By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: June 10, 2022 ~
As we watched the two-hour public hearing on the critical facts uncovered by the House Select Committee on the attack on the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021, we kept waiting to hear a discussion of the money trail that facilitated this attack. That discussion never came. And yet, big expenses were involved: dozens of buses were rented; signs advertising “Stop the Steal” were on the sides of some of those buses; food and lodging had to be paid for, in or around expensive Washington, D.C.; and, now, lawyers have to be paid to represent those indicted for brutalizing police on January 6 or destroying and/or stealing government property.
The House Select Committee did an excellent job last evening of providing the big picture on the plot to shred U.S. democracy in service to Donald Trump’s megalomaniac desires. But the question that any good investigator of an unsolved crime scene must ask is this: who benefits from this crime? And to understand who, besides Donald Trump, would be the chief beneficiaries of a coup that installed Trump for an illegitimate second term as President, one has to follow the money trail. That money trail leads to Charles Koch, the billionaire Chairman and CEO of Koch Industries, one of the largest private corporations in the world.
Along with the heirs of his late brother, David, Charles Koch is a majority owner of Koch Industries, a global conglomerate which has interests in fossil fuels, refineries, chemicals, paper products and extensive trading operations.
For more than four decades, Charles Koch has also been involved in a shadowy network of front groups that seek to gut the federal government of its regulatory powers over corporations – particularly those involving fossil fuels. To further Koch’s anti-regulatory goals, Charles Koch and Koch Industries were heavily vested in making sure that Trump had another four years as President.
One of the Koch front groups that played a major role in the 2016 election that put Donald Trump in the White House in the first place was Freedom Partners. (It quietly shut down in 2019 after the press started reporting on its role.) When the group was still active in 2018, we had taken a hard look at its Board of Directors. We found that all but one of its Board Members was a current or former Koch company employee. According to the Center for Media and Democracy, Freedom Partners ended up with 12 of its former employees working in the Trump Administration.
Freedom Partners Action Fund, a related organization that ran attack ads against Democrats, had received at least $14 million from Charles Koch and his trust before it shuttered its operations.
Freedom Partners outlined their marching orders for the Trump administration in a formal memo. Their well-placed toadies in the Trump administration delivered: the Trump administration quickly withdrew from the Paris Climate Accord. It passed a massive tax cut for corporations. It gutted federal regulations and put industry lobbyists and straw men in charge of the very federal agencies that oversaw those industries.
To handle any legal pushback, Koch Industries’ law firm, Jones Day, sent 12 of its law partners to staff up key positions in the Trump administration on the very day Trump was inaugurated. Jones Day has since removed the press release it issued at the time but you can read the reporting on it at the American Bar Association Journal.
But the money trail doesn’t stop there. At least three of the organizations that fomented the Big Lie that the election had been stolen and actively solicited thousands of people to turn out for the January 6 event at the Capitol were funded by Koch Industries or its front groups.
According to the TrumpMarch.com website, which was sponsored by Women for America First, its “Coalition Partners” for the January 6 event at the Capitol included the Rule of Law Defense Fund; the Tea Party Patriots; and Turning Point Action, among others. The TrumpMarch.com website has since been taken down but it was captured on January 2, 2021 (give the page a little time to load) by the Internet Archives’ Wayback Machine.
Rule of Law Defense Fund is the dark money arm of Republican Attorneys General Association (RAGA), a group that was raising millions of dollars from corporate felons in order to elect the highest law enforcement officers at the state level. (See our in-depth report of January 14, 2021.) According to IRS filings made by RAGA, it has received $511,400 from Koch Industries and a subsidiary since 2014.
As originally reported by Jamie Corey at the watchdog group, Documented, the dark money arm of RAGA made robo calls to boost turnout for the January 6 event at the Capitol. The message was as follows:
“I’m calling for the Rule of Law Defense Fund with an important message. The ‘March to Save America’ is tomorrow in Washington D.C. at the Ellipse in President’s Park between E St. and Constitution Avenue on the south side of the White House, with doors opening at 7:00 a.m. At 1:00 p.m., we will march to the Capitol building and call on congress to stop the steal. We are hoping patriots like you will join us to continue to fight to protect the integrity of our elections. For more information, visit MarchtoSaveAmerica.com. This call is paid for and authorized by the Rule of Law Defense Fund, 202-796-5838.”
Another of the Coalition Partners, Turning Point Action, Tweeted that it was “honored to help make this happen, sending 80+ buses full of patriots to DC to fight for this president.” The Tweet was first reported by DailyDot.com.
Turning Point Action is a dark money group that does not report its donors to the Federal Election Commission. However, according to the Center for Media and Democracy, its sister group, Turning Point USA, has received $610,000 from Donors Trust since 2017. Charles Koch’s footprints are all over Donors Trust, another dark money group, as we exclusively reported in 2010. (See Koch Footprints Lead to Secret Slush Fund to Keep Fear Alive.)
According to the April 1, 2020 report at the Center for Media and Democracy, “In 2014-15, the Koch’s Knowledge and Progress Fund gave $5.3 million to Donors Trust, and the Charles Koch Foundation has given $980,000 to it since 2014. The related Donors Capital Fund, to which Koch family foundations have also contributed large sums, donated $100,000 to TPUSA [Turning Point USA] in 2016.”
Another Coalition Partner for the January 6 event, Tea Party Patriots, has received at least $200,000 from Freedom Partners, the Koch front group discussed above. Tea Party Patriots has also received donations from Donors Trust.
Women for America First obtained the permit for the speeches and rally on January 6 that preceded the attack on the Capitol. Its co-founder, Amy Kremer, has ties to Tea Party groups that were funded in the past by the Koch network.
The Tea Party movement itself was a Koch Industries and Big Tobacco creation, as insider Jeff Nesbit explains in his book, Poison Tea: How Big Oil and Big Tobacco Invented the Tea Party and Captured the GOP.
Koch Industries, through its ownership of i360, a massive voter database and data mining operation, was deeply entangled in the campaigns of members of Congress who voted against certifying the votes for Joe Biden. We broke the news in 2018 that Koch Industries had purchased i360. We obtained that information from an internal newsletter at Koch Industries that was available online and from the fact that help-wanted ads for i360 sent applicants to apply at Koch Industries. (The company has not disputed our reporting on its ownership of i360 over the past four years.)
We reported this in 2018:
“The i360 website says that its database now has information on 199 million voters from all 50 states; information on 290 million consumers with 700+ data points; information on precinct election returns as well as data from the Census, NOAA, the Bureau of Labor Statistics and geo-spatial data; individual sentiment information on candidates and issues from its social media operations; and information from its grassroots groups (read Americans for Prosperity) and paid door-to-door knockers who are using a sophisticated hand-held device to update the database in real time in the pivotal weeks before an election.
“But i360 is far more than just a voter database. It has social media targeting operations and really scary data collection that reaches into people’s homes. Consider this from their website:
‘Through an exclusive partnership with D2 Media Sales, the strategic relationship between DirectTV and Dish, i360 is able to identify households that meet your target criteria and serve ads uniquely to those households – no matter which stations or programs they are watching. With dozens of i360 custom segments pre-matched to more than 20 million DIRECTV and DISH homes, campaigns can now reach the largest addressable TV advertising platform in the nation. One-to-one television targeting combines the emotional impact of TV advertising with the precision and accuracy of direct mail marketing – resulting in the most cost-effective and high impact buying solutions.’ ”
Ask yourself this: why is Congress and the sprawling national security agencies of the United States allowing a privately-owned fossil fuels conglomerate to directly insert itself into the campaign operations of candidates for Congress. Now ask yourself this: why isn’t this front page news on every major newspaper in America?
According to Federal Election Commission records, a number of Republican House Reps who objected to the certification of Biden’s presidential election win utilized the services of i360 in their campaigns. For example, Mike Johnson of Louisiana paid i360 $15,580 for what he called “electronic media expense.” Elise Stefanik of New York paid i360 more than $128,000 which she tagged as telephone service, web service, equipment rental, or simply “subscription.” Barry Moore of Alabama paid i360 $12,815 in 2020 for fundraising mailouts and ad buys.
Senator Tommy Tuberville, who objected to the certification of Biden’s win, also engaged the services of i360 in 2020. Tuberville paid i360 $50,875 for data subscriptions and making phone calls. As the Capitol was under siege and Trump was watching the brutal scenes on his television in the dining room off the Oval Office, he spoke with the newly-sworn- in Senator Tuberville by phone, urging Tuberville to make more objections to the certification of the vote, according to reporting at CNN.
While Trump made time to call Tuberville to try to stop the certification of the vote on January 6, according to the opening statement last night from the Co-Chair of the January 6 House Select Committee, Liz Cheney, Trump did not call one government official in an effort to stop the murder and attacks of Capitol Police or to prevent potential harm to his own Vice President and members of Congress. Cheney stated the following:
“Not only did President Trump refuse to tell the mob to leave the Capitol, he placed no call to any element of the U.S. government to instruct that the Capitol be defended. He did not call his Secretary of Defense on January 6th. He did not talk to his Attorney General. He did not talk to the Department of Homeland Security. President Trump gave no order to deploy the National Guard that day, and he made no effort to work with the Department of Justice to coordinate and deploy law enforcement assets. But Vice President Pence did each of those things.”
Before the January 6th Committee completes its televised public hearings, Americans must be provided a complete understanding of the money trail that facilitated this unprecedented attack on the seat of government.