The Tea Parties’ Billionaire Backers

The Koch Brothers -- Charles and David

The billionaire brothers David and Charles Koch, both lifelong libertarians, have given more than $100 million to rightwing causes, funding so many campaigns against Obama administration policies that their ideological framework has become known as the Kochtopus. The Kochs, who run the Kansas-based company Koch Industries—which maintains oil refineries in Alaska and owns Brawny paper towels, Stainmaster carpet, Dixie cups, and Lycra, among other products—have given to other causes, including $100 million to the Lincoln Center and $20 million to the American Museum of Natural History. But their political causes in particular have gotten the most attention. As Charles Lewis, founder of the Center for Public Integrity, told The New Yorker, “The Kochs are on a whole different level. There’s no one else who has spent this much money. The sheer dimension of it is what sets them apart. They have a pattern of lawbreaking, political manipulation, and obfuscation. I’ve been in Washington since Watergate, and I’ve never seen anything like it. They are the Standard Oil of our times.”

Read more in The New Yorker article titled, “Covert Operations — The billionaire brothers who are waging a war against Obama.



Filed under Kansas, libertarians, Political Reform, Radical Rightwing groups, Republicans, Tea Party Movement, Wingnuts!

47 responses to “The Tea Parties’ Billionaire Backers

  1. I had scheduled this thread for tomorrow, then a friend let me know Rachel Maddow would be discussing this on her show tonight. I plan to tune in and hear what she has to say. I wanted anyone interested to have the opportunity to scan the article in The New Yorker — loooooong as usual, but so much information. My son gave me a subscription to The New Yorker for my birthday last fall and I find something interesting every week.

  2. indypendent

    I saw this being discussed on another blog yesterday. And the response from the Republicans on that blog site was – what’s wrong with the Koch brothers when Democrats have George Soros millions to them?

    Let’s see – I was not aware George Soros is a top-ten polluter and he gives millions to fight those nasty regulations that would put a dent into his profits.

    These two Koch brothers have the right to give their money to any cause they deem worthy.

    But what I don’t like is the hypocrisy of the local Tea Party leader writing a letter to the newspaper that the tea party does not get any corporate money from anyone. But at the same time, the Tea Party Express bus rolls in and shares the same stage as her local tea party.

    But I consider the source. This local tea party also claims to advocate voting out incumbents – but yet all I saw on their stage were the same old tired Republican incumbents.

    I assume these incumbents were there telling me to vote against them.

    What do you think?

  3. tosmarttobegop

    The scope of the influence that special interest is having on our Government and our Politics is amazing.
    When these revelations come out quickly they are being dismissed as partisan spin rather then a moment of concern.

    Is it a surprise when it is revealed that special interest is push with their power and money to influence policy? No it is often excused with well that is what they do!
    Politicians lie, corporations express their interests above the good of the country, Rich people use their money to promote their interests in ways that no one without money can.

    In many respects it is a part of the feeling of being helpless to do anything about what you see it wrong.
    So rather then actually look at what these special interest money is doing, it is seen as the counter to the other sides special interest money.

  4. itolduso

    According to, the top contributors since 1988 ranked by their total spending along with the party tilt of their contributions are:

    Rank Organization Total Dem % Repub % Tilt
    1 American Fedn of State, County & Municipal Employees

    $39,947,843 98% 1%
    Solidly Dem (over 90%)

    2 AT&T Inc $39,772,431 43% 55% Between 40% and 59% to both parties
    National Assn of Realtors $33,280,206 47% 52% Between 40% and 59% to both parties

    4 Goldman Sachs $29,588,362 63% 36% Leans Dem (60%-69%)

    5 American Assn for Justice $29,520,389 90% 9% Solidly Dem (over 90%)

    6 Intl Brotherhood of Electrical Workers $28,733,734 97% 2% Solidly Dem (over 90%)
    7 National Education Assn $28,388,334 93% 6% Solidly Dem (over 90%)

    8 Laborers’ Union $26,881,889 91% 7% Solidly Dem (over 90%)

    9 Service Employees International Union $26,719,663 95% 3% Solidly Dem (over 90%)

    10 Carpenters & Joiners Union $25,995,149 90% 9% Solidly Dem (over 90%)

    11 Teamsters Union $25,627,772 92% 6% Solidly Dem (over 90%)

    12 Communications Workers of America $25,404,269 99% 0% Solidly Dem (over 90%)

    13 American Medical Assn $25,235,971 38% 61% Leans Repub (60%-72%)
    4 American Federation of Teachers $24,969,593 98% 0% Solidly Dem (over 90%)

    15 Citigroup Inc $24,784,983 49% 50% Between 40% and 59% to both parties

    16 United Auto Workers $24,634,120 98% 0% Solidly Dem (over 90%)
    7 Machinists & Aerospace Workers Union $23,548,086 98% 0% Solidly Dem (over 90%)

    18 Altria Group $23,264,991 27% 72% Leans Repub (60%-72%)

    19 United Food & Commercial Workers Union $22,926,107 98% 1% Solidly Dem (over 90%)

    20 National Auto Dealers Assn $22,733,608 31% 68% Leans Repub (60%-

    Damn special interest groups and their money

    • Question everything, trust nothing, and I’ll need a link in order to even begin questioning. Can’t see your source and where they may have gotten their info, and how reliable / unreliable it may be.

      Besides, it didn’t format well and is confusing in the way its posted.

      • itolduso

        Sorry, you can check it out for yourself at Open

        and sorry it doesn;t fit for formatting needs.

      • I went to their website and couldn’t find it, didn’t know what category to click — there are a bunch. I thought you would be kind enough to help since it was info you posted.

    • Yes, damn them all. The whole things is corrupt.

  5. itolduso

    Here’s the list in a bit different format

  6. itolduso

    another list for top 10 PAC’s

    Top 20 PAC Contributors to Candidates, 2009-2010

    In 18 of 20 cases, the highest percentage was given to Democrats

    Damn special interest groups

  7. The information that has been provided just furthers my belief that organizations (corporations, PACs, 527s, fill in the blank, should not be permitted to make political contributions. Period.

    Now, I may hold a contrarian view on this, but so long as the contributor is a natural person, s/he can give as much of her/his own personal money as s/he wishes to any political group, campaign, whatever, so long as there is full and immediate disclosure of the identity of the individual, the date and the amount of the donation. By “immediate”, I mean within 24 hours of the receipt of the amount; by “disclosure”, I mean on a web site operated by a third party, i.e., one not involved with the candidate, cause, political party. Perhaps the FEC?

    Further, when advertisements, political in nature, occur, the names and addresses of all the donors to the cost of producing the same and purchasing the air time for the same (if broadcast) or the publication of the same (if in print media) are required to be printed (in a contrasting font, minimum size of eight) or otherwise presented (slow scroll; perhaps a two second pause between screens) before the text of the same. I could see a de minimis exemption for donors whose aggregate contributions do not exceed $100.

    No “freedom of speech” chill here, IMO; no one from “the government” is proscribing the speech, just requiring the person(s) involved be identified, to allow the reader/listener/viewer to know who is paying for it, and allowing these persons the opportunity to decide whether they wish to read/listen/watch the same before forced to do so.

    That will happen, of course, when large porcine mammals are seen passing by my fourth floor office window with no wires, etc., attached.

    • I saw an article in this morning’s paper about a top democrat in our state supporting Bownback. He was quoted as saying something along the line of being certain Brownback would win and wanting support in return for his contributions. (All that is paraphrased by me!)

    • 6176, I am right there with you. If you have the right to face your accuser in court, should you not have the right to face your opponent/accuser in the field of public relations?


      By the way, I can make you see large porcine mammals out your office windows, if you want, but I am afraid all of the people in this country together do not have the power to change the corrupt system.

  8. Of course, if the Kochs supported a different “type” of organization, there would be a different group objecting; the same applies to Mr. Soros.

    • So we who would like the truth are destined to hear objections from everyone and what each ‘side’ chooses to present in their defense?

      Unless we really did overturn the stupid SCOTUS decision with NO exceptions!

      • Which one, fnord? As I have posted, if a corporation is a “person” for Fourteenth Amendment protections (as has been the case since the 1870s), finding it is a “person” for other protections is no more than a logical extension of precedent.

        To overturn Citizens United will take a Constitutional Amendment, imho.

      • Well then it will never happen and we Americans are sunk deeper and have less chance against the Corpocracy.

        We may as well smell the roses, smile and get on with life. What will be will be.

    • That’s what we have to get past–we can all stand together on this and we should.

  9. itolduso


    Dem/Liberal Leaning Committees (Excluding State Candidates & Parties)* Expenses

    2004 $383,429,430
    2006 $121,378,483
    2008 162,181,319
    2010 $61,293,823

    Rep/Conservative Leaning Committees (Excluding State Candidates & Parties)* Expenses

    2004 $111,342,591
    2006 $64,913,765
    2008 $65,796,807
    2010 $42,775,408

    Damn special interest groups

    • I understand the Unions and certain others were early to the table with PACs and 527s. Given that, there is little of surprise in the numbers.

      What would also be relevant is the amounts contributed by the respective party National Committees (as carefully noted supra, omitted from the information presented) and the dollars spent by/on state and local candidates.

      As 2010 is surely a part-year compilation, it would be interesting to see if the disparity illustrated continues as is, widens or narrows.

      • itolduso

        the link shows how much spent on state and local candidates, I omitted it for simple clarities sake. As for the National Committees,
        the website (unless I am missing something) doesn’t seem to include them.

      • Thanks for the explanation. I suspect the National Committees’ expenditures are omitted because 1) they are not 527s; 2) these data are available from other sources.

    • I was just reading this morning about the Koch brothers well-funded organizations of various names having contributed great amounts to the campaigns of Angle in Nevada and Miller in Alaska. I think there’s been quite a bit of that spending on local candidates. We certainly saw that in Kansas leading up to our primary election.

  10. Yes, some donate to both ‘sides’ to ensure they’ve bought whoever is elected, then there are others who make one of the ‘sides.’ The Koch brothers are the latter.

  11. itolduso

    Dem/Liberal Leaning Committees* Expenses

    2004 $406,293,951
    2006 233,704,089
    2008 283,844,924
    2010 146,748,771

    Rep/Conservative Leaning Committees* Expenses

    2004 $171,607,756
    2006 $154,864,453
    2008 $150,009,479
    2010 $95,337,829

  12. itolduso

    sorry, hit enter too soon.

    The above include the receipts and expenditures of state-focused 527 Organizations, such as the Republican Governors Association and the Democratic Governors.

  13. itolduso

    617–You are probably right about the National Commitees spending.

    Your idea about campaign finance reform isn’t bad. I see some perhaps difficult ramifications with the sheer size of the “lists” for advertising

    • Yes, I’m aware of that. I think that making the exemptions from disclosure any broader presents its own set of issues. For example, if only “major” contributors are to be disclosed, what is major? If defined at a certain level, then careful accounting/bookkeeping tricks could be used to avoid, imo.

      I left out the application of attribution rules in my earlier discourse. Quick and dirty on “attribution”: contributions by spouses are attributed to the other spouse; similarly, those made by lineal descendants/ancestors; perhaps siblings should also be included. Since I’m for eliminating artificial “persons”, I won’t go into controlled corporations, etc.

    • indypendent

      Why so difficult? Just put a link on each advertisement and let people do their own research.

  14. indypendent

    I wonder when all these morally superior politicians will ever pass legislation that makes it mandatory to disclose whose money is backing any of these groups?

    I don’t care how who is giving money to whom but if they are so proud to be giving a certain candidate money – then why not just be honest about it and disclose the names of the money men/women?

    As for the Koch Brothers – they learned from their daddy as to how politics is played.

    It was reported that Daddy Koch demonized John F. Kennedy. Perhaps now we know how that ugly rumor got started that the Pope was going to control America if JFK got elected .

    It was also said that Daddy Koch was of the John Birch Society streak. Does that make the two brothers Sons of Birchers?

  15. itolduso


    As I pondered your offering, I did think of this, and wanted to get your “read” on it-

    If any organization, group, company, or whatever, gave to a candidate or political pac in any way, and were required to list their “donors” would that in any way violate the donor’s “right to privacy” I recognize that there is no enumerated right to privacy, but the court has over the years developed just such a right, sometimes in my opinion out of thin air, but regardless, so they have done. In any case, it is a legal construct now. Back to the question. For instance if the NRA donated to a commerical, or to a PAC that made a commercial, would it be the NRA that would be listed? or it’s adherents?

    • As I understand your question, under my construct, the NRA couldn’t make the donation, only its adherents individually and personally. As to how the current mess of the law is concerned, the NRA would be listed as the donor.

      Re: “right to privacy”; that on the Constitutional level, as it is currently judicially understood, has no application here. There are certain statutes, state and federal, which might have some application.

      Not a great answer, but the best I can do right now.

      • itolduso

        Thanks for the explanation. As I reread your construct, I see that was not your intent, particularly about donations. However, as a practical matter for advertising, some sort of umbrella organization has to be in place for national advertising. Someone must actually produce and place the ads, and pay for them. It would be impossible for ABC, for example, to try and collate a number of individual donors into doing so. It takes an organization to correspond with, etc. Such organizations would, by necessity in my opinion, have to be incorporated. I am not necessarily opposed, but I am trying to wrap my head around the actual workings of such a scenario.

  16. indypendent

    If any person does not want to be identified as a donor, then what are they afraid of.

  17. itolduso

    In regards to that, if an organization then buys the ad, on behalf of itself or it’s members, would they not then have to disclose the names of every member of their organization? And pehaps even more information?

    • indypendent

      But why would an organization have to disclose all their members unless they all donated?

      I just don’t see what the big deal is for each group to have to be able to provide an accounting of their donations, with names of the donors.

      Either by providing an internet link or perhaps making that list available by some address link to a snail mail address?

      Or we might just want to go to taxpayer-funded campaigns and stop all this nonsense of donations by any individuals/groups. That way – nobody will be seen as getting an ‘unfair’ advantage.

      And that ‘unfair’ is in the eye of the beholder.

    • Not necessarily; however, given my bias against organizations as contributors, as organizations are not a natural person and cannot vote, I’ve no problem with that type of disclosure in principle. Should all organizations be required to allow members to consent or fail to consent to their dues being used for these purposes, only the consenting members’ names should be disclosed. In the case of a corporation, each stockholder should have the right, as a fractional (in most cases) owner, to consent or refuse to consent to such an expenditure, with the same disclosures required.

      I recognize the burden; given the massive data bases of shareholder information, necessary for proxy solicitation and the like, it really isn’t that burdensome.

      • indypendent

        If a corporation is now considered a person – does that mean a corporation only gets one vote?

        Then perhaps we need to implement regulations that an organization can only donate in the name of one person and only the maximum amount is allowed?

  18. These folks were the major backer of Todd Tiahrt. They got away with pollution of Kansas environment thanks to Todd.