David H. Koch and his brother Charles are the two billionaires at the center of one of the most comprehensive political machines within the Republican party. Its a sprawling network that hosts right wing political propaganda, lobbying, campaign donations, funds false studies, and does everything in its power to shape the minds of Americans and the actions of their representatives. David Koch is dead now and Charles still continues the legacy into his old age. They use their machine to push these explicit values: limited government, more immigration, free trade, free markets, and limited corporate regulations. Some people may be surprised at the inclusion of "more immigration" but business owners have always needed a fresh supply of human capital to make their machinery run and they have some big machinery. Koch Industries, their oil conglomerate, brings in an annual revenue of $100 billion and their political actions exist to keep it that way.
One of the best ways to get started building a network as large in scope as the Kochs is to learn the power of the non-profit. Non-profits are a type of organization that do not require full public financial disclosures and therefore can be used to shield vast arrays of assets from wandering eyes. Money can be moved in ways that are unidentifiable and as a result its impossible to know how big the Koch network truly is. Koch money funded the early tea-party in 2010 and the rabid obstructionist tactics their candidates such as Sarah Palin, Dick Armey, Michele Bachmann, Marco Rubio, and Ted Cruz used.
Former chairman of the Federal Election Commission, Trevor Potter, said the true Koch legacy was the art of diminishing democracy. “The Kochs changed two things. First, the system went from transparent spending to secret spending,” Mr. Potter said. “The second was they were an important part of the wave of billionaires who took campaign spending to an entirely different level in American politics.”
The Kochs fund nearly any right wing non-profit or organization you can think of. They have a Latino outreach program called the LIBRE Initiative, they have a veterans program called Concerned Veterans for America, they fund gen z outreach with Generation Opportunity, and older voters with the 60 Plus Association. They also have many more.
In 2010, when announcing their agenda, the Koch seminar focused on fighting “climate change alarmism and the move to socialized health care,” as well as “the regulatory assault on energy." They hate anything that will cause them to spend their money or lose their bottom line. Incidentally, they hate all things that could help others. In 2014, six Koch funded non-profits purchased 44,000 television slots for Republican senators to get the Democrats out of the senate.
The Kochs have put up $127 million in anti-climate change spending over the last two decades and they have recently been focused on killing mass transit projects across the US.
Interestingly enough, the Kochs did not intend to make Trump president. Ironically, by funding the tea party and using their 2014 senate sweep to get Mitch McConnell elected, they laid a lot of the ground work to make the Republican party more reactionary and their supporters alongside them. Trump emerged to fill the empty space they created.
“Trump’s passion was clearly focused on stopping immigration and stopping free trade and that was pretty well unacceptable to the Kochs,” said David Boaz, executive vice president of the Cato Institute. Trump openly attacked the brothers, saying they have "become a joke" in Republican circles and that their political network was "highly overrated." Finally, he called them "Two nice guys with bad ideas." This rise of Trump has correlated with the decline of Koch power in electoral politics. The Koch network backed Democratic senator Heidi Heitkamp to beat Trump supporter Kevin Cramer, in a departure from their older partisan habits.
Still, their interests in tax cuts and climate denial has not waned and Trumps continuation of those policies plays into their favor. Right now their think tank The Heritage Foundation is the architect of the project 2025 take over plan, a strategy of authoritarian overhaul that would place either Trump, or whichever GOP candidate who can win the ticket, into an untouchable position.
The projects primary component is the elimination of administrative jobs within the state and the empowerment of the executive branch in the form of the the next Republican president. They want to fire 50,000 bureaucratic federal workers and replace them with Republican loyalists. This means members of the Pentagon, FBI, CIA, IRS, SEC, EPA, and every three letter agency or department you can think of. They're going after the internal organs of the government, not just the elected representatives. “We need to flood the zone with conservatives,” said Paul Dans, director of the 2025 Presidential Transition Project and a former Trump administration official.
Within the first 180 days of the next Republican presidency, a rule called Schedule F will be reinstated which reclassifies tens of thousands of Federal employees as at-will workers who can be easily fired. If the entire administrative state is gutted and replaced by loyalists the president will effectively have the military and all federal bodies under his control, granting them a monopoly on violence and unprecedented power. They've been travelling across the U.S. finding theocratic fanatics and opportunists alike who fit the values they wish to impose and are willing to take any government position they need filled. “This is a clarion call to come to Washington,” Paul Dans reaffirmed. “People need to lay down their tools, and step aside from their professional life and say, ‘This is my lifetime moment to serve.’ They’re building out a database of potential employees, inviting them to be trained in government operations.
They've even carved out a plan for climate change. The Republican Project 2025 environmental plan is the conservative establishments death knell for Americans. They want to put in the pot and let it boil. They're going to gut the Inflation Reduction Act which offers $370 billion for wind, solar, nuclear, green hydrogen, and electric vehicle technology with large new investments taking place in Republican run states. They're going to shut down the Department of Energy loan of $400 million to help any emerging new green technologies. They will strike climate change as an issue of discussion on the National Security Council which rightly views the effects of climate change as a threat to national security. And finally, with absolute remorselessness reverse the 2009 scientific finding from the Environmental Protection Agency which states carbon dioxide emissions are a danger to public health. This of course will happen as they open up drilling in the Arctic wilderness.
The Koch network is one of the many methodologies wealth uses to grease the wheels of politics and make democracy serve them. As long as there's money in politics, there will be people like the Koch's who can use the government like a personal vending machine. If Project 2025 is enacted, they'll be able to keep it that way. Permanently.