Tag Archives: Koch Brothers

VP Mike Pence checks in with the boss: a pause to refresh

In the face of multiple official investigations into Trump campaign’s possible Russian contacts heating up and a key vote due in the Senate to repeal the Affordable Care Act (aka ObamaCare) and trash Medicaid funding, Vice President Mike Pence Pence somehow found time to sneak off and have a private chat with Charles Koch.the koch machine1

According to The Hill.com the first instinct of the Veep’s office was to deny the meeting took place. But it turns out while at a conservative Christian celebration in Colorado, Pence had an unannounced meeting with Charles Koch and representatives from the Koch brothers’ political finance and policy arm, Americans for Prosperity.

Pence, in town to headline a banquet celebrating the 40th anniversary of the Christian conservative group Focus on the Family, sat down with the chairman and chief executive of Koch Industries, along with key members of the Koch team.

 The meeting was not on the vice president’s schedule released by the White House late Thursday.

A spokesman for the vice president’s office denied to The Hill earlier Friday that Pence would be meeting with the Koch brothers’ network. The spokesman did not respond to requests for comments late Friday.

 For anyone harboring happy dreams of a scandal-plagued Trump leaving office one way or another before his term expires, it’s sobering to consider the Vice President may be just as bad in his own unique way. He has expressed a desire to copy former VP Dick Cheney’s governing style. And Pence has enjoyed a long relationship with the Koch machine, even if he’s not just an outright puppet of the oligarch-wannabes.

 The Hill.com reminds readers: While President Trump had an almost non-existent relationship with the libertarian billionaire Koch brothers, Pence has a much longer history with both Charles and David Koch. 

 Americans for Prosperity touted Pence’s record as governor of Indiana. His former pollster Kellyanne Conway, now a senior adviser in the Trump White House, worked for a Koch network group. And [Marc] Short, the White House’s top lobbyist and former Pence chief of staff, once ran the Freedom Partners Chamber of Commerce, a key wing of the Koch brothers network.

President Trump or President Pence: name your poison, America … bottoms up.


Updated: Buying Out Democracy

Post Election Day update: Some national down-ballot state news such as this may get lost in the storm after Trump’s shocking win:[Democrats suffered some of their worst down-ballot failures on election night in the secretary of state races, the low-profile but quietly influential office that oversees elections in each state.

The GOP flipped four seats. Three were open seats: Missouri (Jay Ashcroft), Montana (Corey Stapleton), and Oregon (Dennis Richardson). The Oregon contest was the most surprising, with the GOP winning their first statewide office in more than a decade.]

What  are the Koch Brothers are up these days?  Well, we know the Kochs aren’t paying to woo Vermont voters to build a coal plant in the state. State Sen. Joe Benning (R) humorously suggested a clever headline-grabber what-if thought experiment to drive home his point about the level of outrage there might be were it the “evil” Koch Brothers offering payments to Vermonters to build a coal plant — rather than Iberdrola’s  wind power generating facility.kochbrosbucktalk

Of course the Kochs spend their time and political money   ($900 million in campaign 2016) much higher up the policy food chain than mere voters.

So then what are the Kochs up to these days ?  I mean in addition to running thousands of dollars worth of ads in Vermont supporting Benning’s fellow VTGOP legislative candidates through their Republican State Leadership Committee.

Well, according to the NYTimes.com, the ultra wealthy conservative Koch Brothers, the Republican State Leadership Committee, and other lobby interests are setting their sights on secretaries of state — the people in charge of impartially running elections.

The targeting of secretaries of state with campaign donations, corporate-funded weekend outings and secret meetings with industry lobbyists reflects an intense focus on often overlooked ballot questions, which the secretaries frequently help write.

The ballot initiatives are meant to give voters a direct voice on policy issues such as the minimum wage and the environment. But corporate and other special interests are doing their best to build close ties with the secretaries because a difference of even a few words on a ballot measure can have an enormous impact on the outcome.

This is of particular importance in states that regularly hold direct-vote ballot initiatives on policy issues. And Koch’s RSLC involvement may take this to a new level:  Republicans have turned to initiatives to push their agenda as a counter to liberal activists, according to an internal party memo.

“Ballot initiatives will not be the left’s mechanism for gaining power and advancing their agenda when voters have already rejected them,” said the memo, from the Republican State Leadership Committee, in February 2015 as the group prepared fund-raising efforts. “It’s time for conservatives to take back that power by rejecting their efforts and promoting our own.” NYTimes.com

Ironic as hell that big money is using the ballot-initiative/referendum process to do an end-run around legislatures. But the penny-wise Koch Brothers may figure it is a lot cheaper and more efficient to buy/influence with a few Secretaries of State than feeding friendly herds of state legislators.

The climate around Phil Scott

scottbalanceRepublican Phil Scott is doing his bit for the party to promote carbon tax hysterics on climate change this week.

One of his many recent tweets,(Team Scott must not have heard that marketing studies show that after three tweets,engagement dramatically decreases.) a “news” story from Vermontwatchdog.org  warns of an alleged carbon tax apocalypse.

Vermont Watchdog is the local franchise mouthpiece of the Franklin Center for Government, a nationwide organization said to be at the forefront of right-wing efforts to thwart action on climate change and blur the distinction between statehouse reporting and political advocacy.scottwatch

Watchdog dutifully prints a Vermont Republican Federal Elections Committee  ad in part of the article, but if you peel away the hysterics, the gist of the piece is centered on a series of  VPIRG’s proposals. Their proposal to fight climate change (and yes, Phil it is real) suggests a series of tax changes, instituting a global warming impact tax (carbon tax), starting an energy investment fund, and also energy rebates and tax cuts.

But this post isn’t exactly about the complicated carbon tax issue, but rather the policy crowd Scott runs with to get elected — his “in crowd.” The Vermont Watchdog is actually a “local” outlet, but also funded by the Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity, a 501c3 non-profit. Much of its funding is reported to be fueled with money from various hard right sources including the infamous Koch Brothers’ climate-change-denying organization.

Former Reuters chief White House correspondent Gene Gibbons didn’t mince his words in a 2010 report on the Franklin Center:

“For the most part, the people in charge of these would-be watchdog operations are political hacks out to subvert journalism in their quest to grab and keep power using whatever means they have to do so.”

The keynote speaker at a Franklin Center Watchdog.org  training session in 2012 was none other than right-wing  provocateur and ACORN “sting” artist James O’Keefe

So,what was it, only a couple weeks or more ago that Scott actually made it clear…well sort of that he thought climate change science was real ?

And now he is tweeting support for Koch Brothers-sponsored  “news” stories about climate issues.This doesn’t exactly fit with his own claims that his view “evolved.” Lie down with Big Carbon, get up covered in soot.