Earlier this week, the U.S. Supreme Court handed down a decision that changes the law on how much money an individual can give to political candidates. The decision maintains the previous $123,000 limit to a single candidate but allows an individual to give the same amount to any number of candidates.
This decision is sure to heat up the debate about the role of money in this country’s hyper-active political campaign efforts with Democratic and Republican political leaders trying to give their spin as to how the court’s decision will impact upcoming campaign and election efforts.
As might be expected, Democratic leaders immediately used the court’s decision to demonize Wichita’s Koch brothers, claiming the decision provided the highly successful Kochs an even greater opportunity to buy elections.
It is difficult to understand why the Koch brothers are the target of Democratic politicians and many in the media when, according to the OpenSecrets.org website, the Kochs are ranked 59th on the list of Heavy Hitters: Top All-Time Donors, 1989-2014.
The website does not include “politically active dark money groups like Americans for Prosperity, a group linked to the Koch brothers or the liberal group Patriot Majority — because these groups hide their donors.” The site also notes “certain organizations such as ActBlue and Club for Growth are included although they function for the most part as pass-through entities … individual donors give to them with the contributions earmarked for specific candidates.”
ActBlue is the largest donor during the 1989-2014 period, with 100 percent of its $100,887,828 going to Democratic efforts. The next largest donor is the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees’ union, followed by the National Education Association union.
Again, the Kochs are listed as 59th among the largest political donors, with the country’s six largest union donors spending 15 times more than the Kochs during the period.
Do the Kochs draw the fire and criticism because of their conservative views or because they are big financial contributors? If it’s based on money, then there are many who top the Kochs in their financial giving. Why isn’t there the same intensity and the mean-spirited criticism of unions and individuals such as George Soros?
U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid recently called the Kochs America’s most “un-American” citizens.
Earlier this week, Charles Koch outlined his beliefs in a Wall Street Journal article. Here are some of his thoughts:
“I’ve devoted most of my life to understanding the principles that enable people to improve their lives. It is those principles — the principles of a free society — that have shaped my life, my family, our company and America itself.
“Unfortunately, the fundamental concepts of dignity, respect, equality before the law and personal freedom are under attack by the nation’s own government. That’s why, if we want to restore a free society and create greater well-being and opportunity for all Americans, we have no choice but to fight for these principles. …
“A truly free society is based on a vision of respect for people and what they value. In a truly free society, any business that disrespects its customers will fail and deserves to do so. The same should be true of any government that disrespects its citizens. The central belief and fatal conceit of the current administration is that you are incapable of running your own life, but those in power are capable of running it for you. This is the essence of big government and collectivism … instead of welcoming free debate, collectivists engage in character assassination.”
The Kochs have been highly successful in their business activities. Their companies provide jobs for more than 60,000 individuals and have received a large number of awards from conservation and environmental organizations. They also have given millions and million of dollars to medical, educational and art programs. And yet, the senior Democrat in the U.S. Senate calls them “un-American.”
In the Wall Street Journal article, Koch said, “Instead of fostering a system that enables people to help themselves, America is now saddled with a system that destroys value, raises costs, hinders innovation and relegates millions of citizens to a life of poverty, dependency and hopelessness. This is what happens when elected officials believe that people’s lives are better run by politicians and regulators than by the people themselves.”
It is interesting, as well as disturbing, that some universities, Kansas University included, look upon the Kochs as poison ivy, something to be avoided, when, in fact, Koch funding could be of tremendous help to the university in so many ways.
By the way, on the list of “Heavy Hitters,” the University of California is ranked 92nd for its giving to Democratic political efforts, and Harvard University is ranked at 138th. These were the only universities listed.
But, again, do leaders, whether it’s chancellors, regents or professors, think Koch money is bad or wrong or comes from illegal actions? Or is it because the Kochs are conservative rather than liberal? Would money from Soros, Bloomberg or other liberals and unions be much more acceptable?
Unfortunately, close to 50 percent of Americans depend on some degree of federal support. And this percentage is growing. What does this say about the future of this country and its free enterprise system, the government’s role and control over American lives and the pledge of President Obama to bring about fundamental changes in America?
Is this why there is such criticism directed at the Kochs as they are out front in promoting and defending a “free society”?