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5 Signs that Romney is Koch Brothers' Lackey

It was hardly love at first sight. But once the Koch brothers threw in behind Mitt Romney, they brought the full force of their political machine, perhaps for a price.
 
 
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Photo Credit: A.M. Stan

 

In the beginning, way back during the GOP presidential primary, Charles and David Koch, the billionaire funders of the Republican right, didn’t seem all that keen on Willard Mitt Romney as he made his bid for the party’s presidential nomination. But now they’re all in behind the Mittster, as evidenced by, as AlterNet reported, the vaguely threatening letter Koch Industries sent to its U.S. employees and retirees, auguring bad things if the wrong guy happened to get (re)elected.

But this was not love at first sight. First, there was that troublesome Massachusetts healthcare program (you know, the one with the individual mandate?) that bore Romney’s signature. Then there was his inability to move the very base the Koch brothers had built through Americans for Prosperity and its foundation, the astroturfing organizations founded by the brothers, who own Koch Industries, the second-largest privately held corporation in the United States.

It hasn’t even been a year since Romney addressed an Americans for Prosperity Foundation conference in Washington, DC, and was received with faint applause by a crowd that went wild for pizza magnate Herman Cain. But ‘round about April, something changed. Rick Santorum, the former U.S. senator with interesting ideas about human sexuality, was making life difficult for Romney by showing a knack for winning primaries despite a lack of money and general weirdness.

Romney’s chances for winning the primary in the Midwest Province of Kochistan -- otherwise known as Wisconsin -- were looking iffy. At that point, it seems, the Kochs apparently decided they’d better get behind a candidate who might actually have a shot at beating President Barack Obama. After all, by helping Cain stay in the race as long as they had, via his frequent speaking gigs at Americans for Prosperity events and a campaign staff drawn from AFP’s Wisconsin chapter, they had successfully pushed Romney to adopt an anti-tax position the Kochs found palatable. So, at last, Romney found the Koch love he so desperately needed.

Here are five indications that Romney is now a wholly owned subsidiary of the Koch brothers’ political enterprises.

1. Papering Koch Industries employees with voter guides and dark predictions. Earlier this month, Koch Industries president and CEO Dave Robertson sent a letter to employees and retirees of Koch Industries urging them to vote with the following scary observation:

If we elect candidates who want to spend hundreds of billions in borrowed money on costly new subsidies for a few favored cronies, put unprecedented regulatory burdens on businesses, prevent or delay important new construction projects and excessively hinder free trade, then many of our 50,000 U.S. employees and contractors may suffer the consequences, including higher gasoline prices, runaway inflation and other ills.

Hmm...wonder who they mean to be maligning right there. Robertson’s missive is actually a cover letter for a packet of materials that helpfully includes a list of candidates running in the recipient’s state who are endorsed by Koch Industries. All are Republicans, and Mitt Romney tops the list.

Also included in the packet is an op-ed penned by David Koch, a handful of essays by Charles Koch from the company publication, Discovery, and an article from the right-wing Investors Business Daily.

To view the Koch voter guide for its Virginia employees and retirees, as well as Robertson’s letter, click here.

2. Wisconsin primary endorsements from the Koch machine. In the weeks leading up to the Wisconsin primary, things were looking bleak for Mitt Romney. Wisconsin’s right-wingers, it seemed, really, really liked Rick Santorum, but the Kochs were apparently not so enthusiastic about the Pennsylvania senator best known for the phrase “man on dog.” And then Romney experienced a change in fortunes, thanks to the endorsements of a string of Wisconsin politicians whose careers were nurtured by the Wisconsin chapter of Americans for Prosperity. Of all of the institutions he and his brother have funded in the “public policy arena,” David Koch said at an AFP gathering during the Republican National Convention, “the institution I feel the most closely attached to, and the most proud of, is Americans for Prosperity.”

Most prominent among the group of Koch-approved Wisconsin pols who found a sudden love for Romney was Rep. Paul Ryan, who is now Romney’s running mate. In the final days of the Wisconsin primary, Romney was hardly ever seen without Ryan by his side. In the end, Romney won Wisconsin by a mere 4 points, despite outspending Santorum by four-to-one, effectively ending Santorum’s bid for the nomination. Had Romney not had the endorsements of the AFP crowd, he may have lost Wisconsin to Santorum.

3. The $50,000-a-head Romney fundraiser at David Koch’s summer home. After he locked up the Republican nomination with the help of AFP, Romney enjoyed the hospitality of David Koch at the multibillionaire’s weekend home in Southampton, NY, where the smart set summers. According to a report in the New York Post, Koch introduced Romney with a riff on Greece’s debt problem, with the suggestion that things in America were headed in that direction.

During the fundraiser, MoveOn.org hosted a lively party outside the gates of the Koch estate, and commissioned a small plane to fly overhead bearing a banner that read, “Romney Has a Koch Problem.”

Inside the gates, the Post reported, Romney told the assembled moguls: “I understand there is a plane out there saying Mitt Romney has ‘a Koch problem.’ I don’t look at it as a problem; I look at it as an asset.”

 
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