Seven Disturbing Quotes From the Koch Summit Speeches

Posted by Jay Riestenberg on August 27, 2014

level the playing field

Today, The Nation and The Huffington Post published speeches from Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and three other GOP Senate candidates, Rep. Tom Cotton (AR), state Sen. Joni Ernst (IA), and Rep. Cory Gardner (CO), at a secretive donor summit hosted in June by billionaire industrialists Charles and David Koch.

The candidates make the case for overturning Citizens United and getting big money out of politics better than we ever could.

Check out these samples, with our analysis:

“All Citizens United did was to level the playing field for corporate speech…. We now have, I think, the most free and open system we’ve had in modern times.” – Mitch McConnell

The “playing field” surely is not level for American voters -- Citizens United invited corporations and special interests to spend freely to amplify their speech and drown out the rest of us. That’s the opposite of “free and open”.

“The worst day of my political life was when President George W. Bush signed McCain-Feingold into law in the early part of his first Administration.” – Mitch McConnell

McConnell has long been the chief opponent of the historic McCain-Feingold campaign finance law in 2002, which Common Cause helped pass. We never knew he took it so personally.

“The exposure to this group and to this network and the opportunity to meet so many of you -- that really started my trajectory." – Joni Ernst

Senate candidate Ernst, running for an open seat in Iowa, credits the Kochs’ political network for her rise; it makes you wonder how she’ll pay them back if elected.

“We understand that a number of you are in the retail business… You really would prefer to keep you confidentially. We are not pressing you to do anything that’s beyond – for your survival.” – Koch Industries executive Kevin Gentry

Here, one of the Kochs’ top fundraisers assures the roomful of millionaires and billionaires that their political contributions can remain secret. By way of background, you should know that Gentry formerly served as an adviser to former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, now on trial on charges that he failed to disclose gifts from a well-heeled supporter.

“And we looked at the House of Representatives – you all pooled your resources - $100 million dollars in 2010. Very prioritized, and it was very strategic, very systematic. And with your help, we were successful.” – Americans for Prosperity President Tim Phillips

Phillips takes credit for flipping control the U.S. House in 2010 without mentioning any voter who cast a ballot in that election; behind closed doors, everyone knows that special interest money speaks louder than people.

“I want to start by thanking you, Charles and David, for the important work you’re doing. I don’t know where we’d be without you.” – Mitch McConnell

It’s no secret that McConnell has relied on the Koch brothers (Charles and David) in the past. The “important work” McConnell refers to is their use of dark money groups to further their political and economic interests.

“I’m really proud of this Supreme Court and the way they’ve been dealing with the issue of First Amendment political speech.” – Mitch McConnell

After Citizens United and McCutcheon, which opened the floodgates to unlimited political spending, there’s little to be “proud” of when it comes to this Supreme Court and political speech.

In this comments, Sen. McConnell also criticized Common Cause for supporting public financing legislation that would truly level the playing field between voters and big-money special interests, like the Kochs.

After these revelations, it’s all the more important that we pass the Democracy for All amendment, which would let Congress place sensible regulations on campaign spending. The Senate votes on September 8. Contact your senator today.

Office: Common Cause National

Issues: Money in Politics

Tags: Fighting Big Money

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