Is the Scott Walker Story Just the Tip of the Koch Brothers’ Political Iceberg?

Submitted by Elaine Magliaro, Guest Blogger

Last week I wrote up a post titled Scott Walker: A Fiscally Responsible Governor or a Politician Who Is Playing Favorites?. Judging from the number of comments left at that post, it appears that people are very interested in what’s been going on in the state of Wisconsin. I think many people may believe that as Wisconsin goes—so goes the nation…and probably the life expectancy of labor unions and collective bargaining.

What got a lot of press attention was the story of the prank phone call that Governor Walker received from gonzo journalist Ian Murphy. Murphy pretended to be billionaire industrialist David Koch. He talked to Walker for twenty minutes. Murphy reportedly told the Associated Press he made the prank phone call in order to show how candid Walker would be in a conversation with Koch at a time when Democrats claim the governor was refusing to return their calls.

The prank phone call appears to show a cozy relationship between Walker and Koch, a top campaign donor who may have a financial interest in fighting unions. Union workers protesting in Wisconsin have already made monetary concessions to help with Wisconsin’s budget shortfall. One has to wonder what is really behind the governor’s demand that public employee unions be stripped of their right to bargain collectively. Is it all part of an agenda to “take unions out at the knees”—a strategy suggested by Scott Hagerstrom at the annual conference of the Conservative Political Action Committee (CPAC)? Hagerstrom is the Executive Director of Michigan’s chapter of Americans for Prosperity (AFP).

In a Mother Jones article, Andy Kroll writes: Walker’s plan to eviscerate collective bargaining rights for public employees is right out of the Koch brothers’ playbook. Koch-backed groups like Americans for Prosperity, the Cato Institute, the Competitive Enterprise Institute, and the Reason Foundation have long taken a very antagonistic view toward public-sector unions.

And who is Americans for Prosperity? Felicia Sonmez has written that AFP is really two groups—both of which were founded by David Koch in 2004: Americans for Prosperity, a 501(c)4 and the Americans for Prosperity Foundation, is a 501(c)3.

Somnez says that both groups are considered “not-for-profit” organizations under the Internal Revenue Service code—and that they do not have to disclose the identity of their donors or the contributions made by those donors. She added that David Koch is believed to be one of the group’s top donors.

In a New Yorker article titled Covert Operations: The billionaire brothers who are waging a war against Obama, Jane Mayer wrote about Peggy Venable, the Texas State Director of AFP: She (Peggy Venable) explained that the role of Americans for Prosperity was to help “educate” Tea Party activists on policy details, and to give them “next-step training” after their rallies, so that their political energy could be channelled “more effectively.” And she noted that Americans for Prosperity had provided Tea Party activists with lists of elected officials to target. She said of the Kochs, “They’re certainly our people. David’s the chairman of our board. I’ve certainly met with them, and I’m very appreciative of what they do.”

In August 2009, ThinkProgress said that it had obtained an exclusive memo from a Tea Party group that is supported by Koch’s Americans for Prosperity.

From Think Progress: “The memo outlined various ways for Tea Party activists to intimidate Democratic lawmakers and disrupt their town hall meetings on health reform. ThinkProgress published half a dozen articles exposing the role of Koch-funded groups like “Patients United” in encouraging opposition to health reform. For instance, in Virginia, a Koch-funded operative Ben Marchi assisted a birther who followed Rep. Tom Perriello (D-VA) around, yelling at him at town hall meetings.”

That’s all I’ve got for now, folks. Talk amongst yourselves. I need a break!


Covert Operations: The billionaire brothers who are waging a war against Obama. (New Yorker)

Who is “Americans for Prosperity”? (Washington Post)

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker: Funded by the Koch Bros. (Mother Jones)

Why did Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker take a call from ‘David Koch’? (Christian Science Monitor)

Billionaire Brothers’ Money Plays Role in Wisconsin Dispute (New York Times)

On prank call, Wis. governor discusses strategy (Yahoo)

Koch Front Group Americans For Prosperity: ‘Take The Unions Out At The Knees’ (Think Progress)

Billionaire Right-Wing Koch Brothers Fund Wisconsin Governor Campaign and Anti-Union Push (Democracy Now)

Union Busting: The Real Call from the Koch Brothers (Huffington Post)

Charles And David Koch Exposed For Insidious Role In Crafting The Modern Right (Think Progress)

For Further Reading
Koch-Powered Tea Party Pushes Climate Denial Bill In New Hampshire (Think Progress) 

Commentary: Koch brothers and the union-busting Kansas House (The Kansas City Star)

630 thoughts on “Is the Scott Walker Story Just the Tip of the Koch Brothers’ Political Iceberg?”

  1. You all wii deseve the 3rd world status bestowed upon you in the future.
    You just can’t fix stupid.
    That next government will just shoot you in the streets,
    and nobody will care.

  2. Wonderful beat ! I would like to apprentice whilst you amend your site, how could i subscribe for a weblog web site? The account helped me a acceptable deal. I had been a little bit familiar of this your broadcast offered shiny transparent concept

  3. Something funny is going on with WordPress. I posted the first comment above and it disappeared. I then re-wrote it and it too disappeared, but I got an error message. Then I come back to this site a minute later and both comments are up. Oh well, maybe we can shine twice as much light on his shenanigans.

  4. The Scott Walker saga takes another bizarre turn. He claims to have thousands of emails in support of his position. News outlets want to see them and have filed requests under the state’s Open Records Law. Walker, predictably, is stonewalling the requests. He says he will not provide the records unless he is paid $31,250 for printing them off, to be paid in advance. News outlets have said they don’t want them printed off, just make a CD. This is going to court. Hopefully, the Guv will once again be on the short end of the legal stick. However, he has shown himself to be a scofflaw already with his palace guard tactic making access to the Capitol building all but impossible.

  5. The latest sordid chapter in the Scott Walker saga. He claims to have thousands of emails (the number keeps changing) supporting his position. News outlets want to see these emails under the state Open Records Law. Walker says it will cost more than thirty one thousand dollars to print them off and they want the money in advance. Those asking for copies of the emails point out they just want the records on a disc. Looks as if this is another one going to court and of course, if the Open Records Law is enforced, Walker is going to be on the short end of the stick once again.

  6. Slarti,

    The side I saw was very vindictive…..None of the brothers are US Citizens anymore… They don’t like paying taxes….

    The company is owned by brothers Kenneth B. and Robert C. Dart, who gave up their U.S. citizenship[7] and moved to the Cayman Islands[8] to avoid U.S. income and estate taxes [9]

    In 2001, the Internal Revenue Service said the Dart brothers improperly billed $11.6 million of personal security costs to Dart Container. In U.S. Tax Court, Dart Container argued the money was a valid business expense due to “specific threats and other facts and circumstances.” Half the money went for corporate aircraft. The IRS asked for $4 million more for 1996 and 1997 taxes.

    In 2003, the Internal Revenue Service took the brothers into court, saying they owe an additional $19 million in 1998 and 1999 taxes.[7] They deducted $45 million in “interest” payments to feuding sibling Thomas J. Dart, relating to division of the family business in 1986. The brothers claimed they were owed a $10 million refund instead.[7] In 2002, the Dart brothers and their companies paid $26 million in taxes – for 1994.[7]

    I have more dirt on them besides whats published….but granted they are not as dirty…That is agreed the Kochs’ are worse than them….. We in Texas just shoot em….. then do it Chicago style and buy the Judge and District Attorney….

  7. AY,

    My ex-wife worked for Dart Container (she moved to GM when it became clear that her prospects for advancement were limited by the fact that her last name was not ‘Dart’). The Dart brothers (whom she worked with personally) are not even close to the Koch brothers’ league…

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