Why did Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker take a call from 'David Koch'?
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker thought he was having a friendly chat with David Koch, a billionaire industrialist and major funder of conservative causes. It turned out to be a liberal prankster.
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Wichita, Kan.-based Koch Industries, with estimated revenues of $100 billion, is one of the largest privately-held corporations in the United States, with major involvement in energy-related businesses, including the refining and distribution of petroleum products, chemicals, and fertilizers. One of its subsidiaries is the Georgia-Pacific pulp and paper company. The company was founded in 1925 by Fred Koch, father of George and David.Skip to next paragraph
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In recent years, their political targets have been the cap-and-trade climate bill, the health-care reform act, and the economic stimulus package.
Company officials have had to fend off suggestions that Koch might benefit from a provision in Walker’s budget bill that would allow the governor to sell off publicly-owned power plants in Wisconsin without first soliciting bids.
“The power plant assertion is one more example of many baseless falsehoods and speculation made by a vested interest that gets picked up and repeated over and over in the media,” said Philip Ellender, president of government and public affairs for Koch Cos. Public Sector LLC, in a statement.
While “only the Kochs know precisely how much they have spent on politics,” according to a lengthy report in New Yorker magazine last summer, tax records show that various Koch entities have made more than $200 million in political donations over the years, most of it to Republicans.
The Kochs behind-the scenes political efforts include regular gatherings with like-minded influential organizations and individuals.
“The Kochs and their firm are the central figures in an informal alliance of business executives, conservative theorists, and government officials who for several years have met twice annually to strategize over how best to advance an ambitious libertarian agenda,” according to the nonpartisan advocacy group Common Cause. “They favor dramatically lower personal and corporate income taxes, less government oversight of industry, particularly environmental regulations, and minimal public assistance for the needy.”
In January, Common Cause (which is generally aligned with liberal causes) asked the Justice Department to investigate whether the two justices should have recused themselves from consideration of a major campaign finance reform case last year, the Citizens United decision, which lifted the ban on corporate spending in elections.