by Chris Potter
There's been plenty of buzz about this New Yorker profile of the Koch brothers -- whose contributions to right-wing causes make Dick Scaife look lik ... well ... like a senescent shut-in who sends checks to anybody who mails him a set of cat stamps.
The Brothers Koch have made their influence felt mostly by bankrolling the Americans for Prosperity Foundation. If that name sounds familar, it might be because the AFPF's ad attacking health-care reform, Wall Street bailouts, and stimulus spending is hitting local airwaves. The Foundation has been real tight with Tea Party activities, and its patrons have influence at least as large as Scaife's, but without the same sort of scrutiny. As the New Yorker puts it,
Charles Lewis, the founder of the Center for Public Integrity, a nonpartisan watchdog group, said, "The Kochs are on a whole different level. There's no one else who has spent this much money. The sheer dimension of it is what sets them apart. They have a pattern of lawbreaking, political manipulation, and obfuscation. I’ve been in Washington since Watergate, and I've never seen anything like it. They are the Standard Oil of our times."
And are the Brothers Koch taking an interest in Pennsylvania politics? Indeed they are: Their "KochPAC" political committee has been a longstanding patron of GOP Senatorial candidate Pat Toomey. I count $9,500 in contributions in the past year from the PAC. And that's not including whatever benefit Toomey may reap from their latest anti-Washington ad.
Of course, there's a bit of an irony in all this. The AFPF ad decries the bailout for Wall Street, but the guys who paid for the campaign are supporting a candidate who Toomey rival Joe Sestak has called "Wall Street's Congressman." Indeed, as Dems have gleefully pointed out, no less a publication than Derivatives Strategy Magazine hailed Toomey's presence in Congress because it meant "now the derivatives industry can claim representation by one of its own."
(Really, Dems should just be distributing copies of this article in people's mailboxes. In it, Toomey opines that "The trend in deregulation, beginning in the early 1980s, is one of the biggest reasons for the sustained economic expansion. I would like to see us continue to deregulate on many fronts, including the financial services industry.")
So Toomey is set up pretty sweet. He's getting four times as much money from the "securities and investment" sector as Sestak is. And at the same time, he's also getting the benefit of ads that stoke anger at the securities and investment sector. Just more proof that this tea-party resentment boils down to the wealthy having it both ways -- using people's anger at Wall Street to help enhance Wall Street's position.