The Koch Brothers

Conservative and libertarian activists Charles and David Koch are the billionaire owners of Koch Industries, America's second-largest privately owned company with annual revenues of more than $100 billion.  The firm runs oil refineries in Alaska, Texas and Mexico and owns consumer brands like Brawny Paper towels, Stainmaster carpets, and Dixie cups.

The Kochs are prominent philanthropists and patrons of the arts but in recent years have become best known as the central figures in an informal alliance of business executives, conservative theorists and government officials who meet regularly to plot strategies and raise money in support of an ambitious pro-business and sometimes libertarian agenda. They favor dramatically lower personal and corporate income taxes, less government oversight of industry -- particularly when it involves environmental regulations that impact their businesses --  and minimal public assistance for the needy. The Kochs and their network are expected to invest up to $400 million in the 2014 election, most of it through a network of non-profit groups created to conceal the identities of the donors. They are founders and major financial backers of Americans for Prosperity, a group that bankrolled the rise of the Tea Party.

Common Cause has raised questions about the Kochs’ ties to Supreme Court Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas, who according to Koch Industries have been “featured” guests at twice-annual political fundraising and strategy sessions sponsored by the company. In January 2011, we sponsored a public forum, “Uncloaking the Kochs” in conjunction with a Koch meetings in Southern California to spotlight their pursuit of an agenda that advances their private interests at the expense of the public interest. Common Cause also has asked the Department of Justice to investigate whether Justices Scalia and Thomas have participated in Koch-sponsored events and if so whether their participation should have triggered their recusal when the court considered the landmark campaign finance case, Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. Koch Industries was a major beneficiary of the court’s decision in that case, which overturned longstanding regulations limiting corporate spending around elections.

Additional resources:

Covert Operations: The billionaire brothers who are waging a war against Obama- Jane Mayer, The New Yorker


The Brothers Koch: Rich, political, and playing to winNational Public Radio

The Billionaires Bankrolling the Tea Party - Frank Rich, New York Times

ThinkProgress' Interview with David Koch - Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 - Lee Fang, Center for American Progress

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