Charles Koch

The second-day story from New York City’s primaries last week could have been the exceptional performance of the city’s unique system of small-donor public financing. By providing a six-dollar public match for every dollar raised in contributions of $175 or less, the system enabled the little-known Scott Stringer to compete with and defeat Eliot Spitzer’s family fortune in the race for Comptroller. On the Republican side, it helped mayoral nominee Joe Lhota, who received almost half his total spending in public money, to overcome another self-financed millionaire.

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During the 2012 election cycle, the Koch brothers oversaw a secret group that handed out a quarter of a billion dollars in undisclosed cash to various political causes. That’s what Mike Allen and Jim Vandehei are reporting today in Politico. The group, Freedom Partners, is about to file a series of disclosures with the IRS, and its president, Marc Short, took that as an opportunity to unveil the group to Allen and Vandehei. “There’s ...

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Who's trashing whom on the right? Here's a handy guide to post-election GOP recrimination.

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The Unheavenly Chorus: Unequal Political Voice and the Broken Promise of American Democracy By Kay Lehman Schlozman, Sidney Verba, and Henry E. Brady (Princeton University Press, 693 pp., $35) Oligarchy By Jeffrey A. Winters (Cambridge University Press, 323 pp., $29.99) The MoveOn Effect: The Unexpected Transformation of American Political Advocacy By David Karpf (Oxford University Press, 237 pp., $27.95)   THIS IS A SEASON of political anxiety, and the source of that unease is not only the election and looming economic uncertainties.

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The Operator

Before 2013 begins, catch up on the best of 2012. From now until the New Year, we will be re-posting some of The New Republic’s most thought-provoking pieces of the year. Enjoy. In early 2010, Karl Rove convened a group of businessmen for lunch at a private club in Dallas. The guests included some of the richest and most influential people in Texas. T. Boone Pickens, the corporate raider from Amarillo, was there, as was Harlan Crow, the prodigal son of Trammell Crow, the most prominent real estate developer in the country in his day.

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The dismissal of the Koch brothers' absurd lawsuit against a satirist (who had created a fake news release purporting to be from the Kochs, endorsing legislation to fight climate change) highlights once more a defining aspect of their personality: they really don't like criticism. The mini-industry of conservatives and libertarians that has sprung up to defend the Kochs (against, to be sure, a mini industry of liberals assailing them) tells a story of the Kochs as shy, retiring intellectuals yearning only for high-level philosophical discussion in the free marketplace of ideas.

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This week’s cover of The Weekly Standard features an image of Charles and David Koch being burned at the stake by a screaming liberal mob. The mob includes, among the liberal archetypes who frequently grace that magazine’s cover art, a fist-shaking hippie, his face partially obscured by the arm of a fellow, earring-wearing liberal.

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The right-wing libertarian billionaires Charles and David Koch have been the subject of enormous controversy recently. Liberals have fiercely attacked them, and conservative and libertarians have defended them with equal passion. Now we have Matthew Continetti of the Weekly Standard joining in with an 8,000 word cover story. Continetti is the author of “The Persecution Of Sarah Palin,” and in this piece he reprises his role as ghost author for a popular conservative victim-hero.

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My thoughts on the fuzzy line between libertarian principle and Koch self-interest has prompted John Goodman of the Koch-funded National Center for Policy Analysis to accuse me of promoting "conspiracy theories." The truth, writes Goodman, is that the Kochs do not care if the groups they fund toe the line: We have been recipients of Koch gifts. I would guess they total less than 1% of our income over 28 years of existence. More importantly, Koch giving has always been completely principled, as Charles Koch explained in the Wall Street Journal the other day.

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Radley Balko at Reason again leaps to the defense of the Koch brothers. The question at hand is whether liberals are irrational to regard the Kochs as right-wingers and ideological adversaries. I argued that liberals are not irrational to think this way, since the Kochs heavily support Republicans in their political giving, and even their "battle of ideas" donations have a right-leaning tilt: Gillespie's implication is that, if you're horrified by the Bush administration's civil rights record and supportive of gay marriage, the Koch brothers are for you. In fact, they're not.

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