Hey, remember back in 2018 when Politico Magazine told us Chase Koch, son of Charles Koch, "wants to steer the conservative juggernaut his family created toward a kinder, gentler libertarianism?" Or what about in 2020, when the Wall Street Journal's Doug Belkin helped Charles "call me 'Chuckie'" Koch attempt to rebrand as a "philosopher and, he hopes, unifer?"
Well if you were, like us, more skeptical than the "journalists" who credulously served up this PR as "reporting", then congratulations! You're not stupid enough to be a political access-driven DC journalist.
Because it turns out that even as ol' Chuckie was telling the WSJ how much he laments his past partisanship, he was still steering ungodly amounts of money into the election. Belkin claimed that "Koch Industries’ PAC and employees donated $2.8 million in the 2020 campaign cycle to Republican candidates and $221,000 to Democratic candidates," but that seems to have undersold things by an order of magnitude or two.
It's taken two years for all the paperwork to go through, but Connor Gibson crunched the numbers for the Center for Media and Democracy, and tallied up that "Koch Industries spent only $22.4 million on federal lobbying and campaign contributions in the 2020 election cycle."
But even that is "only" a fraction of the total spend, as across the 28 organizations that Koch controls, plus his family and Koch Industries executives, the total Koch spend on the 2020 election cycle was at least $1.1 billion.
Yes, billion, with a "B"!
The supposedly post-partisan Koch network spent $1,100,000,000 influencing American politics, in just one election cycle!
And even THAT is a conservative figure, Gibson notes, because "these calculations likely fail to account for the total policy and political spending overseen by Charles Koch since Koch Industries and a fleet of Koch-controlled limited liability companies (LLCs) do not disclose similar finances."
Over a billion dollars, and that's just from what they're forced to disclose!
"Even though Koch told reporters he was so displeased with Trump," Gibson writes, "that he might even support Democrats — a rhetorical trick he pulls every few years — the tens of millions of dollars his organizations invested in U.S. Senate and House races went almost exclusively to Republicans."
And it's not just the "good" Republicans who respect norms and traditions like not overthrowing Democracy because you're a loser: "Koch has financed groups involved in extremist activity, including the 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol. In 2022, Koch Industries is still financing many politicians who worked to invalidate the results of the 2020 presidential election, despite signaling to Politico that it would discontinue such support."
He's certainly getting what he paid for, too: "His astroturf organization Americans for Prosperity (AFP) spent "seven figures" on efforts to support the confirmations of Trump nominees Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, and Amy Coney-Barrett—for a total price tag of between $3 and $10 million."
Regardless, who wants to guess which supposedly DC-savvy, access-driven journalistic mockery will fall for it the next time Chuckie Koch wants some sympathetic press?