Daily Archives: October 20, 2010

HuffPo: Justices Scalia And Thomas’s Attendance At Koch Event Sparks Judicial Ethics Debate

Sam Stein
10-20-2010

Reports that two Supreme Court Justices have attended seminars sponsored by the energy giant and conservative bankroller Koch Industries has sparked a mild debate over judicial ethics.

On Tuesday evening, the New York Times reported that an upcoming meeting in Palm Springs of "a secretive network of Republican donors" that was being organized by Koch Industries, "the longtime underwriter of libertarian causes." Buried in the third to last graph was a note that previous guests at such meetings included Supreme Court Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas, two of the more conservative members of the bench.

It's not rare for a Justice to attend a seminar sponsored by a group with judicial or political interests. Members of the court, for instances, often speak at academic institutions or think tanks. Virtually all companies, meanwhile, are affected by the judicial branch. So long as Scalia and Thomas did not participate in overt partisan activities, there would be no apparent conflict of interest.

ThinkProgress: MEMO: Health Insurance, Banking, Oil Industries Met With Koch, Chamber, Glenn Beck To Plot 2010 Election

by Lee Fang

In 2006, Koch Industries owner Charles Koch revealed to the Wall Street Journal’s Stephen Moore that he coordinates the funding of the conservative infrastructure of front groups, political campaigns, think tanks, media outlets and other anti-government efforts through a twice annual meeting of wealthy right-wing donors. He also confided to Moore, who is funded through several of Koch’s ventures, that his true goal is to strengthen the “culture of prosperity” by eliminating “90%” of all laws and government regulations. Although it is difficult to quantify the exact amount Koch alone has funneled to right-wing fronts, some studies have pointed toward $50 million he has given alone to anti-environmental groups. Recently, fronts funded by Charles and his brother David have received scrutiny because they have played a pivotal role in the organizing of the anti-Obama Tea Parties and the promotion of virulent far right lawmakers like Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC). (David Koch praised DeMint and gave him a “Washington Award” shortly after the senator promised to “break” Obama by making health reform his “Waterloo.”)

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CounterPunch: The Koch Empire and Americans for Prosperity

by Pam Martens

Lily Tomlin said it best: “No matter how cynical you become, it's never enough to keep up.” Despite two solid years of progressive media tracking the billionaire Koch brothers’ funding of right wing front groups, new details have emerged which show a more sophisticated and ominous network than previously understood.

One of the key organizations funded by a Koch-controlled foundation is Americans for Prosperity (AFP).  While it has been widely documented and publicized that the group is orchestrating the Tea Party, AFP is also a veritable smorgasbord of other “grassroots” personalities.  The AFP or the AFP Foundation have  spawned the following identities: 

DefendingtheDream.org (August 27-28 D.C. summit for right wing strategizing and rally);

SayNoCapandTrade.org (kill tax on production of greenhouse gases);

NoInternetTakeover.com (attacks on the Federal Communications Commission);

SickofSpending.com (“…how to recruit, educate, organize, and mobilize fed up Americans to stop the radical left-wing agenda…”);

RegulationReality.com (“…educate citizens about the EPA’s attempt to implement radical global warming regulations…”);

NovemberIsComing.com (phone bank; go door to door to beat back those liberals);

TaxCutsForAll.com (don’t raise taxes on the rich);

SpendingCrisis.org (shrink the Federal government);

CaliforniaSoS.com (cut spending in California);

United4NoOn4.com (kill Amendment 4 in Florida that would give voters more say in local legislative decisions; an ironic position for people who say they want to promote more liberty).

Americans for Prosperity also created PatientsUnitedNow.com and orchestrated hundreds of rallies to help kill the public option in health care reform.

Americans for Prosperity now has chapters in 30 states, including those with the largest number of voters.  As part of the focus on state level efforts, key right wing foundations are funding another nonprofit, the State Policy Network, which says it has free market think tanks in every state. The work of most of the groups is to push for privatization of public services and public schools. The State Policy Network is fueling a new, rapidly growing  movement: right wing funded groups posing as independent investigative media outlets. So far, there is West Virginia Watchdog, Old Dominion Watchdog in Virginia, Texas Watchdog, Illinois Statehouse News, Missouri News Horizon, Capital Report New Mexico, Idaho Reporter, the Commonwealth Foundation’s Pennsylvania Independent, TNReport of Tennessee, the Pelican Institute’s Capital Reporter in Louisiana, Pacific Research Institute’s Cal Watch Dog in California, Idaho Freedom Foundation’s Idaho Reporter, the Cowboy State Free Press in Wyoming, and others in various stages of getting up and running.

Doing the recruiting for investigative reporters for a number of these right wing news sites is Claire Kittle, the former Program Officer for Leadership and Talent Development at the Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation.  The State Policy Network publishes strategic planning articles on how these newly anointed investigative reporters can network with each other and get stories they pen to dominate the internet and be picked up by mainstream media.

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NYTimes: Secretive Republican Donors Are Planning Ahead

Kate Zernik
Oct. 19, 2010

A secretive network of Republican donors is heading to the Palm Springs area for a long weekend in January, but it will not be to relax after a hard-fought election — it will be to plan for the next one.

Koch Industries, the longtime underwriter of libertarian causes from the Cato Institute in Washington to the ballot initiative that would suspend California’s landmark law capping greenhouse gases, is planning a confidential meeting at the Rancho Las Palmas Resort and Spa to, as an invitation says, “develop strategies to counter the most severe threats facing our free society and outline a vision of how we can foster a renewal of American free enterprise and prosperity.”

The invitation, sent to potential new participants, offers a rare peek at the Koch network of the ultrawealthy and the politically well-connected, its far-reaching agenda to enlist ordinary Americans to its cause, and its desire for the utmost secrecy.

Koch Industries, a Wichita-based energy and manufacturing conglomerate run by the billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch, operates a foundation that finances political advocacy groups, but tax law protects those groups from having to disclose much about what they do and who contributes.

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