Denouncing the Koch Brothers

Former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich emailed me to let me know that he has started a petition at Moveon.org denouncing the Koch Brothers for corrupting our democracy.

We, citizens of the United States, denounce you, Charles and David Koch, for using your vast wealth—more than the combined wealth of the bottom 40 percent of Americans—to corrupt our democracy. You are thereby undermining the most precious gift we possess, our democratic system of government. You deserve to be shamed and condemned by all Americans.

We do not denounce the Koch brothers because their wealth of more than $50 billion exceeds the combined wealth of the bottom 40 percent of all the citizens of the United States, or because they run and own one of the largest petrochemical businesses in the world, or because of their right-wing views.

The Koch brothers are entitled to their wealth and to their opinions, but when they use their vast wealth to overpower the voices of average Americans, that is unfair and they should be held accountable.

They’ve established a political front group, Americans for Prosperity, and are building their own permanent political machine, including hundreds of full-time staff in at least 32 states. They are pouring money into federal and state races—including more than $30 million already to help Republicans win the Senate this year. 

The Koch brothers are thereby using their vast wealth to undermine and corrupt our democracy—a shameful betrayal of our nation for which they deserve to be widely denounced. It’s time we join our voices together to publicly denounce the Koch brothers and their dangerous, corrupting influence. They may not be swayed by our voices, but when enough of us condemn what they’re doing, taking their money will become a political liability.

Click here to add your name to this petition, and then pass it along to your friends.

Thanks!

–Robert Reich

I keep wondering why the Democrats are so obsessed with the Koch Brothers. What crimes have these men committed? Don’t they have the right to spend their money however they wish? How exactly are they undermining democracy or overpowering the voices of average Americans? Are they preventing anyone else from speaking or from supporting political candidates?

Robert Reich acts as if the Koch Brothers were doing something uniquely evil by spending large amounts of money to influence politics. Yet, if you look at Open Secrets’ list of top political donors, Koch Industries is all the down to 59th place with a total of $18,283,448 in contributions from 1989 to 2014. This does not include their efforts with Americans for Prosperity and other fundraising, but it is a starting point for comparisons. The top political donor from 1989 to 2014 is ActBlue, a Democratic leaning political action committee. They contributed a total of $100,887,828. Second and third are the American Federation of State, County & Municipal Employees and the National Education Association with contributions totaling $61,339,129 and $61,339,129 respectively. Both these organizations contribute almost entirely to Democrats. In fact, the top sixteen donors either support the Democrats or are on the fence. Of these sixteen, eleven are labor unions. Say what you will about the Kochs, at least they are spending their own money, not money taken from members’ dues. The ones who contributed to both parties seem to be some of the largest corporations in America, like AT&T, Goldman Sachs, J. P. Morgan, and others. The top Republican donor is United Parcel Service with contributions totaling $32,565,382. 

Why doesn’t Robert Reich denounce any large donors, except for the Kochs? Why doesn’t he denounce the actions of the labor unions who not only contribute large amounts of money to Democrats but also provide many of the foot soldiers for their political campaigns? What about Hollywood? Even a mediocre actor can get a lot a attention for any political cause he may want to support, and most actors are liberal. Aren’t these examples of overpowering the voices of ordinary Americans. He also has nothing to say about large corporate donors who contribute to both parties. Why not? If a corporation is contributing to both the Republicans and the Democrat, chances are it is not promoting any particular ideology but is trying to buy favors or protection. At least the Kochs can credibly claim to promote a conservative/libertarian ideology beyond their business agenda.

 He states that he does not condemn the Kochs because of their wealth or their right wing views, but does he really expect anyone to believe him? I think it is precisely because of their right wing views that the Democrats single out the Koch Brothers for condemnation. Corporations buying concessions and favors from legislatures doesn’t seem to bother them. Trying to promote the libertarian viewpoint of a smaller, less powerful government seems to bother them quite a lot. Demonizing and denouncing some of the most prominent supporters of that viewpoint may help others to reconsider donating to conservative causes. Like so much else on the left, denouncing the Koch Brothers is all about power and bullying.

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