Posted by AzBlueMeanie:
The New York Times editorialized on Sunday that the Republican Party has been displaced by the secretive "dark money" web of "Kochtopus" organizations, and is now the Koch Party. Maybe it's time for truth in advertising? The Koch Party:
Only a few weeks into this midterm election year, the right-wing political zeppelin is fully inflated with secret cash and is firing malicious falsehoods at supporters of health care reform.
As Carl Hulse of The Times reported recently, Democrats have been staggered by a $20 million advertising blitz produced by Americans for Prosperity, the conservative advocacy group organized and financed by the Koch brothers, billionaire industrialists. The ads take aim at House and Senate candidates for re-election who have supported the health law, and blame them for the hyped-up problems with the law’s rollout that now seem to be the sole plank in this year’s Republican platform.
* * *
Democrats intend to counter this campaign with the facts, but few of the candidates have the money to do so now. As a result, the campaign is taking a serious political toll, increasing the chances that Republicans who support a repeal of the law will win back the Senate majority this fall.
Naturally, Democrats are using the campaign to increase their own fund-raising, begging donors to give unlimited amounts to left-leaning super PACs and advocacy groups. But it is unlikely that they will be able to match the resources or the cunning of the Kochs, who are using vast pools of money earned through corporate revenues to build a network unrivaled in complexity and secrecy. This weekend, they are bringing together some of the biggest Republican bank accounts at a resort in Palm Springs, Calif., to collect money and plan this year’s strategy.
As Politico described it (Koch World 2014") on Friday, they have already set up an operation so sophisticated it rivals “even the official Republican Party in its ability to shape policy debates and elections.” Its components include a political consulting firm to recruit, train and support like-minded antigovernment candidates, which will be active in the congressional primaries. There is also a center that provides technology and administrative services to right-wing groups and candidates, an office that compiles and analyzes voter data and a youth advocacy group.
In 2012, as The Washington Post reported, the Koch network raised $407 million, which was secreted among 17 groups with cryptic names and purposes that were designed to make it impossible to figure out the names of donors the Kochs worked with. As one tax expert told The Post, “it’s designed to make it opaque as to where the money is coming from and where the money is going.”
The clandestine influence of the Kochs and their Palm Springs friends would be much reduced if they were forced to play in the sunshine.
The Internal Revenue Service and several lawmakers are beginning to step up their interest in preventing “social welfare” organizations and other tax-sheltered groups from being used as political conduits, but they have encountered the usual resistance from Republican lawmakers. Considering how effectively the Koch brothers are doing their job, it’s easy to see why.
The Desert Sun of Palm Springs reported, Koch brothers expected to hold desert conference:
Following a tradition started in 2003, conservative billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch are expected to hold a desert conference this weekend that brings together some of the Republican Party’s most influential and deep-pocketed donors.
Representatives of the Wichita, Kan.-based Koch Industries did not respond to repeated Desert Sun requests for details, however sources familiar with the conference told Politico that the conference will take place and is expected to last three days.
* * *
The Kochs tend to buy out a Coachella Valley hotel during the last weekend of January for invitation-only summits that have attracted philanthropists, business leaders, presidential contenders and even U.S. Supreme Court justices.
Their latest hotel of choice — the Renaissance Esmeralda in Indian Wells — has no available rooms for this weekend.
* * *
The Kochs’ gatherings have increasingly attracted scrutiny, as a growing number of liberal groups and campaign finance watchdogs questioned the way a few wealthy donors can influence campaigns.“It’s not that they have meetings that is concerning. It’s more that they’re shrouding all of their funding efforts in such secrecy,” said Melanie Sloan, executive director for the nonprofit Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington.
Protestors are on the scene at the Renaissance Esmeralda, met by police in riot gear.
h/t Crystal Chatham, The Desert Sun
UPDATE: The Rachel Maddow Show delivered a devastating critique of the "Kochtopus" dark money groups undermining our democracy in this segment on Monday night: