Dems Target Kochs to Distract Voters From Obamacare, Economy

Thursday, 01 May 2014 01:25 PM

By Melissa Clyne

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Republicans say Democrats panicking about Obamacare and the economy tanking their chances at the polls in November will try to sidetrack Americans with an attack against conservative billionaires Charles and David Koch, according to The Hill.

Democratic leaders plan to vote on a constitutional amendment that would overturn Supreme Court decisions that have been a boon to wealthy donors, specifically the Kochs. The amendment, according to Politico, has no chance of passing this year.

Sponsored by Sen. Tom Udall, a Democrat from New Mexico, the constitutional amendment would allow Congress and the states to limit money raised and spent on federal elections and would allow for spending limits by outside groups, in direct contrast to Supreme Court decisions in 2010 and 2014.

Last month, in the McCutcheon case, the Supreme Court struck down aggregate limits on how much donors may contribute to candidates and political parties. The case was brought by conservative Alabama businessman Shaun McCutcheon. In the 2010 Citizens United decision, the high court held that the government cannot restrict political spending by corporations, associations or labor unions.

Democrats announced their proposed amendment at a Senate Rules Committee hearing Wednesday.

It’s a risky proposition considering most Americans have no idea who the Koch brothers are, according The Hill. Two recent polls – one commissioned by The Wall Street Journal/NBC News, the other by the George Washington University Battleground poll – show that at least half of those surveyed did not know anything about the Kochs, namesakes of Koch Industries, the second largest privately owned company in the United States. The Koch brothers founded the conservative advocacy organization Americans for Prosperity, which is pummeling Democrats with ads attacking Obamacare in this election cycle.

Democrats, according to Politico, hope the constitutional amendment will shed light on wealthy donors, such as the Kochs, who can determine election outcomes with large cash infusions.

“It provides a focal point to the case Democrats are making about the undue influence of billionaires like the Koch brothers have on the process,” said Geoff Garin, a Democratic pollster.

Alaska Sen. Mark Begich, who is in the throes of a hotly contested race, told The Hill that the constitutional amendment will “raise public awareness about the influence out-of-state donors are trying to have on his race.”

Missouri Sen. Roy Blunt, a Republican, characterized the strategy as a desperate attempt to change the focus from the Democrats’ failed policies.

“If you look at the votes we’ve taken over the last couple of months, it’s a clear effort to throw things at the wall to see if you can get something to stick,” he said. “So far it’s not sticking, and I don’t think this will either.”

Last month, Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank wrote that Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has a “Koch habit.”

The Senate’s top-ranking Democrat has invoked the billionaire brothers’ names more than 100 times in a few months’ time, most recently for blocking the minimum wage increase.
“The time has come to stop the denial and to admit that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has a Koch problem,” Milbank wrote.

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