Profiled by Jane Mayer in the August 30 New Yorker, brothers Charles and David Koch are two libertarian billionaires who have been quietly funding the Tea Party and other anti-Obama campaigns:
“The Kochs operate oil refineries in Alaska, Texas, and Minnesota, and control some four thousand miles of pipeline. Koch Industries owns Brawny paper towels, Dixie cups, Georgia-Pacific lumber, Stainmaster carpet, and Lycra, among other products. Forbes ranks it as the second-largest private company in the country, after Cargill, and its consistent profitability has made David and Charles Koch—who, years ago, bought out two other brothers—among the richest men in America. Their combined fortune of thirty-five billion dollars is exceeded only by those of Bill Gates and Warren Buffett.
“The Kochs are longtime libertarians who believe in drastically lower personal and corporate taxes, minimal social services for the needy, and much less oversight of industry—especially environmental regulation. These views dovetail with the brothers’ corporate interests. In a study released this spring, the University of Massachusetts at Amherst’s Political Economy Research Institute named Koch Industries one of the top ten air polluters in the United States. And Greenpeace issued a report identifying the company as a ‘kingpin of climate science denial.’ The report showed that, from 2005 to 2008, the Kochs vastly outdid ExxonMobil in giving money to organizations fighting legislation related to climate change, underwriting a huge network of foundations, think tanks, and political front groups. Indeed, the brothers have funded opposition campaigns against so many Obama Administration policies—from health-care reform to the economic-stimulus program—that, in political circles, their ideological network is known as the Kochtopus.”
Mayer has also written critically of leftist financier George Soros and is generally troubled with the implications of large personal fortunes being injected into the political process. She draws a contrast, however, between Soros’s high public profile and relative transparency, and the characteristic secrecy in which the Kochs have funded political movements that directly support their own business interests. “They’re smart,” she quotes a former Koch advisor, “This right-wing, redneck stuff works for them. They see this as a way to get things done without getting dirty themselves.”
[More at The New Yorker]