The Brothers Grime


The billionaire Koch brothers — whose deep pockets and small-government philosophy have made them conservative powerhouses — are playing an influential role in the drive to strip public employee unions of their rights to bargain in several U.S. states.

Charles and David Koch, who both rank 24th on the Forbes list of the world’s richest people with $17.5 billion each, are behind campaign donations of tens of thousands, if not millions, of dollars to Republicans leading the anti-union effort.

“They’re the poster boys for the incredible out-sized influence that corporate America has on our government right now,” said Mary Boyle of the left-leaning group Common Cause.

And they’re my poster boys, too!

Original movie poster

In Wisconsin, state records show new Republican Governor Scott Walker’s campaign received $43,000 last year from the political action committee of Koch Industries Inc, the energy and consumer products giant co-owned by the brothers.

The low-profile brothers also gave $1 million to the Republican Governors Association, which spent $3.4 million attacking Walker’s Democratic opponent. Charles Koch and his wife each gave the limit of $11,000 to Republican Governor John Kasich’s campaign in Ohio, which is also weighing curbs on union power.

The group Americans for Prosperity, founded by David Koch and aligned with the Tea Party movement, has launched a $342,000 advertising campaign in support of Walker’s effort to end collective bargaining for most state workers.


Their role was highlighted this week when Walker took a call from a New York blogger impersonating David Koch. Thinking he was talking to Koch, Walker was caught on tape discussing his tactics to lure runaway Democratic senators back to the state and joking about using a baseball bat on opponents.


Republican-led legislatures and governors in several states faced with budget deficits have introduced plans similar to Walker’s to undermine public sector unions, arguing years of one-sided negotiations have resulted in unsustainable wage, pension and benefit promises.

Among the basic tenets of libertarianism — smaller government, less regulation, and lower taxes — is anti-unionism, and the Koch brothers have spent hundreds of millions of dollars to buttress the movement since the 1960s.

But the timing for the union squeeze may have more to do with the emergence over the past two years of the populist Tea Party, which lifted like-minded candidates into office in 2010 and provided foot soldiers for the libertarian movement.


Walker and Kasich voice elements of the libertarian view, looking to gain from the money and votes it attracts.

Union supporters argue Walker and other Republicans are doing the Kochs’ bidding, suspicious the billionaires want to promote their business interests and curb government regulation.

Greenpeace has ranked Koch Industries among the top 10 U.S. polluters, and Koch-funded think tanks produce research papers arguing against climate change and environmental regulation.

Messages left with Koch Industries were unanswered.


Koch campaign donations are difficult to track, said a spokeswoman for, a Montana-based group that compiles state campaign donations. The group said the Kochs and related entities gave at least $539,339 to state races in 2010, with Wisconsin Republicans receiving the third-most after counterparts in Texas and Kansas.


Critics warn last year’s Supreme Court ruling [Citizens United] allowing unlimited corporate and union spending in federal campaigns will expand the influence of the super-rich like the Kochs.

“This is part of the concerted attack on the middle class and working families of this country by the very wealthiest people in America, the Koch brothers and many others,” said Senator Bernie Sanders, an independent from Vermont.


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35 responses to “The Brothers Grime

  1. 😀 LOVE IT!!!!! 😀

    Anonymous has hacked their site. Cha-CHING.

    Kos Diary calls for a boycott. Cha-CHING.

    Money will get their attention. It’s be awesome if they went broke and had a Come-to-Buddha or something. 😀

    Great work!!!!!!!

  2. tazcatt: Okay crowd just erupted. Word is one GOP Wisc senator, Dale Schulz, said he won’t vote for the walker bill. trying to confirm

    This just went up from Wisconsin.

  3. What was especially chilling was when Walker told “Koch” the Democrat they were talking about was “not one of us.”

    • i thought the most chilling was when wanker walker said they had considered sending thugs into the crowd. well, just the fact that he sounded like he was talking to his boss and trying to brown-nose him for 20 minutes was chilling in and of itself.

  4. So they rest upside down, like bats? Appropriate, but that must make the bat-shit even messier.

    Everybody know that the teabaggers hate it when we call them teabaggers. Maybe we should try to accommodate them. Since most of them are basically suckers for Koch-style political astroturfing, I propose that instead of teabaggers, we call them Koch-suckers.

  5. jean-philippe

    I know I’m naive but it would be nice to see some of the 401 others US billionaires stand up and tell to the Koch brothers to mind their own business and let the American People decide for themselves the world they want to live in.

    • as if. bill gates’s father has said that we should increase taxes for the richest people, but don’t hold your breath waiting for the others.

      • jean-philippe

        They had their chance to speak last December with the tax cut hysteria. They didn’t and got their juicy cut.

  6. ‘how about we call them teabagging kochsuckers?”

    Love it!!! You deserve an award, perhaps you’d like to thank the Academy?

  7. Nothin doin’! The standard rule around these parts is if you don’t live in LA, you hate it with a passion. Was that way in the 60’s too when I was out here. Did manage to catch the last bit of PHC yesterday during the News from Lake Wobegon segment. Garrison said people are always asking what’s going on next door in Wisconsin?…and he replied”We hear that Governor Murbarek is reqiuring women to cover their heads”. ….But of the Coch Bros..don’t like publicity? You got it by the truckload now. And that kind of dough, as any big lottery winner will testify, is the road to ruin. You will never have a normal life, or a real friend, every relative is either an enemy or potential assasin. You worry every day about kidnappers, swindler, cheating accountants and bankers, everyone wants to GET YOU! They got the big bucks and can’t enjoy any of it. And the richer they are, the bigger cheapskates they tend to be because if you spend any of the money, sadly, there will be less at the end of the day. Which brings us back to lotto winners. A Fort Worth couple hit a big payout a dozen years ago and left town as quickly as possible telling one of the neighbors “Don’t even say what direction we went”!

    • Jerry. Baby. Sometimes you have to take one for the team. 😉

      • after watching the oscars, i realize that it would be too much to ask of jerry or anyone else to sit through that. that had to be the absolutely worst oscar show evah! james franco looked and sounded like he wanted to be anywhere else, and anne hathaway annoyed me with the incessant phony giggling. nobody’s dress was ridiculous enough to be entertaining, and none were gorgeous enough to make the show less boring. tribute after tribute, and i can’t even tell you what they were paying tribute to. i guess the speeches before listing the nominees were supposed to be funny. they weren’t. the entire show ran the gamut from awkward to boring. bring back billy crystal.

      • Oh sure, you’re safely ensconced in the Big A. It’s different out here. When you go to the mega-cities, all the really good looking chicks are really men! I don’t butter my bread on that side.