Make no mistake about it. The Koch brothers, now reduced by one by the death of David Koch in 2019, have poured billions of dollars into the destruction of our government. Their actions, documented by many sharp-eyed investigative journalists, have been ongoing for decades. And they have recruited other deep pocketed corporate donors into the same cause.
This chart from 2012 shows the maze of money and groups used to channel their influence:
It is mind numbing to track all the political activities of this family. An entire Wikipedia page lays out the details and history.
The Kochs and Voting Rights
It has been noted repeatedly that the various “voting rights” laws that are being passed in Republican controlled state legislators have consistent similarities. This is the hallmark of one of the more nefarious conservative groups, ALEC. ALEC is an acronym for “American Legislative Exchange Council.”
ALEC provides a forum for state legislators and private sector members to collaborate on model bills—draft legislation that members may customize and introduce for debate in their own state legislatures. ALEC was co-founded by conservative activist Paul Weyrich, who also co-founded The Heritage Foundation. Henry Hyde, who later became a U.S. congressman, and Lou Barnett, who later became national political director of Ronald Reagan’s Political Action Committee.
In short, ALEC is a “bill mill” that churns out legislation that can and do lead to “cut and paste” laws from state to state.
The watchdog group Center for Media and Democracy (CMD) maintains numerous on-going investigations into this operation and publishes the results at ExposedbyCMD.
Another site operated by CMD is called PRWatch. That site published an article in November of 2011 that made these statements:
Voter ID legislation based on ALEC’s template was introduced in states across the country and passed in at least fourteen states. The ID requirements had been kicking around for years since they were initially pressed for by white Southern politicians after President Clinton’s national voter registration legislation led to increased percentages of African Americans registering to vote. But this discredited legislation had little traction until ALEC took it up to promote in 2009. (Even then state representative Scott Walker, then an ALEC legislator, tried to get into the act a decade ago, but his effort to echo Alabama’s legislation went nowhere in Wisconsin.)
Despite all the hype about voter fraud, the statistical reality is that such fraud in the U.S. is exceedingly rare. Voter suppression legislation based on ALEC’s “model” will, however, have a statistically significant effect of depriving many American citizens of their right to vote. According to a recent report, approximately five million eligible voters across the country will be adversely affected by the new requirements, particularly the elderly, people with disabilities, people of color, and students. What this means is that huge numbers of Americans will be blocked from exercising their fundamental right to vote as a result of ALEC’s efforts and the self-serving politicians that have forced these changes into law.
And the title of this article is, wait for it, “How the Koch-Funded ALEC Works to Deny Voting Rights.“
Thus, the active voter suppression we are seeing now is not new. The effort has been given new fuel in the form of the “Big Lie” from the delusional and pathetic former guy that he won.
It is just “business” as usual for Charles Koch. Viewed from the standpoint of investment, the Kochs have poured billions of dollars into their network to deprive us of our Constitutional rights. In the management of their commercial companies they are known and respected for playing the long game. Management of subsidiary companies like Georgia Pacific Paper mills and other operations are not saddled with quarterly profit targets that many huge companies work with. This is mainly because Koch Industries is privately held and does not have to respond to the Wall Street reporting clock.
It seems that playing the long game is also being applied to the erosion of basic human rights as seen in the ALEC “cut and paste” voter suppression laws already passed in fourteen states.
But the longer game of the Kochs starts to come into focus when one considers the platform of the late David Koch in his failed Libertarian Party vice-presidential bid in the 1980 election cycle. The Clark-Koch ticket promised to abolish Social Security, the Federal Reserve Board, welfare, minimum-wage laws, corporate taxes, all price supports and subsidies for agriculture and business, and U.S. Federal agencies including the SEC, EPA, ICC, FTC, OSHA, FBI, CIA, and DOE.
In other words, David Koch ran on a platform that wanted to roll back the federal government to a time before even Woodrow Wilson. And to what end? It seems pretty obvious that each of these entities and agencies were conceived to exert some oversight and therefore restraint on their activities. Happily, they only got about 1% of the vote.
The Kochs have actually been at war against the United States for decades. But, returning to the factor that what they have been and are spending is an investment, they see long term profits in the destruction of our government and our voting rights.
The idea that they see long term value and a large scale return on their investment for this activity is what is truly scary.