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Posts Tagged ‘Koch Brothers in Iowa’

How To Flip The Koch Party


Click on the image to find out more about ALEC in Iowa


Have you ever heard of ALEC?  The Koch Brothers?  If  you answered yes, it’s probably because of the folks at the Center for Media and Democracy.  Read their story then decide if you feel they are worth supporting.

by Lisa Graves

Our country is facing some huge battles with the Koch Party’s expanded power in Congress and the states.

The destruction of election corruption laws has aided–and been abetted by–the billionaire Koch Brothers and their network of billionaires and millionaires, with a cadre of servile politicians peddling the buzzwords masking their selfish agenda.

How can it be that We the People are not allowed to regulate the big money corrupting our democracy and buying the public airwaves but people who peacefully demonstrate for racial justice, for protecting our precious planet from climate change and the ravages of pollution, or for a fair chance at the American dream can be so easily corralled onto narrow public sidewalks, massively monitored, immorally arrested for dissent, or even subjected to brute force?

That’s part of the treachery of the Koch Party’s corruption of our First Amendment, equating money with speech and mutating our democracy into a “dollarocracy,” in the words of John Nichols and Bob McChesney.

What your gut tells you is akin to high-dollar bribery by corporations and CEOs is treated by some judges and Koch Party politicians as practically sacred and beyond regulation, while actual speech and dissent by ordinary people of good conscience is limited and repressed in a multitude of ways.

It’s outrageous.

And it’s unacceptable.

But it’s not hopeless and it’s not unbeatable.

We need your help to push back and to use their strength against them.

The Japanese art of “jujitsu” uses the strength of adversaries to defeat them, to flip them.

We think there are at least three ways to do that in this context.

1. Fearlessly take on the powerful.

Unlike political organizations that set their sights, and your funding, on what a poll says may be winnable in a midterm election, for example, or that has so many focal points it simply cedes the territory where their opponents are strongest, CMD is not an electoral group.

We concentrate on the most powerful opponents of a real democracy, and we take on battles perceived to be unwinnable because they ultimately must be won for the sake of the people.

We scrutinize the real power behind the scenes–the CEOs, their corporations, and the front groups they fund to distort our laws.

We take on some of the most powerful special interests in the country that others say can’t be touched or pushed or shamed.

And, we expose them.

Our investigations make it harder for them to operate their schemes below the radar screen, and sometimes we are able to stop them in their tracks.

2. Relentlessly exposing them where they are most powerful.

We invest the time and effort in in-depth investigations, not bounded by election dates or the 24-hours news cycle that values the easy task of writing or quoting opinions over the hard work of real investigations into the political corruption that has become commonplace.

We know the strength of the powerful lies in the pay-to-play schemes that enrich them at the expense of the common good, and that is one of their greatest weaknesses and vulnerabilities.

We unmask that corruption and pour sunshine onto the players in these special interest games and how their agenda harms ordinary people and the future for our families.

And, we are relentless in these efforts.

3. Patiently pursue them and don’t ever give up.

We exercise strategic patience and are inspired by bold optimism.

We don’t play by the PR playbook or timetable of the subjects of our investigations.

We also know our democracy didn’t get into this mess overnight and it can’t be fixed overnight. Charles Koch invested for decades to reap the greedy and distorted policies in the headlines today. It will take time to undo the damage, but we believe the facts and the good will prevail. They have before and will again.

We’re in it for the long haul.

As the great investigative journalist Izzy Stone said, to win major progress “a lot of other people have got to be willing–for the sheer fun and joy of it–to go right ahead and fight, knowing you’re going to lose” until progress is won.

I think of us at CMD as joyful warriors. When the oily frontmen of the greed agenda attack us, it only underscores how consequential the efforts of our small but might organization are.

I also think it’s important to dream big and challenge conventional wisdom–that’s how I helped block more than a dozen of President George W. Bush’s picks to become judges at the height of his popularity and how I helped stitch together an unprecedented filibuster of the reauthorization of the Patriot Act, among other breakthroughs before leading the Center for Media and Democracy.

One of my favorite quotes is Bobby Kennedy’s paraphrase of George Bernard Shaw, “There are those that look at things the way they are and ask why. I dream of things that never were and ask why not.” I do both.

This three-step jujitsu is what CMD’s transformative investigations and projects do:

It was only CMD that had the courage to publish the nearly 1,000 bills secretly voted on by corporate lobbyists voting as equals with elected officials on American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) trips where lawmakers are schmoozed and boozed by special interests. CMD broke the story with The Nation, and CMD launched ALECexposed to drag the powerful corporations underwriting ALEC, like Koch Industries, and other players into the sunlight.

In response, ALEC’s PR operation targeted and attacked me and CMD as well as the legendary Bill Moyers and other journalists in secret messages CMD uncovered as part of our open records campaign.

Undaunted, CMD along with other groups have helped push100 major corporations out of ALEC–including Google, eBay, Yahoo, and Microsoft and those are just a few from the past few months.

CMD was also one of only a handful of organizations in the country to demand that the Constitution be amended to repeal the despicable Citizens United Supreme Court decision in 2010 and related judicial edicts expanding the power of money, corporations, and CEOs.

Though many DC insiders scoffed at the audacity of our goal, a growing number of Americans have stood up to demand repeal. And just a few months ago a majority of U.S. Senators voted on the record in favor of amending the Constitution to begin the process of undoing those disgraceful rulings.

Meanwhile, a rightwing group with close ties to Koch operatives claimed CMD’s investigations into the Wisconsin recall elections spurred a state criminal investigation of confederates of Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker that the public first learned of late last year (“John Doe II”).

That criminal case is awaiting appeal but some of the evidence that has become public is devastating, with a longtime ally of the Kochs–one of the rightwing’s money men, Eric O’Keefe–in the middle of the controversy, which has implications for whether clean election laws will survive nationwide. His group even attacked me and CMD in federal court.

CMD’s hard-hitting investigations and analysis also provoked attacks against us by the PR kingpin Rick Berman, by the man who led CPAC and the American Conservative Union, David Keene, and by operatives with links to the notorious video splicer James O’Keefe–who spent election night celebrating in a limo with Alabama rightwinger Sean McCutcheon, who got the same five guys on the Supreme Court in Citizens United to strike down federal campaign contribution limits. (By the way, we won a retraction from the Washington Times for Keene’s attacks.)

CMD’s work also exposed the shills pushing unlimited fracking and highlighted the work of intrepid activists in New York–who just won the first statewide ban–and across the country. We’ve also helped debunk the lies–like the inflated jobs claims–of backers of the Keystone XL pipeline.  We helped expose those trying to crush worker rights and thwart the movement for paid sick leave and increased minimum wage, along with the CEOs profiting big from privatization schemes that are undermining our public schools and our other public institutions and assets, like our water supply and infrastructure.

And, before it was vogue, CMD was one of the first outlets investigating the Koch Brothers, and we are still breaking big news. Earlier this year, for example, I documented Charles Koch’s role raising money for the John Birch Society at the height of its efforts to undermine the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. and the civil rights movement.

That’s just the tip of the iceberg of our ongoing work in these battles and on other important issues.

I know our impact is greater than many groups that have much larger budgets than ours.

That’s because we have very little bureaucracy and we invest our limited resources in strategic research and the power of jujitsu!

But, it’s also because we don’t spend much time on self-promotion or hitting your mailbox with appeals for money, except at the end of the year.

So, will you invest in our work today and help build the infrastructure to flip the Koch Party?

Will you take a moment right now to support CMD’s transformative investigations?

We don’t accept any grants from for-profit corporations or government agencies. We rely on concerned citizens like you to fund this work. Donations to CMD are tax-deductible.

Lisa Graves 2Thank you for all you are doing to help make the world a better place!


Lisa Graves
Executive Director
Center for Media and Democracy

ALEC Exposed  cmdP.S. This year alone, CMD’s investigative work has led to stories on HBO’s The John Oliver Show, Showtime’s Years of Living Dangerously series, MSNBC, Democracy Now, The Guardian, the New York Times, the Washington Post, NPR, and other outlets along with major documentaries like Pay to Play. Beyond those millions of viewers or readers, millions of people visited our websites this past year to get the scoop on these and other issues directly from us. Please take a moment to support CMD’s breakthrough investigations. Our work makes a real difference, and your support makes our work possible.

Coralville Slaps Down Koch Brothers, Earns Spot On The Daily Show


The Daily Show
Get More: Daily Show Full Episodes,The Daily Show on Facebook

Braley opponent: “If You Like Tom Harkin You Will Love Bruce Braley



Here’s a note we found in our inbox today from the Braley for Iowa campaign.  The e-mail suggests that Joni Ernst, who is also running for Tom Harkin’s senate seat, is “cozy” with the Koch Brothers, having attended a recent Tea Party retreat. Not surprising.

Our  household happened to get on Ernst’s mailing list somehow, and we received her campaign letter today.  She outlined her conservative values of anti-gay marriage, absolutist 2nd amendment rights, etc.  She believes that President Obama is eroding our “God-given liberties.”   “If you like Tom Harkin, you will love Bruce Braley,”  her campaign letter also stated. Not exactly a selling point for her because Iowans do like Tom Harkin.  He was elected to Congress and won re-election 5 times. He was also elected to the U.S. Senate in 1984 and was re-elected 4 times.  So Iowans obviously like Tom Harkin and Joni is correct that we are also going to love Bruce Braley. 

However, there is something that Iowans do not like and that is the Koch Brothers meddling in our elections.  For proof, click here here here here here and here.

Please read Braley’s message below, share with your progressive friends and consider volunteering for Braley or contribute if you can.  Joni Ernst may not sound too scary but money influences elections as we all know all too well.  And don’t forget the other business of the Koch Brothers attack ads.

The Koch brothers and their Big Oil allies have been running ads against me all year — the latest as part of a $1.8 million ad buy against me and other Democrats across the country.

And here’s another newsflash: Our campaign recently learned that one of my opponents, Joni Ernst, has been cozying up to the Kochs since last summer when she attended one of their high-roller, Tea Party retreats.

In other words, it’s clear that we’ve been on the Kochs’ radar for awhile and that they’re paying attention to what’s going on in Iowa.

The end of the month is almost here. And if we’re going to fight back against the Kochs and their extreme, anti-middle class agenda, we need to stay on target.

Click here to contribute $5 or more to help us get there.

It’s easy to see whose side my opponent is on.

I’ve been focused on the issues that define our grassroots campaign and matter to Iowa families — creating more jobs, working to get a Farm Bill through Congress, and protecting Social Security and Medicare for our seniors. She’s been on retreats with the big oil billionaires.

With the Kochs pouring money into this race, I can’t win without your support.

Let’s make the most of this month’s deadline.

Give $5 or $10 today to make sure that we hit our $20,000 goal before Friday.

Bruce Follow Bruce Braley on Twitter and his official senate campaign on  Facebook.  Visit the campaign website at

The Koch Brothers Really Do Care About Iowans

koch brothers own americaPlease view this important public service message from the Koch Brothers:

David and Charles Koch are generously spending millions of their hard earned (inherited) dollars buying anti-health care, anti-Bruce Braley advertising in our state because they have only Iowans’ best interests in their hearts, and care nothing for themselves.

Please believe that the billionaire bros are doing everything in their power to influence our elections because they truly care about you, and they are singularly interested in the health, prosperity and well being of every Iowan!

Do not be fooled by the “born here, raised here all my life” posturing of Bruce Braley!  You should instead trust the Koch Brothers to represent your interests and stand up for you.



bruce braleyYes, we were being sarcastic and now that you see what Bruce Braley has to contend with, please consider getting involved in Bruce’s senate campaign.  We cannot afford to lose Tom Harkin’s seat to a tea party candidate of the Koch Brothers’ liking.   Whether you are a Democrat, Republican, Independent, Libertarian, Green Party or a patriotic cynic that doesn’t usually get involved with politics, surely we can agree on this one thing.

bruce family photo       bruce family photo 2


Koch Brothers Rally Got Free Pass By Des Moines Register

[Update: On Tuesday I was on The Fallon Forum to discuss America’s media problem and my letter to the Des Moines Register about this article. Click here to watch the video/podcast]

I grew up reading The Des Moines Register and still feel it is the newspaper Iowa depends on. On Friday, @RadioBradshaw tweeted this: “I used to complain about the AP content in the Register, but after seeing today’s stenography of a DSM Koch Brothers event, I’m rethinking.”  Here is the story he was referring to (which some say reads suspiciously like a press release) by their Chief Political Reporter, Jennifer Jacobs.

Consultant Bashes Healthcare Law Rally

Iowans need to mobilize to fight to repeal the federal health care law referred to as Obamacare, conservative political consultant Dick Morris told Iowans on Thursday night.

The provisions that take effect in 2014 are part of “a vicious, horrible system,” Morris said at a “Hands Off My Health Care!” rally organized by the grass-roots group Americans for Prosperity.

Morris, 64, said 100 million Americans receive welfare benefits, a third of the population.

That doesn’t include Social Security, Medicare, veterans benefits or the earned-income tax credit, he said, just welfare programs.

“So let’s be clear about what is driving this budget deficit,” he told the audience of about 100.

Morris said President Barack Obama uses Medicare “as a piggy bank to pay for Obamacare.” But instead of cutting benefits to Medicare users, Obama cut reimbursement rates to health care providers, he said.

“Well, good luck finding an oncologist on Medicare if you get cancer,” he said. “You might even find it difficult to find a general practitioner … because they have so little reimbursement for each patient that they simply can’t afford to give quality medical care.”

In 2014, “it’s going to be a vicious, horrible system,” Morris said. “Right now there is in Washington a computer that has all of your medical information. All of it.”

Bureaucrats will use this information to decide whether or not care should be given to people who are too old and don’t have enough quality-adjusted years remaining to merit lifesaving care, he said.

Morris said GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s plan calls for doing nothing until 2022. Romney would let retirees keep their current Medicare coverage, or they can choose a better deal, Morris said.

“The government will give you a check, a voucher, a premium support payment — whatever they call it,” he said.

“And you go out and spend that as you wish for health care, and if there’s money left over you don’t spend, you keep it and they won’t tax it.”

People will then be motivated to save money and avoid overpriced services, he said.

Teresa Oelke, regional vice president for Americans for Prosperity, urged the crowd to volunteer for the group’s phone banks.

“My kids at home, I have a 15-year-old, a 12-year-old and an 11-year-old, they’re all on freedom phones,” Oelke said. “In fact, my husband and I, we’ve talked, we’re directly tying Christmas gifts to the amount of minutes they spend on the freedom phones defending their country.”


To which I responded by writing this letter to the editor published Wednesday (most of it):

re: Jennifer Jacobs article on Des Moines Koch Brothers event  [“Consultant Bashes Health Care Law at Rally;
Morris says welfare programs are ‘driving this budget deficit’

Does the DMReg. no longer think it is necessary to provide context to a story?  Does the paper no longer feel obligated to provide balanced information in a story about a political group’s activities?  Does this reporter know who Dick Morris is other than “conservative political consultant”?  Does the Des Moines Register’s Chief Political Reporter know anything about Americans for Prosperity,  a Koch Brothers funded group? If so, did the paper see no reason to include that information in this story about their Des Moines rally, for the sake of transparency, so readers would know who is doing the “bashing”?  Did the paper see no reason to offer the other side or even to include some facts for information purposes,  fairness, balance, etc?

Can the paper give some examples of calls for volunteers or other action alerts that you have provided for progressive groups?  Or some examples where you’ve given publicity to progressive phone banking efforts?  Or when you’ve published a single positive story about progressives or Democrats without including space for the other side?

This article was a stream of inflammatory quotes and false allegations by people who make their living feeding the media conservative ideas, with no effort on the paper’s part to include comments from anyone who would disagree.

“Freedom phones”?  Seriously?
“If there’s money left over you don’t spend, you keep it and they won’t tax it.”  Like there’s going to be money left over?  Are you kidding?
“or they can choose a better deal, Morris said.”  haha, hilarious.

It would be funny If it weren’t for the fact that people will believe these ideas and point to this story in the Des Moines Register, the newspaper Iowa depends on,  as the basis for their belief.


The paper responded graciously, publishing my letter with just a few edits which I thought were reasonable.  And one of the editors sent me a personal reply saying in part:

“Unfortunately, from my perspective…. the short answer is: You’re right.  We try to take pains to include context and other perspectives in our political reporting. When Paul Ryan visited the fair last week, and during President Obama’s three days in Iowa, we conducted a lot of interviews with the other campaign or tracked down policy experts to offer opposing perspectives or rebut factually questionable statements. That is and should be standard operating procedure.  We should have been able to track down an opposing voice, and some basic background on Americans for Prosperity certainly would have been germane. Our editing safety net should have kicked into gear.  Thank you for reading the Register and for caring about the standards we work to uphold.”

Today I was a call-in guest on The Fallon Forum to discuss media.   The podcast should be available soon.

This is why we need media reform/Resources

Media As Misinformation

Romney’s Campaign Strategy: Lie, Lie, and Lie Some More –Can Democracy Survive with 0% Media Accountability?

National Media Reform ConferenceDenver, Colorado, April 5-7, 2013



Seng Nomination Scandal – Iowa’s Version Of Florida 2000?

Isn’t there a law against bribing people with booze to get them to sign a candidate’s ballot petition?  Which raises the question of, why did people need to be drunk in order to go along with it?  What kind of congressman would a person who runs a campaign like this be?

The Iowa Secretary of State is apparently going to allow unverifiable/fraudulent/paid-for-in-liquor signatures to stand on a nomination petition for federal office. (But this same Republican SOS would support a law requiring an 80-year old Iowan living at the same address for 60 years to show an ID in order to vote).

The panel that decided on Joe Seng’s nomination petition challenging 2nd District Congressman Dave Loebsack made their decision based on counties that weren’t even being challenged because the SOS office had already thrown them out. Does this remind you of anything?  Florida 2000 is what it reminds me of.

Maybe there are no hanging chads, but it just feels all too familiar.

“The complaint, filed by Iowa City attorney Paul McAndrew, revolved around dozens of questionable signatures from three counties within the 2nd Congressional district, which covers southeast Iowa. The panel’s ultimate decision mooted those concerns, however, and focused instead on the form of petitions submitted from two other counties.”

“… the panel did not make their decision based on McAndrew’s allegations in Wayne, Scott and Wapello. Rather, they focused on petitions from two other counties – Davis and Van Buren – that the Secretary of State’s threw out prior to McAndrew’s complaint.

They basically put back the two counties that the SOS office had already thrown out, then said Seng no longer needed the 3 counties being challenged to qualify.

So Seng will be on the ballot in spite of this:

“One affidavit came from an Ottumwa veterinarian who described how he collected signatures for Seng at the Fibbin’ Fisherman Lounge in the town Corydon in Wayne County. In the affidavit, Dr. David North attested that he “collected signatures personally” at the bar on behalf of Seng, and that the effort “cost me many rounds of drinks.”

Seng’s Not Mad

Afterward, Seng said he was “pleased” with the result.

“I’m not mad or anything like that….” Seng said….  “There was no politics or anything on that. ”

Whew. Good to know no politics were involved.

According to the Des Moines Register:

McAndrew’s complaint alleged dozens of errors in Seng’s petitions from Wayne, Scott and Wapello counties. Those errors, he argued, brought Seng’s total signatures below the minimum required in each county and should have disqualified him from inclusion on the ballot.

“Seng has … failed to show sufficient support among the District’s electorate to justify placing his name on the ballot and thus putting the public to the expense of, among other things, administering a very expensive primary election,” McAndrew wrote in the complaint.

John Deeth has this:

Despite strong evidence of invalid signatures, the statutory panel — including, disappointingly, AG Tom Miller — left improbably primary challenger Joe Seng on the ballot yesterday, buying his All Participants Get A Ribbon argument that he should get credit for trying: “It really sounded bad that I have a felon and people from Illinois and stuff like that, but that happens in every one.”

Seriously, it happens in every one?   It seems doubtful that it happens to this extent, resulting in this close of a margin, where the candidate wouldn’t have had enough signatures without the bad ones, and the candidate is still given the benefit of the doubt  even while they openly brag to the media about how many rounds of drinks  it cost them.   This is why campaigns routinely try to get many more signatures than the minimum required, so that when the bad ones are rightfully struck, they still have enough.  We all remember when Rep. Loebsack fell short in his initial campaign against Leach.  There was no benefit of the doubt given and he was forced to be nominated at the convention.

Seng is an anti-choice Democrat who has apparently already received some help from the Koch Brothers.

Guess you have to be a conservative to get “benefits.”

Audio of Review Panel’s proceedings: