive audio recordings from the Koch seminar, a private event that took place in June at a resort near Vail, Colorado.

These unprecedented recordings provide a behind-the-scenes look at how the Koch brothers and their comrades talk when they gather. They include a pair of keynote speeches and remarks by brothers Charles and David Koch, who spell out their political aims and name some of the “great partners” who have contributed millions of dollars to their causes. (The audio was provided by a source who approached the author after the event was over and was not seeking compensation.)

Security was tight at the Ritz-Carlton Bachelor Gulch on opening night of the weekend conference, which drew an estimated 300 guests. (Past attendees have included prominent politicians, right-wing media luminaries, corporate titans, and wealthy political donors.) Audio technicians even set up outward-pointing speakers around the perimeter of the outdoor dining pavilion, according to sources, emitting static to frustrate would-be eavesdroppers.

“There is anonymity that we can protect,” noted emcee “Kevin”—likely Kevin Gentry, a VP for the Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation [2]—as he gently urged guests to open their wallets in support of the brothers’ causes. Indeed, Charles Koch named 32 individuals and families [3] who had donated more than $1 million over the previous 12 months, yet because of loopholes in federal campaign law, their donations do not exist in the public record.

Charles and David Koch are co-owners of Koch Industries, an energy and chemical conglomerate inherited from their father that is currently America’s second-largest privately held company. To date, the brothers have spent more than $100 million supporting hard-right political campaigns and institutions. They are key funders of the movement to discredit climate science and sow doubt on the scientific consensus that human activities contribute to global warming.

The Kochs have tried to keep everything about the seminars secret: the content, identities of attendees and speakers—even meeting locations and dates.

The Kochs also bankrolled the fledgling tea party by making massive investments in right-wing political advocacy groups such as Americans for Prosperity, as detailed by [4] Jane Mayer in The New Yorker last year. More generally, the brothers have dedicated a portion of their vast wealth—and that of their benefactors—to influencing elections across the nation [5] and swaying public opinion on everything from health care and fracking [6] to labor policy and government spending.

We can expect the president to use the specter of the Koch brothers and other anonymous, unlimited corporate donations ravaging our democracy as he makes his case for reelection, all while he tries his utmost to surpass the $750 million he raised last time around so he can remain competitive in paid media like TV ads.

Click here for reuse options!
Copyright 2011 The National Memo