Koch Fundraising Network Outpaces Rivals in Cash, Complexity

Monday, 06 Jan 2014 12:39 PM

By Melanie Batley

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The extensive network of political action committees and fundraising groups built by conservative billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch is unrivaled in its fundraising prowess and its legal sophistication designed to protect donor anonymity.

According to The Washington Post, tax filings show that the nonprofit groups backed by the Kochs in the 2012 elections out-raised every other independent group on the right and also trumped the Democrats' national coalition of labor unions.

Editor's Note: Get Rich Doing This ‘One Thing’ Every Day

"It's a very sophisticated and complicated structure," Lloyd Hitoshi Mayer, a University of Notre Dame Law School professor and expert on tax issues of politically active nonprofits, told the Post.

In particular, 17 conservative groups make up the network, each focusing on specific public policy issues ranging from the new healthcare law, federal spending, and environmental regulations, using hard-hitting attack ads, according to the Post. The network also distributes funds to groups whose approach is in keeping with the Koch brothers' libertarian, free-market philosophy.

"Kochs' involvement in political and public policy activities is at the core of fundamental liberties protected by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution," Koch Industries spokesman Robert Tappan told the Post.

"This type of activity is undertaken by individual donors and organizations on all ends of the political spectrum—on the left, the middle, and the right. In many situations, the law does not compel disclosure of donors to various causes and organizations."

In 2012, the network raised at least $407 million, a figure based on an analysis of tax returns by The Washington Post and the Center for Responsive Politics, a nonpartisan group that monitors money in politics. The money is generated by significant numbers of donors beyond the Kochs, and the operation is already gearing up for the 2014 midterm elections with new staff hires and attack ads against Obamacare.

Tappan told the Post that "Koch has been targeted repeatedly in the past by the Administration and its allies because of our real (or, in some cases, perceived) beliefs and activities concerning public policy and political issues."

Under proposals announced in November, the IRS may crack down on organizations such as the Kochs' by instituting new rules to limit the scope of nonprofit groups engaged in political activity, particularly those that do not disclose the identity of donors.

Charles Koch has defended the need for structures to protect the anonymity of donors, saying in a 2012 Forbes interview that he has personally suffered from abuse for his political views and activities.

"We get death threats, threats to blow up our facilities, kill our people. We get Anonymous and other groups trying to crash our IT systems. So long as we're in a society like that, where the president attacks us and we get threats from people in Congress, and this is pushed out and becomes part of the culture — that we are evil, so we need to be destroyed, or killed — then why force people to disclose?"

Editor's Note: Get Rich Doing This ‘One Thing’ Every Day

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