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President Richard Nixon displays his trademark victory wave to a crowd during his 1970 campaign on behalf of Republican congressional candidates.
I hope he haunts them.
The news that the Kochs were creating a new Super PAC, and now intend to spend at least $290 million this cycle—likelier an even $300 million—came after a weekend gathering in southern California of the Koch brothers' billionaire friends and donors and certain Republican politicians. The Nation's Lauren Windsor got an insider's perspective on what went down at the highly secretive meeting.
The highly secretive mega-donor conference, called “American Courage: Our Commitment to a Free Society,” featured a who’s who of Republican political elites. According to conference documents obtained through a source who was in attendance, Representatives Tom Cotton (AR), Cory Gardner (CO) and Jim Jordan (OH) were present, as were Senators Mitch McConnell (KY) and Marco Rubio (FL). Cotton, Gardner and McConnell are all running for the Senate this year; Jordan for re-election in the House. Rubio is widely considered a major contender for a 2016 presidential run. According to the documents, the conference attendees discussed strategy on campaign finance, climate change, healthcare, higher education and opportunities for taking control of the Senate. (The draft agenda is available for viewing here.)
Of particular note, there was a special dinner held at La Casa Pacifica, "the former home of President Richard Nixon that has come to be known as 'The Western White House.'" The ghost of Tricky Dick must be particularly inspiring. The house is currently owned by former Nixon buddy Gavin Herbert, who also happens to have founded a pharmaceutical company—Allergan—which spends a lot of money on the American Legislative Exchange Council, ALEC. He also apparently spends a lot of money on other Koch projects, and loans out Nixon's house for them.

But here's a particularly interesting event, a Sunday strategy discussion titled "Free Speech: Defending First-Amendment Rights," led by Rep. Jordan, a Koch legal guy, and Mitch McConnell. This free speech talk was given to a very small, invite-only group. Because you can't have too many people involved in that whole free speech thing. Which presumably was the point of this session; even though the Supreme Court has already ruled that money is speech, apparently that's not enough for Kochs and friends. How much more free their billions could be to speak politically isn't immediately clear, but I'm sure they'll think of something.

The "American Courage: Our Commitment to a Free Society" was held at an exclusive resort where something like $870,000 was spent in part to ensure that no interloper could possibly sneak in. The golf course was closed to the public, as were bars and restaurants. There were security checkpoints at every entrance. Staff checked cars at the gate, more staff checked individuals entering the resort, and the attendees were asked to abide by a no cell-phone policy. That's a helluva lot of secrecy and excessive restrictions for a gathering about creating a free society. But the Koch definition of "free society" has little resemblance to how the rest of us would define it.

There's more discussion in Mike Lux's diary.

Originally posted to Joan McCarter on Wed Jun 18, 2014 at 03:12 PM PDT.

Also republished by American Legislative Transparency Project and Daily Kos.

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