For those of you that are familiar with Koch (pronounced “Coke”) Industries, you already know that this is one of the worst of corporate “bad actors” in America. For those of you that aren’t familiar, I suggest you watch Rachel Maddow as she discusses Koch’s “lock on health care astroturf outfit AFP”, its funding of the Tea Party movement (through David Koch’s Americans for Prosperity), its funding of the “climate denial machine”, etc. I refer you to this report on “Koch’s Web of Dirty Money and Influence.” Finally, I strongly recommend that you read the The New Yorker’s expose on this company. It’s a long article, but well worth it. Here are a few key findings about Koch:
*The company’s annual revenues are “estimated to be a hundred billion dollars,” and the two brothers – David and Charles – have a “combined fortune of thirty-five billion dollars” that is “exceeded only by those of Bill Gates and Warren Buffett.”
*The Kochs are “longtime libertarians who believe in drastically lower personal and corporate taxes, minimal social services for the needy, and much less oversight of industry-especially environmental regulation.”
*”…the brothers have funded opposition campaigns against so many Obama Administration policies-from health-care reform to the economic-stimulus program-that, in political circles, their ideological network is known as the Kochtopus.”
(lots more after the “flip,” including which Virginia politicians receive $$$ from the “Kochtopus”)
*Through Americans for Prosperity, they help bankroll the “tea party” movement, are “out to destroy progressivism,” and are “the primary underwriters of hard-line libertarian politics in America.”
*Through the Cato Institute, which the Kochs helped launch and fund, they have helped to push the crazy “Climategate” scandal, and more broadly to deny global warming science.
*They have given millions of dollars to George Mason University to set up the Mercatus Center, “the most important think tank you’ve never heard of,” which is “ground zero for deregulation policy in Washington,” which fights against EPA regulations, and which is described in The New Yorker article as essentially a scam to “take corporate money and give it to a neutral-sounding think tank.”
*”Americans for Prosperity…has announced that it will spend an additional forty-five million dollars before the midterm elections, in November.” Almost all on right-wing, anti-environment, anti-health-care, anti-worker Republicans, of course.
*”Koch Industries has been lobbying to prevent the E.P.A. from classifying formaldehyde, which the company produces in great quantities, as a ‘known carcinogen’ in humans.”
*The Koch brothers “have long depended on the public’s not knowing all the details about them,” but “with the growing prominence of the Tea Party, and with increased awareness of the Kochs’ ties to the movement, the brothers may find it harder to deflect scrutiny.”
In sum, The New Yorker article essentially concludes that Koch is evil incarnate. Unless, of course, you’re a fan of “minimal social services for the needy,” climate denial, blocking regulation of “known carginogens,” funding extreme right-wing politicians, etc. Right, I didn’t think you were.
With that, let’s look at which Virginia politicians are the recipients of the “Kochtopus'” largess.
Courtesy of the Virginia Public Access Project, we learn that the #1 recipient since 1996 among Virginia state politicians and PACs is “Citizens for the Commonwealth”, a somewhat obscure group that reportedly was founded by retired Carmax chairman Richard L. Sharp. Other than Sharp, the top funder of this group is none other than Koch Industries, which gave it $100,000 on November 5, 2007. Big recipients of money from “Citizens for the Commonwealth” (Sharp and Koch) include Ken Cuccinelli ($100,000) and the Republican Party of Virginia ($35,000).
Other major recipients of Koch largess among Virginia state politicians and PACs include the “usual suspects” – 2005 Republican gubernatorial nominee Jerry Kilgore, House Speaker Bill Howell (including through his Dominion Leadership Trust), former Governor Jim Gilmore, Governor (and former Attorney General) Bob McDonnell, Ken Cuccinelli, etc. On the Democratic side, a few names jump out – Creigh Deeds, Ward Armstrong, Tim Kaine (through “Moving Virginia Forward) and Mark Warner (through the “One Virginia PAC”). Basically, the “Kochtopus” has its arms everywhere in Virginia politics, with $882,037 worth of donations since 1996, of which 61% went to Republicans, 24% to “other” and (only) 14% to Democrats.
At the federal level, contributions by KochPAC are seemingly bottomless. Names that jump out from Virginia include: George Allen (nearly $20k), Rick Boucher (nearly $15k), Eric Cantor (around $35k), Bob Goodlatte (over $20k), and the Republican Party of Virginia ($5k).
Also very interesting is that Koch appears to have switched sides in the 9th CD, from pro-coal but also (generally) pro-environment Rick Boucher, to radically anti-environment, global-warming-denier Morgan Griffith (a $5k donation on 6/7/10). For all those who say Rick Boucher is too far “left,” I’d point them to the years of support by the far-right-wing, anti-“socialist” “Kochtopus.” And for all those thinking of supporting Griffith, I’d suggest you think about why the “Kochtopus” decided to wrap its arms around him this year.