February 16, 2014

"So, if money is the measure of evil in American politics and the Evil Koch Bros only come in 59th, who is really the most evil donor ever?"

"Turns out it’s Act Blue, with just short of $100 million in contributions during its lifetime, which only started in 2004, 15 years after the Evil Koch Bros...."

I think it's like the way 15 is 105 in dog years. $18 million — the Koch total — should be understood in "conservative" dollars when ranking "most evil" donors. Let's use the "dog years" multiplier of 7, to demonstrate the concept. $18 million is $128 million in conservative dollars. So, understood properly, the Koch Brothers actually do rank #1 on the most evil donor ever ranking.

72 comments:

BDNYC said...

I see lots of blue at the top of that list.

AJ Lynch said...

If you include in-kind contributions, it is a close call between NYT,WAPO, and NBC.

Edward Lunny said...

The top six are extortionists, er, unions. Apparently, no, obviously a marketable skill set is no longer important to get and keep a job. No wonder union membership and influence are worth less and less. No wonder unions have to use deception, extortion, and thuggish behavior, outright fraud to garner new members. When people have a choice knowing what the reality of unions and unionists are, they don't choose unions. Witness the recent vote in the VW plant. Now union dues collections must be severed from state tax administration withholding and the collapse of unions will be completed.

Oso Negro said...

Cute post, but entirely unhelpful in the scheme of trying to get the country through the next ten years without a second civil war. And if it comes, who are you betting on? The simpering collectivist Pajama Boy, or the gnarly red-neck Duck Dudes?

EDH said...

To be fair, aren't the lefties making a dollars per donor argument about disproportionate influence?

As in comparing how much was donated to an organization, like Act Blue, by each donor? Where the denominator in the Koch's case I presume would be 2.

For lefties, isn't this the campaign finance flip-side of their argument against Tom Perkins' recent commentary that voting should be proportional to taxes paid?

Heyooyeh said...

Althouse, what are you talking about? The writing on this one could use some work.

Oso Negro said...

Isn't Act Blue the online thing that the Chinese, the Russian oligarchs, and other foreign potentates used to finance the Obama campaign?

Edward Lunny said...

" And if it comes, who are you betting on? " Those of us who don't think that the government is the solution and don't think that the government will protect us.

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

What the hell is the University of California doing donating to political campaigns at all? Admittedly, it looks as though a lot of its money went to initiatives rather than candidates (anti-Prop. 8, maybe?). Still, a public institution that is perennially claiming penury has no business throwing money to politicians.

AJ Lynch said...

Michele:

I suspect the data for the Univ of Calif is from its employee's donations not from the University itself.

Tom said...

Maybe Occupy Wall Street was on to something.

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

EDH, I think Koch Industries contains more than two people.

ActBlue is, as I understand it, purely a Democratic superPAC, but the several unions that make up most of the top 10 on that list ostensibly are advocates for their members, not ATMs for Democratic candidates. My husband is an NEA member, perforce (comes with the job), and I'm pretty sure he'd prefer his compulsory dues to go to actual work-related uses.

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

AJ Lynch,

I suspect the data for the Univ of Calif is from its employee's donations not from the University itself.

Hmmm. If that is so, does it go for every item on the list? I.e., AFSCME contributions, NEA contributions, UAW contributions, SEIU contributions, &c. are only from members of the unions donating individually, not from the union itself? Because that would surprise me.

redcybra said...

Yes, Ann was being a little too cute for words in that post, wasn't she?

If you actually look at the data (preparing for a joust with some lib who says well, it goes all the way back to 1989), here's Act Blue's contributions for 2013-14:

CONTRIBUTIONS
$11,946,570
ranks 2 of 12,534

LOBBYING
$0 (2013)

OUTSIDE SPENDING
$0

Here's the Eeeevil Koch Bros (TM):

CONTRIBUTIONS
$2,612,355
ranks 11 of 12,534

LOBBYING
$10,430,000 (2013)
ranks 31 of 2,880 in 2013

OUTSIDE SPENDING
$0

And (drumroll): Here's the number one spender for 2013-14, the NEA:

CONTRIBUTIONS
$12,802,615
ranks 1 of 12,534

LOBBYING
$2,475,284 (2013)
ranks 222 of 2,880 in 2013

OUTSIDE SPENDING
$240,555
ranks 15 of 57

Howard said...

I imported the list of the top 156 into excel.

The Dems total:
$1,657,767,260

The Reps total:
$1,162,261,524

The reps are down almost Half a Billion. Free Market Capitalism is a Bitch!


cyrus83 said...

I think you have this backwards, the dollars spent by unions and left-leaning organizations are exempt from being counted as political donations.

Unknown said...

I wouldn't mind Ann substantiating her thoughts that conservative dollars count so much more.

Were that the case, wouldn't the Senate and Congress look different?

Are you saying that even though the left spends so much more, they aren't listened to by a ratio of 7 to 1?

Or are you just obfuscating the huge spending lead the left has any way you can?

Matthew Sablan said...

"Cute post, but entirely unhelpful in the scheme of trying to get the country through the next ten years without a second civil war."

-- ... This sort of rhetoric doesn't help anyone.

Paco Wové said...

Unknown, here's a hint: Althouse's comment is obviously meant as a joke.

Illuninati said...

I love the battle of the boogey men -- Koch brothers vs. Soros.

George Soros doesn't seem to be on the original list so it is difficult to compare the Democrat boogey men vs. the Republican boogey man.
http://www.opensecrets.org/orgs/list.php

There is a site which compares the boogey men side by side. You don't need doggy years to discover that the boogey men contributed similar amounts with the Koch brothers apparently winning over Soros by a nose.
https://www.opensecrets.org/news/2010/09/opensecrets-battle---koch-brothers.html

The Godfather said...

I think there is a problem with money in politics, but the problem isn't adequately defined by this data.

To the extent that Act Blue and Club For Growth and similar organizations are contributing money to promote the policies that they support, they are (at least ostensibly) exercising their First Amendment rights (I say "at least ostensibly" because we don't know from this data what they are spending their money on -- it could be bribes).

But a lot of the donors are businesses, or unions, or interest groups of one kind or another, that may be spending their money for their direct financial benefit -- to obtain government contracts, to block unfavorable regulations or foster favorable ones, to manipulate the tax code, etc. This kind of rent seeking is inevitable as long as we have governments that have huge budgets, that regulate large sectors of the economy, that impose high taxes, etc. But such actions cannot be said to promote the public interest.

I don't know to what extent Koch Industries' donations fall into one or the other of these categories.

CWJ said...

cyrus83@10:18,

Why can't it be both?

Bob Ellison said...

America is lurching left.

AJ Lynch said...

Michele- this is the explanation on the U of C page:

"The federal-level figures on this page are based on contributions of more than $200 to federal candidates, leadership PACs, and political parties as reported to the Federal Election Commission for the 2008 election cycle. The organizations themselves did not donate, rather the money came from the organization's PAC, its individual members or employees or owners, and those individuals' immediate families. Organization totals include subsidiaries and affiliates. The state-level figures on this page are based on contributions to state candidates, parties and ballot measures during the same period, 2007-2008."

Michael K said...

What I understand about the Koch brothers is that they are libertarians and not just GOP donors. Now, we know that Democrats, while making noises as libertarian, are into Big Government in a big way. Therefore…..

For example:

"Koch was the 1980 vice presidential nominee of the Libertarian Party who campaigned on things like drug legalization and a non-interventionist foreign policy.

“I believe in gay marriage,” Koch told POLITICO. When reminded that Romney and the GOP oppose gay marriage, Koch said, “Well, I disagree with that.”

Koch also said that he believes the U.S. military should withdraw from the Middle East and that Congress should cut defense spending and weigh some possible tax increases as a means to balancing the budget — stances that are distinct from the Republican Party line."

Original Mike said...

"This kind of rent seeking is inevitable as long as we have governments that have huge budgets, that regulate large sectors of the economy, that impose high taxes, etc."

That's how you address the "problem" of money in politics. Not by interfering in people's First Amendment rights to petition their government, but by reducing the pay off for doing so. It's not only the right way, but it's the only way that will work.

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Michael K said...

Oh, here's an update on the VW vote for garage;

"That long run might have come soon for Volkswagen's Chattanooga workers. They know the company may decide as early as this month where to build a new SUV for the American market, and the Tennessee plant is competing with Mexico for the job. Mexico already benefits from a low-tariff, free-trade pact with the European Union that the U.S. is only now negotiating, and a UAW victory would have been an additional incentive to go south of the Rio Grande."

You're welcome, garage.

somefeller said...

" And if it comes, who are you betting on? " Those of us who don't think that the government is the solution and don't think that the government will protect us.

The Internet Tough Guys got up early and ate their Wheaties this morning!

Regarding the Kochs, as pointed out above, they are more libertarian than conservative. They appear to be socially liberal (like most thoughtful people), donated millions to the ACLU and are generous to the arts. It's odd that they have become the face of conservative political donations, but it is what it is.

harrogate said...

"And if it comes, who are you betting on?"

The wealthiest among us, naturally.

jr565 said...

Based on this list, I'm not even sure if the Koch brothers are the most evil republican group, let alone evil group period.
Surely there are some republican groups in the spots before #59. And yet the libs seem to be fixated on the Koch brothers.
It's almost like they have marching orders or something.

By the way, because turnaround is fairplay, republicans should start using all the evil democrat groups contributing to politics the same way that libs use the Koch Brothers.
I'm going to start memorizing Act Blue and work on some talking points about the evils of money in politics. I suggest repubs do the same.

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

AJ Lynch,

The organizations themselves did not donate, rather the money came from the organization's PAC, its individual members or employees or owners, and those individuals' immediate families.

If the "organization" has a PAC, it is making direct contributions to political campaigns, nyet?

AJ Lynch said...

Yes I would agree with that.

I don't know if many Universties have political PAC's or make direct contributions though I am certain they do employ [in some cases they employ many] legislative liassons and hire lobbyists.

garage mahal said...

Regarding the Kochs, as pointed out above, they are more libertarian than conservative

Maybe in their private lives. I've yet to see an ad from any of the dozens of Koch affiliated groups that advocate for marriage equality, civil liberties, pot legalization.

Is spending millions of dollars in the pursuit of getting people to not sign up for healthcare a libertarian principle?

The Godfather said...

My old DC law firm had a PAC. Contributions to it by partners were voluntary. Lawyers in the firm who did legislative work decided who the PAC would give money to. So the law firm did not make political contributions. I assume that the same is true of the U of C PAC.

Browndog said...

dozens of Koch affiliated groups

Such as? Educate me. I'd like to learn more.

somefeller said...

Is spending millions of dollars in the pursuit of getting people to not sign up for healthcare a libertarian principle!

These days, yes. If your goal is to prove that government doesn't work by doing things to make sure it doesn't work, it makes a certain sense. I'm not sure Robert Nozick would endorse it, but that's the current state of things.

Edward Lunny said...

" The Internet Tough Guys....." Uh, yea, there were people who wouldn't leave their homes because the "government" didn't plow the snow from their street. In fact it was 2 days before they screwed up the courage to leave their homes. These people live in urban settings.
That is emblematic of the mindset and the "need" for government ,i.e. taxpayer funded support. My 82 year old father cleared his own drive and managed fine, as did I. It isn't about "tough guy", it is about personal responsibility. Some of us have it, many don't and some choose to not have it. So, that's why I chose the answer I chose. Perhaps a bit less ignorance in your reading would help you understand.

somefeller said...

You're one bad dude, Edward. I'm sure your side will be lucky to have you in the coming civil war. And those big-city libruls are gonna pay! Especially the ones who can't shovel snow.

SteveR said...

Here's the bottom line in simple to understand Althouse blog terms. There's a lot of money going to both sides and whiny complaints by garage about the Koch Bros (e.g.)is nothing but weak political rhetoric. Step up your game. We know who gives and why.

drywilly said...

if you believe it is destroying the country, yes.

Michael K said...

" I've yet to see an ad from any of the dozens of Koch affiliated groups that advocate for marriage equality, civil liberties, pot legalization. "

Well, The Advocate seems to think so.

Is "marriage equality" like "climate change"? A euphemism ?

Edward Lunny said...

" Blogger somefeller said...
You're... " Sheesh, yea, well, thank for another demonstration of your ignorance. Enjoy your afternoon.

n.n said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
garage mahal said...

Start here

One of the more creative groups is "United Sportsmen". It's a phony front group who were to receive 500k per year from taxpayers for things like sending out phony absentee ballot applications to Dem voters. The Koch's aren't libertarians, they are leeches that bilk taxpayers for things they don't want to pay for,

n.n said...

EDH:

While the Kochs are funded through the market (i.e. the people), we can only speculate how "Act Blue" is funded. They assert small donors, but that claim cannot be substantiated. It's similar to Obama's campaign, which was funded through unclassified overseas donors, and unverified credit card sources. Besides, the actual redistribution in both scenarios is determined by a minority, not the market or donors, respectively.

garage mahal said...

Well, The Advocate seems to think so.

Great. Dick Cheney is for gay marriage privately too. They just don't support any candidates that are pro gay marriage.

Michael K said...

Fot garage's information:

The Center to Protect Patient Rights is well down the list.

"Ranking based on estimate of 2012 spending reported to IRS: 34
Ranking based on 2012 actual spending reported to FEC: 122"

And, of course, there is nothing going on that might concern patient rights now, is there ?

The ballot initiatives that were on issue are interesting.

"Last year, as California voters faced two major ballot initiatives — one, Proposition 30, which would raise taxes on the wealthy, and another, Proposition 32, which would prohibit unions from using automatic payroll deductions to raise money for political campaigns ."

We certainly saw an example of the latter in Wisconsin recently, didn't we.

Prop 30, the other issue, was a funding measure for the teachers' union, the most powerful force in California politics.

Both won so the "Dark Money" failed. California continues to circle the drain.

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

garage mahal,

Great. Dick Cheney is for gay marriage privately too. They just don't support any candidates that are pro gay marriage.

David Koch ran for office himself. Does that not count?

Drago said...

garage: "Great. Dick Cheney is for gay marriage privately too. They just don't support any candidates that are pro gay marriage"

Substitute Inga for Dick Cheney and abortion restrictions for gay marriage and you would have a perfect characterization of Inga.

Drago said...

somefeller: "These days, yes. If your goal is to prove that government doesn't work by doing things to make sure it doesn't work, it makes a certain sense."

The dems had total control of the obamacare effort.

They screwed up, as predicted.

somefellers response?

It's those darn "predictors" fault!

geokstr said...

Browndog said...
dozens of Koch affiliated groups

Such as? Educate me. I'd like to learn more.


Here's a nice, detailed, heavily footnoted description of the massive tentacles that George Soros has into hundreds of leftwing groups, and even into "journalism" schools, trade associations, and "mainstream" media. His spending on the "transformation" of the United States, which he claims is his "messianic" duty in his own books, is in excess of $5 BILLION dollars, making the Kochs look like pikers. He makes no secret of his belief that America is the main source of all the problems on Gaia, just like Obama.
Discover the Networks: George Soros

When this enormous network funded by Soros began to be known and publicized, the left needed a rightwing bogeyman to offset the bad PR - enter the Kochs. Whereas Soros "philanthropy" is almost entirely used for his far left political purposes, the Kochs donate more money to rightwing capitalist-roader fascist stuff like hospital wings, university endowments and the arts, than they do to politics. But hey, they're on the right, they have billions, so let's "squirrel!" them to keep the attention off Soros.

Here's one of Soros faves - the Secretary of State Project, founded on the well-known Stalinist principle that it's he who counts the votes that counts. It focused on electing leftists as SOS only in swing states with very close margins in presidential races. You won't be surprised to learn that one of his pet SOS's oversaw the theft of the MN senate seat for Al Franken.
Discover the Networks: Secretary of State Project

The left has many other billionaires too that never get any attention. Herbert and Marion Sandler, for instance, were in large part responsible for the downfall of Wachovia and a major contributor to the 2008 housing crash. They have a multibillion dollar foundation that contributes solely to far leftists like the infamous ACORN and many others.
Discover the Networks: Herb and Marion Sandler

Michael K said...

The Sandlers are particularly notorious. Only Mark Rich had better connections than they.

Michael K said...

More on the Sandlers. The regulation mentioned in their bio, "Taking advantage of regulations passed in 1981, the Sandlers’ World Savings Bank steadily grew, specializing in the first-of-their-kind adjustable rate mortgages that allowed borrowers to defer paying their interest." was provided by Democrat Congressman Fernand St Germain.

St. Germain played a role in passing legislation which removed some regulations on savings and loans. The deregulation had the effect of enabling the institutions to engage in risky lending practices, and was the key factor in the creation of the savings and loan crisis. He also snuck in an amendment to raise the FSLIC insurance on S & L accounts from $40,000 to $100,000 (at the time an average account balance was $6,000), bringing the proposal to the floor of the House of Representatives at midnight when only eleven other congressmen were present. It was voted for unanimously. This allowed for a flood of brokered CDs seeking higher interest to move around S & Ls and contributed to the debacle which will cost the taxpayer trillions of dollars and allowed hundreds of frauds to go unpunished.

It was a scam all the way. Then Fannie and Freddie became the Democrats' slush fund until the next crisis.

Take away Fannie and Freddie, or regulate them more wisely, and it's hard to imagine how these highly liquid markets would ever have emerged. This whole mess would never have happened.

And who was running them ?

If that bill had become law, then the world today would be different. In 2005, 2006 and 2007, a blizzard of terrible mortgage paper fluttered out of the Fannie and Freddie clouds, burying many of our oldest and most venerable institutions. Without their checkbooks keeping the market liquid and buying up excess supply, the market would likely have not existed.

But the bill didn't become law, for a simple reason: Democrats opposed it on a party-line vote in the committee, signaling that this would be a partisan issue. Republicans, tied in knots by the tight Democratic opposition, couldn't even get the Senate to vote on the matter.


Oh well. Easy come. Easy go.

Kirk Parker said...

MDT,

"David Koch ran for office himself. Does that not count? "

Mon ami, you are pegging my naive-o-meter today! ;-)

Kirk Parker said...

Matthew S.,

"This sort of rhetoric doesn't help anyone."

Not so sure about that; getting through the next decade w/o a civil war (war-war, for you Whoopi fans) sounds harder and harder with each passing day.


Drago,

"It's those darn "predictors" fault!"

Wreckers! Wreckers and saboteurs everywhere™!

Jeez, if only I were a computer programmer, I'd figure out some way to create a program or keyboard macro to pump out that most apropos phrase automatically! (Oh, wait... I am a computer programmer...)

Michael K said...

"(Oh, wait... I am a computer programmer…)"

If I were I'd be working on EMP. Quite a future there.

We may be dry run now.

Peter Pry, an expert on EMP attacks, said the ships are likely a dry run for a future attack, a maneuver meant to lull Washington into complacency while also embarrassing President Obama and his effort to convince Tehran to give up production of a nuclear bomb in return for a lifting of some economic sanctions.

“Yes, patrols by the Iranian Navy off our coasts could pose threat of a surprise EMP attack,” said Pry, who with others such as former CIA Director R. James Woolsey, has convinced several state legislatures to take moves to harden their electric and energy grids from EMP attack because Washington won't.


It's an ill wind ...

Kirk Parker said...

If I were I'd be working on EMP. Quite a future there.

What does that mean? Working on vacuum-tube electronics (hence possibly survivable) like some of the last-generation MIGs supposedly had?

Kirk Parker said...

Michael K.,

BTW I live on the West Coast like you, so if the first real use of EMP comes from Iran (and presumably east-coast) rather than NorK, we can just shrug off the loss of DC and go on with life, right?

SGT Ted said...

I think Althouses theory is probably the best fit as to how the Koch's come out as especially bad.

SGT Ted said...

All it took for the ACA to fail was us pointing certain negative things out?

We are pretty bad ass, then.

Let's keep doing that.

SGT Ted said...

The ACA is a rip-off.

I wouldn't sign up for if I was a young man either.

Civil Disobedience, bitches.

Young people giving The Man the finger. Refusing to obey the mandatory healthcare draft law.

Ain't it great?

Paul Zrimsek said...

Think of the ACA as that hypnosis-induced public housing development in the Monty Python sketch, that would only remain standing so long as the residents believed in it.

Michael K said...

I think EMP is a distinct possibility so it would be prudent to be thinking about how to deal with it. I was in Boston in November 1965 when the entire Northeast went dark. It got my attention.
I doubt it will be limited to the east although I am not conversant with the national grid.

Kirk Parker said...

Michael K,

"I think EMP is a distinct possibility "

Me too, but I don't think a single weapon smaller than the Tsar Bomba class could take out both coasts at once. Hence my previous question/remark.

Unknown said...

Paco, obvious is obviously in the eye of the beholder. And, as that is the case, ambiguous humour is not the best. I've been reading Ann daily for years now. I imagine myself to have some sense of her affinities, and I don't see humour dripping off this one.

YMMV

RecChief said...

And of the top 20, 19 of them give almost exclusively to the Democrat Party

eric said...

The problem here is that the Democrats are spending tons and tons of money to get Democrats elected and the Democrats still aren't winning.

They need to step up their game. First, they need to drive Republicans out of politics (IRS anyone?). Then, they need to make sure all Republicans that donate are attacked, bullied and demonized until they SHUT UP! Finally, the Democrats can take their rightful place as our kind, morally righteous, they know best leadership in this country.

Or we can just dispense with all the bullcrap, remove all these stupid laws that limit free speech and allow anyone to donate any amount of money they want.

Scott said...

Actually, the EMP article has a lot of problems. Where to start....

First off, in order for an EMP strike to work, the physics demand that you detonate the nuke over 20 kilometers altitude (65,000 feet for us old fogies). At that point, you get an EMP that affects the surface area in 'line of sight' of the flash. Higher is better, which means if you wanted to nail the continental USA, you would have to detonate it at satellite altitudes over Kansas.

So far so good. Only problem is in order to get that nuke that high, you need a rather large rocket to do it (or the Space shuttle). Can you get that kind of rocket into a standard shipping container? Of course not (never mind the nontrivial engineering problems of raising and firing it from a moving platform at sea plus including enough protection from the environment to allow it to function reliably and prevent the exhaust from blowing a hole in your boat in the process). Not really an option here (and the sea launched ballistic missiles took a LOT of work and experimentation to overcome).

Furthermore, the Club-K system are cruise missiles, which are designed to fly at under 1,000 foot altitude to their targets. Not even remotely close to what you need for an EMP attack (versus a 'conventional' attack where you fly the nukes in via cruise missile with the element of surprise). Any such nuclear attack scenario would involve a few US targets getting hit...followed by the responsible parties getting incinerated by the counterstrike. Keep in mind that you have a lot of US targets who can pick up the slack (the Pentagon goes when DC is nuked...what about Air combat command down at Langley AFB in Virginia? And what about Strategic Air Command HQ in Omaha? And Pacific Fleet HQ in Hawaii...). You get the idea.

Having one of your warships (which would indicate complicity) off the coast at the time is the geopolitical equivalent of playing Russian Roulette...with a fully loaded submachine gun. The author of that article and 'EMP specialist' is selling a line. While it's a good idea to harden the infrastructure against EMP (or a solar flare, see the Carrington Event), the scenario he describes is as likely as someone driving the family car across the Pacific.

Retired USAF vet

Eli Blake said...

Ann, that is absolutely ridiculous. You are counting MY donations (few as they are) when you say 'Act Blue.'

Act Blue is a clearinghouse that makes it easier for people to authorize access to their bank account. It is no more an organization with an agenda than Master Card is a consumer (because what you are claiming is equivalent to saying that Master Card has bought millions of vacations, expensive gifts and subscriptions, how can one company be spending that much money?)

Eli Blake said...

AND, Ann, this is only a partial list. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has given over $86 million over the same time period, only 7% of it to Democrats. But they don't make the list because the article focuses on liberal donors and conspicuously excludes the Chamber.

Further, the article itself is in the Washington Examiner. The Examiner is owned by Clarity media which is the singular mouthpiece of Philip Anschutz. Anschutz has been known to play fast and loose with the truth and shade the news to fit his agenda (besides the Chamber, I bet there are other big donors that he just 'forgot' to include.)

I'D THINK, as a law professor, Ann, you'd know better than to rely on sources like the Washington Examiner that have such a poor record of veracity.