Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., renewed his criticisms of the Kochs this week. In a Senate chamber speech, Reid noted that Koch Industries benefited from a temporary provision of the health care law.
The Early Retiree Reinsurance Program, Reid said, "helped the company pay health insurance costs for its retirees who are not covered by Medicare." Reid asked sarcastically: "So it's OK for Koch Industries to save money through Obamacare" even as Koch-related groups seek the law's repeal.
When Congress enacted the health care law in 2010, it appropriated $5 billion for the temporary reinsurance program. The goal was to subsidize employers' costs for workers who retire before they become eligible for Medicare. Hundreds of employers applied — many were corporations, cities and public universities — and virtually all the money was soon distributed.
"If the Affordable Care Act is so awful," Reid asked, "why did Koch Industries use it to their advantage?"
Federal records show that Koch Industries received $1.4 million in early retiree subsidies. That's considerably less than the sums many other employers received. A Koch Industries spokesman said he had no comment on Reid's latest criticisms.
The Koch consortium may be the loudest "Obamacare" critic among the subsidized employers. But many others accepted the subsidies while heavily backing GOP House and Senate candidates, most of who call for repealing the 2010 health care law.
For instance, United Parcel Service received $37 million from the program's subsidies for early retirees. From 1989 through this year, political action committees affiliated with UPS donated $32 million to federal candidates and political parties. Of that, 64 percent went to Republicans, according to records compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics.
Union Pacific Railroad's employee health system received $9.7 million in subsidies. Republicans received more than two-thirds of the nearly $20 million in political donations from the railroad's PACs in the 25-year period tracked by the center.
Altria Client Services Inc. received nearly $11 million in the early retiree subsidies. And Republicans received 71 percent of the nearly $24 million in Altria-related political donations from 1989 to 2014.
One of the biggest subsidy recipients was AT&T, at $213 million. More than half of the $56 million in AT&T-related political donations went to Republicans during the 25-year period.
Spokesmen for AT&T and Altria declined to comment about accepting "Obamacare" subsidies while funding candidates who want to repeal the law.
Other companies that steer most of their political donations to Republicans, and the early-retiree subsidies they received, include: Pfizer Inc., $23 million; GlaxoSmithKline, $14 million; Southern Company Services, $7 million; Lockheed Martin Corp., $4 million; CSX Corp., $2.2 million; KPMG LLP, $1.4 million; and Deloitte LLP, $1.2 million.
The data compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics omits much of this year's heavy political spending, because many major players are not required to report donations. The Koch-funded group Americans for Prosperity is among those "super PACs" that can keep their finance details private, even as it dominates the airwaves in some states, like North Carolina, with competitive Senate races.
The Kochs and their allies show little sheepishness about denouncing a federal health law that benefited them. In fact, the Koch-related group FreedomPartners is spending more than $1 million on ads criticizing Sen. Mark Udall of Colorado and Rep. Bruce Braley of Iowa, Democrats running in tight Senate races.
Their alleged wrongdoing? Accepting campaign donations from health companies that benefit from "Obamacare."
Friday, August 01, 2014
From Media Matters:
House Republicans pulled a bill which would increase funding for security at the southern border after conservative media and their allies voiced opposition to it.
The bill, pushed by House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) was tabled after he and House Republican leadership faced "a rebellion among their most conservative ranks," according to the New York Times, who also reported that the failure to pass the bill "ensures that no legislation to address what both Democrats and Republicans call an urgent humanitarian crisis will reach President Obama's desk before the August break." After the measure failed, Republicans met to discuss whether they would bring up another bill before Congress goes into recess or to scrap the legislation entirely. Roll Call reported that "chaos reigned" as it became unclear what Republican leaders would decide to do.
Conservative media darling Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) was reportedly whipping votes in order to stop the bill the night before its introduction, according to a Washington Post report. Cruz appeared on Fox's On the Record with Greta Van Susteren that same night and attacked what he described as "President Obama's amnesty."
Weekly Standard founder and ABC News contributor Bill Kristol wrote a July 31 blog post demanding that the House "kill the bill." He described the bill as "dubious legislation" and argued that passing it would "take the focus off what President Obama has done about immigration."
Conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt agreed with Kristol, writing that the House should "kill the fake border security bill and go home until the House leadership gets serious about passing a real border security bill."
The Drudge Report highlighted opposition to the bill at the top of the site with the headline "Hill Phones Melt As Boehner Pushes Border."
The Drudge headline linked to Breitbart.com, which has repeatedly opposed immigration reform efforts. The story by Matthew Boyle noted that "The American people have overloaded the Congressional phone lines yet again on Thursday, pressuring their members of Congress to vote against the House and Senate immigration bills."
Fox News contributor Erick Erickson argued at his site, RedState, that the bill was flawed because it failed to repeal the Obama administration's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), which conservatives incorrectly blame for generating the surge in child migrants from Central America.
Erickson added, "The House GOP should be starting with closing DACA, not telling conservatives they first have to fund the President and then they'll get table scraps" and directed his readers to RedState's "action center" where they could call Congress and demand that "the House GOP must close DACA."
Daily Caller columnist Mickey Kaus promoted a campaign from the anti-immigration group Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) which urged readers to call the U.S. Capitol switchboard in order to speak to their member of Congress and demand "No New Laws" on immigration. Kaus also linked to a list of members and their direct office phone numbers.
Laura Ingraham, a talk radio host and Fox News/ABC News contributor, who has been an anti-immigration reform crusader for years, wrote on Twitter that Boehner had made a "supreme accomplishment" by pushing a bill that "manages to enrage both the political left and conservatives." She later celebrated its defeat.
Wednesday, April 09, 2014
MEAGAN HATCHER-MAYS/Media Matters For America:
The New York Times missed the opportunity to explore the close connection between Donors Trust, the right-wing's "Dark Money ATM," and the conservative activist behind high-profile Supreme Court cases that are successfully attacking decades-old civil rights precedent.
The Times recently ran a profile of Edward Blum, the director of the Project on Fair Representation, a non-profit group that solicits plaintiffs to challenge civil rights policy and law like affirmative action and the Voting Rights Act. The article reported that this self-described "one-man organization" receives funding from "conservative groups like the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation and the Searle Freedom Trust." This support from some of the right-wing's biggest donors has allowed Blum to pursue high-profile cases that are challenging half a century of civil rights precedent.
Blum was the driving force behind the failed attempt to overturn constitutional race-conscious admissions policies in the recent case of Abigail Fisher, a white student who sued the University of Texas after she wasdenied admission. Blum also organized the recent challenge to the Voting Rights Act, which successfully gutted a key provision of the Act that protects minority voters from racial discrimination at the polls. Blum is now rolling out new websites to troll for other rejected students in his attempt to once again provide the Supreme Court's conservative justices an opportunity to overturn case law that allows affirmative action.
But the Times provided an incomplete picture of Blum's access to deep-pocketed conservative groups by omitting the fact that Blum also has long-standing ties to the "donor-advised fund" Donors Trust. Mother Jonesrecently coined the "dark money ATM of the conservative movement" to refer to Donors Trust because of its history of raising and handing out hundreds of millions of dollars to libertarian and conservative groups, without disclosing the original sources. Although Blum's website explicitly noted the connection between the Project on Fair Representation and Donors Trust as recently as June 30 and September 9 of last year, he has scrubbed that information from the site, instead claiming to now be affiliated with "Project Liberty, Inc." This new sponsoring organization has the exact same contact information as Donors Trust, which Joan Biskupic of Reuters previously reported "fully financed" Blum's efforts to roll back civil rights law.
This is what Blum's website looked like in 2013, with explicit references to Donors Trust:
And this is what it looked like on April 8, 2014, with references to Donors Trust replaced with Project Liberty:
Tax records from 2012 show that Project Liberty is a grantee many times over of Donors Trust. These same records also show that the Project on Fair Representation was spun off from Donors Trust to "a supporting organization during 2012."
According to the Conservative Transparency website, in 2012 alone Donors Trust donated over $1 million to Project Liberty, conveniently housed at the same address as Donors Trust. In fact, Donors Trust's website still lists the Project on Fair Representation as one of the "current special program funds" it administers, describedas "donor-initiated and donor-funded projects incubated by DonorsTrust and administered at the pleasure of its Board of Directors."
The spotlight of a Times profile could have clarified why this significant financial tie between Blum and Donors Trust is in the process of being buried.
In addition to the Bradley Foundation and the Searle Freedom Trust, Donors Trust's ability to "drape[ ] in secrecy" the right-wing money fueling the current attack on progressive law and policy has also attracteddonations from the Charles Koch-controlled Knowledge and Progress Fund, the Charles G. Koch Foundation, and the Adolph Coors Foundation -- money that has funded conservative groups like Blum's as well as think tanks like the Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity. As explained by a former top IRS official to the Center for Public Integrity: "Koch is among an exclusive pool of donors who have used Donors Trust as a 'pass-through,' says Marcus Owens, the former director of the IRS Exempt Organizations Division, now in private legal practice. 'It obscures the source of the money. It becomes a grant from Donors Trust, not a grant from the Koch brothers.'"
Hopefully, now that the Times has once again turned to the peculiar story of Blum and the Project on Fair Representation, they will investigate his role in this obfuscation as well.