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. Tampa Tim

    Spending $180 million on candidates who oppose Obamacare, was just a coincidence.

    October 9, 2013 08:28 pm at 8:28 pm |
  2. tom l

    I just figured it out! This is a breakthrough and I believe the misunderstanding with regards to the individual mandate. The reason that the mandate was delayed for business was because it is complicated and they didn't fully understand the law nor how it affects them. That makes sense. They need time to understand this very complicated law.

    Those on the left that believe the individual mandate is completely different because they need to pay it to make the system work and don't need that delay because it's not complicated. Either you need insurance or you don't. The disconnect is that people on the left think it should be easy to purchase insurance and it's not complicated. Let me just say that I'm a graduate from UC Irvine. I have worked for 20 years (10 years in banking and 10 years in advertising) and always obtained insurance from my employer (large companies that gave a few different options). I left my job and was self employed so I had to get insurance by myself. There is nothing more confusing than buying insurance. There is no more complicated product to choose and understand. I'm not a dumb person. I have a great education and consider myself relatively intelligent. This is not a simple decision and if you're going to grant time to businesses because it's complicated, I'm here to tell you that it is also complicated for the individual.

    October 9, 2013 08:35 pm at 8:35 pm |
  3. Hillary

    Yeah great video, the uncle sam was so creepy it made whatever he said just plain evil. Typical repugnikan ineptness when it comes to propaganda.

    October 9, 2013 08:36 pm at 8:36 pm |
  4. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    Have you noticed that small government right wingnut jobs want no government, then shut down the government, and when Americans are upset with no benefits for soldiers who died in combat, parks closed, 800,000 people furloughed eliminating services, etc., then blame Obama for their stupidity. Will they realize they know nothing about government? Are baggers smarter than a 4th grader when it comes to government services and the constitution? The answer is "No!"

    October 9, 2013 09:00 pm at 9:00 pm |
  5. belinda

    These old, overfed, greedy, self serving, billionaires, should leave the country. They're not paying any taxes , any way.

    October 9, 2013 09:00 pm at 9:00 pm |
  6. Bob Miller

    If terrorists in the middle East were planning on causing the U.S. government to shut down and default on it's financial obligations thus destroying the 'full faith and credit' of the U.S., we would send in Seal Team 6 to take them out to protect our country and our way of life.

    Somehow our elected Tea Party Congress reps can get away with planning to destroy our financial system. They gleefully fiddle while Rome Burns and claim it won't really be so bad when our economy crashes and plunges us into recession.

    Of course for them it won't be so bad since, even though they are not doing the people's business, they are still collecting their salaries and will still get their undeserved pension benefits while the country is held hostage to their ideological gamesmanship.

    October 9, 2013 09:00 pm at 9:00 pm |
  7. belinda

    Give em hell Harry !!!!!

    October 9, 2013 09:02 pm at 9:02 pm |
  8. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    The Gallup poll has always been conservative friendly. It is good to see that Gallup polls have republicans' approval at 28%. While this may be the worst in our history, I am convinced it is closer to 15%. (Which corresponds to the population of birthers, bigots and baggers.)

    October 9, 2013 09:03 pm at 9:03 pm |
  9. belinda

    The abundance of evidence clearly shows their involvement. How dare they, deny the obvious. I guess they expect for all Americans, to be as naive as their supporters.

    October 9, 2013 09:10 pm at 9:10 pm |
  10. the hippies were right

    They've only donated 180 million to groups that oppose Obamacare. What would make anyone think they had anything to do with the shutdown? It was just money they donated, that's all and we all know money has no power in politics.

    October 9, 2013 09:12 pm at 9:12 pm |
  11. Evergreen

    Tax dollars spent on the ACA means less tax dollars for oil subsidies. How does this billionaire justify corporate welfare.

    October 9, 2013 09:18 pm at 9:18 pm |
  12. Anonymous

    "Koch has not taken a position on the legislative tactic of tying the continuing resolution to defunding Obamacare.......------–
    Right, and if you believe that, you might be interested in purchasing some land in Tristan da Cunha for development
    of a golfing and tennis recreational resort.

    Did your billionaire buddies have a "conversation" with you Kochs?

    October 9, 2013 09:24 pm at 9:24 pm |
  13. king

    these rich and powerful folks are selling snake oil to the gullible in our country to stay stay rich and keep their gullible followers angry and dum

    October 9, 2013 09:40 pm at 9:40 pm |
  14. Winston Smith

    Stand your ground Harry. The people out here in the cheap seats are beginning to awaken to the fact, that the peole of wealth are friends to their oppressors. Their oppressors being the republicans. Even though the republicans lie and lie and lie about their goals, motives, and their care for the working class, the lies will always come to the surface where all can see the truth. Stand your ground Harry.

    October 9, 2013 09:44 pm at 9:44 pm |
  15. vic , nashville ,tn

    Koch’s money disagree with Koch brothers statement

    October 9, 2013 09:44 pm at 9:44 pm |
  16. Ron L

    Isn't it AMAZING how the ultra-rich want to influence Americas politics but they DON'T WANT THE PUBLIC TO KNOW!! The reason is very simple and very clear. If Americans find out that one or two ultra-rich people are attempting to buy the government...MILLIONS will come out in opposition!! They know this, so they attempt to lurk in the shadows.

    October 9, 2013 09:45 pm at 9:45 pm |
  17. Woman In California

    The truth hurts doesn't it? The Koch's are nothing but common thugs who bet AGAINST THIS COUNTRY and the people in it everyday of their miserable lives. Their hope is that enough people lose their jobs, their healthcare and their homes so they can blame the black guy in the White House. There's nothing too cruel, too dirty or to low that these punks won't sink to. They're disgraceful, un-American and dishonest and I hope BOTH of them enjoy judgment day because its coming.

    October 9, 2013 09:55 pm at 9:55 pm |
  18. Name jk. Sfl. GOP conservatives,the garbage of America.

    The Koch bros are well know GOP pigs who will find out the government is bigger and smarter then they are and elections can't be bought after your Romney FAILURE. You have another GOP train wreck coming in 2014. And clean up your slag pit on the harbor pigs!!!!!!

    October 9, 2013 10:14 pm at 10:14 pm |
  19. Name jk. Sfl. GOP conservatives,the garbage of America.

    They should take away this GOP teapartys oil tax breaks which comes to about40 billion dallars and have the army arrest these GOP pigs as traitors!!!!!!!

    October 9, 2013 10:18 pm at 10:18 pm |
  20. ED1

    Reid again opens mouth and out comes stupid.

    You and Obama both need to get your facts straight before you start calling people out.

    The House was re-elected to stop the out of control that Obama and his buddies started and stupid bills like Obamacare.

    The Democrats have been talking about two unfunded wars have you forgot we were attacked right here in the United States or are you that stupid to stupid that we were.

    We are going down a road that we will not be able to turn around if we continue to play the blame game and not get our sh__ together.

    October 9, 2013 10:32 pm at 10:32 pm |
  21. Name jk. Sfl. GOP conservatives,the garbage of America.

    These right wing GOP pigs need to be felt with by the army and arrested for subversion and have ALL their assets seized!!!!!!

    October 9, 2013 10:34 pm at 10:34 pm |
  22. Chipster

    So, what the Koch Bros. are saying is that they didn't play a "pivotal role in GOP efforts to shut down the government." All they did was finance that "pivotal role." Thanks for clearing that up boys.

    October 9, 2013 10:41 pm at 10:41 pm |
  23. tiscali.it

    sorry Koch...your billionaire didn't beat Obama and it doesn't change the narrative...

    October 9, 2013 11:07 pm at 11:07 pm |
  24. Wake up People!

    Sure you didn't Koch's...... Sure you didn't.

    October 9, 2013 11:22 pm at 11:22 pm |
  25. Name Uche Agonsi

    When you fund an organ that makes unwholesome demands, you are part of the demand. ACA might not be the perfect idea, but its better than nothing. Is design for the poor. Its impact on quality healthcare is not negative as being propagated. In the long run I think any tax increase from ACA would be nullified by healthy industrial labour. Other countries operating a similar program are not ruined. A system that ignores the health of the middle class and the poor in the society is just building a house of cards.

    October 9, 2013 11:28 pm at 11:28 pm |
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