For the next eight months, America will be awash in campaign ads funded by Americans for Prosperity, the political action committee backed by Charles and David Koch. With a combined net worth of $80 billion, the Koch brothers have already funneled more than $30 million into congressional races. As of February, AFP had spent more money on ads attacking North Carolina Senator Kay Hagan than Democratic groups had spent on all Senate races in the country combined.
The pushback from Democrats thus far has consisted mostly of efforts to debunk the lies spread by the Koch TV spots on Obamacare—pointing out, for example, that the Michigan woman who claimed it has made her leukemia treatments “unaffordable” will in fact save at least $1,200 a year under her new plan. The Kochs’ election strategy is a sort of bait-and-switch, since their stake in public policy is, in fact, only tangentially related to healthcare. Anti-Obamacare messaging is part of a larger campaign against government regulation that threatens the Kochs’ bottom line—most critically, in response to climate change. “We have a broader cautionary tale,” Tim Phillips, the president of AFP, told The New York Times. “The president’s out there touting billions of dollars on climate change. We want Americans to think about what they promised with the last social welfare boondoggle and look at what the actual result is.”
The Kochs’ investments in fossil fuel include petrochemical complexes and thousands of miles of pipeline and refineries in Alaska, Minnesota, and Texas, an empire that emits over 24 million tons of carbon pollution every year, about as much as 5 million cars. Thanks to a recent investigation by the International Forum on Globalization, we now have confirmation of what was long suspected: the Kochs are one of the biggest investors in Alberta’s tar sands, with a Koch subsidiary holding leases on 1.1 million acres of land in the region, giving them a major stake in the approval of the Keystone XL pipeline—despite their insistence otherwise.