- The Koch Brothers fueled a conservative crusade that profoundly reshaped American politics.
- They built an influential network of donors aligned with their libertarian ideals of free-markets and lower taxes.
- Charles Koch recently wrote he had misgivings about the partisanship he fostered in a new book. “Boy, did we screw up! What a mess!” he wrote.
- Here’s a look at how the Koch brothers realigned the nation’s politics with their libertarian brand of conservatism.
Charles Koch is in the news after he shared lines from his newest book in a Wall Street Journal interview published Friday. He expressed regret for his role powering a conservative crusade that forever changed American politics.
“Boy, did we screw up! What a mess!” he wrote.
David and Charles Koch became a colossal political force in recent decades. Since the 1970s, they personally donated at least $100 million to aid the rise of the Tea Party movement and bolster the Republican Party, according to The New York Times.
They built an influential network of donors aligned with their libertarian ideals of free-markets, lower taxes, and shrinking the size of the federal government. As their network poured money into recent election cycles, critics assailed it as the “Kochtopus.”
The Koch brothers also funded initiatives that undercut climate science, and both “vehemently opposed the government taking any action on climate change that would hurt their fossil fuel profits,” author Jane Mayer wrote in her book “Dark Money.”
Here’s a look at how the Koch brothers realigned the nation’s politics with their libertarian brand of conservatism.
David Koch ran as the vice-presidential candidate for the Libertarian party in 1980, attacking campaign donation limits and calling for the repeal of laws criminalizing drug use and homosexuality. The loss compelled him to reevaluate his political approach, planting the seeds for the extensive donor network he would help create.
The Koch brothers founded Americans for Prosperity in 2004, now one of the most influential conservative political organizations. It counts more than 700 wealthy donors in its ranks and has chapters in 36 states. Its influence is only rivaled by the Republican Party.
The Koch Brothers were credited with financially aiding the rise of the Tea Party movement, which wrested control of the House for Republicans in the 2010 midterms at the tail end of President Barack Obama’s first term.
The Kochs backed the American Legislative Exchange Council, an organization of conservative state lawmakers and business lobbyists. They’ve drafted “model legislation” that lawmakers have introduced to cut taxes, weaken environmental protections, and promote other conservative ideas. More than 600 of them have become law across the US.
The Kochs have used their network to support academic programs and centers at colleges across the nation that teach conservative economic principles and theories. Its generated controversy from critics who argue it gives conservative organizations too much power in hiring and firing professors and researchers.
Source: Center for Public Integrity
As key players in the fossil fuel industry, the Koch brothers staunchly opposed efforts to fight climate change and have downplayed its risks. After the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United in 2011, the Kochs unleashed a wave of political advertising to elect Republicans who wouldn’t pass new environmental regulations.
Sources: Washington Post, The New York Times
During the 2016 presidential election, the Koch network spent around $750 million, putting it almost on par with the amount spent by the Republican Party. But the Kochs didn’t back Trump, and they’ve been critical of his policies on trade and immigration.
The Kochs ramped up their political efforts during the 2018 midterms, vowing to spend up to $400 million to support conservative candidates . But they lost many of their races and Democrats recaptured the House, exposing limits to their influence.
Source: Center for Responsive Politics.
The Kochs were key supporters of the First Step Act, a bipartisan criminal justice legislation that became law earlier this year. It was aimed at reducing recidism rates among federal prisoners, expanding early-release programs and modifying sentencing laws.
Charles Koch said in a Wall Street Journal interview published Friday he regretted the conservative partisanship he fostered. He shared several lines from his new book.
Boy, did we screw up!” he writes in his new book, “Believe in People: Bottom-Up Solutions for a Top-Down World.” “What a mess!