There was bound to be a Koch angle…
Charles and David Koch, the billionaire owners of Koch Industries and the highest profile conservative political money-men around, have a starring role in the political battle that has led to massive protests by public employees in Wisconsin over legislation that would immediately terminate their collective bargaining rights.
Scott Walker, the Republican governor and “Tea Party” agent that first proposed to strike down collective bargaining rights for state workers, received $43,000 from the Kochs’ PAC during his successful campaign last fall, and was additionally helped by another $ 1 million that the Koch brothers gave to the Republican Governors Association, which in turn pumped millions of dollars dollars into Walker’s campaign.
Wisconsin Republican Governor Scott Walker, whose bill to kill collective bargaining rights for public-sector unions has caused an uproar among state employees, might not be where he is today without the Koch brothers. Charles and David Koch are conservative titans of industry who have infamously used their vast wealth to undermine President Obama and fight legislation they detest, such as the cap-and-trade climate bill, the health care reform act, and the economic stimulus package. For years, the billionaires have made extensive political donations to Republican candidates across the country and have provided millions of dollars to astroturf right-wing organizations. Koch Industries’ political action committee has doled out more than $2.6 million to candidates. And one prominent beneficiary of the Koch brothers’ largess is Scott Walker.
According to Wisconsin campaign finance filings, Walker’s gubernatorial campaign received $43,000 from the Koch Industries PAC during the 2010 election. That donation was his campaign’s second-highest, behind $43,125 in contributions from housing and realtor groups in Wisconsin. The Koch’s PAC also helped Walker via a familiar and much-used politicial maneuver designed to allow donors to skirt campaign finance limits. The PAC gave $1 million to the Republican Governors Association, which in turn spent $65,000 on independent expenditures to support Walker. The RGA also spent a whopping $3.4 million on TV ads and mailers attacking Walker’s opponent, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett. Walker ended up beating Barrett by 5 points. The Koch money, no doubt, helped greatly.
The Kochs also assisted Walker’s current GOP allies in the fight against the public-sector unions. Last year, Republicans took control of the both houses of the Wisconsin state legislature, which has made Walker’s assault on these unions possible. And according to data from the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, the Koch Industries PAC spent $6,500 in support of 16 Wisconsin Republican state legislative candidates, who each won his or her election.
The Koch Industries influence on Wisconsin union-busting didn’t stop with the November election.
Their “Tea Party” PAC, “Americans for Prosperity”, has publicly backed Walker and the Republicans attempting to shut down collective bargaining for state workers, has launched a website attacking the protesters, and is planning their own corporate-funded counter-protest to support Gov. Walker.
The Americans for Prosperity group, a Tea Party group that is a Koch Brothers front, has put up a website and petition called www.standwithwalker.com. The website attacks all collective bargaining – not just for public employees’ unions. Americans for Prosperity is also organizing a rally tomorrow in Wisconsin to support Gov. Walker.