Democrats' Ads Assail Koch Brothers' Wealth, Influence

Image: Democrats' Ads Assail Koch Brothers' Wealth, Influence Charles Koch, left, and David Koch. (Landov)

Monday, 25 Aug 2014 10:31 AM

By Andrea Billups

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The Koch brothers have been vilified by Democrats who acknowledge their campaign prowess in a growing host of ads.

The duo has spent $290 million to help conservative causes and candidates, Politico reported of the brothers' involvement on the right,while Democrats use images of private jets and other symbols of wealth to energize their party.

Despite earning scorn on the left, the brothers have thus far confounded public opinion, Politico added, citing a poll by the firm Public Policy Polling, in which 47 percent of Americans answered "unsure" when asked for an opinion about the Kochs. The poll found that 36 percent of Americans saw them unfavorably while 17 percent registered positive views.

"The reality is most voters have no idea who the Koch brothers [are], and the amount of time it takes to educate them about that is time wasted and would be better spent hammering issues we know work against Republicans in this cycle," one political strategist told Politico, speaking anonymously.

Charles and David Koch, 78 and 74, respectively, got their wealth from their father, who ran Koch Industries, a Kansas-based company that makes everything from toilet paper to jet fuel, The Associated Press reported. Each is worth about $41 billion, and they use a fraction of their wealth to fund nonprofit groups whose missions dovetail with their own.

There are two other brothers in the family, William and Frederick, who are not similarly engaged in political pursuits and have cut ties with their family businesses, going their own way far out of the limelight, the AP reported.

As Democrats denounce their influence in political ads, the brothers are spending plenty in races, using their own campaigns to attack issues like Common Core standards in public education, The Tennessean reported, as well as vulnerable candidates who have supported the Obama healthcare law.

Democrats in tight races such as the hard-fought Michigan Senate battle between former Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land, a Republican, and U.S. Rep. Gary Peters have seen the Koch brothers step in to spend and Democrats fire back by tying them to issues like the environment, The Washington Post reported.

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