How a fight against a Senate criminal investigation laid the groundwork for the Koch brothers’ playbook

By | July 22, 2019

Christopher Leonard writes:

In 1989, the newly built Koch network was focused on one tactical goal—derailing the criminal investigation into Koch’s oil gathering operations.

Three decades later, the impact of the Koch network in politics has been enormous. It stoked the fire of anti-government animus that remade U.S. politics in the ‘90s and 2000s. It played a vital role in derailing the last best chance to regulate greenhouse gas emissions in 2010. Wal-Mart, General Electric and Boeing might all have lobbyists, but only Charles Koch has one of the biggest lobbying offices in America, combined with a grassroots army called Americans for Prosperity, that can knock on doors and send volunteers to town hall meetings; combined with a constellation of think tanks that can generate and amplify talking points; combined with a network of coordinated campaign donors that often raise enough money for an election cycle to rival the war chest of a political party. Even in the age of Trump, when the Kochs’ political influence is far smaller than it was earlier this decade, they still flex considerable muscle behind the scenes. In 2017, the network transformed the Republican tax plan by leading the charge to kill a tax benefit meant to benefit U.S. manufacturing (but that almost certainly would have hurt Koch’s oil refining operations) and turned it into a straightforward tax cut for big corporations and the richest Americans.

But before all of that—before Charles and David Koch became household names, at least in liberal households—they deployed a then-developing political network against a U.S. Senate investigation. And they brought the lessons they learned with them to all of their lobbying and influence work over the next 30 years. [Continue reading…]

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