Democrats Want That Koch Money, Too

Koch Industries pretends to be flabbergasted over Senator Patty Murray’s call for cash.

Democrats Want That Koch Money, Too

Democrats and their political allies have for months been making hay over the fact that Koch Industries backs conservative causes.

For example, Senate Majority leader Harry Reid recently used Koch Brothers David and Charles in a plea for Democratic donations. “If Republicans can knock just a few bricks free from our firewall, they’ll force through their extreme agenda faster than you can say ‘Koch brothers,’” he wrote.

And California Senator Barbara Boxer last month urged supporters to help line her party’s pockets: “The stakes are too high to let the Koch Brothers and the right-wing secret money machine continue their radical right-wing agenda.”

And, yes, Koch Industries and the two brothers played a huge role in funding Tea Party Republicans and their right wing agenda, especially in Wisconsin, where they donated $43,000 to elect Governor Scott Walker. But Koch Industries has also given liberally to left-leaning organizations, including the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. As Dan Amira points out, the Koch Brothers donated $30,000 to the DSCC last year.

That’s precisely why Senator Patty Murray, chairwoman of the DSCC, recently rang up Philip Ellender, head of Koch’s office of government affairs, to ask for a donation.

“You have been a past supporter of us through your PAC, and I wanted to catch up with you to see if you’d be willing to renew your membership,” Murray said in her voicemail. “We’ve got a great retreat coming up this fall in Kiawah Island, South Carolina. We’d love to have you join us.”

Well, Ellender is acting as if Senator Murray’s calling out of the blue, and posted a biting reply to Murray on the site Koch Facts. Here it is in its entirety:

Dear Senator Murray:

For many months now, your colleagues in the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee leadership have engaged in a series of disparagements and ad hominem attacks about us, apparently as part of a concerted political and fundraising strategy. Just recently, Senator Reid wrote in a DSCC fundraising letter that Republicans are trying to “force through their extreme agenda faster than you can say ‘Koch Brothers.’”

So you can imagine my chagrin when I got a letter from you on June 17 asking us to make five-figure contributions to the DSCC. You followed that up with a voicemail* indicating that, if we contributed heavily enough, we would garner an invitation to join you and other Democratic leaders at a retreat in Kiawah Island this September.

I’m hoping you can help me understand the intent of your request because it’s hard not to conclude that DSCC politics have become so cynical that you actually expect people whom you routinely denounce to give DSCC money.

It is troubling that private citizens taking part in the discourse have become the targets of White House and DSCC fundraising missives, and we would certainly encourage you to rethink that approach. Ultimately, I expect voters will see through that and will weigh the issues on the merits alone. But in the meantime, if you could provide me some insight on what exactly you are asking of us and why, I would be most grateful.

Philip Ellender?
President, Government & Public Affairs?
Koch Companies Public Sector, LLC

Yes, Murray’s invitation to the luxurious retreat crosses a line, but, c’mon, this is politics: we all know that conservatives and liberals alike play for both teams if the money’s right. Capitalism and opportunism go hand-in-hand.