1. Inside the Koch Brothers' Secret Seminar
2. Chris Christie Lets Loose at Secret Koch Brothers Confab
3. The Koch Brothers' Million-Dollar Donor Club
September 6, 2011
[Use the URL above to access clips from the audio clandestinely
recorded at the Koch's seminar. Go to
http://www.bradblog.com/?page_id=8700 to hear the entire recording. Go
to hear the audio of New Jersey Governor Chris Christie's remarks to
the secret gathering.]
Inside the Koch Brothers' Secret Seminar
by Brad Friedman
"We have Saddam Hussein," declared billionaire industrialist Charles
Koch, apparently referring to President Barack Obama as he welcomed
hundreds of wealthy guests to the latest of the secret fundraising and
strategy seminars he and his brother host twice a year. The 2012
elections, he warned, will be "the mother of all wars."
Charles Koch would probably not publicly compare the president of the
United States to a murderous dictator. (As a general rule, he and his
brother don't do much politicking or speechifying in public at all.)
But Mother Jones has obtained exclusive audio recordings from the Koch
seminar, a private event that took place in June at a resort near
These unprecedented recordings provide a behind-the-scenes look at how
the Koch brothers and their comrades talk when they gather. They
include a pair of keynote speeches and remarks by brothers Charles and
David Koch, who spell out their political aims and name some of the
"great partners" who have contributed millions of dollars to their
causes. (The audio was provided by a source who approached the author
after the event was over and was not seeking compensation.)
Security was tight at the Ritz-Carlton Bachelor Gulch on opening night
of the weekend conference, which drew an estimated 300 guests. (Past
attendees have included prominent politicians, right-wing media
luminaries, corporate titans, and wealthy political donors.) Audio
technicians even set up outward-pointing speakers around the perimeter
of the outdoor dining pavilion, according to sources, emitting static
to frustrate would-be eavesdroppers.
"There is anonymity that we can protect," noted emcee "Kevin"—likely
Kevin Gentry, a VP for the Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation—as he
gently urged guests to open their wallets in support of the brothers'
causes. Indeed, Charles Koch named 32 individuals and families who had
donated more than $1 million over the previous 12 months, yet because
of loopholes in federal campaign law, their donations do not exist in
the public record.
Charles and David Koch are co-owners of Koch Industries, an energy and
chemical conglomerate inherited from their father that is currently
America's second-largest privately held company. To date, the brothers
have spent more than $100 million supporting hard-right political
campaigns and institutions. They are key funders of the movement to
discredit climate science and sow doubt on the scientific consensus
that human activities contribute to global warming.
The Kochs also bankrolled the fledgling tea party by making massive
investments in right-wing political advocacy groups such as Americans
for Prosperity, as detailed by Jane Mayer in The New Yorker last year.
More generally, the brothers have dedicated a portion of their vast
wealth—and that of their benefactors—to influencing elections across
the nation and swaying public opinion on everything from health care
and fracking to labor policy and government spending.
The brothers have held their biannual seminars since at least 2003,
endeavoring to keep almost everything about them a secret—not just the
content but also the identities of attendees and speakers, and even
the locations and dates. They've succeeded until recently. Last
October, a leaked invite for the Kochs' January 2011 seminar was
obtained and published by Lee Fang of ThinkProgress.org. In response,
groups including Common Cause and Greenpeace organized a massive
protest outside the gates of the resort near Palm Springs where the
gathering was held.
According to an agenda for the 2010 Aspen meeting that accompanied the
leaked invitation, previous Koch seminars have featured "such notable
leaders" as Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck, Sens. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.)
and Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), and Reps. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and Mike Pence
(R-Ind.). Supreme Court Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas
also have attended.
Several GOP governors made it to the Vail seminar in June, among them
Florida's Rick Scott, Virginia's Robert McDonnell, and White House
hopeful Rick Perry of Texas. News of the event slipped out after
McDonnell put the trip on his weekend schedule; neither Perry nor
Scott initially disclosed the trip to their constituents. A Perry
spokesman acknowledged his attendance only after the Austin
American-Statesman tracked the tail number of a plane belonging to one
of the governor's top donors from Texas to Colorado. He described the
summit as a "private gathering of business leaders."
I contacted the Kochs numerous times with questions about the seminar,
requesting clarification, for example, on Charles' Saddam Hussein
reference. Without addressing the specifics, a spokeswoman for the
Kochs merely pointed me to a Koch Industries web page describing the
conference. (UPDATE: A Koch spokesman gave ABC News' Jake Tapper a
statement claiming that Koch was "not referring to President Obama in
his remarks." Listen for yourself by going to the URL at the top of
During his welcoming remarks, Charles Koch warned his guests that the
2012 elections are nothing short of a battle "for the life or death of
this country." He then acknowledged the individuals and families who
had given more than $1 million to the brothers' efforts—though he
misspoke, saying "more than a billion," earning a huge laugh from the
crowd. "Well, I was thinking of Obama and his billion-dollar
campaign," Koch said, to more laughter and cheers. "So I thought, 'We
gotta do better than that.'" (Forbes pegs the brothers' personal net
worth at around $22 billion apiece.)
Koch then proceeded to read off the million-dollar honor roll, a list
of 32 names that we have cross-checked against the published list of
2010 attendees, as well as additional sources. The list features many
well-known GOP donors including John Childs (JW Childs Associates),
Rick and Helen DeVos (Amway), Dick and Joyce Farmer (Cintas), and
Diane Hendricks (ABC Supply). MoJo's Gavin Aronsen breaks it all down
in his post, "Exclusive: The Koch Brothers' Million-Dollar Donor Club"
Concluding his reading of the list, Charles quipped that there were
"10 more [million-dollar donors] who will remain anonymous, including
David and me... We're very humble... The plan is the next seminar I'm
only reading the names of the $10 million," he added, to laughs from
Charles spoke again the next evening, following a keynote speech by
Fox News host and retired New Jersey Superior Court Judge Andrew P.
Napolitano. The judge didn't stray far from his usual libertarian
fare; he was met with hardy approval when he declared that the Second
Amendment was created to ensure "the right to shoot at the government
if it is taken over by tyrants."
Among Napolitano's other revelations: that he sometimes gets in "a
little bit of trouble" from his employers at Fox for being tough on
Republicans; that Fox hired him on the strength of his televised
advice, during the contentious 2000 Florida election contest, that the
Bush-Cheney campaign should take its case straight to the US Supreme
Court; that he views the PATRIOT Act as the "the single most
abominable, hateful, unconstitutional piece of legislation [ever]
enacted"; and that he believes former Attorney General Alberto
Gonzales undermined the Constitution when he threatened to prosecute
the New York Times for exposing spying by the National Security
(Read excerpts from Napolitano's speech at The Brad Blog http://bradblog.com.)
Napolitano closed his address with a well-worn Thomas Jefferson quote:
"When the people fear the government, there is tyranny. When the
government fears the people, there is liberty."
At this point, Charles Koch returned to the podium. "We've talked
about our competitive disadvantage, how we're overwhelmed in a number
of areas," he said. "One of those areas, of course, is the media—and
we're overwhelmed. The media is 90-plus percent against us. But we
have a few bright stars, and Judge here is one of 'em.
"Now, we've opined on what you should do, and you have to go execute.
And I'm sure you'll do a great job," Koch said. "We've had great
discussions, great arguers, I think great programs, great initiatives.
And last but not least, I want to thank all of you who stepped forward
so generously to support this as you've done in the past. And I want
to give all of you a big hand for stepping forward to save our
The crowd applauded itself.
"We've had a lot of tough battles," he continued. "We've lost a lot
over the years, and we've won some recently.…And I pledge to all of
you who've stepped forward and are partnering with us that we are
absolutely going to do our utmost to invest this money wisely and get
the best possible payoff for you in the future of our country."
But "it isn't just your money we need," Koch added. "We need your
energy. We need you bringing in new partners, new people. We can't do
it alone. This group can't do it alone. We have to multiply ourselves.
Just as to change the media we just can't have the judge. We need to
clone him thousands and thousands-fold.
"And so, thank you so much," Koch said. "God bless you, and God bless America."
[Brad Friedman is publisher and executive editor of The Brad Blog
Chris Christie Lets Loose at Secret Koch Brothers Confab
September 7, 2011
[Use the URL above to hear excerpts of Christie's blatherings. Go to
http://www.bradblog.com/?page_id=8700 to hear the entire recording.]
Chris Christie Lets Loose at Secret Koch Brothers Confab
by Brad Friedman
On the morning of June 26, Chris Christie, New Jersey's flamboyant,
tough-talking Republican governor, appeared on NBC's Meet The Press.
He then jetted out to Colorado, delivered a keynote speech at Charles
and David Koch's ultra-exclusive seminar at the Ritz-Carlton resort
near Vail, and returned home the same night, all without breathing a
word about his adventure to his constituents.
In Part 1 of this report, we gave you the inside scoop on the Kochs'
top-secret strategy meeting, where hundreds of wealthy patrons were
urged to open their wallets for what Charles Koch described as "the
mother of all wars"—the effort to unseat President Obama. We also told
you we'd obtained exclusive audio recordings from the event. And we
promised to reveal the identity of the main keynote speaker.
With security extraordinary on the seminar's opening night—audio
speakers around the periphery of the outdoor dining pavilion blasted
out static to thwart eavesdroppers—David Koch introduced Gov. Christie
as "my kind of guy." (The two had previously met in private at Koch's
New York City office, he revealed.) Before long, seminar attendees
were roaring with laughter as Christie regaled them over dessert,
telling them how, in his first weeks in office, he'd exercised
extraordinary executive powers to impound billions of dollars in
planned spending. ("The good news for all of you and for me," he said,
"is that the governorship in New Jersey is the most powerful
constitutional governorship in America.")
Christie went on to explain how he'd convinced the state's Democratic
majority leaders, against the wishes of most of their caucus, to help
him slash public-sector pensions and benefits. And he drew a bead on
his next major target: public-school teachers and their union. "That's
where we head next," Christie said. "We need to take on the teachers'
union once and for all, and we need to decide who is determining our
children's future, who is running this place. Them or us? I say it's
He presented his accomplishments in New Jersey as a model for curing
the nation's ills: "We know the answers. They're painful answers.
We're going to have to reduce Medicare benefits. We're going to have
to reduce Medicaid benefits. We're going to have to raise the Social
Security age. We're going to have to do these things. We're going to
have to cut all types of other government programs that some people in
this room might like."
The speech was classic Christie, but the governor expressed his views
to the Koch crowd with a candor that politicians—especially those with
a reputation for having mainstream appeal—usually reserve for very
select audiences: He called New Jersey Democratic legislators "stupid"
for pushing for a tax on the wealthy that he'd previously rejected. He
mimicked the voice of his predecessor, Gov. Jon Corzine. And he boldly
proclaimed that he'd been elected because "their ideas are wrong and
our ideas are right."
The gathering, after all, was a fundraising and strategy session for
what Charles Koch described as a battle "for the life or death of this
country." And Christie dutifully rallied the troops. "You, the people
in this room, are the modern day patriots who will save this country
or let it go by the wayside. It's up to us," he intoned during his
nearly hour-long address.
He wasn't the only GOP governor in attendance that weekend. White
House hopeful Rick Perry of Texas spoke earlier that day—revealing his
trip only after an Austin daily confronted his spokesman. Rick Scott
of Florida and Bob McDonnell of Virginia made the pilgrimage too. But
Christie managed to fly to Colorado and back undetected. The
governor's public-relations staff provided a copy of Christie's daily
schedule for June 26, which included his Meet The Press appearance,
but nothing more. After we told his deputy press secretary that we
wanted to talk about Christie's Colorado trip that day, nobody from
his office would return our calls, despite multiple attempts.
The governor demurred, as usual, when Koch audience members called on
him to join the 2012 race. But he did seem to be laying groundwork for
a possible future presidential run. Koch seminars, after all, are
loaded with the type of donors presidential candidates crave. And in
his introduction, David Koch lauded Christie as a "true political
"Five months ago we met in my New York City office and spoke, just the
two of us, for about two hours on his objectives and successes in
correcting many of the most serious problems of the New Jersey state
government," Koch said. "At the end of our conversation, I said to
myself, 'I'm really impressed and inspired by this man. He is my kind
Koch went on to describe Christie as a "powerful voice for fiscal
sanity in a state that has long been known for liberal politics,
big-government policies, and its ever expanding public sector." He
lauded the governor's "courage and leadership" in pushing through,
days earlier, "a remarkable bill that reforms state employee health
insurance and pension payments, bringing them more in line with the
private sector"; the bill in question took away the right of public
workers to collectively bargain for health benefits.
The crowd cheered loudly as Koch, whose estimated $22 billion personal
fortune derives from his family's oil refinery empire, described
Christie's unilateral withdrawal, on behalf of New Jersey, from a
regional cap-and-trade market created by 10 northeastern states to
curb industrial greenhouse gas emissions. (He neglected to mention
that, in announcing the withdrawal in late May, Christie had
acknowledged in no uncertain terms that climate change is real and
that human activities contribute to it. "It's time to defer to the
experts," he'd said.) There was an extended ovation when Koch, just
before turning over the floor, expressed his hope of seeing Christie
"on a larger stage where, God knows, he is desperately needed."
Christie wasted no time in serving up the red meat. "The opponents of
what we want to try to maintain in our country are fighting harder
than ever," he said.
He went on to mock President Obama's 2011 State of the Union Address,
which he had watched with Andrew, his 17-year-old son. He and Andrew
agreed, Christie said, that the president "had failed the fundamental
test of leadership, which I believe is to tell the people who hired
you the truth." He'd offered similar thoughts on Meet The Press that
morning but amped up his rhetoric for the Koch crowd. On the show, he
said the country had been "careening into an economic crisis." At the
gathering, he declared that America was "careening towards
It was time to tackle the "big things," he said, like "Medicare,
Medicaid, and Social Security systems, because they are bankrupting
America." In New Jersey, the big things were to "return our budget to
fiscal sanity by cutting spending and under no circumstances raising
taxes"; "reform a pension and health benefit system" that was
underfunded by $120 billion dollars and had New Jersey, too,
"careening towards insolvency"; and "reform a broken K-12 education
system…where the feelings of adults were given more respect than the
needs of children."
Christie had offered similar thoughts in a February speech at the
Koch-funded American Enterprise Institute in DC. But in Vail, he went
further as he recalled discussing a fiscal 2009 budget shortfall with
his aides shortly after taking office. He claimed to have told his
aides, referring to the majority Democrats in the state Legislature:
Listen. We've got to fix this problem, but I do not want to deal
with those people down the hall…
And so they told me, "If you declare a fiscal state of emergency,
you can use your emergency powers as governor to impound $2.2 billion
in planned spending and balance the budget. And you can do it by
executive order." I said, "Man, I love this state!"
So, I went in my office, all by myself, and set up the executive
order, and I signed it. But I thought it would be rude for me not to
go down and tell that coequal branch of government what I had just
done. [Scattered chuckles.] So I asked them for a joint session
speech…I basically said this: "You left me with a $2.2 billion
problem. You want me to raise taxes. I'm not going to. I just
impounded the money by executive order. I fixed your problem. Thanks,
have a nice day." And I walked out.
The money Christie impounded had been slated, among other things, for
local school districts, hospitals, and the state's commuter-rail
system, as well as colleges and universities.
Christie went on to detail his fight to close what he described as a
$11 billion gap in the following year's $29 billion state budget:
[The Democrats] were gonna raise what, in New Jersey, we call "the
Millionaires' Tax."…But the New Jersey "Millionaires' Tax" applies to
anyone, individual or business, who makes over $400,000 a year. That's
called New Jersey math. [Laughter.] And, what's great, I say to people
all over the country: "If you're not a millionaire but you want to
feel like one [More laughter], come to New Jersey! We'll tax you like
a millionaire even if you're not one!"…
So what happened? They send me the tax, and that Senate president
I told you about, Steve Sweeney, he walked it down to me, with the
cameras following him.…And I looked at him and I said: "Steve, stand
here for one second. This isn't gonna take long. Sit down." So he sat
down; the cameras are all going, and I just sat down in a chair right
down in the outer office and I took out this pen and I vetoed it, and
I handed it right back to him. And I said, "Take this back where it
came from, 'cause I ain't signing it." And that was it. That was the
end of it. [Applause.]
In the end, Christie's budget, which he said the Democrats had
initially viewed as "dead on arrival," was passed "with 99.8 percent
of the line-items exactly as I had presented it to them in March.…And
we balanced the budget without any new or increased taxes."
At this point, Christie promised to tell a "good" story about Sweeney,
his Democratic partner/rival in the state Senate. It involved the
state's recent overhaul of public employees' pensions and health
benefits to close what Christie described as a $54 billion deficit in
the fund. By day, he said, he would go "out on the stump and beat the
bejeezus out of" Sweeney, a former union leader. Then they would
negotiate privately in Christie's office "late in the afternoon or
evening." According to Christie, Sweeney told him: "I'm going to be
your partner on this. We're going to fix it. And we're going to fix it
the right way."
The Assembly speaker, also a Democrat, got involved in the talks.
"Most of the Democrats in the Legislature wanted to have nothing to do
with this bill," Christie said. But "these two leaders stood firm."
The Senate passed the bill 24-15, with 16 Republicans and only 8
Democrats voting aye. In the Assembly, Christie managed to bring all
of the Republicans on board, and enough Dems to get it passed.
This "true bipartisan coming together," as Christie described the
deal, would be short-lived. Just days after the Colorado shindig, the
governor would again face off with legislators, this time over the
fiscal 2012 budget. "I'm gonna get on a plane and go back to New
Jersey and fight the next four days over the budget that we need to
pass between now and June 30," he told the crowd. "They're proposing
the Millionaires' Tax again. You know, I cannot believe how stupid
these people are, I really can't. They keep…Like, you saw this movie
last year! You know how it's gonna end!"
Indeed, just days after the Koch soiree, the Legislature delivered a
prenegotiated budget to the governor. Christie—who, according to the
Star-Ledger, had promised to work out last-minute details with
Sweeney—instead used his line-item veto to make what Sweeney called
vindictive cuts targeting people and institutions who had sided
against the governor during the negotiations.
In one instance, Christie cut a fellowship program run by a Rutgers
University professor who had served as a referee in the state's
contentious redistricting fight. He also "mowed down a series of
Democratic add-ons, including $45 million in tax credits for the
working poor, $9 million in health care for the working poor, $8
million for women's health care, another $8 million in AIDS funding
and $9 million in mental-health services," wrote Star-Ledger columnist
Tom Moran. "But the governor added $150 million in school aid for the
suburbs, including the wealthiest towns in the state. That is enough
to restore all the cuts just listed."
In response, Sweeney went nuclear on Christie, claiming he "wanted to
punch him in his head" and comparing the governor to "Mr. Potter from
'It's a Wonderful Life,' the mean old bastard who screws everybody,"
according to the paper. "Don't be vindictive and punish innocent
people," he ranted. "These people didn't do anything to him. It's like
a bank robber taking hostages. And now he's starting to shoot people."
For good measure he called Christie "a cruel man," "mean-spirited,"
and "a rotten prick."
At the Koch gathering, Christie preached an inspirational tone.
"Everybody who's here for this weekend is here because they know that
the opportunity that was presented to us as Americans is one of the
most special gifts that will ever, ever be given," he said. "We want
that same thing for our children and for our grandchildren," he added.
"And we're here because we know that it is no longer a sure thing if
it ever was.…In fact, under this administration, it is at greater risk
than it has been in my lifetime."
During the Q&A, one of the questioners wondered what Christie had
learned in New Jersey that might be applied to the nation. His answer
was direct: "This is not hard. We spend too much. We borrow too much.
We tax too much. It is time to turn those three things around."
"Now, pain will be inflicted when we change that," he went on. "People
are going to do with less. People who are used to having entitlement
at a certain level will not have them at that level anymore. That's
the story." Christie cited Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan's "courageous" and
"thoughtful plan" to "fix those systems" by replacing Medicare with a
Just before the Kochs' guests retired to sip complimentary
after-dinner cordials and plot Obama's downfall at the resort's
Buffalo Bar, Christie delivered this closer: "Please, if you leave
with just one message from me, if only one message sticks: This is a
huge moment of crisis and opportunity for our country. All of you are
the people who are going to lead us back to American greatness. If you
care enough to do it."
From the sound of the ovation, the Koch brothers' patrons cared plenty.
[Brad Friedman is publisher and executive editor of The Brad Blog
The Koch Brothers' Million-Dollar Donor Club
September 6, 2011
[Use the URL above to access links embedded in the article.]
The Koch Brothers' Million-Dollar Donor Club
by Gavin Aronsen
Twice a year, the billionaire industrialist brothers Charles and David
Koch host secretive retreats for an exclusive list of corporate
America's rich and powerful to strategize and raise money for their
right-wing political agenda. Mother Jones has obtained exclusive audio
recordings that shed some light on the brothers' latest retreat, held
at a resort near Vail, Colorado, in late June.
In a speech that is part of these recordings, Charles Koch thanks
donors who gave more than $1 million to the cause. We checked the
audio against a list of participants at the Kochs' 2010 seminar in
Aspen that was obtained by ThinkProgress.org and did additional
research on these individuals. Below are the names Koch read that
appeared on the previous guest list.
John Childs: Childs is the founder and CEO of private equity firm JW
Childs Associates. In 2006, Boston Magazine placed the "notoriously
media-shy" magnate—a.k.a. "the Republican ATM"—among the city's
wealthiest residents, reportedly worth $1.2 billion. Childs donated
$750,000 to outside political expenditure groups in 2010. He's also
been involved in Florida wetlands conservation efforts.
The Cortopassis: Dean "Dino" Cortopassi and his wife, Joan, hail from
Stockton, California. This article, which identifies the pair as
philanthroposts, calls Dino a "wealthy self-made agribusinessman who
is Stocktonian of the Year for 2005." He is suing the state of
California for its failure to dredge streams in the Sacramento-San
Joe Craft: Joseph Craft is president, CEO, and chairman of Alliance
Resource Partners, a coal company based in Tulsa, Oklahoma, that gave
$2.4 million to outside political expenditure groups in 2010. His
family is reportedly worth $1.9 billion.
The DeVoses: Rich and Helen DeVos hail from Michigan. The cofounder of
Amway and owner of the NBA's Orlando Magic, Rich DeVos is reportedly
worth in the ballpark of $4.2 billion. The Richard and Helen DeVos
Foundation funds conservative Christian groups such as Focus on the
Family. The DeVoses are big enough political donors to have their own
profile at http://www.OpenSecrets.org.
The Farmers: Dick Farmer is from Ohio. The founder and former CEO of
the Cintas Corporation, his story is literally rags-to-riches: He
turned his father's Depression-era rag-cleaning business into a $3.5
billion enterprise. Farmer and his wife, Joyce, are longtime
Republican boosters; during the 2002 election cycle the couple gave
about $1 million to the party.
The Friesses: Foster Friess founded the investment firm Friess
Associates in 1974 with his wife, Lynn; in 2001, he sold a majority
share for $247 million. Friess is a champion of conservative Christian
causes and one of Wyoming's richest men. His son, Steve Friess, helps
him run the family's philanthropic foundation. (Steve's wife, Polly,
was also on the list of Aspen Koch participants.)
The Fullinwiders: Jerry and Leah Fullinwider hail from Dallas. Jerry
has pursued oil exploration and development in the United States,
Canada, and Russia. He now serves under Ross Perot's son as vice
chairman of Hillwood International Energy, which has operations in
Iraq and Jordan as well as the United States and Russia. He also has
ties to Hilarion Alfeyev, an anti-abortion Russian Orthodox bishop.
The Gilliams: Richard Gilliam and wife, Leslie, are natives of
southwest Virginia. Richard founded the Cumberland Resources
Corporation, which was one of the nation's largest private coal mining
companies when Massey Energy bought it for nearly $1 billion in March
2010. He's now a director with the Vancouver-based mining corporation
The Griffins: Ken and Anne Dias Griffin are a hedge fund power couple
from Chicago who wed in 2003. Ken is the founder and CEO of Citadel
and is reportedly worth $2.3 billion. Anne founded one of the nation's
largest woman-run hedge funds, Aragon Global Management. Ken bundled
money for both President Barack Obama and Sen. John McCain during the
The Haworths: Richard "Dick" Haworth is the former CEO and chairman
emeritus of Haworth, an international office-interiors manufacturer
based in Holland, Michigan, that he took over from his father in 1975.
The company reported sales of $1.4 billion in 2005, the year he
retired. He is married to Ethie Haworth and has donated more than
$100,000 to Republican causes, according to
Diane Hendricks: Hendricks is the billionaire former head of the ABC
Supply roofing company, which she took over from her husband Kenneth
after he died in a construction site accident in 2007. Reportedly
worth $2.2 billion, she is the richest businesswoman in Wisconsin and
a big Republican Party donor. She recently gave her state's embattled
Republican governor, Scott Walker, $10,000 in advance of a potential
recall vote next year.
The Humphreys family: Ethelmae Humphreys is the chair of the board of
Tamko Building Products, one of the country's largest independent
roofing manufacturers. She also serves on the board of directors of
the Cato Institute, a Koch-funded think tank. Her son David is Tamko's
CEO. The two have doled out hundreds of thousands of dollars to
Republican candidates. That includes David's $25,000 donation to the
successful recount effort this year of conservative Wisconsin Supreme
Court Justice David Prosser, who came under fire recently for
allegations that he choked a fellow justice. (He wasn't charged.)
The Levys: Kenneth Levy of Mountain Lakes, New Jersey, cofounded the
Jacobs Levy equity management firm and has donated about $85,000 to
conservative causes, according to FEC records. His wife, Frayda Levin,
is a national director at the Koch brothers' advocacy group Americans
for Prosperity and sits on the board of the Club for Growth. She also
cofounded the Motion Picture Institute, which "promotes liberty
through film," according to her AFP bio. FEC records show that she has
given well over $100,000 to conservative causes.
The Marshall family: Elaine Marshall of Dallas is the widow of E.
Pierce Marshall, a son of oil tycoon J. Howard Marshall who served on
the board of Koch Industries before his death. Elaine was involved in
a successful effort to prevent the late Playboy Playmate Anna Nicole
Smith, who married Howard when he was 89, from inheriting the family's
wealth. Before Smith's death, she was investigated by the FBI but
never prosecuted in a murder-for-hire plot against Pierce. In the end,
Pierce inherited the bulk of his father's wealth because he and his
father had previously helped Charles and David Koch thwart a takeover
of Koch Industries; Howard's eldest son—also named Howard—sided
against his father and was disinherited as a result. Meanwhile,
Elaine's son, E. Pierce Marshall Jr., is senior vice president and
general counsel at oil exploration company MarOpCo. Another son,
Preston Marshall of Houston, is the president of MarOpCo.
The Popes: Art Pope is a millionaire Republican booster from Raleigh,
North Carolina, who inherited his retail fortune from a family
business. According to this article, he’s "one of the most trusted
members of the Koch's elite circle" and a regular at the Kochs' secret
seminars, as well as a "valuable junior partner in many key Koch
operations." He's another national director at Americans for
Prosperity and is married to Kathy Pope.
The Robertsons: Corbin Robertson is CEO and chairman of the board of
Natural Resource Partners, a Houston-based fossil fuels company. He's
also been involved with a number of other energy organizations and was
listed as the richest US small-business owner in 2007 by CNNMoney. He
and wife Barbara have donated to the Baylor College of Medicine and
both Democratic and Republican politicians.
Karen Wright: Wright is the founder and CEO of the Ariel Foundation, a
private philanthropy group based in Mount Vernon, Ohio. She's also CEO
of the Ariel Corporation, a natural-gas compression company, and on
the American Petroleum Institute's board of directors. She has donated
more than $100,000 to Republican causes, according to
Tom Rastin: Rastin shares a Mount Vernon, Ohio, address with Karen
Wright. He serves on the board of directors at the Ariel Foundation
and is vice president of marketing and engineering at the Ariel
Corporation. Last year, he gave $2,400 to the failed congressional
campaign of former Democratic Louisiana House Speaker Hunt Downer, who
switched to the Republican Party after endorsing the Bush-Cheney
ticket in 2000.
The principals with the Services Group of America: SGA is a
billion-dollar food services wholesaler; its CEO, Peter Smith of
Scottsdale, Arizona, appears on the list of 2010 Koch attendees. Smith
took over as CEO last year after its former head, GOP heavyweight
Thomas J. Stewart, died in a helicopter crash. According to FEC
records, Smith has donated $12,500 to Republican congressional
candidates. SGA's political action committee donates heavily to
At the event, Charles Koch also read off names that did not appear on
the 2010 attendees list, but that mirrored those of well-known GOP
donors for whom giving $1 million or more to the Kochs would not seem
out of character. You'll find these names below. We chose not to offer
any details on the handful of names for which we could find no
association with Koch business interests or conservative political
giving. (Listen to Charles Koch reading the donor list.)
The Camerons: Ron Cameron of Little Rock, Arkansas, runs agribusiness
giant Mountaire Corporation, which generated $1.22 billion in revenue
in 2009. He has donated at least $175,000 to Republicans in recent
years, including $5,000 to Sarah Palin's PAC, according to FEC
records. The company itself has given at least $125,000 to outside
spending groups over the past decade, according to
The Hamms: Self-made magnate Harold Hamm of Oklahoma City is
reportedly worth $8.2 billion. The son of sharecroppers, Hamm soared
up the corporate ladder from gas station attendant to CEO of
"America's Oil Champion," Oklahoma-based Continental Resources.
According to http://www.OpenSecrets.org, he's doled out more than
$100,000 to political causes and candidates, mostly Republican.
Stricken with diabetes, he and wife Sue Ann founded a center at the
Oklahoma University Health Sciences Center to help combat the disease.
The Haydens: Jerry and Marilyn Hayden of Barrington, Illinois, doled
out $400,000 to conservative-leaning outside spending groups in 2010
and about $250,000 to Republicans in 2008. Before retirement, Jerry
ran Peacock Engineering, a packaging company. As of September 2008, he
served on the board of directors at the United Republican Fund of
Illinois. The Haydens recently donated $2.5 million toward an alumni
center at their alma matter, Bradley University.
Virginia James: James is an investor from New Jersey. She has donated
handsomely to right-wing causes, including a $750,000 gift to the Club
for Growth in 2008 and another $350,000 last year. This year, she
donated $25,000 to the successful recount of Wisconsin's Justice
The Menards: John Menard of Eau Claire, Wisconsin, is the founder of
Menards, the country's third-largest hardware company. He's worth a
reported $5.2 billion and has donated about $80,000 to his state's
Republican Party and federal candidates, mostly Republicans, according
to FEC records. His company backed a recent anti-union program that
was linked to the Kochs' Americans for Prosperity and supported by
Gov. Scott Walker.
John Moran: Hailing from Palm Springs, Florida, Moran is the former
chairman of the Dyson-Kissner-Moran Corporation, an international
holding company based in New York City. He also chaired the Republican
National Finance Committee from 1993 to 1995. Moran has given more
than $900,000 to Republican causes since 1991, according to
http://www.OpenSecrets.org, and he bundled between $250,000 and
$500,000 more for McCain's 2008 presidential bid. In 1997, he warned
that the religious right was putting his party's future "in jeopardy."
The Schwabs: Charles Schwab of San Francisco is founder and chairman
of the Charles Schwab Corporation, the country's largest independent
brokerage firm. He is reportedly worth $4.7 billion. Since 1989,
Schwab has donated more than $1.6 million to political causes, mostly
Republican, according to http://www.OpenSecrets.org. Part of that went
to his company's lobbying arm, which has given away millions more.
Paul Singer: While Singer is not on the list of Aspen participants,
the New York Times noted that "Annie Dickerson, who also runs a
foundation for Paul Singer, a hedge fund executive who like the Kochs
is active in promoting libertarian causes," showed up at that seminar.
Singer founded the $17 billion hedge fund Elliott Management and
recently issued an economic manifesto slamming the Federal Reserve as
a "group of inbred academics."
The Templetons: John "Jack" Templeton Jr. and his wife, Josephine, of
Pennsylvania, gave $50,000 apiece to Wisconsin Justice Prosser's
recount effort this year. Jack has donated more than $1 million to
Republicans, according to state and federal records. He heads the
conservative John Templeton Foundation, which aims to merge
evangelical Christianity with "science" and "health." The foundation
was started by Jack's father, Sir John the mutual fund billionaire,
and in 2009 reportedly had $1.7 billion in assets.
[Gavin Aronsen is an Editorial Fellow at Mother Jones.]
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