Report: Koch Industries leaders quietly bankrolling Tea Party philosophy

WASHINGTON — The men who run Koch Industries, one of the largest oil companies in America with a significant presence in Minnesota, have quietly spent more than $200 million bankrolling the libertarian-conservative movement that became the foundation of the Tea Party movement, according to a New Yorker report out today.

Koch, a Wichita, Kansas-based firm, owns and operates several refineries in Minnesota and hundreds of miles of pipelines across the state. Their pipelines include those deliver jet fuel to Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport and propane through the state to Wisconsin.

According to the report, David Koch and his brother Charles Koch through both direct donations and various foundations to support groups that as far back as the Reagan administration were expanding the influence of Austrian economics and Robert LeFevre-style opposition to most things government. The New Yorker also reported that an organization they started has funded training for Tea Party leaders.

Here’s a key section of the report:

The anti-government fervor infusing the 2010 elections represents a political triumph for the Kochs. By giving money to “educate,” fund, and organize Tea Party protesters, they have helped turn their private agenda into a mass movement. Bruce Bartlett, a conservative economist and a historian, who once worked at the National Center for Policy Analysis, a Dallas-based think tank that the Kochs fund, said, “The problem with the whole libertarian movement is that it’s been all chiefs and no Indians. There haven’t been any actual people, like voters, who give a crap about it. So the problem for the Kochs has been trying to create a movement.” With the emergence of the Tea Party, he said, “everyone suddenly sees that for the first time there are Indians out there—people who can provide real ideological power.” The Kochs, he said, are “trying to shape and control and channel the populist uprising into their own policies.”

A Republican campaign consultant who has done research on behalf of Charles and David Koch said of the Tea Party, “The Koch brothers gave the money that founded it. It’s like they put the seeds in the ground. Then the rainstorm comes, and the frogs come out of the mud—and they’re our candidates!”

The Kochs and their political operatives declined requests for interviews. Instead, a prominent New York public-relations executive who is close with the Kochs put forward two friends: George Pataki, the former governor of New York, and Mortimer Zuckerman, the publisher and real-estate magnate. Pataki, a Republican who received campaign donations from David Koch, called him “a patriot who cares deeply about his country.” Zuckerman praised David’s “gentle decency” and the “range of his public interests.”

The Republican campaign consultant said of the family’s political activities, “To call them under the radar is an understatement. They are underground!” Another former Koch adviser said, “They’re smart. This right-wing, redneck stuff works for them. They see this as a way to get things done without getting dirty themselves.” Rob Stein, a Democratic political strategist who has studied the conservative movement’s finances, said that the Kochs are “at the epicenter of the anti-Obama movement. But it’s not just about Obama. They would have done the same to Hillary Clinton. They did the same with Bill Clinton. They are out to destroy progressivism.

Read it all here. Fair warning, the piece clocks in at 9,976 words (!) so set aside a few minutes (or hours) before you click.

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Comments (4)

  1. Submitted by Bernice Vetsch on 08/30/2010 - 04:52 pm.

    See also Frank Rich’s Sunday NY Times column, “The Billionaires Bankrolling the Tea Party.”

    What boggles my mind is that most of the stuff “sold” to citizens by Tea Party leaders makes no sense. It’s like the “What’s Wrong With Kansas” observation that people can be led to vote AGAINST their own interests by propaganda that plays on both their best instincts and their fears. And sounds so reasonable and mature, as did Glen Beck at his rally on Saturday — with none of his usual histrionics or tears.

  2. Submitted by Joe Musich on 08/30/2010 - 09:42 pm.

    And hear pun intended at Fresh Air :

    Tea Party’s on Koch !

    I like the Rupert Murdoch part best !

  3. Submitted by Dennis Tester on 08/31/2010 - 07:55 am.

    Wow. The Right’s got their version of George Soros. Who knew?

  4. Submitted by dan buechler on 08/31/2010 - 09:56 am.

    This is much much more than a version of George Soros. The koch brothers have argued that smog is good for you as it can cut skin cancers (sorry kids with asthma you’re just collateral damage. Or how about this one if the climate gets too warm we can live underground.

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