Progressive and liberal activists are planning at the end of the month to confront the secretive billionaire family that finances the so-called Tea party movement and a host of other right-wing causes and institutions.
“Our government is supposed to be of, by and for the people. So are you ready to take it back?” an invitation for the “Uncloaking the Kochs” event asked.
The Sunday, Jan. 30 event thrown by Common Cause, a nonpartisan, grassroots organization, aims to educate attendees in California on the Koch brothers who will be strategizing nearby with their mega-wealthy allies to win the 2012 elections. Afterwards, activists will rally in Rancho Mirage.
“We can’t sit back while a few billionaires destroy the fragile fabric of democracy and the protections that are so necessary for the health of our society,” Jodie Evans of CodePink told Alternet. “It is time for the progressive community to gather together and say no more, and what better place than where the Koch brothers are plotting their next moves.”
Panel discussions will feature Robert Reich, former Labor Secretary; Van Jones, founder of Green for All; Erwin Chemerinsky, UC Irvine Law Dean; Lee Fang, Center for American Progress blogger and Koch Brothers expert; and DeAnn McEwen, co-president of the California Nurses Association.
For the last 30 years, the Koch brothers, who inherited their wealth from their father’s oil interests, have funded a large portion of the conservative movement on issues that promote business over the environmental, labor, and public health concerns.
Recently, David and Charles Koch through their network of foundations and nonprofits outspent ExxonMobile on astroturf campaigns to misinform the American public about climate change legislation.
“From 2005 to 2008, ExxonMobil spent $8.9 million while the Koch Industries-controlled foundations contributed $24.9 million in funding to organizations of the ‘climate denial machine,’” Greenpeace International reported.
Koch also donated funds to elect George W. Bush in 2000 as well as influence the results of the vote recount in Florida.
Among the top recipients of Koch funding are Americans for Prosperity, the Heritage Foundation, and the Cato Institute, which was co-founded by Charles Koch in 1977. Lesser amounts have gone to such groups as Grover Norquist’s Americans for Tax Reform and the Capital Research Center, which has been the primary source of ACORN-related conspiracy theories.
Prominent members of Congress to whom Koch has donated generously include Republicans Eric Cantor (R-VA) and John Boehner (R-OH) and Democrat Blanche Lincoln (D-AR).
“This is not a Koch Industries release,” a Koch spokesperson said in an advisory. “We remain committed to the principled positions we have taken on a wide variety of issues.”
Comedian Bill Maher on Friday lashed out at the followers of the Tea party movement whose activities are funded by Koch’s Americans for Prosperity group.
The Founding Fathers “were everything you despise. They studied science, read Plato, hung out in Paris, and thought the Bible was mostly bullshit,” he said.
With reporting by Murial Kane.