Sunday, January 30, 2011

Koch Industries Promises To Double Money Raised This Weekend, 40% Of Donors Will Be New

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By Lee Fang

Last October, ThinkProgress helped break the story about the secretive twice annual meetings convened by Koch Industries owners Charles and David Koch. The meetings — which have been attended by top bankers, oil industry executives, two Supreme Court justices, Republican leaders, conservative fundraisers, and hate talkers like Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck — have been forums for election-related coordination and political strategy. In addition to judges, “journalists” like Tim Carney, Stephen Moore, and Michael Barone have attended the meetings and received funding from the Koch donors. The next event is this weekend in Rancho Mirage, California.

Earlier today, the National Review reported that Majority Leader Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA) will address the meeting on Republican legislative strategy. Notably, Cantor has taken an active role in Republican efforts to defund financial reform — specifically the new regulations designed to oversee the trillion-dollar derivatives market (Koch Industries speculates on a number of commodities using complex derivatives, and other Koch attendee members represent hedge funds and other financial industries opposed to new Dodd-Frank regulations). ThinkProgress has exclusively obtained further details about the Koch meeting this weekend:

– At last year’s Koch fundraiser, Charles Koch promised to match every dollar committed by attendees. He raised $30 million dollars at the Aspen meeting in 2010, and hopes to do better this year, again matching every dollar raised with one of his own.

– The Koch meeting this year expects a larger group of donors, with 40% of the attendees as first time participants.

– Several key Republican donors who have attended in the past will again be in Rancho Mirage this weekend. Billionaire Diane Hendricks, of the country’s largest roofing and window supply company, and Richard DeVos, founder of the “direct selling” business Amway and owner of the Orlando Magic basketball team, will be in attendance. According to documents obtained by ThinkProgress, DeVos gave $250,000 to FreedomWorks in 2009 as the group was organizing the very first anti-Obama Tea Party rallies.

– Several longtime Koch lobbyists will be giving presentations this weekend. Alan Cobb, a Koch Industries lobbyist who now helps run Koch’s front group Americans for Prosperity, will lead a discussion along with officials from the Koch-funded academic institute at George Mason University, “the Mercatus Center.” After Koch fronts helped elect President Bush, academics from Mercatus successfully recommended, according to the Wall Street Journal, the majority of the Bush administration’s deregulation policies, particularly on environmental issues. In addition, longtime Republican pundit and Koch lobbyist Nancy Pfotenhauer will be presenting. Pfotenhauer, who is currently working as a “Koch spokeswoman,” planted a hit-piece against the New Yorker’s Jane Mayer after her story about the Koch brothers last year.

– Officials from the neoconservative consulting firm Orion Strategies will give a presentation this weekend. Weekly Standard contributor and Orion Strategies vice president Michael Goldfarb will be there.

The Politico reported this morning that, at the Koch meeting in January of 2009, Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) debated Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) over whether to support ideologically pure Republican candidates or “electable” moderates. According to a source familiar with the panel, DeMint won over the “establishment crowd” of wealthy donors with his argument to support far right candidates, presumably ones like Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT), Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), and Sharron Angle.

Notably, the strategy of bringing together wealthy business leaders to fund efforts to push both the country and the Republican Party to the far right was pioneered by Fred Koch, the founder of Koch Industries and the father of David and Charles Koch. Fred worked to recruit Barry Goldwater to run for president in 1960, paving the way for him to win the nomination in 1964, and was a founding financier of the John Birch Society

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