Billionaire David Koch works on Madison Avenue in New York City. He doesn’t live or work in Wisconsin, and as far as I know, he’s never come here to meet the people.
But his company, Koch Industries, has major business interests in Wisconsin, including Georgia-Pacific Corporation and Koch Pipeline. David Koch has given Wisconsin’s Scott Walker a lot of money in recent years. He and his brother Charles helped Walker win his 2010 gubernatorial election. Their Koch Industries PAC donated $43,000 to Walker’s campaign and $1 million to the Republican Governors Association. The RGA spent $65,000 supporting Walker, and $3.4 million on attack ads against his opponent, Tom Barrett. Their PAC also helped 16 Wisconsin Republican state legislative candidates win their races.
In other words, David Koch bears a great responsibility for the current state of our state.
And Koch has no plans to stop the flow of money to Walker. He recently told Stacey Singer of the Palm Beach Post, “We’ve spent a lot of money in Wisconsin. We’re going to spend more.” He says, “What Walker is doing with the public unions in Wisconsin is critically important. He’s an impressive guy and he’s very courageous. If the unions win the recall, there will be no stopping union power.”
Singer writes, “but as Koch speaks, he repeatedly uses the phrase ‘union power’ as though it’s interchangeable with the word Bolshevik – a new red scare for a new century.” She notes his father, Fred Koch, “was obsessed with stopping the Bolsheviks.” To him, “trade unionism and the welfare state represented a creeping, insidious move toward the Bolsheviks”
So David Koch sees the people of Wisconsin not like this…
but like this…
Is David Koch using the “Red Scare” as the basis for his decision to fund Scott Walker’s reign of terror on Wisconsin?
A little history. In 1991, David Koch survived a plane crash in which everyone sitting around him in First Class died. A year later, he was diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer. Those life altering events transformed David Koch, turning him into one of the most generous philanthropists in America. As he told Gary Weiss of Portfolio.com, “When you’re the only one who survived in the front of the plane and everyone else died — yeah, you think, My God, the good Lord spared me for some greater purpose…My joke is that I’ve been busy ever since, doing all the good works I can think of so he can have confidence in me.”
So what is that “greater purpose” for which the good Lord spared David Koch?
Koch told Weiss, “I’d like to be known in the future as someone who’s not just a wealthy, successful businessman, but someone who really cared about the well-being of others – did his darnedest to be charitable and help others.” He said this in 1998. I wonder now if he’d also like to be remembered for his role in busting unions in Wisconsin.
To prove just how much he cares about others, Koch started giving away his money; he went on a “philanthropic spending spree” that harkens back to the gilded age of Carnegie, Rockefeller and Vanderbilt. He donated $100 million to the New York State Theater at Lincoln Center. It’s now named the David H. Koch Theater. (He basically bought the New York City Ballet.) He gave $125 million to the MIT Center for Cancer Research, now named the David H. Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research. He also built the MIT Koch Biology Building. And the David H. Koch School of Chemical Engineering Practice. He gave $15 million to the Smithsonian to build the David H. Koch Hall of Human Origins. I’m not kidding — that’s the name. He donated $20 million to establish the David H. Koch Dinosaur Wing at the American Museum of Natural History. The Palm Beach Post writes that according to his foundation, he has “pledged gifts totaling more than $750 million for cancer research, the arts and cultural institutions.”
And, in an effort to ensure his extreme political ideology is imposed on the masses, David Koch, along with his brother Charles, has been funding a number of rightwing organizations, including Americans for Prosperity Foundation, the Heritage Foundation, the Cato Institute and the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). It was ALEC that brought the Voter ID bill to Wisconsin (otherwise known as the Voter Suppression bill), thus assuring that the GOP will have an upper hand in the next election as thousands, if not tens of thousands, of voters will face hurdles in going to the polls — at least the ones who typically vote for Democrats: minorities, college students and poor people. According to PolitiFact, Wisconsin’s voter ID law is among the most restrictive in the country.
A rightwing propaganda outfit with ties to Koch, calling itself a ‘think tank’, has even setup shop across the street from the Wisconsin State Capitol. The MacIver Institute was targeted during a recent national day of protest for its ties to ALEC. Arthur Kohl-Riggs of Shit Scott Walker Is Doing To My State caught up with Brian Fraley, the Communications Director of MacIver, and questioned him about the funds the Institute receives from the Bradley Foundation, which is also a major ALEC supporter. MacIver is currently partnered with Americans For Prosperity in producing the Walker PR blitz called “It’s Working!” Both organizations came under fire last week when the Wisconsin Democratic Party filed complaints against them with the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board and the IRS for violating rules against 501(c)(3) organizations directly campaigning for candidates.
Mike Tate, Chairman of the Wisconsin Democratic Party called both organizations a “farce,” stating, “This designation allows an organization to accept tax-deductible contributions and further provides that they are not required to disclose their donors, nor are they required to report their spending until after an election has taken place.”
He went on to say: “But to maintain this status, a 501(c)(3) is prohibited from engaging in ‘activities which constitute participation or intervention in a political campaign on behalf of or in opposition to a candidate.’”
So what have David Koch’s money combined with Scott Walker’s policies done for the state of Wisconsin? They’ve put Wisconsin at the bottom of the country for job growth, attacked workers’ rights, slashed the purchasing power of middle class and poor families, cut nearly $1.6 billion from Wisconsin’s public schools, kicked 65,000 people off their healthcare (including 30,000 children), loosened environmental regulations, disenfranchised voters, violated citizens’ First Amendment rights, rolled back women’s rights, taken away the guarantee of clean drinking water and favored corporate profits over the needs of people.
Again, David Koch bears a great responsibility for the current state of our state.
I just returned from a short trip to New York City. While there, I visited David Koch’s Madison Avenue neighborhood.
At the entrance to Koch’s office building at 667 Madison Avenue, there’s a large replica of the Statue of Liberty. “Liberty Enlightening the World” is her official name. She is considered a universal symbol of freedom and democracy. David Koch walks past one of our country’s most notable symbols of democracy every day as he enters his office…
…but Lady Liberty’s message is lost on him.
It’s not lost on the people of Wisconsin.
Koch wants to be remembered someday as “someone who really cared about the well-being of others – did his darnedest to be charitable and help others.”
If that’s the case, then he’d better get busy in my home state.
Because right now, a lot of people are suffering…
…in large part because of David Koch.