By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: March 2, 2021 ~
The Senate Banking Committee will convene today to conduct confirmation hearings for President Joe Biden’s nominees to fill two key Wall Street watchdog posts: Gary Gensler to Chair the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and Rohit Chopra as Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB).
As a result of Democrats taking control of the Senate, Sherrod Brown, a Democrat from Ohio, is the new Chair of the Senate Banking Committee. Curiously, however, the prior Republican Chair of the Senate Banking Committee, the mild-mannered Mike Crapo of Idaho, is not the Ranking Member of the Committee. He has been replaced by a man far more likely to engage in aggressive Koch-speak, Republican Senator Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania. (Toomey was all set to become the new Chair of the Senate Banking Committee but then things went south in Georgia and Democrats picked up two additional seats in the Senate.)
What exactly is Koch-speak? It’s the manner in which politicians form their sentences in public when they are beholding to corporate money from the Koch network of billionaires and assorted grifters. Koch-speak is an acquired art. Crapo didn’t master it so he’s out; Toomey is in.
Koch-speak requires the ability to cloak one’s fealty to corporate greed and their lobbyists’ demands for de-regulation by sprinkling one’s sentences with words like “free markets,” “liberty,” and “limited government.”
According to the Center for Responsive Politics, over the course of his political career, Toomey’s largest donor to either his Campaign Committee and/or Leadership PAC has been the Club for Growth, which has provided more than $1.26 million to Toomey’s coffers. That’s more than 7 times the amount of Toomey’s second and third largest donors, the hedge fund Elliott Management and Goldman Sachs. Toomey served as the President of Club for Growth from 2005 to 2009.
The Club for Growth is a dark money group that has pushed for things that the majority of Americans are against: the privatization of Social Security; the destruction of workers’ rights and unions; and the deregulation of dangerous industries.
Another group that incentivized Toomey to refine his Koch-speaking ability is the Freedom Partners Action Fund. It pumped at least $4.3 million into running attack ads against Toomey’s Democratic challenger, Katie McGinty, in the 2016 senate race in Pennsylvania.
Charles Koch, the billionaire Chairman and CEO of the fossils fuels conglomerate, Koch Industries, and his trust gave $14 million to the Freedom Partners Action Fund Super Pac from 2014 through July 2018 according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Time Magazine’s Philip Elliott reported in January 2017 that “In seven of the eight up-for-grabs U.S. Senate races last year, the Koch-backed candidate won. In all, Koch-backed candidates at all levels of races prevailed 96% of the time—a record any outside group would covet.”
It’s easy to see why survival in Republican politics now requires mastery of Koch-speak.
The Freedom Partners Action Fund was an affiliate of the dark money group, Freedom Partners, which was organized as a 501(c)(6) tax exempt organization that did not have to reveal its donors to the public. When we examined the Board of Directors of Freedom Partners in 2018, we found that all but one of its nine-member Board of Directors was a current or former Koch company employee. At the time, its Board Chair, Mark Holden, was simultaneously serving as General Counsel of Koch Industries. Freedom Partners shut down its operations in 2019 but there remains a Koch-funded octopus of front groups to fill any void.
Toomey will not be the only Republican on the Senate Banking Committee engaging in Koch-speak today. A curiously large number of Republican Senators on this Committee have ties to Koch money and/or Club for Growth.