In the 2012 election, Charles and David Koch spent at least $412 million to swing elections across the country, an amount greater than the ten largest unions combined. Now Bloomberg reports that the Koch brothers’ combined net worth has exceeded $100 billion, with no sign that their advertising campaign against the Affordable Care Act is ever going to stop.
The Koch’s fortune is derived from their combined 84 percent stake in the second-largest closely held company in the U.S., which has annual sales of about $115 billion, according to Koch Industries’ website. They’re the fifth- and sixth-richest people in the world.
The Koch-backed Donors Trust is the 500-pound gorilla of conservative and libertarian nonprofit funding. The Koch-linked American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) has succeeded in pressing Koch-driven legislation in state houses around the country. Koch-funded policy organizations such as the Franklin Center have emphasized state and local-level policy “news” and propaganda. Recently, we learned that the Kochs are expanding to your local election scene, and last week the Koch-supported Americans For Prosperity (AFP) gave its blessing to Cliven Bundy’s armed “sovereign citizen” standoff with the federal government.
The Kochs were intimately connected to the origins of the tea party, which is basically a revival of the ‘patriot’ movement of the 1990s. Citizens For a Sound Economy, an organization they founded, went on to split and become AFP and FreedomWorks, the two most important entities in the creation of tea parties. In fact, tea parties had been a long-term Koch project long before they ever became news. Last year, a report from the Investigative Reporting Workshop declared that the Kochs have developed “what may be the largest and most extensive public policy, political, and educational presence in the nation today.”
This is the opposite of democracy: the richest people in the world essentially own an entire political party, and the movement which animates it, at a cost of approximately 0.04% of their fortune. That spending includes all the weird and misleading advertisements driving a wedge between common people and their own interests. It all works to the self-interest of the Kochs, who see themselves as the rightful owners of America, if not the world.