Billionaire conservatives take aim at top Senate Democrat
October 9th, 2013
08:21 PM ET
9 years ago

Billionaire conservatives take aim at top Senate Democrat

Washington (CNN) – Koch Industries, the massive, multi-national energy and chemical conglomerate, owned by influential conservative donors Charles and David Koch, fired back Wednesday at the top Senate Democrat, charging he accused them of playing a pivotal role in GOP efforts to shut down the government.

Philip Ellender, president of government and public affairs division of Koch Companies, sent a letter to Congress denying that Koch had any role in devising the strategy to demand that Obamacare be defunded in order to keep the federal government operating.

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Ellender said that while the company believes the health care law championed by the president will lead to a decline in the overall standard of care and an increase in taxes, he distanced the company from the strategy that has resulted in the government partly shutting down for the past nine days.

“Koch has not taken a position on the legislative tactic of tying the continuing resolution to defunding Obamacare nor have we lobbied on legislative provisions defunding Obamacare,” Ellender wrote in the letter that was distributed to members of the media.

He added that much of what has been reported about Koch Industries is “erroneous or misleading.”

Ellender specifically pointed to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who referenced a story in The New York Times detailing conservative efforts to wage a campaign against Obamacare.

In the story, the Times mentioned Freedom Partners Chamber of Commerce, an organization that has at least three current or former Koch executives serving as directors.

In his remarks on the Senate floor on Tuesday, Reid said some “very, very rich people in America” are using Obamacare “as a conduit to shut down the government. That’s what they wanted to do. That’s what they’ve done.”

The Nevada Democrat mentioned the Koch brothers by name as some of the deep-pocketed conservatives who are “raising and spending hundreds of millions of dollars to get us where we are right now.”

According to tax records filed by Freedom Partners covering November 2011 through October 2012, the group transferred at least $180 million to various conservative organizations that have opposed Obamacare, such as the Center to Protect Patient Rights and Americans for Prosperity.

However, these groups have not led the way in pushing the defunding strategy.

Americans for Prosperity, founded by David Koch, has aired at least $5 million on television ads and has staged hundreds of grassroots efforts highlighting some of the negative impact of Obamacare without weighing on the GOP strategy.

Two other groups, Senate Conservatives Fund and Heritage Action, have spearheaded the fight to attach defunding or limiting Obamacare to bills to keep the government operating. A spokesman for Heritage Action confirmed it received $500,000 from Freedom Partners.

Freedom Partners also donated $5 million to a group called Generation Opportunity, which last month produced two web videos, one of which showed a young man receiving a rectal exam from someone dressed as Uncle Sam, that end saying “Don’t let the government play doctor; opt out of Obamacare.” The videos went viral.

CNN Political Research Director Robert Yoon contributed to this story.

soundoff (36 Responses)
  1. Thomas

    It sounds like the Brothers Koch are feeling the negative outpour over there overall negativity !

    Freedom works / Heritage Foundation / Americans for Prosperity

    " The Only Way To Save America , Is To Destroy America "

    October 9, 2013 11:43 pm at 11:43 pm |
  2. Michael Benjamin

    Koch Brothers didn't have to get their hands dirty. Their minions know exactly what is expected of them.

    October 10, 2013 01:06 am at 1:06 am |
  3. J.V.Hodgson

    What a Koch up of reporting totally one sided and not a single opposing idea or comment from the non Koch up side.

    October 10, 2013 03:48 am at 3:48 am |
  4. CABlackman50

    I'm both a retired disabled veteran and single parent that has been unemployed for the last 2 months. How does someone who earns $174K a year and due to whatever outside source can file income tax returns of $6 Million ever makes decisions in my best interest. I'm not eligible for any government assistance. My Veteran’s Benefits are less than $1700 per month. How do you say that you love America and you hate Americans? I'm struggling to not have my daughter and I evicted or not loose essential utilities to live and Republicans have the audacity to walk around Washington at the expense of the American people as though they have helped to create a perfect society. I'm not really concerned about your personal district that elected you. Your responsibility far exceeds the comfort zone of your district lines. You represent the entire United States. It’s time that you realize that the United States has both poor and homeless people that require you immediate attention. I've grown up from poverty when I was a child but my daughter should not have to walk the same mile in my shoes for Republicans failure to think about those less fortunate than themselves.

    October 10, 2013 05:53 am at 5:53 am |
  5. Marie MD

    What? So that means the koch's grassroots tea bagging crazies were not their idea?
    Too late losers. I believe you personally gave $400M to the twit. Is he paying you back?
    Does that mean that all those teatards and repugs who ran on shutting down the government were not part of your group? Those meetings with christie, cantor, demint, limburger, beck, and other repugs didn't work out much?
    Poor little multimillionaires. I don't feel your pain one bity.

    October 10, 2013 06:33 am at 6:33 am |
  6. Maripil

    Why are the 2 clowns, the Koch brothers allowed to shut down the government by infusing so much money in getting the stupid tea party elected to create chaos and terror in congress!!

    October 10, 2013 07:29 am at 7:29 am |
  7. Maripil

    The billionaires, Koch brothers are just as much to be blamed in shutting down the government. They put the tea party to power in 2010 and this is what they get!

    October 10, 2013 07:33 am at 7:33 am |
  8. MaryM

    The Koch Bros are now distancing themselves from the TPers. You funding just dried up TPers, bye bye

    October 10, 2013 07:36 am at 7:36 am |
  9. Maripil

    The Koch brothers are so corrupt that they are using their money to influence elections and getting their puppets elected! They instead created monsters out of the tea party that they can't control!

    October 10, 2013 07:46 am at 7:46 am |
  10. g

    there is not enough money on this planet for these kind of people

    October 10, 2013 07:50 am at 7:50 am |
  11. kirk

    Staged hunderds of grass roots efforts, here's your sign

    October 10, 2013 07:56 am at 7:56 am |
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