Hey remember the Koch brothers, Charles and David? They are the two New York City billionaires organizing and funding the so-called “grassroots” Tea Party movement. Well it turns out that twice every year they host confidential meetings “to review strategies for combating the multitude of public policies that threaten to destroy America as we know it.” So what policies do the Koch brothers think are threatening to destroy America?
According to a a personalized letter signed by Charles Koch their priorities include battling “climate change alarmism and the move to socialized health care,” as well as “the regulatory assault on energy.” I’m sure the concerns of the Koch brothers have everything to do with their sincere desire to protect America’s free market principles and nothing to do with the fact that they run the largest privately-held oil company in the country (*wink*). Either way, the Koch brothers are perfectly free to express their political opinions freely and are not encumbered by any ethical obligations to the American people. Unfortunately, though, not everyone who attended their past events has that same level of political freedom.
It turns out that past guests at these Koch-sponsored events include Supreme Court justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas.
“This is certainly worth more reporting,” said Stephen Gillers, a professor of law at New York University. “It is intriguing because the Koch brothers are so politically active and identify with a point of view. I know I would be curious to know exactly what forums the Justices went to. Obviously they could not go to a strategy session about how to elect more Republicans. On the other hand if it was a forum on the meaning of the First Amendment and it didn’t involve strategy or fundraising a Justice could appear… It’s fascinating and it merits more reporting.”
Of course this situation is further complicated by the recent Supreme Court decision in Citizens United, which overturned existing campaign finance laws by ruling that corporations could spend unlimited amounts of money on federal elections. The result of the decision is that outside groups with corporate interests have flooded Republican races with millions of dollars. Among these outside groups is Americans for Prosperity, a conservative group started by David Koch, which has spent about $5.5 million in key House battlegrounds with ads that don’t mention candidates but criticize Obama’s policies.
Given the impact that the Citizens United case is having on Republican fund-raising efforts this election cycle, the well-known political point of view of the Koch brothers, and the politically partisan goals of their twice-a-year group therapy sessions, it is certainly worth investigating what Scalia and Thomas were doing at those past Koch events. In addition to Scalia and Thomas other past attendees to Koch events include Gov. Haley Barbour, Gov. Bobby Jindal, Senators Jim DeMint and Tom Coburn, and Representatives Mike Pence, Tom Price and Paul Ryan, just in case anyone still doubts their clear partisan tilt.
It’s a good thing for Scalia and Thomas that in the letter of invitation Charles Koch sent out for their event in Palm Springs next January, he explicitly asked all invitees to keep the meeting a secret from the media. Otherwise the general public would find out that Supreme Court justices secretly meet with Republican politicians, and billionaire business executives to discuss how to impose more corporate-friendly policies on the American people. That might cause the average American to seriously question the integrity of the venerable U.S Supreme Court in its current form. Koch even asked the invitees to avoid posting any information about the meeting on Facebook, Twitter, or blogs.
Oops. Good thing I wasn’t invited!