You knew it was coming, but did you know it was going to be this much?
The Koch brothers, Charles and David, announced this week that their political network plans to spend an almost-unimaginable (for us plebes, anyway) $900 million on the 2016 presidential campaign. Nine. Hundred. Million. Dollars.
This level of spending by an outside group is unheard of in American election history. In the 2012 presidential elections, outside groups (i.e. PACs and Super PACs, not groups like the Democratic National Committee or the Republican National Committee) spent $840 million total, and that was the most expensive presidential election in history. The Koch network alone is on track to outpace that number by nearly $50 million.
Perhaps more disturbing? This level of spending puts the Koch brothers on the same financial level – or above – as the Republican establishment; the RNC and the two Republican congressional campaign committees spent only (“only”) $657 million total in 2012.
Super-Rich and Super Shadowy
And of course, we’ll have no idea where any of the $889 million comes from. Unlike the RNC or the DNC, the Koch network is constructed chiefly of nonprofit groups that are not required to reveal donors. That means it’s nearly impossible to tell how much of the $900 million will be donated by the brothers themselves and how much will come from their pool of donors.
Speaking of donors, here’s another noteworthy fact that most news outlets aren’t examining: the fact that the Koch network includes “roughly 300 other donors.” We did the math; that figure suggests average spending of three million bucks per donor. To put that in perspective, someone working 40 hours per week at minimum wage would need to work 413,793 hours (that’s about 47 years of work weeks) to earn that much money.
No Fucks Given
That the Koch brothers are spending ridiculous sums of money to elect candidates who will in turn push Koch-approved legislation is nothing new. But the fact that they’re being so open about it is.
As the Washington Post’s Paul Wadman pointed out:
But unlike some previous reporting on Charles and David’s political efforts, this revelation — which comes from a gathering in beautiful Rancho Mirage of Freedom Partners, the organization through which the Kochs and their allies will distribute all these millions — didn’t require any secret meetings with anonymous sources to unearth. They just told everyone. Here’s the Post’s story on it, here’s the New York Times’ story on it, and here’s Politico’s story on it, all complete with ample details and on-the-record quotes. Reporters may not have been invited into the private meetings at the gathering, but they were allowed to hang around and talk to the participants. And no fewer than four potential GOP presidential candidates (Scott Walker, Rand Paul, Marco Rubio, and Ted Cruz) showed up as well, obviously unconcerned about any charge that they’re kowtowing to the uber-rich.
That paragraph comes at the beginning of an op-ed called “The Koch brothers don’t care if you care about their plans to buy 2016 election.” It’s a great op-ed (you should definitely read it), but we have to disagree with the title. The Koch brothers absolutely care that we know about their plans – that’s precisely why the figures are so high.
The Kochs know that we’re onto them; that’s why they’re branching out this year with initiatives that should give us pause: there’s the plan to woo young voters, the plan to woo Latino voters, even a “moving” op-ed about prison reform penned by Charles Koch himself. It is all bullshit. Money talks, and the Kochs’ investments have made their intentions clear.