This weekend, the billionaire Koch brothers will convene a meeting of around 200 wealthy businessmen and right wing activists for a semi-annual conference to raise millions of dollars for the institutions that form the intellectual foundation of the right wing conservative movement in the USA.
In the past, the meetings have drawn right wing politicians and public figures such as Jim DeMint a South Carolina senator, American Enterprise Institute president Arthur Brooks, Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck – along with a few judges and wealthy donors. The meetings have raised as much as $50 million – to non-profit groups favored by the Koch Brothers. For the most part, the meetings, which are closed to the public and reporters, have attracted little attention outside extreme right wing circles. But different circumstances surround the Koch conference set to begin tomorrow (January 29th) in Palm Springs.
The Koch brothers – Charles and David – have come under intense scrutiny recently for their role in helping start and fund some of the deepest-pocketed groups involved in organizing the “tea party” movement such as Americans for Prosperity, and for steering cash towards efforts to target President Obama’s healthcare plan and liberal politicians.
Critics have launched a campaign to highlight what they say is the systematic way in which the Kochs use their political giving to advance a right wing economic and regulatory agenda designed to further the interests of their oil, chemical and manufacturing empire. Common Cause, the watchdog group, is planning a protest called “Uncloaking the Kochs” and what it calls “the billionaires caucus” on Sunday a few miles down the road from the resort in Rancho Mirage, California where this weekend’s conference will be held, and a handful of reporters have made plans to try to cover the Koch’s closed-door gathering.
Participants at the last session, held in June in Aspen, Colorado, warned attendees not to talk to the press about the meetings, to wear their nametags at all times, and stressed that the meetings are “confidential” and “invitation-only.”
The Koch brothers – who are reportedly worth over $20 billion each give or take a billion currently own Invista, Georgia Pacific (who own papermills worldwide and as well as in the UK), Flint Hill Resources, Koch Pipeline, Koch Fertilizer, Koch Minerals and Matador Cattle Company.