Published On: Thu, Jan 29th, 2015

Koch Brothers’ War Chest Sends Tom Steyer, Democrats, to the Trenches

Koch-Brothers ,   Tom Steyer

The Democrats see it as a David versus Goliath battle, while Republicans may see it as nothing more than pot-shots against the free market, but almost everyone has an opinion about the Koch brothers and their spending power in the upcoming campaign for the White House in 2016.

While much ado was made about how Democrats like Tom Steyer were outspending Republicans in the mid-term elections, it seemed that Charles and David Koch, if not entirely on the sidelines, were keeping their powder dry for the big contest: the presidential election.

Incidentally, the Koch brothers are not Jewish, but Steyer is – his father is member of the Reform Congregation Emanu-El in New York City.

Steyer, an environmental activist, spent $74 million out of his own pocket, which contains $1.6 billion, the Koch brothers, who together are worth $115 billion, can give less than 1% of their wealth and still contribute more than anyone will be able to match.

The Koch brothers have indicated their intention to spend around $1 billion, and this could only be the beginning of what Democrats call “an electoral arms race.” Democrats are meeting to discuss what strategy should be undertaken to combat the infinitely deep pockets and influence of the Koch brothers, who support small government, more power to corporations and unfettered drilling.

Those who go against the Koch’s are stymied, from a campaign finance viewpoint. The $889 million will allow the Koch brothers to act as if they are a political party. While contributions to individuals and parties have limits, the Koch brothers can write huge checks because their groups are not under the heading of political fundraising organizations but nonprofit advocacy groups. As long as they don’t work with the candidate directly and advise rather than electioneer, the sky is the limit on bankrolling campaigns.

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