Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Koch brothers' tentacles reach well into Congress

The Koch brothers just can't be liking all the attention they've been getting lately. For years, the shadowy billionaires' anti-worker activities went unnoticed.  But revelations about their annual secret meetings to plot the destruction of the middle class led to a protest at their latest meeting. That led to more news coverage. And now we're starting to understand just how far their tentacles reach into the corridors of power.

ThinkProgress reports that a powerful congressman, Wisconsin Republican Paul Ryan, attended the billionares' caucus two weekends ago. Ryan is chairman of the House Budget Committee and wants to make radical cuts to Social Security and Medicare. He also proposes raising taxes on the middle class and cutting them for the rich.

The folks at OneWisconsinNow were not pleased to hear that Ryan was partying with the Kochs. Said the group's leader, Scot Ross,
Paul Ryan has supported, in lock step, the big oil, anti-accountability for Wall Street agenda of Koch Industries, so he was in perfect company. We encourage Paul Ryan to make public the speech he made at the fundraising event, so that Wisconsin will know what he has to say about our priorities when he attends his Koch parties.
The party, which was held in Rancho Mirage in Southern California, drew the attention of the Los Angeles Times. The newspaper investigated the relationship between the Kochs, who own energy firm Koch Industries, and members of Congress who oppose climate-change legislation.

The L.A. Times found the Koch brothers are at the heart of Republican power.  Reports the Times,
Wichita-based Koch Industries and its employees formed the largest single oil and gas donor to members of the (Energy Committee), ahead of giants like Exxon Mobil, contributing $279,500 to 22 of the committee's 31 Republicans, and $32,000 to five Democrats.
The Times also reported the following Energy Committee members got help from the Kochs:
  • Rep. Mike Pompeo, R-Kans., hired a former Koch Industries lawyer on his staff. 
  • Rep. Morgan Griffith, R-Va., won his long-shot election with help from Koch-funded Americans for Prosperity (aka the Tea Party, which spent $40 million in the last election);
  • The committee chairman, Fred Upton, R-Mich., has moved from moderate to conservative after receiving $20,000 in donations from Koch employees in 2010.
  • Energy Committee members Reps. Cory Gardner, R-Colo., and Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., also got significant help from Americans for Prosperity.
The mainstream media views the world through a lens that excludes workers' concerns, so don't hold your breath for an investigation into the Kochs' relationship with organizations and people who support right-to-work (for LESS) laws. However, the Kochs are known to have funded the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, the Cato Institute, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Heritage Foundation, all of which support anti-worker legislation.