Politico's Vogel: Reid Borrowing From Koch's Playbook

Tuesday, 10 Jun 2014 06:29 PM

By Sean Piccoli

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Call it hating the sinner, not the sin: Vilifying the Koch Brothers for their big-spending ways hasn't stopped Democrats from borrowing the same playbook, Politico chief investigative reporter Ken Vogel told Newsmax TV's Ed Berliner on "Midpoint" on Tuesday.

While industrialists David and Charles Koch continue to outspend other billionaires on political candidates — mostly Republicans — Democrats who rail at the Kochs as corporate evildoers are starting to catch up by adopting their methods, said Vogel, author of the campaign finance exposĂ©, "Big Money."

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a vocal Koch critic, is "just as guilty as most" of embracing big money in the new, wide-open era of campaign finance ushered in by the Supreme Court's "Citizens United" ruling.

"He may be more guilty than most," said Vogel, "because he, in fact, has been very aggressive and very insidious in courting these super PAC donors for a super PAC that is run by his aides to support Democratic candidates for Senate."

The irony, or hypocrisy, is that the Democrats' drumbeat against the Kochs goes on, said Vogel.

"It is certainly … a concerted Democratic effort to shine the spotlight on them, to make them bogey men, to make it an election issue — that is, big money and politics," he said.

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Democrats do it "because they know it riles up their donors," said Vogel. "They know that talking about the Koch brothers is going to get them closer to their checkbook."

The Kochs, on their own and through networks of contributors they helped to assemble, raised $400 million in the 2012 campaign cycle, a figure no Democratic donor network approached, said Vogel.

But leading Democrats, including President Obama, have started courting wealthy individuals such as Microsoft founder Bill Gates to close the gap.

In the process, they may be leaving some left-leaning advocates of campaign finance reform very disillusioned.

"I was just on the phone with Ben Cohen. He's the founder of Ben & Jerry's," said Vogel. "He hates it when Harry Reid gets up there on the floor and talks about the Koch brothers, because he thinks that takes what is for [Cohen] a sort of ideological crusade — that is, to get the money out of politics — and makes it a political crusade."


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