The owners of the second-largest private company in the United States are Charles and David Koch. Touting the label of second-largest private company comes with a massive amount of net worth: more than $100 billion.
That staggering price tag makes their planned budget for the 2016 elections ($889 million) seem like pocket change.
However, given the fact that the Republican National Committee and the GOP’s congressional campaign committees spent a total of $657 million in the last presidential election, it’s clear that the Koch-backed campaign headed our way is an unprecedented amount of cash.
As NPR reported, no other outside money operation matches the Kochs in terms of funding or organizational breadth. The Kochs’ goal is to spread information that supports their corporate interests, such as telling voters the wrong date for elections to possibly suppress votes from those who do not support Koch interests, misinforming parents about school district graduation rates to funnel public dollars into private schools, or trying to convince people that climate change isn’t real–something that Koch Industries, a power company, would definitely profit from.
Because of the expansiveness of their 2016 budget, experts have said that the Koch empire is completely unlike anything American politics has seen before. And the most concerning part is that the the Kochs’ message has little to do with the reality of most Americans. Political scientist Darrell West, who wrote a book called Billionaires about wealthy donors in politics, stressed the precedent the Kochs plan to set:
Essentially we’ve created a new party. It’s the party of conservative, rich activists…[Y]ou’re talking about an incredibly tiny slice of Americans.
The revelation of the Kochs’ pricey plan should place people on alert for information from one of the many Koch-supported groups, such as:
•Americans for Prosperity
•Concerned Veterans for America
•Americans for Tax Reform
•Concerned Women for America
•American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC)
Many of these organizations have been known to work for corporate interests under the guise of helping the middle class.
As if the Kochs’ reach isn’t concerning enough, they also influence us very close to home: the Flint Hills Refinery in Rosemount is Koch-owned, and it provides Minnesota with more than half our gas. In 2012, that refinery leaked more than 740,000 pounds of toxic chemicals into nearby watersheds (which is equivalent to the weight of 493 Smart Cars).
Knowing the Koch brothers have helped fund these groups and this misinformation over the years sheds light on their motives for being involved with politics in the first place: to work for their enormously rich interests at the expense of workers, women, the environment and marginalized groups within our society.