David H. Koch, one of the billionaire brothers who runs Koch Industries. (Photo: Robert Caplin / The New York Times)
As ThinkProgress has reported, the global conglomerate Koch Industries not only helped elect Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI), but is the leading force orchestrating his union-busting campaign. Koch gave Walker over $43,000 in direct donations and its allies aired millions of dollars worth of attack ads against his Democratic opponent. Then, Koch political operatives pressured Walker to crush labor unions as one of his first priorities. Tim Phillips, a former lobbying partner to Jack Abramoff and current president of Americans for Prosperity, a front financed by David Koch, told the New York Times that Koch operatives “had worked behind the scenes to try to encourage a union showdown.” A Koch-financed front group, the American Legislative Exchange Council, has prepped Wisconsin GOP lawmakers with anti-labor legislative ideas.
Today, the Koch group Americans for Prosperity announced that it will air an ad smearing the protesters in Madison and calling on the state to support Walker’s power grab. As we noted on Friday, Koch has demanded that collective bargaining rights be curtailed for both private and public sector unions, a step beyond Walker’s already extreme move. The ad disparages the pro-labor protesters for allegedly bringing in “out of state political protesters.” In fact, the small pro-Walker demonstration orchestrated by Koch operatives last Saturday included a number of out of state conservative activists, including Herman Cain (from Georgia), Jim Hoft (from Missouri), and Phillips (from Virginia).
AFP NARRATOR: Democratic legislators don’t even have the guts to show up for their jobs, hiding out in other states. President Obama backs the union bosses and floods the state with out of state political protesters. Governor Walker has the courage to do what’s right for Wisconsin. Stand with Walker.
Last year, at a Koch-organized fundraising meeting in Colorado attended by fellow right-wing billionaires like Steve Schwarzman and Phil Anschutz, attendees discussed strategies for taking down the labor movement. As MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow has explained, the right’s national anti-union campaign has little to do with budget deficits. Instead, it is about defunding the progressive movement and weakening Democrats in the longterm.
Moreover, Koch’s political activism on behalf of Walker is also a strategy for increasing its profit margin. Koch Industries has a large set of businesses within Wisconsin, including a network of oil pipelines, paper plants, and coal companies. The Walker administration is signaling a very Koch-friendly approach in targeting environmental regulations and going on record with fierce opposition to clean energy policies.
To take full advantage of such a friendly local government, Koch Industries quietly expanded its lobbying operation in the state. Koch has a new government affairs office in Madison, and according to reporter Judith Davidoff, recently registered seven full time lobbyists to work with the Republican-led government in Wisconsin.
UPDATE Yesterday, I joined MSNBC host Cenk Uygur to discuss the role of Koch Industries in Walker's union-busting campaign. Watch it:
UPDATE It appears the AFP ad has been taken down. The YouTube video now displays only a black screen with words, "This video has been removed by the user," and the ad is seemingly vanished from AFP's website. It's missing from the ad's announcement as well.