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The Koch Brothers and Darrell Issa

by: Lucas O'Connor

Fri Jan 28, 2011 at 22:02:39 PM PST

This weekend, Rancho Mirage will play host to what's often called the "Billionaire's Caucus," a regular top secret meeting hosted by the Koch Brothers, at which the wealthiest of the wealthy -- together with right wing media personalities, lawmakers, and even judges -- gather to plot their national political agenda. The meeting has taken on even greater importance in the wake of the Supreme Court’s 2009 Citizens United decision, which effectively opened the door to unlimited corporate influence on U.S. elections.
Lucas O'Connor :: The Koch Brothers and Darrell Issa
Trying to list all the beneficiaries of the Kochs and their rich friends would be a daunting task. Suffice it to say, they are the wallet for just about every right wing cause you can think of — from tea party candidates and ballot measures like California’s pro-pollution Prop 23, to right wing think tanks like the Cato Institute and astro-turf front groups like Freedomworks and Americans for Prosperity.

One of the country’s worst polluters — with business interests in everything from healthcare to the derivatives trading that helped push our economy off a cliff, the Koch brothers have spread hundreds of millions of dollars to protect their narrow ideological and financial interests over the years -- ensuring that the agenda of billionaires is inserted at every level of our government and political discourse, and often at the expense of the middle class. No one has worked harder to kill Wall Street Reform, Healthcare Reform, or Energy Reform than the Kochs.

This is the meeting where the Kochs and their allies come together to refine their strategy; The billionaires prepare the agenda, which is packaged by the right-wing media echo chamber to sow fear and anxiety amongst unwitting foot soldiers who provide “grassroots cover” for right wing lawmakers as they push policies that undermine the middle class in DC.

It’s a sophisticated shell game that the Kochs and their allies are playing — steeped in secrecy, profit motive and ideological extremism -- as described in a profile written by Jane Mayer of New Yorker MagazinePast attendees at Koch sponsored events include Glenn Beck, and Supreme Court Justices Thomas and Scalia. This weekend’s junket will also be attended by newly minted House Majority Leader Eric Cantor. Ultimately, the tentacles of the 'Kochtopus' stretch out in all directions from this meeting.

And its hardly a stretch to think that Darrell Issa will be an important part of their future plans.

In just the past five years, the Koch network has spent nearly $44 million lobbying Congress on oil & gas issues. High-polluting industry is their primary business, and it's obviously proven to be exceptionally profitable. Unsurprisingly, they're in no hurry to give up that profitability or the influence it's afforded them. This week we've also learned that concern over stronger EPA regulations on pollution have dominated feedback from industry representatives to Darrell Issa's letter requesting suggestions of regulations to repeal.

And according to the Center on Responsive Politics, the Koch network has sunk at least $200,000 into the Oversight Committee. More than 87% has gone to committee Republicans, including more than $100,000 in support of Republicans currently on the committee. The list includes Chairman Issa and five subcommittee chairs (starred):

Rep. Darrell E. Issa (CA-49) - $12,500
Rep. John L. Mica (FL-07) - $7,500
Rep. Patrick T. McHenry* (NC-10) - $2,500
Rep. Jason Chaffetz* (UT-03) - $2,500
Rep. Connie Mack (FL-14) - $15,000
Rep. Tim Walberg (MI-7) - $20,000
Rep. James Lankford* (OK-5) - $10,000
Rep. Ann Marie Buerkle (NY-25) - $250
Rep. Pat Meehan (PA-7) - $7,500
Rep. Trey Gowdy* (SC-4) - $7,500
Rep. Frank Guinta (NH-1) - $5,000
Rep. Dennis Ross* (FL-12) - $10,000
Rep. Mike Kelly (PA-3) - $2,500

Issa's personally amassed a fortune of hundreds of millions of dollars, so he fits right in with the Kochs and the other big-money heavy hitters in the same orbit. His connections to these industries are nothing new, just like he's no stranger to the vast influence of the Koch brothers. Nor is his antipathy towards the EPA and climate science a recent development.

The web of financial support from the Right's heaviest hitters weaves all through Issa's personal career and the key members of his committee. All those heavy hitters are gathering this weekend to plan their strategy, and we can reasonably expect that Issa will be an important piece. Where an independent watchdog might be focused on investigating the deep influence of this unlimited money on our government and the policies that have created an ever shrinking middle class, Issa has taken the opposite tack. He's already thrown open the doors of the committee to allow many of the folks heading to Rancho Mirage the chance to rewrite their own rules. This weekend, they'll be working out what to do with the access.

Unlike past years however, this weekend a counter-protest is planned for the Kochs' event, as is a national campaign to expose their broad reach, nefarious tactics, and destructive impact on the middle class. You can read more about that here.
(I work on the IssaWatch project at the Courage Campaign) 
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The opposite of Alexander Hamilton, these guys (0.00 / 0)
I've had a huge crush on Alexander Hamilton ever since Ron Chernow's bio.  He wasn't perfect, but - manumission, pro bono legal work, a naive belief in the honor and civic-mindedness of the business class - he was adorable.  Who knew?

Issa and these Koch brothers function as predators, pure and simple.  

I'm union staff, but not a spokesperson for my union - all posts represent my views solely.

Issa and Koch (3.00 / 1)
I draw a distinction between Issa and the Koch brothers.  I believe (can be persuaded otherwise) that Issa is an ideologue and will conduct hearings for the purpose of culling out the wasteful, corrupt and socialistic elements of the federal government.  If, in the process, he can make Obama look bad for the coming election, all the better.

I think the Koch brothers are all about the money.  If they could find a way to make a buck supporting Bhuddist monks, they would do it in a heartbeat.  They will sing from the same hymnal as Issa (and Beck and Scalia and...) but only if it fattens their wallets.

Huh? (0.00 / 0)
The Kochs are an integral part of a small cadre of billionaires who have funded the conservative infrastructure that seeks to turn the clock back to the 19th century, eliminating all of the good government reforms, and piratizing everything from infrastrucure to regulation.

Their radical philosophy is about the money, but it's also about eliminating everything that stands in the way of corporate greed and particularly their own private corporations.

And Issa is scum, not just an ideologue, but a dangerously rich ideologue whose hubris overwhelms any shred of morality he might have demonstrated.

He has about as much respect for small d democracy as Mubaruk.

OC Progressive is Gus Ayer, former Fountain Valley Council member.  

[ Parent ]
Koch and Issa (0.00 / 0)
I agree with your first 2 paragraphs (although slightly over ripe).  For Koch, its all about the money.  For Issa, there is some idealism (just not my ideals).

[ Parent ]
Have you seen Issa's letter to corporations? (0.00 / 0)
The one where he asks them which regulations they'd like him to "investigate"--in other words, get rid of? The only ideal Issa stands for is that rich people are always right. He lied, stole, and anything else he could do to become one. He did it because he knew that folks at the top win more than the rest of us. And he aims to perpetuate that. No doubt about it.

The Koch brothers certainly care about the almighty dollar too. They've done their best to knock out any regulations that might hurt their bottom line--no matter how many people their money-making hurts. So they're with Issa there. But they are the true ideologues, spending literally billions to elect candidates who see the world their way, and providing the majority of funding for right-wing think tanks. Spending on lobbying and electing public officials has been shown to bring a return of about 500%. But they've spent on other things that won't bring any return that I can see. They're the true believers.

Issa is just a toady snake.

[ Parent ]
Thoughts of the regulated (5.00 / 1)
In his letter to corporations, Issa asked which regulations they'd like him to investigate.  Do you think it is unreasonable to ask the regulated what they think of the regulations?  Can we be certain that each regulation that exists is appropriate?  

Let's look at truckers.  They have an array of regulations that cover things from safety to pollution to size and weight.  I don't know of any regulation in the trucking industry that is inappropriate.  However, I think its possible that there are new technologies that might make old regulations obsolete or new conditions that make prior thinking about some regulations outdated.  And, yes.  It is possible that the cost of some regulations far outweigh their benefit to anyone.

Why is it wrong to ask the trucking industry which regulations concern them.  If they come back and say, "all of them...get rid of all regulation", they won't be taken very seriously.  But I think it is just as unreasonable to say "YOU! Trucking industry.  Here are your regulations.  Shut up and like them." (which, btw, is not what you are saying)

I just don't think that inviting dialog is evidence of being a toady snake.  

[ Parent ]
If that were what Issa were doing (0.00 / 0)
that might be fine.  

But what he's actually doing is collecting a list of things that he can use as a pretense to drag Democratic-appointed administration officials (to the extent the Republicans in the Senate didn't jam them up with secret holds or filibusters) into hearings so he can say: "These GLORIOUS CAPTAINS OF INDUSTRY, who provide JOBS TO THE AMERICAN PEOPLE IN THEIR MAGNANIMITY are telling me that they're VERY CONCERNED that you SOCIALIST BUREAUCRATS are imposing UNREASONABLE JOB-KILLING REGULATION on them.  And did I mention that you're a JOB-KILLING BUREAUCRAT?"

[ Parent ]
You're right (0.00 / 0)
And, if I thought that's what he was doing--eliminating overlapping regulations, updating them for new technologies, etc.--I wouldn't mind at all. But I saw the text of the letter, and that's not what it said. Plus I know Issa's history and don't believe that's what he's doing. I would be happy to be proven wrong. I'm just afraid I won't be.

[ Parent ]
Got a link to the letter? (0.00 / 0)
Could you please post either the letter text or a link to it.  I can find comments about what the letter said but not the actual text.  Does it have the phrase "investigate" as you state above?  That would be very telling if so.  Thanks.

[ Parent ]
Google Issa letter to business (0.00 / 0)
You'll find a bunch. This is the best one I found out of the first half dozen or so: http://firstread.msnbc.msn.com...

[ Parent ]
Oh, yeah, Issa is TOTALLY starting a productive dialogue (0.00 / 0)
[ Parent ]
Kochs (0.00 / 0)
Hey boys ! Too bad about Prop 23
I guess you boys lost, huh ?
Just like eMeg
HA ! HA !!

As far as the right wing agenda, it would be Meaningless,,
If we had a strong leader in the White House
Obama is a mouse who managed to save the Wall Street banks but not homeowners facing foreclosure
Maybe if everybody contributed to a backbone implant for Obama...

The reason that the right wing agendas goes places is that DEMOCRATS keep electing 'business friendly' or 'Centrist' Democrats
I was fooled by Obama, but that's my fault
Oh !! And thanks for NAFTA, Mr Clinton
I Love all those 'High paying new jobs' you promised

Billionaires often become disconent with merely being rich. (0.00 / 0)
After that they want to be sovereign. Wealth offers a great deal of personal freedom to an individual. But freedom and sovereignty are not the same thing.

Today's financial aristocrats guard the profitability of their investments just as vigorously as medieval barons defended the borders of their estates. We now have a representative government, a judicial system, and an elected president. But political power still resides with the wealthy.

They still compete with each other for wealth, they still cooperate with each other to control the rabble. They still subject themselves to the rule of the "king", but only to prevent all-out war among themselves. They never surrender their sovereignty.

Today aristocrats are sovereign to the extent that they can use wealth to create power, and use power to create wealth.

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