Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Inside the Koch retreat: Tom Cotton and fat cats' mutual admiration society

Posted By on Wed, Aug 27, 2014 at 6:39 AM

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Remember the Koch retreat at a fancy California resort that caused Tom Cotton to miss the Pink Tomato Festival in Warren. Shades of Mitt Romney. A tape of the proceedings has emerged. And it includes rich praise for Tom Cotton, particularly his votes against the interests of Arkansas farmers. And you can also hear Cotton praising the fat cats, along with other Senate candidates. Huffington Post has the scoop:

Iowa state Sen. Joni Ernst and Arkansas Rep. Tom Cotton directly credited donors present at the June 16 retreat in Dana Point, California, for propelling them forward. Colorado Rep. Cory Gardner told attendees that his race would likely be decided by the presence of "third party" money — an obvious pitch for generosity from the well-heeled crowd.

Cotton already knew things go better with Koch, the billionaires whose activities include bankrolling Americans for Prosperity, a major force for Republican candidates nationwide and in Arkansas.

During their speeches, both Cotton and Ernst noted that this was actually the second Koch brothers' retreat they had attended. Last year, the two had gone to the New Mexico event as politicians of less stature. The Koch network has since helped usher them to the doorsteps of the United States Senate.

They candidates praised the fat cats, who hate taxes and regulation and government programs that help poor people. 

Cotton went further, crediting Koch-funded groups for helping change the political landscape of Arkansas.

"Americans for Prosperity in Arkansas has played a critical role in turning our state from a one-party Democratic state [inaudible] building the kind of constant engagement to get people in the state involved in their communities," he said.

The praise was returned by the likes of Tim Phillips, head of the AFP. It and related Koch groups have already spent more than $5 million to help Cotton with TV ads, according to sources quoted by the Huffington Post.

The article notes Cotton's skipping of the Pink Tomato event to chum up to the Kochs.

A willingness to go against the prevailing winds at home has endeared Cotton to the Koch brothers' crowd, however. At the California retreat, Phillips praised the congressman for voting against the congressional farm bill (on grounds that it was loaded up with corporate giveaways) even though it was popular in Arkansas.

"There are times when the candidate is running and, frankly, it's just someone that you know that there's no better alternative, right? That's not the case in Arkansas. Tom Cotton is a champion," said Phillips. "He has a 100 percent AFP voting record. ... This guy is running for the Senate [while] actually voting with 61 Republicans in the House to vote against the farm bill — in Arkansas."

Is a 100 percent AFP voting record 100 percent for Arkansas. Not if you're a farmer; fear pollution; get Medicare or Medicaid or Social Security or food stamps; depend on agriculture subsidies; hope for medical residencies at Children's Hospital; etc. etc.

UPDATE: Pryor has scheduled a news conference today to talk about this and to defend his scare-tactic ad about Cotton's vote against money for pandemic and emergency preparedness. He turned this into an Ebola-scare ad and has been roundly criticized for it, albeit mostly from Cotton-friendly sources.

Pryor defended the ad. He said Cotton had no idea at the time he voted against pandemic funding that he'd get another chance to fix his vote. He insisted it wasn't scary to focus on a current event.

Talk Business reports: Pryor defends his ad as fair and accurate. Note that the lead is Pryor on defense, not Cotton on the far bigger importance of his 100 percent Koch voting record.

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