Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Koch, Chamber, Glenn Beck, Big Business Leaders Meet to Plot 2010 Election

by Lee Fang

This post first appeared on Think Progress.

In 2006, Koch Industries owner Charles Koch revealed to the Wall Street Journal’s Stephen Moore that he coordinates the funding of the conservative infrastructure of front groups, political campaigns, think tanks, media outlets and other anti-government efforts through a twice annual meeting of wealthy right-wing donors. He also confided to Moore, who is funded through several of Koch’s ventures, that his true goal is to strengthen the “culture of prosperity” by eliminating “90%” of all laws and government regulations. Although it is difficult to quantify the exact amount Koch alone has funneled to right-wing fronts, some studies have pointed toward $50 million he has given alone to anti-environmental groups. Recently, fronts funded by Charles and his brother David have received scrutiny because they have played a pivotal role in the organizing of the anti-Obama Tea Parties and the promotion of virulent far right lawmakers like Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC). (David Koch praised DeMint and gave him a “Washington Award” shortly after the senator promised to “break” Obama by making health reform his “Waterloo.”)

While the Koch brothers — each worth over $21.5 billion — have certainly underwritten much of the right, their hidden coordination with other big business money has gone largely unnoticed. ThinkProgress has obtained a memo outlining the details of the last Koch gathering held in June of this year. The memo, along with an attendee list of about 210 people, shows the titans of industry — from health insurance companies, oil executives, Wall Street investors, and real estate tycoons — working together with conservative journalists and Republican operatives to plan the 2010 election, as well as ongoing conservative efforts through 2012. According to the memo, David Chavern, the number two at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and Fox News hate-talker Glenn Beck also met with these representatives of the corporate elite. In an election season with the most undisclosed secret corporate giving since the Watergate-era, the memo sheds light on the symbiotic relationship between extremely profitable, multi-billion dollar corporations and much of the conservative infrastructure. The memo describes the prospective corporate donors as “investors,” and it makes clear that many of the Republican operatives managing shadowy, undisclosed fronts running attack ads against Democrats were involved in the Koch’s election-planning event:

Corporate “investors” at the Koch meeting included businesses with a strong profit motive in rolling back President Obama’s enacted reforms. Several companies impacted by health reform, including Allan Hubbard of A & E Industries, a manufacturer of medical devices and Judson Green, a board member of health insurance conglomerate Aon, were present at the meeting. Other businessmen at the meeting, like Omaha Burger King franchiser Mike Simmonds, are owners of fast food stores which have fought efforts to provide health insurance to their employees. Many corporate attendees of the meeting represent the financial industry impacted by Wall Street reform. For instance, attendee Bill Cooper is the CEO of TCF Financial, a corporation involved in the mortgage banking industry. Cooper recently filed a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of Wall Street reform. Other financial industry players in the meeting hail from firms ranging from Bank of America, JLM Investment, Allied Capital Corp, AMG National Trust, the Blackstone Group and Citadel Investment. Annie Dickerson, a representative of Paul Singer, a powerful hedge fund manager who also gives tens of millions to Republican causes, was present. In addition, Koch Industries itself has a hedge fund and other financial derivative products in its portfolio of interests, which include oil pipelines, coal shipping, asphalt, refineries, consumer goods, timber, ranching, and chemicals.

Corporate “investors” at the Koch meeting included businesses with a strong profit motive in preventing progressive reforms promised by President Obama. Several executives at the meeting have an incentive to stop Democrats and President Obama from addressing climate change and enacting clean energy reform. The meeting included oil executives from Aspect Energy, Murfin Drilling, Anschutz Company, GeoPark Holdings, Smoky Oil, and several members of Koch’s various subsidiaries. The meeting documents explicitly state that funding efforts to curb “climate change alarmism” were discussed.

Fred Malek, Karl Rove’s top fundraiser for his $56 million attack ad campaign against Democrats, attended the meeting, along with leaders of other secret attack groups. Heather Higgins, who leads the Independent Women’s Forum, a shadowy group that has spent millions of dollars in attack ads on health reform, attended the meeting. So did Gretchen Hamel, a former Bush flak who now runs an attack ad group called “Public Notice” that runs ad which denounce spending programs.

Participants collaborated with infamous consultants who specialize in generating fake grassroots movements, as well as experts on how corporations should take advantage of Citizens United. One session, about how to “mobilize citizens for November,” involved a discussion with Republican strategists Tim Phillips and Sean Noble, anti-union leader Mark Mix, and longtime Koch operative Karl Crow. Phillips — a veteran astroturf lobbyist who previously managed a deceptive grassroots lobbying campaign to help the Hong Kong-based Tan family maintain their forced abortion sweatshops in the Mariana Islands — now leads the day-to-day operations of Americans for Prosperity, the group ThinkProgress first reported to have helped organize many of the initial Tea Party rallies against Obama. Americans for Prosperity, founded and financed by David Koch, has a field team of over 80 campaign staffers spread out around the country, and additionally plans to spend $45 million dollars worth of attack ads against Democrats. Shortly before the planning meeting, Crow authored a campaign finance memo explaining that because of the Citizens United Supreme Court ruling, he advised specifically that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s 501(c)(6) and Americans for Prosperity’s 501(c)(4) can “now use general treasury funds to produce communications materials opposing or supporting specific candidates” and corporations can aggressively pressure their employees to vote a certain way.

The memo notes that participants in the 2010 election planning meeting “committed to an unprecedented level of support.”

Interestingly, the Koch meetings are managed by Kevin Gentry, an executive who doubles as a staffer in the Koch Industries lobbying office in Washington and as the key point person who helps deliver Koch charitable foundation grants. As ThinkProgress has documented, Koch Industries has dramatically boosted its own profits by using conservative front groups to manipulate public policy. The fusion between the “intellectual” conservative movement and big businesses opposed to regulations and accountability has a history in America dating back to the New Deal. During the thirties, the Du Pont family and other wealthy interests organized an assortment of “Liberty League” front groups to try to defeat New Deal agenda items and repeal President Roosevelt’s Social Security program. Now, corporations fund groups like the Heritage Foundation and the American Enterprise Institute — both had representatives at the Koch meeting — to further their lobbying agenda. The American Enterprise Institute even changed its name from the New Deal-era American Enterprise Association to try to dispel the notion that they were nothing more than a glorified business trade association.

As the memo states, Beck has addressed this regular gathering of conservative corporate executives in previous years. Past Koch meetings have included various Republican lawmakers, including DeMint, and Supreme Court Justices Clarence Thomas and Antonin Scalia as speakers.

After ThinkProgess published its exclusive investigation of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce revealing that the Chamber has been actively fundraising from foreign corporations for its 501(c)(6) account used to run a $75 million attack ad campaign, Chamber lobbyists found common cause with Beck and many of the conservative talking heads. Shortly after our investigation, Beck hosted an on-air fundraiser, asking his audience to give to the Chamber. Casual observers might have been surprised by the Chamber’s swift alliance with Beck (Chamber executives appeared on the Beck radio program and sung Beck’s praises on the Chamber blog), who has compared Obama to Adolf Hitler and called the President a “racist” who has a “deep-seated hatred for white people.” By telling his listeners to give money to the Chamber, Beck, who owns a media company worth more than $32 million dollars and an experimental Mercedes Benz, essentially told his working class viewers to give their wages back to their employers. However, Beck never disclosed his long working history of discussing political strategy with America’s largest corporations. The Koch memo clearly shows that Beck has been collaborating with the Chamber, as well as other titans of industry, for years. In his latest appeal for support to the Chamber’s foreign-funded trade association, which already counts JP Morgan and ExxonMobil as dues-paying members, Beck yesterday told his audience that the Chamber simply “defends the little guy.”

Click below to view a letter inviting corporate executives to attend the next Koch meeting in January, along with a list of the sessions held by Koch for the last meeting in June of 2010. An attendee list of the June, 2010 meeting is attached at the bottom of the document:


CAPAF interns Salvatore Colleluori, Riley Waggaman, and Ben Kaldunski contributed to this post.

Some of the donors at the Koch meeting were longtime Bush fundraisers, like Cintas Corporation CEO Dick Farmer and wholesale executive Art Pope. However, many names appear to be relatively new to conservative movement “investment.”

Here’s a listing of the attendees:

Name(s)IndustryNotes
Jack and Rose Marie AndersonFinanceCulver Corp, Rose Marie and Jack R. Anderson Foundation- Financial Advisor
Neil Anderson and Amy Fisher-Smith
Runs Rose Marie and Jack R. Anderson Foundation
Phil and Nancy AnschutzInvestmentIndustrialist, Owner, Weekly Standard, Examiner newspapers
Cliff AsnessInvestmentAQR Capital Management
Nate and Lynda BachmanFinanceThe Bachman Group-Financial Advisor
Whitney BallThink TankOwner of a firm that helps corporations give anonymous gifts to front groups
Michael BaroneMediaFox News
Frank and Kathy BaxterBankingAmbassador Frank E. Baxter is Chairman Emeritus of Jefferies and Company, Inc., a global investment bank focusing on mid-cap companies.
Steve and Betty BechtelEngineeringOwns the Bechtel Group (Corporation), Largest engineering company in United States
Glenn BeckMediaFox News
Bernard and Margaret BlasingameManufacturingPresident and owner of Aqua Dynamics Systems, Inc
Alan and Lisa BoeckmannOilCEO Fluor Corporation
Boysie BollingerShipping/CommerceChairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer of Bollinger Shipyards
Patrick and Paula BroeReal EstateFounder and CEO of Denver-based real estate asset management firm, The Broe Group
Arthur BrooksThink TankPresident, American Enterprise Institute
David and Ann BrownThink TankHeritage Foundation
John Bryan

Bob and Martha BufordOilC. Robert Buford has been President and owner of Zenith Drilling Corporation
Tim Busch

Shelby and Nell BushEnergyVice President, Legal and Administration – Hillwood Energy
Tim CarneyMediaPolitical Columnist, Washington Examiner
Charlies and Marla Chandler

David ChavernLobbyistExecutive Vice President and COO at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce
John ChildsInsuranceChairman and CEO of J.W. Childs and Associates
Paul and Lea Clifton
Runs Robert and Marie Hansen Family Foundation
Susie CoelhoeMediafounder and CEO of Susie Coelho Enterprises Inc.
Bill Cooper and Kristen TollefsonFinance/BankingCEO of TCF Financial
Dino and Joan Cortopassi

Joe CraftCoalJoseph W. Craft III is president, chief executive officer and director of Alliance Resource Partners LP
Alex CranbergEnergyAspect Holdings, LLC – Chairman
Jeff CrankAmericans For Prosperity / Radio PunditAFP State Director
Karl CrowPolicy AnalystCapital Research Center
Eric Crown and Isabella KingTechnology SalesSell Technology Equipment
Kevin CrutchfieldCoalKevin S. Crutchfield serves as Chief Executive Officer of Alpha Coal Sales Co., LLC.
Ravenell and Beth Curry

Jim and Shirley DannenbaumEngineeringMr. Dannenbaum, Chairman of Dannenbaum Engineering Corporation
Veronique de RugyThink TankSenior research fellow at the Mercatus Center
Rich and Helen DeVosBusinessFounder and CEO of Amway
Annie DickersonBusinessCBRE analyst
Ned and Nancy Diefenthal

Jim and Dorothy PattersonOilGulf Stream Petroleum
Dan and Kellie PetersNon-for ProfitDaniel S. Peters is president of the Ruth and Lovett Peters Foundation in Cincinnati, Ohio
Tom PetrieBankingCo-founder of BofA Merrill Lynch Petrie Divestiture Advisors
Dixon and Carol DollTechnologyCo-Founder and General Partner of DCM
Karl and Stevie EllerAdvertising
Ron and Kris EricksonRetailRonald A. Erickson is the Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of the Board of Directors of Holiday Companies
Melvyn and Suellen EstrinNatural GasDirector of WGL Holdings INC
Dick Farmer

Peter FarrellBiomedFounder of Resmed
Jim and Zibbie FerrellFuel OilFerrellgas Partners, L.P. engages in the distribution and sale of propane and related equipment primarily in the United States.
Dave FettigNatural GasTank Craft, Duracraft Fuel energy
Bob FettigNatural GasTank Craft, Duracraft Fuel energy
Steve FettigNatural GasTank Craft, Duracraft Fuel energy
Jerry and Nanette FingerBankingManaging Partner, Finger Interests LTD
Richard FinkKoch IndustriesDirector of Georgia-Pacific, EVP of Koch Industries
Budd and Lauri FlorkiewiczManufacturingFoam Fabricators
Charlie and Kaye Lynn FoteFinanceFounder and Chief Executive Officer, Fotec Group LLC
Randy and Jean FoutchOilChairman and Chief Executive Officer, Laredo Petroleum, Inc.
Foster FriessInvestmentMr. Foster Stephen Friess is the Founder and Chairman of Friess Associates, LLC
Steve and Polly Friess

Jerry and Leah FullinwiderEnergy/PetroleumVice Chairman, Hillwood International Energy, L.P.
Richard and Leslie GilliamCoalRichard Gilliam has been President of Cumberland Resources Corporation since 1993.
Susan GoreThink TankFounder, Wyoming Liberty Group
Oliver and Carolyn Grace Jr.Med and TelecomPresident and chief executive officer of Anderson Group, Inc.,
Judson and Joyce GreenEnergy and MedMr. Judson C. Green is the President and Chief Executive Officer of NAVTEQ Corp.
Ken and Anne GriffinInvestment BankingFounder and CEO of Citadel Investment Group
Gretchen Hamel

Fred and Jane HamiltonOilMr. Frederic C. Hamilton served as the President, Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of the Board of BHP Petroleum, Hamilton Oil Company and various Hamilton Oil Corporation subsidiaries and affiliates
Bob and Mary Sue HawkCommunicationsPresident of Hawk Communications
Dick and Ethie HaworthRetailHead of Haworth Furniture, Multi-national corporation, 3rd largest corporate furniture company in US
Robin and Barbara HayesGovernmentFormer NC Congressman
Dan and Carolyn HeardManufacturingExecutive Officer of John H. Carter Co.,
Diane HendricksManufacturingHusband of Ken Hendricks
Steve and Regina HennessyAuto SalesAuto Sales
James and Heather HigginsThink TankIndependent Women’s Forum
Paul HillOilPaul J. Hill serves as the Chief Executive Officer and has been President of Harvard Developments Inc. since 1978. Mr. Hill serves as the Chief Executive Officer and President of The Hill Companies.
John and Joan HotchkisEducationBoard of Directors for Teach for America UC Berkley
Allan and Kathy HubbardChemicals and ManufacturingFounder and Chief Executive Officer, E & A Industries, Inc.
Stan and Karen HubbardCommunicationsExecutive Chairman, Chief Executive Officer and President, Hubbard Broadcasting, Inc.
Ethelmae HumphreysThink TankCato Institute
Manley and Mary JohnsonPolitical Consultant
Merritt Johnson

Gerry and Priscilla O’ShaughnessyOilGerald Eugene O’Shaughnessy Co-founded Geopark Holding Limited in 2002.
Michael O’ShaunessyTechnologyPetters Consumer Brands, LLC develops consumer electronics and appliances.
Tim O’ShaughnessyMediaHungry Machine, Inc., doing business as LivingSocial.com, is a social discovery and cataloging network.
Marshall Johnson

Kyle and Kirsten Johnstone

Mike and Beth KasserReal EstatePresident, Holualoa Inc
Ken and Randy KendrickEducation/TechnologyChairman, Datatel
Phil and Joanna KerpenAdvocacy Group/Think TankVP of Policy, Americans for Prosperity
Gerry and Kathryn KingenRestauranteurRed Robin, Happy Guests Int’ll
Scott KirkpatrickInvestorTeton Capital
Charles and Liz KochKoch Industries
Chase and Annie KochKoch Industries
David and Julia KochKoch Industries
Elizabeth KochKoch Industries
Bob and Cindy KochKoch Industries
Bob KohlheppManufacturing/ServicesVice Chairman, Cintas Corp.
Dennis KuesterBankingRetired CEO of M&I Bank
Andrew KupersmithConsultantMD, Cardiology Consultants
Andre LacyInvestmentChairman, Lacy Diversified Industries
Ken and Elaine LangoneRetailInvemed, Home Depot
Jay and Sally LapeyreServicesLaitram Corp
Ken and Frayda LevyInvestmentJLM Investment Mgmt
Tom LoveRetailCEO, President, Love’s Country Stores
Bob LuddyManufacturingPresident, Captive Aire Systems
Fred and Marlene MalekInvestment ManagementThayer Capital Partners
Elaine Marshall
Homemaker
Pierce MarshallAdministrative ManagementMAROPCO
Preston Marshall

Bill MayerHealth CareMD, Mayer & Cope Family Practice
Glen and Diane MeakemBusiness SolutionsCEO, Freemarkets Inc.
Ed MeeseThink TankHeritage Foundation
Lew and Suzy MeibergenGoods/ServicesPresident, Johnston Enterprises/WG Johnston Grain Co
Don and Deede MeyersAttorneySelf Employed
Jerry and Caroline MilbankInvestment ManagementCEO/Principal, Milbank Winthrop & Co.
Jack and Goldie MillerRetailCEO/President, Quill Corp.
Mark MixAdvocacy GroupPresident, National Right to Work Committee
Joe and Mary MoellerKoch IndustriesVice Chairman
Steve MooreMediamember of the Wall Street Journal editorial board
David MurfinEnergyPresident, Murfin Drilling Co.
Walter and Suzette Negley

Mina Nguyen

Larry and Polly NicholsEnergyExecutive Chairman, Devon Energy Corp
Sean NobleFront GroupAmericans for Prosperity
Tim and Teresa OelkeAdvocacy Group/ConstructionTeresa – State Director of Americans for Prosperity, Tim – Crossland Construction Corp
Eric O’KeefeFront GroupSam Adams Alliance
Kurt and Nancy PfotenhauerMediaPresident of MediaSpeak Strategies/former political commentator on Fox News, CNN and MSNBC and former Senior Policy Advisor and National Spokesperson with the 2008 John McCain presidential campaign
Tim PhillipsAdvocacy Grouppresident, Americans for Prosperity
Ramesh PonnuruMediaNational Review magazine
Art and Kathy PopeGoods/ServicesSenior Exec, Variety Wholesaler
Russ RobertsAttorneyRoberts, Ashby & Parrish
Corbin and Barbara RobertsonEnergyPresident, Quintana Minerals Corp
Richard Roder and Karin HsuConstruction ManagementCEO, Cmt-Construction Management
Gary and Kathleen RogersGoodsFormer CEO, Dreyer’s Grand Ice Cream
Durk RorieManufacturingUnited Air Specialists
Chris RuferGoods/ManufacturingMorningstar Company
Peter Schiff and Martha O’BrienInvestorSchiff: Euro Pacific Capital Inc.,
Steve and Christine SchwarzmanFinancial ServicesCEO/founder, Blackstone Group
Rick and Sherry SharpRetailFormer CEO, Circuit City
Mike and Lin SimmondsServicesCEO, Simmonds Restaurant Mgmt
Peter SmithServicesCEO, Service Group of America
Dick StrongInvestment ServicesStrong/Corneliuson Capital Mgmt
Michael SullivanInvestment ServicesCR Intrinsic Investors
Ray and Ladeline ThompsonManufacturingPresident/CEO, Semitool
Lynn TiltonInvestment ManagementCEO, Patriarch Partners LLC
Dave and Melanie TrueOilPartner
Steve TwistConsultantRose & Allyn PR Consultants
Jim and Gayla Von EhrResearch/DevelopmentCEO, Zyvex Corp
Rick and Debra WallerManufacturingOwner, Rollmeister Inc
Peter WallisonThink TankFellow, American Enterprise Institute
Bill and Sarah WaltonReal EstateAllied Capital Corp
Lew and Myra WardOilWard Petroleum Corporation owns and operates wells. It engages in oil and gas exploration and production. The company was founded in 1963 and is based in Enid, Oklahoma.
Dick WeekleyReal EstateWeekley Properties
Fred and Susie WehbaReal EstateBentley Forbes Real Estate
Nestor Weigand and Darcy BuehlerReal EstateJP Weigand & Sons Real Estate
Dick and Mary Beth WeissLife InsuranceWells Fargo, Hawthorne Rances
Howard and Rhonda WilkinsInsuranceDiversified Insurance
Don and Sue WillsOil
Larry and Lorraine WinnermanReal EstateWin Win Enterprises
Joe Woodford

Earl WrightFinanceAMG Natinal Trust
Karen Wright and Tom RastinEnergy/ManufacturingTom Rastin, vice president of marketing and engineering, Ariel Corp – Karen Wright, Ariel CEO
Cliff and Susan YonceInvestment BankingGoldman Sachs
Fred and Sandra YoungServicesDiversified Search, LLC provides senior-level executive and corporate board search services in the United States and internationally. It provides recruitment services for various organizations in consumer and industrial, education, not-for-profit, arts and culture, financial and professional services, business, healthcare and human services, life sciences, media and entertainment, sports and leisure, energy and utilities, private equity, retail, and technology and communications industries.

Monday, October 18, 2010

In Memorium

Laura Nyro
October 18, 1947 - April 8, 1997

Laura, I know that maybe this is the wrong, wrong time
But Laura where did that magic go
It’s so hard, it’s so cold down here
Did you have to leave me behind?
I wish that I could make it
But how I love to shuffle (how I love to shuffle)
Baby let’s swing
Now I love to shuffle
Ever since I heard you sing (since I heard her sing)

-- Todd Rundgren, "Baby Let's Swing"

Click here to listen to the incredibly rare and beautiful duet of Kenny Rankin and Laura Nyro singing "Polonaise."

Friday, October 15, 2010

Obama's record at half term

The "Politifact" feature of the St. Petersberg Times has rightly won a Pulitzer Prize for filtering the baloney from what passes for political discourse in the 21st century U.S. of A. Take a look at Mr. Obama's record so far in keeping campaign promises. So where's the message machine?

Saturday, October 09, 2010

The politics of delusion

As any of you who have found yourself at this blog more than once, I count myself unapologetically among the small army of Todd Rundgren cultists. So I was rather surprised when I chanced upon a tribute to Todd R. on a right wing blog site that canonized The Gipper himself, yes, the original bag man of the New Robber Baron era, Ron Reagan. Of course said blogger's tribute doted on Todd's 70's era (the apotheosis of his true hero's golden era).

As you may know, I am no Reagan fan. So, cantankerous liberal that I am, I posted a dissent (no screed, no profanity, just good clean dissent about the
true legacy of ol' avuncular Ron).

Of course, my post was gone within minutes. So I posted again. Poof - censored again.


So there you have it. In my experience, it is only right wing bloggers who expunge all dissenting comments from their posts. And that, my friends, is truly their version of democracy.