The left's assault on Charles and David Koch, the billionaire industrialists marshaling as much as $400 million for the 2012 elections to elect Republicans and defeat President Obama, just got ratcheted up. Patriot Majority, a liberal advocacy group comprised of a super-PAC and nonprofit outfit, announced it will spend $500,000 on two new national TV ads assailing the Kochs for trying to "buy this year's elections and advance their agenda." The ads, which will run on CNN and MSNBC, are the opening shots in a national campaign targeting the Kochs that will span multiple elections, according to the group.
Here's the 30-second ad:
Patriot Majority's nonprofit arm, which does not disclose its donors, bills the anti-Koch ads as part of its broader "Stop the Greed Agenda." The campaign will include national TV ads, online ads, and direct mail. Craig Varoga, president of Patriot Majority, says the campaign is aimed at counteracting the Kochs' free-market, limited-government advocacy. "The Koch brothers have been pursing this greed agenda for more than 20 years, and no one could succeed in stopping it in just a matter of months," he says. The campaign, he adds, "is a long-term project that will continue for as long as it takes to stop their agenda."
Varoga says his organization has conducted polling and focus groups around its Koch campaign. According to Varoga, what his group found was that many people hadn't heard of the Kochs, but that once informed of them and their preferred policies the reaction was sharply negative. "When citizens learn how much they're spending and what they support, they're appalled," he says.
Phillip Ellender, a Koch Industries spokesman, said in an statement that the Patriot Majority ads are dishonest and an "attempt to shut down free speech":
Rather than run on their record and engage in a principled discussion about the critical issues facing Americans today, the president's allies instead choose to attack and demonize private citizens and job creators who disagree with them on the direction this country is going. The ads are dishonest and at odds with some of this country's most cherished values—that Americans have a First Amendment right to challenge politicians and that voters make up their own minds about competing ideas. This attempt to shut down free speech should be troubling to all Americans. Koch has a long history of standing firm for the principles of economic freedom and we will continue to do so, in spite of the ongoing attacks.
The Kochs, with their exclusive donor retreats and pro-business ideology, have built one of the largest big-dollar donor networks in American politics. The $400 million to be reportedly deployed by the Koch network this election cycle will fund a web of nonprofit groups buying ads and mobilizing voters around the country. Americans for Prosperity, founded and partly funded by David Koch, plans to hammer Obama with $25 million in TV ads this fall calling for the president's removal while also registering voters in battleground states such as Florida.
As Mother Jones reported last year, the Kochs have made it their mission to boot Obama out of the White House in November, and have pledged to deploy the millions raised through their network as effectively as possible. "We've had a lot of tough battles," Charles Koch told attendees of a 2011 donor retreat. "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."