Koch Operative Steered $55 Million to Front Groups Airing Ads Against Democrats; Ads Assailed Candidates Over Abortion, 9/11, Medicare
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– Though most Center-funded groups focused on federal elections, one group, Protect Your Vote Inc., which received $100,000, was set up to undermine efforts to draw fair congressional districts in Florida.
– The Fund also provided grants to a number of Tea Party advocacy groups, including the Tea Party Patriots, the Institute for Liberty, and Americans for Prosperity.
In all, Koch operative Sean Noble channeled grants to two dozen 501(c)4 nonprofits. As Stephen Colbert has covered, 501(c)4 nonprofits, which he refers to as " Spooky PACs," can act like superPACs — raising and spending unlimited corporate, union and individual contributions — but do not have to disclose a dime in terms of where the money is coming from.
The disclosure of Noble's outfit is the biggest window we've seen recently into who purchased the current composition of Congress two years ago. Before this disclosure, the Koch network could only be tied to a few disclosed donations during the 2010 election: about $30-45 million reportedly raised by Americans for Prosperity, the attack-ad sponsoring Tea Party front founded by David Koch, over $2 million in contributions to political action committees through Koch PAC, and $1,050,450 in donations to the Republican Governors Association. The Center's $55 million grant budget, raised possibly in connection to the Koch fundraisers — one of which Sean Noble and some of the wealthiest Republican billionaires in the country attended only months before the midterm elections — certainly raises the stakes in terms of calculating how much the current Republican Congress owe their current political fortunes to the Koch machine. From cutting the EPA to passing bills to undermine the Clean Air Act, Congress has handsomely rewarded the business interests of Koch Industries.
As I reported for ThinkProgress last year, David Koch visited Capitol Hill as Republican freshman were being sworn into Congress. He was a guest in the Speaker's office on John Boehner's first day on the job. I ran into him on his way out of the Capitol. Koch grinned as he told me that the Tea Party is composed of "just normal people like us." A few moments later, I asked if the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision had helped him with electing the new Congress. He cringed at the question, picked up his cell phone, and walked away.
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Lee Fang is an investigative journalist with the Republic Report.