I am generally ambivalent toward the Koch brothers. I’m sure there are organizations and causes to which they’ve contributed that I would find objectionable. But in general, they’ve contributed to the tea party movement, a number of conservative and libertarian leaning think tanks, organizations and so forth. These are their own private contributions, so I don’t really care where or how much they decide to donate. It’s their business.
But liberals seem to think they’re a part of this vast, right-wing conspiracy. They’re often called the “evil” Koch brothers. Writing for the New Yorker a few years ago, Jane Mayer exposed the secret interworkings of the Koch family:
The Kochs are longtime libertarians who believe in drastically lower personal and corporate taxes, minimal social services for the needy, and much less oversight of industry – especially environmental regulation. These views dovetail with the brothers’ corporate interests. … Greenpeace issued a report identifying the company as a ‘kingpin of climate science denial.’ The report purported to show that, from 2005 to 2008, the Kochs vastly outspent ExxonMobil in giving money to organizations fighting legislation related to climate change, underwriting a huge network of foundations, think tanks, and political front groups. Indeed, the brothers have funded opposition campaigns against so many Obama Administration policies – from health-care reform to the economic-stimulus program – that, in political circles, their ideological network is known as the “Kochtopus.”
So, basically liberals think the Koch brothers are evil incarnate, because they fight against Obamacare and legislation advocating more controls and taxes to combat the fairy tale of global warming. And because they’re rich, white and male. And conservative. If you’re rich and liberal, that’s perfectly fine. If you’re rich and conservative, you’re a fat, greedy capitalist who doesn’t want to pay his “fair share.”
But as it turns out, what the Koch brothers gave was a pittance compared to what over 50 liberal organizations gave to Democratic candidates. Here’s Mark Tapscott with the Washington Examiner:
OpenSecrets.org tallied the top donors in federal elections between 1989 and 2014. Koch Industries — privately owned by the Evil Koch Bros — is on the list, to be sure, but doesn’t appear until the 59th slot, with $18 million in donations, 90 percent of which went to Republicans.
Unions, unions, unions
So who occupies the 58 spots ahead of the Evil Koch Bros? Six of the top 10 are … wait for it … unions. They gave more than $278 million, with most of it going to Democrats.
These are familiar names: AFSCME ($60.6 million), NEA ($53.5 million), IBEW ($44.4 million), UAW ($41.6 million), Carpenters & Joiners ($39.2 million) and SEIU ($38.3 million).
In other words, the six biggest union donors in American politics gave 15 times more to mostly Democrats than the Evil Koch Bros.
Wall Street and Act Blue, too
Three of the remaining four slots in the top 10 were taken by AT&T ($56.4 million), National Association of Realtors ($51.2 million) and Goldman Sachs ($44.8 million).
So, if money is the measure of evil in American politics and the Evil Koch Bros only come in 59th, who is really the most evil donor ever?
Turns out it’s Act Blue, with just short of $100 million in contributions during its lifetime, which only started in 2004, 15 years after the Evil Koch Bros in the OpenSecrets.org compilation.
ActBlue has grown quickly to become a major fundraising tool for Democrats, particularly favored by the netroots and left-leaning bloggers. As of November 2013, ActBlue had raised more than $430 million USD for Democratic candidates at various levels of politics, making it the largest single source of funds in United States politics. The organization is open to all registered Democratic campaigns and candidates.
The Koch brothers have nothing compared to these liberal organizations. Liberals use the Koch brothers to rail against money in politics, but act like these rich, fat, greedy, liberal organizations don’t exist.