Infographic on the relationship between the Koch Bros and Scott Walker

SalJake sez, "Nifty infographic outlining the money path from the Koch brothers to Wisconsin's 'never negotiate, never surrender' governor and Tea Party darling Scott Walker. The blogger who successfully prank called to Da Gov was impersonating billionaire David Koch. Thanks to this prank, we have him recorded as asking Fake David Koch to finance advertisements in the home districts of GOP senators, because people there are PISSED OFF. And rightly so, I might add."

Koch Bros Present: Monopoly (Thanks, SalJake, via Submitterator!)


  1. These numbers don’t really show anything that big. On the RSLC side they donated 60,000 to a national group that spent 1 Million in one state. That’s really pennies on the dollar that they contributed. And for one of the richest men in the country to give 1 million to the RGA isn’t really putting them in big terms. Again, this is a national organization and he didn’t even cover 1 state yet everyone is acting like he single handedly did this. It also doesn’t beat contributions from Unions to the Democratic Governors Association. From a business week article:

    Big Democratic givers for the governors’ races include two Washington-based labor groups, the Service Employees International Union, which donated $1.1 million, and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, which contributed $3.3 million.


    1. to anon@1.

      The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees has 1.6 million members. Them chipping in two bucks a pop looks a hell of a lot more like democracy then Koch divying up the same to make sure they look after the interests of two rich billionaires.

    2. These numbers don’t really show anything that big

      Gentlepeople, start your apologist engines….

      Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaand…….. they’re off!!!

  2. I’d never heard of these folks before the Walker flap, but I certainly don’t think that they are the ideologues that the broad-brush painters would have us believe.

    I came across this in my twitter feed from Reason.

    “Curiously missing, however, is the $20 million donation the Kochs made to the ACLU to fight the Bush administration over the PATRIOT Act. Browsing various accounts of the Kochs political spending over the years, that $20 million appears to be substantially more than the Kochs have contributed to all political candidates combined for at least the last 15 years. (Their gifts to the arts and other non-political charities exceeds what they’ve spent on politics many times over.)”

    It’s true, when you strip away all their giving that didn’t go to political candidates, as Chait does, the Kochs look fairly right-wing. But you’ve also just stripped away the vast, vast majority of Koch giving. The more complete picture is pretty doctrinaire libertarian, with support not just for civil liberties, but donations to promote civil society in general.

    1. They also bank-rolled the attempted roll-back of california’s clean air law last election.

      Just because they don’t get everything exactly wrong doesn’t mitigate the fact that they oppose controls on pollution (“but but but the link to human activity hasn’t been…I mean the effect on jobs would be….”) and are engaged in class warfare.

    2. The Kochtopus has many tentacles, most of them are involved in charity and arts funding. I’ve known about them for quite some time, but it seems that over the past few years they’ve turned into bogeymen of the left, much like the right’s demonization of George Soros. What people fail to realize is that the Kochs aren’t right-wingers, they’re extremely wealthy libertarians. FFS, David Koch was VP candidate for the LP (running mate to Ed Clark, who received the most votes of any Libertarian candidate) back in 1980.

      1. “The Kochtopus”

        I keep trying to pronounce that word in my head, but I end up with the wrong (very wrong) mental picture. I suggest not using that one in speech, only in writing.

      2. Oh for Christ’s sake. Yes, of course they gave money to the ACLU. It is one of their more obvious contributions. They do not need to be right or left. They need their money, and its theirs ALL theirs. Not a public company, though they might start one just to say, “SEE”.

        They are libertarians in its most pure and unadulterated autocratic form.

        They also gave a butt load of simoleons to Memorial Sloan Kettering and yet their energy companies are the biggest producers of carcinogens.

        So the question is than, and rhetorically moot at that, is it guilt or STFU money?

        An even more interesting Koch research topic regarding the $ they give to political campaigns might be how much stock do they own in publicly traded ratings agencies (eg-Standard and Poors, Moody’s etc)? I seriously shudder to think.

      3. What people fail to realize is that the Kochs aren’t right-wingers, they’re extremely wealthy libertarians.

        If libertarians don’t count as right-wing in the US, they’ve still definitely aligned themselves with the right-wing groups. Whatever their plans for the future might be, the Koch brothers support the Republicans and their policies, and indeed finance things like the Cato institute that help define those policies.

    3. The Koch Brothers, whose father was a founding member of the John Birch Society, may favor some personal liberties, but are primarily funding politicians and non-profits that further their oil-company business and ideological interests: no regulation, lower taxes, no unions. And those are the palatable parts of what they want.

      The Kochs are engaged in sub-rosa activity that undermines democracy by funding points of view without the clear understanding of the funding sources. By eliminating unions, the Kochs cleverly prevent those without money from having the money to afford the fora (TV, radio, newspapers, even Web) to explain or promote alternative viewpoints.

      More disturbingly, David Koch contributes significant funds under his own name to the Smithsonian (which the New Yorker notes has an exhibit he funded that promotes a view of evolution and global warming consonant with preventing regulation of greenhouse gases) and to Nova.

      1. Wrong… they are rimarily funding the ACLU — they have received at least $20 million from the Koch’s — far more than any Republican candidate.

        And no one seems to care about Google’s or whomever giving to the DNC? Double the standard much?

        1. I don’t care who they are primarily funding. Its not rare for people to have multiple agendas, some often contrived to take attention away from their other interests.

          If I give $100 to GreenPeace and $20 to the local KKK chapter, that’s going to throw up a red flag, right?

    4. 48 million dollars has been funnelled to counter efforts to oppose global warming. They’re listed as the 10th most polluting company in the US. I don’t really care if libertarian principles, the FSM or the voices in their heads tell them to do it, making the world less livable does not contribute to a civil society.

      1. According to David Koch, global warming is good: “The Earth will be able to support enormously more people because a far greater land area will be available to produce food”

        And we’ll all be able to live in bigger houses, too!

    5. …pretty doctrinaire libertarian…

      I’m glad it’s only libertarians. Here I was thinking that it was people trying to destroy government.

    1. Doesn’t seem like maybe if the rich are allowed to finance successful candidates, that maybe the rich would start to dictate the structure of our civil society?


      Anyway, those teachers are SUPER well off, and don’t even pay taxes, and the tax cuts for the rich don’t effect the budget in any way, and unions are corrupt dinosaurs, and the voters chose him, and and and….

      *pant pant pant*

      Kudo’s to the cops and firefighters for standing with em. One big union.

    2. For sure. Screw legislation with representation. Just let the top 2% buy all the legislation they want and continue to walk on the backs of the middle class all the way to the bank. Sounds like a great plan.

    3. No, they can’t use their company’s money to promote candidates.
      Well they can, as of 6 months ago, according to the Supreme Court.
      But letting companies promote corporate interests over the interestes of the people (since corporations have huge sums of money, and are generally at odds with the needs of the people) will be the end of democracy.

    4. It’s not about contributions so much as why. Also being pushed through the Wisconsin State House is legislation that would allow the Governor to give or sell state held utilities without any oversight. The Koch Brothers own oil and natural gas businesses. They don’t have any businesses is Wisconsin at this time (I could be wrong on that)but wouldn’t it be nice to have some?
      The National Chamber of Commerce is another group that gets funding from them, along with many overseas interests. Some of these behind the scenes groups have stated that their intention is to break up the unions here. They see them as anti-business.

      All of the money trails to both major parties tell us that our elected officials aren’t above accepting money for dubious reasons.

  3. Listening to the Tank Riot! podcast on think tanks. Their research on the Koch brothers is interesting. Created the Heritage Foundation in 1973, a preeminent conservative think tank. Tank Riot is billing them as some of the biggest douchebags alive today.

  4. LoTekJunky, Get a clue. Yes, it IS a problem if the rich can contribute unlimited amounts to candidates. They’re influence becomes dominant, meaning they have control of our “democracy” … and I put democracy in quotes, because it isn’t much of one when the rich pick our leaders. It is then a plutocracy.

  5. so when are we as a nation going to have a serious conversation about removing the $$ from the political campaign equation? sure, the plutocrats would find other ways to muck up the process, but this would attack the root of the problem.

    1. Floyd, you are way off on the “chump change” characterization. Just in the graphic above there is a citation of $50mil flowing from “Americans for Prosperity” alone, for one election.

      For a more critical look at everything they’ve funded (and how directly involved they are in much of it) you’ve got to read the New Yorker article from a few months back:

      Last point: comparing the $20mil ACLU grant to their direct contributions to candidates is extremely weak. Direct contributions are still subject to limits AFAIK. The Koch bros. apparently prefer to fund numerous think tanks and PACs, many of which obscure the exact amounts of their contribution.

      1. Direct contributions from an individual to an individual politician are limited to $2400, PAC’s and think tanks are workarounds.

  6. Every time I hear somebody on the left talk about the Koch brothers, I want to play clips of Glenn Beck pushing his George Soros conspiracy theories.

    The real fun part is that Beck’s lunacy is largely recycled from Lyndon LaRouche’s old bullshit, while a lot of the Koch brothers theory is largely recycled from early-2000s neoconservatives who detested the fact that the Koch brothers didn’t support Bush’s “let’s bomb brown people” philosophy.

    So the latest conspiracy theory on each side is really just a recycled conspiracy theory from… the other side.

    You Ds and Rs are getting funnier to watch with each passing day.

    1. Anon @19

      So… you’re comparing Glenn Beck, getting busy with his chalkboard and displaying a lack of mental health, to Walker himself, the pol in question, grovelling and bragging to the man he presumes to be his benefactor? Literally closing the conversations with “Thanks a million”? False equivalent much?

  7. Note on all the links to Reason Magazine. It’s a Koch funded outfit. No problem with that… just good to know when intel comes from.

    1. The Unions represent the interests of thousands of people, with few at the top benefitting, as opposed to Koch industries, the second largest private company that largely exists to benefit two billionaires. Koch industries is actually a little bit more of a problematic monopoly.

  8. What’s that called when someone gets paid to post wingnut talking points in the comment sections of high-traffic blogs?


  9. tell me how much these union members get per hour actually worked. teachers get approximately 16 weeks vacation a year,year round insurance,and generous pension benefits. i feel no sympathy for them. they don’t have to worry about illegal aliens taking their jobs. if you break it down to actual hours worked versus compensation and perks, they are doing all right in my opinion. of coarse opinions are like assholes, everybodys got one except my wife who has two. one she shits through and one she sends to work each day.

    1. Firemen generally spend a small percentage of their time actually fighting fires (and make a hell of a lot more than teachers do). But when your house is the one burning, you’re going to be thankful.

      Its amazing that given how crappy teachers pay generally is, some people actually want to do it and actually try to be good at it. Give teaching wages to most any other profession requiring a similar level of education and see how well that turns out.

      Oh, and don’t forget to add in the time teachers spend at extra-curricular activities, tutoring, meetings, conferences, and workshops, reviewing teaching material, making lesson plans, and grading homework and tests, almost all of which takes place outside of the typical school day. I think you’re calculation is going to change a little bit.

    2. they don’t have to worry about illegal aliens taking their jobs.

      Are you some kind of embittered migrant farmer?

    3. Your ignorance is showing. Those 16 weeks of vacation you mention are usually chewed up by mandatory continuing education courses teachers must take, often on their own dime. That doesn’t even cover all the issues already addressed with another response to your comment. I know a few school teachers. They work *hard*. I wouldn’t want their job for anything and I *have* a teaching job (albeit for a private company).

      Hey, if you think they have it so easy, why aren’t *you* a teacher? It’s easy money and benefits, right?

  10. If you are a candidate and a union gives you money or a billionaire gives you money, you are then beholden unto them. Why do you think Walker so readily took a call from a fake David Koch? Clearly they don’t know each other well enough that Walker recognized his voice, so it’s not like they are friends. If George Soros is the puppet-master Glenn Beck makes him out to be, then so are the Kochs.

  11. AFSCME (the monopoly public sector union) donated over $85 million to get Democrats elected in the last election cycle. What’s the point? That only the people that you’ve been told by MSNBC are corrupting society are evil?

    1. Nuff Said?
      “When politicians control buying and selling, the commodity firstly and most thoroughly bought and sold will be politicians.”

  12. I want to play clips of Glenn Beck pushing his George Soros conspiracy theories.

    One important difference is that Soros makes his money by currency and commodity speculation, while the Kochs largely make theirs by, you know. making things.

    1. Yeah, things like poisoned lakes, oil spills and drooling mobs that rail against government healthcare while sitting in Medicare-funded scooters. They’re awesome.

  13. Follow the money, follow the money, follow the money.

    To the anonymous poster at the top: What’s amazing isn’t that the Koch bros and their buddies can effectively buy out the public interest; what’s amazing is how cheap this kind of thing is.

    Pennies on the dollar.

  14. And here I thought giving money to a cause was legal.

    Unions certainly give lots of money to political causes. I must’ve missed the infographic showing how much the NEA, UAW or IBEW chipped in to get their candidates elected in the last cycle. Of course that money and influence seems to get a pass in this debate. Or it somehow manages to be ‘good’ money and anyone disagreeing must be a tentacle or astroturf.

    There’s a very real equivalent with Soros contributing money to his pet causes and organizations – many of which manage to be sensible as well as unsuccessful (Prop 19). And yet we’re being treated to breathless, hourly updates from Wisconsin, as if it’s Tienanmen Square.

    I know BB posts tend to skew liberal, but this just comes off like cheap partisanship. Skewering an identical situation because you disagree with it just comes off like wobbly self-justification.

    1. Follow the money, boyo.

      No permitted secrecy when it comes to contributions to politicians running for elected Offices.

      What a “cause” may be, I don’t know.

      But Walker is a human individual politician.

      1. That’s quite a non-answer. Not sure what your vague point is, but the money’s easy to follow if you even half-heartedly bother.

        There’s nothing ‘secret’ about it, it’s just easy to score cheap debate points by sounding the alarm over money influencing politics. Everyone needs to invest some amount of capital to spread a message, whether its time or to propel a physical medium. The ASPCA is arguably a “good” group – does the fact that they have to spend money to buy adds somehow corrupt their message or goals? And to the point at hand, if money influencing politics is evil, then the unions in this nation, who expend millions of dollars to influence elections, would be unquestionably evil.

        And what difference does it make if it’s a “human individual politician”? What is a union or a think-tank, but a group of humans? Or were you talking about all the robot politicians out there who are absolutely incorruptible?

  15. Perhaps this has something to do with the Koch brother’s demonstrated ability- over many years and well documented- to have special sections slipped into the tax code (often at the last minute) exempting their chosen operations from taxation or regulation: “…except that these provisions shall not apply to refining operations constructed between the dates of ___ and ___ located in…”

    Being able to buy your own legislation is a pretty powerful competitive advantage in a “free” market system. Libertarian survival of the most powerful, supported by the chumps at the bottom who pay more, get less, and breathe the pollution. And justified because they give something back to chosen charities.

    They want to destroy unions because unions (ordinary folks banding together in a common cause) are one of the few ways- though a very weak one- that the non-wealthy can seek to counterbalance the power of the wealthy oligarchs. We have a political system that has been thoroughly corrupted by money, and most of us don’t have enough to buy a share.

    There is little difference between the way the Koch brothers seek to buy influence and the way unions do- except that unions represent tens of thousands of otherwise voiceless and powerless folks.

  16. Just a question for everyone who assumes that rich people can BUY ELECTIONS WITH IMPUNITY if they spend enough money … if that’s the case, why isn’t Meg Whitman governor of California?

  17. Interesting to note that the term “Kochtopus” was termed by a radical libertarian, Samuel Konkon, to describe the wide influence they have on the movement, which in many ways distorts libertarianism in a much more pro-corporate, pro-status quo direction.

    An important bellweather is the Federal Reserve. Most libertarians oppose it vehemently, believing that it a mechanism by which the US wars and imperialism are funded through a covert tax on the poor and middle class.

    But organizations funded and linked to the Kochs generally support it.

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