By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: August 1, 2018 ~
It only took one day for the so-called tiff between President Donald Trump and billionaire puppet-master, Charles Koch, to land on the front page of the New York Times after being widely reported on cable news last evening. In a tweet yesterday, Trump called Charles Koch and his brother, David, “a total joke” and said he had “beaten them at every turn.”
Charles Koch is the Chairman and CEO of one of the largest private companies in the world, Koch Industries, a fossil fuels and chemicals conglomerate that has been a serial polluter of the air and water for decades. He and his brother, David, each have an estimated net worth of $51 billion according to Forbes, owing to their majority ownership of Koch Industries. In June, David stepped down from all management functions at Koch Industries as well as severing his ties to the Koch political machine. The pair have functioned as backroom party bosses, behind the veil of tax-exempt organizations, for the past 40 years.
Trump’s verbal assault followed one of those infamous semi-annual Koch retreats of wealthy donors over the weekend, this time at the 5-star Broadmoor hotel and resort in Colorado Springs. The 2016 event at the same venue was subsidized by the U.S. taxpayer. A tax-exempt organization, Freedom Partners, controlled by a Board of current and former Koch company employees, paid $1,241,571 to the Broadmoor for the event.
The problem with media reports about these Koch retreats is that reporters agree to withhold the names of the donors in attendance and are given scripted statements to be regurgitated to the public. In this case, the Charles Koch agenda was to get widespread media coverage that he is at odds with Trump on unpopular issues – like the immigration disaster at the border and the tariff war: in other words, issues that make Koch Industries look bad while it’s in the midst of a very expensive marketing and advertising campaign to rebrand its image away from that of the Kochtopus into a company known for “integrity” and wholesome values. The campaign included very expensive ads during the Olympics and Super Bowl. Immigrant babies in cages at the southern border and reports that the Trump administration is effectively kidnapping immigrant children by ripping them from their parents and then deporting the parents, is not the stuff of a corporate marketing campaign – thus the need to distance Koch Industries from Trump. There is also the fear that scenes of Midwest farmers burning their fields a few months before the November election because of massive crop surpluses resulting from Trump’s trade war might further harm the reputation of Koch Industries, which hails from Wichita, Kansas.
The New York Times in its front-page article today dutifully reports that Charles Koch has “simmering frustrations with the president over trade and immigration” and these frustrations “have now spilled over into an ugly public feud….”
But the Times went further into fantasyland, writing that “like some other right-leaning organizations and intellectuals, Mr. Koch and his organizations have struggled to find their place in a political party they barely recognize and whose political fortune is now wedded, for better or worse, to Mr. Trump’s.”
Far from struggling to find their place, Charles Koch’s operatives are firmly entrenched in the Trump administration. As the highly respected watchdog, Public Citizen, reported in November, 44 Koch allies are staffing the White House and other agencies. And as we have reported at Wall Street On Parade, that’s on top of the 12 lawyers from Jones Day, Koch Industries’ long-time outside law firm, who all took their seats in the Trump administration on January 20, 2017 – the very day Trump was sworn into office. That includes White House Counsel Don McGahn and his Chief of Staff, Ann Donaldson.
Despite the sheer number of embedded Koch operatives and fealty to the Koch agenda (repeal of the Paris Climate Accord, tax cuts for the wealthy, rollback of environmental protections, etc.) the New York Times and numerous other mainstream outlets continue to push the narrative that the Kochs did not support Trump in the 2016 election. Jeremy Peters writes in today’s article regarding 2016 that “the Koch network only participated at the congressional level, snubbing Mr. Trump.” Again, this is at complete odds with the facts and meant to allow the Koch brothers to hide from Trump’s growing Hall of Shame.
There is documented evidence that the Koch network engaged in a multi-faceted strategy to discourage progressives and liberals from turning out in the 2016 presidential election, thus tipping the victory to Trump. Not only did the Koch network fund Americans for Prosperity and Freedom Partners Action Fund ads portraying Democrats as reckless tax and spend bureaucrats but the Koch-controlled i360 voter database and voter-targeting operations may have been a deciding factor in demoralizing the progressive base from turning out while those same operations spurred Republicans to the polls. That should be a great concern to all Americans as the Koch network has announced it will spend upwards of $400 million in this year’s midterms.