Billionaires List: Koch Brothers, Right Wing Bankrollers
Forbes- Clare O’Connor
Mar. 10 2011 – 2:41 pm |
As well as ranking the rich by net worth on this year’s Forbes Billionaires List, we looked at the moguls making the most social impact beyond their wealth. Of course, if you’re looking to save the oceans, explore space or build schools, it helps to be loaded — but we’re looking at the billionaires setting the agenda outside of their respective businesses.
The Koch brothers — America’s wealthiest industrialists — had a direct hand in the resurgence of the right during November’s midterm elections. Americans for Prosperity (AFP), the conservative nonprofit that David founded, spent $45 million bankrolling right-wing candidates, many of them Tea Partiers. AFP outspent the Democratic Governors Association by more than three to one. That same election cycle, Koch Industries subsidiary Flint Hills Resources contributed $1 million to California’s failed Proposition 23, that ballot that would have killed legislation cutting back greenhouse gas emissions.
Weeks later the billionaire brothers convened their secretive biannual retreat of rich, influential Republican donors at a resort in Palm Springs; Forbes 4oo power players Rich DeVos, Ken Langone and Diane Hendricks all reportedly attended to strategize for the 2012 elections. Waiting for them: a thousand protesters (Greenpeace flew a blimp over the rally, its banner reading “Koch Brothers: Dirty Money”).
Their tremendous spending power and influence — dubbed “the Kochtopus” by some media — gained further unwanted attention in February after Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker was pranked by a blogger posing as David. When the fake Koch offered to fly the governor to California to thank him for his union-crushing efforts, Walker jumped at the chance.