New Investigative Report Highlights Koch Brothers' Reach in Influencing Democracy

Charles and David Koch, each worth about $25 billion, could be the most influential duo in the United States. These brothers have accumulated their fortune through Koch industries -- an oil refining, chemical, paper products and financial services company with revenues of some $100 billion per year. A new documentary by Bob Abeshouse on the Kochs illustrates how these brothers use their billions to manipulate some in the public into voting for their right-wing agenda and to push policies that strip protections for people's health.

Kochs Influences State Politics Through ALEC

One of the Kochs' modes of manipulating the political process is through the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC); Koch Industries' lobbyist is long-time member of ALEC's board. This group brings corporations and legislators together in task forces to vote behind closed doors on "model" legislation that is then pushed out to state legislatures without mention of its corporate genesis or corporate pre-voting. The Center for Media and Democracy's Executive Director Lisa Graves is featured in the program describing her reaction to the seeing the array of efforts to rewrite people's rights in bills CMD analyzed through ALECexposed: "Many of the bills written reflect Koch DNA," she said noting that many of the bills mirror the Koch brand of "free market fundamentalism."

Jane Mayer, a writer for the New Yorker and author of a 2010 groundbreaking exposé of the Kochs, said in the investigation that targeting state legislation has proven to be an effective way for the right-wing to make a substantial politcal impact, noting that state legislators are cheaper to buy than Congress.

The Kochs have received the ALEC "Adam Smith" Award, and through their foundations and the corporation they control have contributed at least $1 million to the organization, along with a nearly half-million dollar loan to bail out ALEC when it was failing.

Unions on Koch's Target List

The Kochs have spent untold sums across the country helping to lay the foundation to undermine unions. Without unions, the Kochs would have fewer obstacles to achieving their wishlist of corporate-friendly policies. Wisconsin became a major battleground for stripping workers rights in February. David Koch's Americans for Prosperity spent more than half a million dollars supporting the state's Governor Scott Walker's efforts to repeal the rights of state workers. That's a small portion of what the Koch-funded Americans for Prosperity (AFP) has spent in the state to advance its agenda, and also does not include all the Koch money spent fueling Walker's election.

Mayer noted, in describing the Kochs' grand plans, "The employees unions and the teachers unions are two of the last bastions of serious strength on the progressive side of democratic politics. That's where the money is. If you want to eviscerate the left in America, you go after those groups."

The new investigation of the Kochs was aired on Al Jazeera English, one of the first major networks in the United States to tell the story of how the Koch billionaires are working to dramatically change the rights of Americans.