Two Arizona “charitable” entities have been fined $1 million for violations of law. The two groups “operated as part of the ‘Koch Brothers’ Network’ of dark money political nonprofit corporations,” the state’s Fair Political Practices Commission said yesterday in a statement.
The illegal spending totaled $15 million. So a $1 million fine seems like a reasonable cost of doing business, and the type which the Koch brothers various corporate entities are well familiar with. And, though the Koch brothers aren’t alone in their investments in political movements and their willingness to use their wealth to influence policy and subvert our democracy, the behaviors of Koch Industries and Charles Koch is rather epic.
From a June, 2012 post titled “How To Buy Our Democracy. It’s Easier and Cheaper Than You Think”
For president, a cool half a billion dollars should do. But that’s every four years, so annually, the cost is $125 million.
I don’t think you need to buy the ENTIRE senate. But if someone wanted to focus on 20 swing seats, that should give control over to one party, and scare the doo doo out of any recalcitrant senators. I think 10 million should do it for each race. So that’s 200 million, over six years, or roundup to 35 million per year cost.
The House. Again, don’t buy the entire house, some are already effectively paid for. Lets say 50 swing seats in the house, at a cost of 2 million per seat. That’s every two years, so 50 million per year war chest should do it.
Total cost: 210 million of focused, coordinated expenditures per year.
Now, lets look at the top 400 earners in the US. In 2008, the last data I could find on the internet, the average income for the top 400 earners was 270 million dollars. Their effective tax rate was 18.1%. Because most of their income was from capital gains (or in the case of hedge fund managers, carried interest, which is really earned income redefined as capital gain through expensive lobbying and contributions to the right congressmen).
Let say that you one of these top 400 and were afraid that someone was considering raising the rate for all income exceeding 1 million a year by 3%. So the effective rate of the top 400 could go from 18.1% to about 21.1%. That would cost this group, an average of 8.1 million/year each, or as a whole, 3.24 Billion per year in increased taxes.
BUT, if as a group, these high earners would instead each pay a meager $525,000 per year to fund some group, say Americans for Prosperity, or Freedom Works, or America Crossroads, they could simply buy our government to kill any move to increase taxes on them. (Newsflash: Karl Rove Crossroads affiliated groups already raised over 100 million in 2012) For the top 400, a $525,000 contribution is only 6% of the increase in tax that they would face if their top rate went up 3%. That’s a very good return on investment.
And, it really wouldn’t even cost them that much. Because many of these top 400 are highly influential in some of the largest corporations in the world, thanks to Citizens United, it is now perfectly legal for them to use the assets of their shareholders to make these contributions. So, forget about their personal contribution, as Directors of fortune 500 companies, they will simply have the rest of us pay for their purchase. It’s a leveraged buyout of our democracy.
But that could never happen. It’s impossible. Money doesn’t breed corruption or spoil democracy. Just ask the US. Supreme Court Justices. Or can it? Is there anything behind the Koch brothers annual meetings of the super wealthy to raise money? What types of logistics are they planning? How are contributions and expenditures being hidden? Why are the republicans, who championed disclosure rather than regulation of election expenditures now so against disclosure? Why are corporations so against disclosure of their political contributions?
Changing the constitution is a last resort remedy to any problem. But if, as many believe, the runaway campaign spending is a constitutional crisis endangering our democracy, then we need to seriously consider amending our constitution.