The Kochs' and other billionaires' secret political bank: Who's buying your elections? | Arkansas Blog

Thursday, September 12, 2013

The Kochs' and other billionaires' secret political bank: Who's buying your elections?

Posted By on Thu, Sep 12, 2013 at 6:52 AM

click to enlarge WHERE THE MONEY GOES: Billionaire clout ttrickles down into state legislative ad attacks such as this one from 60 Plus.
  • WHERE THE MONEY GOES: Billionaire clout ttrickles down into state legislative ad attacks such as this one from 60 Plus.
Politico has a story worth noting: It sheds light on a group that has funneled money from the Koch Bros. immense fortune into campaigns to advance  conservative political causes. The Kochs financial holdings include huge assets in Arkansas, such as Georgia-Pacific. But their political meddling runs deep and wide. Its financially funded front groups have intervened in everything from U.S. Senate to the Pulaski Quorum Court (their minions have opposed tough rules for protection of the Maumelle watershed.)

Politico said:

An Arlington, Va.-based conservative group, whose existence until now was unknown to almost everyone in politics, raised and spent $250 million in 2012 to shape political and policy debate nationwide.

The group, Freedom Partners, and its president, Marc Short, serve as an outlet for the ideas and funds of the mysterious Koch brothers, cutting checks as large as $63 million to groups promoting conservative causes, according to an IRS document to be filed shortly.

Important is the listing of groups that have been funded by  this shadowy outfit, which isn't wholly funded by the Kochs, though they give a significant amount. Other contributors are remaining in the shadows. The article suggests that the Kochs individually may also have given money to individual groups listed in addition to money given by Freedom Partners.

Most familiar of the recipients is Americans for Prosperity, which has a large paid organization in Arkansas whose hired hands have included the wife of a state legislator. It has battled Obamacare and famously ran a road show that included free gas giveaways  in towns featuring big state Senate races. Their favored candidates — think Missy Irvin of Mountain View — would be on hand for these happy handouts. The Kochs have also helped underwrite the American Legislative Exchange Council, effectively a pro-business lobby that writes cookie-cutter state legislation for people like Irvin to take back home from their corporate-subsidized conferences, but that's apart from the Freedom Partners' efforts.

You'll also find among the groups listed as beneficiaries of Freedom Partners the notorious 60 Plus, which spent huge sums against Obamacare in Arkansas. It intervened heavily for example, in state legislative races, notably Senate races lost by Rep. Linda Tyler and Sen. Barry Hyde and a critical House race won by Republican Allen Kerr, who faced a tough Democratic challenge from Barbara Graves in a race that could have changed the House majorityThe organization also spent a vast amount against Sen. Blanche Lincoln in her defeat.

The money also supported the likes of the NRA, U.S. Chamber of Commerce and Tea Party, a reliable support group for Republican candidates, though occasionally at odds at the intraparty level when Republicans aren't sufficiently nutty.

Freedom Partners spent heavily to influence U.S. Senate and presidential elections in 2012. That didn't turn out so well. They had better luck at the local level in Arkansas.

But you just have to understand. The billionaires feel threatened, even as a tinier and tinier percentage of Americans control a greater and greater amount of America's wealth.

Short says his members are “concerned that the nation that they grew up in and that their businesses have flourished in will not be there for their children and grandchildren,” and are “committed to trying to restore what they view are free markets in a free society in America.” Many, he said, are “Horatio Alger-type stories,” most of them not household names, who got rich after starting small businesses, from service to manufacturing to information technology: “They are really worried about the country that’s going to be left for their future generations.”

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