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Tags: koch brothers | image | public | gop | left | tea party

Koch Bros. Stepping Into Spotlight to Reshape Their Image

Koch Bros. Stepping Into Spotlight to Reshape Their Image

By    |   Friday, 31 July 2015 09:05 AM EDT

Publicity-averse billionaire industrialists Charles and David Koch, who the left have long painted as Wizard of Oz-like characters controlling the right from behind a curtain, are waging a campaign to "remake public perceptions of their family, their business and their politics, unsettling a corporate culture deeply allergic to the spotlight," according to The New York Times.

As the brothers' organization kicks off its annual summer summit in California this weekend, where GOP presidential candidates and hundreds of "conservative mega-donors and operatives" huddle to strategize on defeating Democrats in 2016, the notoriously private brothers are highlighting their support of historically liberal causes. Those efforts include criminal justice reform and advocacy for Hispanic issues through their Libre Initiative, which the Times reports "offers driving lessons and tax preparation services to Latinos."

Reporters will be invited to attend some of the sessions at this year’s summit, a turnabout from years past when Koch employees went to extreme lengths to ensure privacy.

Last summer, The Nation, citing a source who attended the conference, reported that "Freedom Partners spent more than $870,000, which included large fees to shut down public access to the golf course, the Michael Mina restaurant Stonehill Tavern and Motif Restaurant" in order to keep out uninvited guests.

"Attendees were responsible for their own room charges. Security was tight from noon on Saturday throughout the remainder of the conference, with checkpoints at every entrance to the resort. At the front gate, security guards and multiple Koch employees brandishing iPads greeted incoming cars," The Nation reported.

"Even more Koch employees, acting as escorts, met guests at the front door. Guests were asked to abide by a no-cell phone policy, and security was in place to enforce that policy at event."

Mark Holden, Koch Industries’ general counsel, told the Times that the brothers and their family have long been donors to the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, the United Negro College Fund and other charities, and have been "sensitive to criticism" that their interest in organizations is something recent.

The intensely private brothers have decided to present their own narrative rather than continue to allow the left —which aired more than 53,000 attack ads mentioning the brothers in the 2014 election cycle, according to the Times — to dictate it.

In 2010, Frank Rich of The New York Times penned an op-ed calling the Kochs "sugar daddies" who were bankrolling "America’s ostensibly spontaneous and leaderless populist uprising," referring to the tea party.

Koch Industries kicked off a $20 million corporate branding campaign last summer with "We Are Koch" ads featuring their employees, according to the Times, and David Koch agreed in December to an interview with Barbara Walters, during which he shared his "liberal beliefs on gay rights and social issues," while this spring, Charles Koch, spoke to USA Today.

"For all of the power of their political organization, the Kochs were ill equipped to respond to attacks on their name," according to the newspaper, noting Koch Industries "culture of discretion."

"In light of the barrage of political attacks and distortions of our record, beliefs, and vision, we are taking the steps necessary to get our story out to the public," James Davis, a spokesman for Freedom Partners, a nonprofit group that oversees the Kochs' donor network, told the Times.

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Politics
Billionaire industrialists Charles and David Koch, who the left have long painted as Wizard of Oz-like characters controlling the right from behind a curtain, are waging a campaign to remake public perceptions of their family, their business and their politics," The New York Times reports.
koch brothers, image, public, gop, left, tea party
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2015-05-31
Friday, 31 July 2015 09:05 AM
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