The Koch brothers are quite an enigma: on the one hand, they owe their vast fortune to extremely long-range planning: Charles Koch is famously contemptuous of entrepreneurs who take their companies public, believing that the public markets insist on such short timescales that they undermine real growth; and he grew his father's hydrocarbon empire by investing heavily in automation systems with extremely long amortization schedules.
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The Republican election of Scott Walker and his band of Ayn Rand cosplayers was a triumph of massive corporate spending, voter suppression and gerrymandering that meant that the votes of the majority of Wisconsinites would no longer count; despite that, last month's midterm elections saw the governorship and Attorney General flip to progressive Democrats with wildly popular platforms.
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Reactionaries of every stripe have latched onto "academic freedom" for self-promotion as speakers on college campuses, but Wellesley College's Koch-funded Freedom Project came under scrutiny thanks to student activists and journalists. Now the program's head is taking a year off to teach "elsewhere." Read the rest
In a letter to the Koch network -- a group of evil billionaires who chip in to buy politicians -- the Koch brothers crowed about how Donald Trump (whom they considered replacing with Paul Ryan in a backroom deal at the 2016 RNC) has been a pliable servant to them and their political goals during his year in office.
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Kentuckywired is a project to run fiber between cities in Kentucky, creating a high speed network for the state's operations. It involves a lot of expensive public works -- digging up streets and highways to lay down relatively cheap fiber and conduit (the digging is the expensive part).
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A strategy memo circulated around the time of a Koch network retreat sets out a five-part plan to pressure the Trump regime to lower corporate taxes and pass other policies favorable to corporate elites and the investor class. Read the rest
New Yorker staff writer Jane Mayer has a new book coming out, Dark Money, which chronicles the influence of a small handful of ultra-rich dynastic American families on US politics. Read the rest
Bernie Sanders, who smashed Obama's record for small-money donors in December and blew through his own fundraising goals, writes about the difference between raising lots of small sums from individual Americans and chasing huge donations from America's oligarchs. Read the rest
Water scientist Peter Gleick admitted that he was the source for the anonymous leak of documents from the climate-change-denying Heartland Institute. The documents -- obtained under a false name, and then leaked -- showed Heartland's budget, corporate donors (Koch Industries and Philip Morris featured heavily), and a plan to produce deliberately confusing materials about climate change for use in middle school curriculum.
It is clear from the documents that Heartland advocates against responsible climate mitigation and then uses that advocacy to raise money from oil companies and "other corporations whose interests are threatened by climate policies." Heartland particularly celebrates the funding that it receives from the fossil fuel fortune being the Charles G. Koch Foundation.
Heartland also continues to collect money from Philip Morris parent company Altria as well as from the tobacco giant Reynolds American, while maintaining ongoing advocacy against policies related to smoking and health.
Heartland's policy positions, strategies and budget distinguish it clear as a lobby firm that is misrepresenting itself as a "think tank" - it budgets $4.1 million of its $6.4 million in projected expenditures for Editorial, Government Relations, Communications, Fundraising, and Publications, and the only activity it plans that could vaguely be considered policy development is the writing of a curriculum package for use in confusing high schoolers about climate change.
Leaked Heartland documents
Heartland Insider Exposes Institute's Budget and Strategy (notes on the leaked documents)
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The Koch-funded Americans for Prosperity group has been reportedly distributing fliers in Democrat-leaning Wisconsin districts advising voters to send in their recall absentee ballots "before August 11." The recall election -- in which Democrats are seeking to unseat state Republicans who voted for Governor Scott Walker's attack on unionized labor -- is being held two days earlier, on August 9. AFP has also given $150,000 worth of ad time to Republican candidates facing recall.
A Democrat on the ground in Wisconsin said the fliers were discovered to be hitting doors in District 2 and District 10 over the weekend.
"These are people who are our 1's in the voterfile who we already knew. They ain't AFP members, that's for damn sure," the source said.
One flier was discovered in Hudson, Wisc. where Democrat Shelly Moore is attempting to upend GOP State Sen. Sheila Harsdorf in District 10; the other was found in Kaukauna, where Democrat Nancy Nusbaum is challenging Sen. Robert Cowles in District 2.
AFP Wisconsin ballots have late return date
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