Kochtopus Alive in the Silver State

Heck KochtopusYes, the Kochtopus is alive and spewing ink (or pixels) in Nevada. Americans for Prosperity has a Nevada chapter and would love for us to know that Representative Joe Heck (R-NV3) is getting lots of outside help.  [links to LVRJ]  The ad Heck’s supporters ran against the Affordable Care Act and Patients’ Bill of Rights is estimated to have cost $200,000.  And, who are these people who are so eager to assist the campaign efforts of Representative Heck?

The AFP was formed in 2003 as the successor to the former “Citizens for a Sound Economy,” and was affiliated with the not-so “Independent Women’s Forum.”  Now, who was selected to lead the new AFP? “The October 2003 Washington Times report on the formation of AFP stated, “Nancy Pfotenhauer, an executive of Citizens for a Sound Economy [CSE] in the 1990s who helped defeat Hillary Rodham Clinton’s health care reform proposal, has been tapped to head a new national advocacy organization to protect ‘every American’s fundamental right to pursue prosperity.” [SourceWatch]  We’re familiar with Ms. Pfotenhauer, who has been a frequent guest on various and sundry talk shows, espousing a combination of anti-health care insurance reform, anti-union, and anti-pretty much everything having to do with working people.

Oh, but there’s more: “Pfotenhauer worked with Koch in the mid-’90s, when she was executive vice president of both CSE and the CSE Foundation. But she has an even longer history with AFP board member Walter Williams, for whom she was a graduate research assistant at George Mason University 20 years ago.” [SourceWatch]  Now, isn’t that cozy?

Nor were many people surprised to find out that the Koch Brothers and AFP were involved in the formation of the Tea Party.

“In an April 9, 2009 article on ThinkProgress.org, Lee Fang reports that the principal organizers of Tea Party events are Americans for Prosperity and Freedom Works, which it described as two “lobbyist-run think tanks” that are “well funded” and that provide the logistics and organizing for the Tea Party movement from coast to coast. Media Matters reported that David Koch of Koch Industries was a co-founder of Citizens for a Sound Economy (CSE). David Koch was chairman of the board of directors of CSE.  CSE received substantial funding from David Koch of Koch Industries, which is the largest privately-held energy company in the country, and the conservative Koch Family Foundations, which make substantial annual donations to conservative think tanks, advocacy groups, etc. Media Matters reported that the Koch family has given more than $12 million to CSE (predecessor of FreedomWorks) between 1985 and 2002.” [SourceWatch]

Connections from Koch to CSE, Koch to AFP, Koch to the Tea Party…and so it goes.  Indeed, the tenacles of the Koch Brothers and their massively deep pockets are sufficiently extensive to wiggle right into Nevada politics.

The Koch Brothers are fond of pitching their ultra-right wing message, however: “David Axelrod, Obama’s senior adviser, said, “What they don’t say is that, in part, this is a grassroots citizens’ movement brought to you by a bunch of oil billionaires.” [New Yorker]

And indeed the system established by the Kochtopus is legally impressive:

A review of 2012 tax returns filed by Koch network groups shows that most have been set up as nonprofit trusts rather than not-for-profit corporations, an unusual step that reduces their public reporting requirements. It sounds complicated and arcane because it is. Some of the nation’s top nonprofit experts said they could only speculate on the reasons for the network’s increasingly elaborate setup. “My guess is that we’re looking at various forms of disguise — to disguise control, to disguise the flow of funds from one entity to another,” said Gregory Colvin, a tax lawyer and campaign-finance specialist in San Francisco who reviewed all the documents for ProPublica. [Philly.com] (emphasis added)

And that would be “it,” the entire operation is a matter of disguise. Disguised intentions, supported by disguised funding sources, and pumped into national and state campaigns by those non-profit trusts which don’t have to disclose who is behind the curtain.

We know who’s in front of the curtain, dancing on his puppet strings… Representative Joe Heck (R-NV3).

References and Information: Jane Mayer, “Covert Operations,” New Yorker, August 30, 2010. Lee Fang, “Koch Operative Steered $55 Million To Front Groups Airing Ads Against Democrats; Ads Assailed Candidates Over Abortion, 9/11, Medicare,” Republic Report.  Barker & Mayer, “How the Koch Brothers Hide Their Big Money Donations, Philly.Com, March 17, 2014.  Julian Brooks, The Koch Brothers Exposed, Rolling Stone, April 20, 2012. Frank Rich, “The Billionaires Bankrolling the Tea Party,” New York Times, August 28, 2010.  Louder & Evans, “Koch Brothers Flout Law Getting Richer With Secret Iran Sales, Bloomberg News, October 3, 2011.  Dave Gilson, “How Much Have The Koch Brothers Spent on the 2012 Election?” Mother Jones, November 5, 2012.  Jane Mayer, “A Word From Our Sponsor,” New Yorker, May 27, 2013.  Glenn Greenwald, “Billionaire Self Pity and the Koch Brothers,” Salon, March 27, 2011.  Sy Mukherjee, “Outside Political Groups Are Spending Record Amounts of Money to Deny Poor People Health Care, Think Progress, March 14, 2014.

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