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The 4 Billionaire 'Vultures' Trying to Pick Our Next President

Stealing oil from Indian reservations, cheating dying workers out of compensation for asbestos-exposure claims, voter-roll purging -- just some of the work of these kingmakers.

This article is an original investigation by The image used to illustrate this story is from a deck of cards created by author Greg Palast with Bob Grossman. View the full card here.

Hedge fund magnate Paul Singer likes to breakfast on decayed carcasses. What he chews down is sickening, but just as nausea-inducing are his new tablemates: billionaires Ken Langone and the Koch brothers, Charles and David.

Singer has called together the billionaire boys' club for the purpose of picking our next president for us. The old-fashioned way of choosing presidents -- democracy and counting ballots and all that - has never been a favorite of this pack. I can tell you that from my investigations of each of these gentlemen for The Guardian. When the Statue of Liberty has nightmares, she dreams that these guys will combine to seize America via a cash-and-carry coup d'état.

Welcome to the nightmare. Singer, Langone and the Kochs last month decided to elect Chris Christie for us. The New Jersey governor's pseudocampaign went belly up before it began. But that's beside the point. Now that the Supreme Court has effectively ended campaign finance limits and allowed secretive contributions through "corporations," this new combine of the ultrawealthy should not be viewed as just a political threat to the Democrats, but as a threat to democracy.

Let me give you a rundown from my sulphur-scented files on these men who would be king-makers.

Billionaire 1: Ken Langone

Langone likes to be known as the founder of Home Depot, just your local tool guy in a blue apron with a little bag of screws. 

But he was also the man, with his right-wing partners, behind Database Technologies. It was in my first investigation of Langone in 2000 that I discovered that DBT had created a list of several thousand "felons" - most of them black, all of them innocent, all of them purged from Florida's voter rolls by DBT's client, Katherine Harris. And Langone's company knew exactly what was going on.

What qualifies Langone to pick our president?  In his own words: "I'm nuts; I'm rich."

Billionaires 2 and 3: David and Charles Koch

You think you've read all about the billionaire brothers.  Well, there's more:

In 1996, an FBI agent, Richard Elroy, told my team that oil had been pilfered from the Osage Indian reservation in Oklahoma. He and other G-men filmed the filch-theft, say witnesses, personally ordered by Charles Koch. A few barrels here, a few barrels there. 

It all added up: to about a billion and a half dollars in looted petroleum, says one expert, a third of the Koch fortune at the time. David and Charles shared in the booty via their private company, Koch Industries.

Billionaire 4: Paul Singer

Now we get to the carrion king, Paul Singer, known as Singer The Vulture. I didn't give him the moniker. The name Vulture was tagged on him and his speculator colleagues by the prime minister of Britain and the World Bank. Recently, former United Nations envoy Winston Tubman suggested I ask Singer or his business associates, "Do you know you're causing babies to die?"

What does this guy do -- put poison in kiddies' milk? Worse: he takes away the milk.

Singer's modus operandi is to find some forgotten tiny debt owed by a very poor nation (Peru and Congo were on his menu). He waits for the United States and European taxpayers to forgive the poor nations' debts, then waits at bit longer for offers of food aid, medicine and investment loans. Then Singer pounces, legally grabbing at every resource and all the money going to the desperate country. Trade stops, funds freeze and an entire economy is effectively held hostage.

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