Koch Brothers Poised to Raise Influence With Massive Conservative Database

Patrick Glennon

David and Charles Koch—billionaire brothers and infamous figureheads of libertarian activism—are set to further certify their status as lynchpins of the Republican electoral machine. As the Guardian reports, the two oil moguls are creating a database that unites far-flung conservative think tanks, activist groups, tea party organizations, fundraising gurus and free market ideologues into a comprehensive list likely to make GOP campaign managers salivate in advance of next year’s elections. Named Themis—after the Greek goddess who imposed divine order on humanity—the database will include valuable information for conservative organizers and fundraisers. Email lists, phone numbers and other contact information from disperse sources will merge into a comprehensive and streamlined political weapon. Purportedly, the database will also include extensive information relating to occupation and income levels, useful details for targeted fundraising initiatives. Josh Hendler, former director of technology for the Democratic National Committee, commented that Themis will transform the Kochs into a “natural center of gravity for conservatives.” Indeed, the planned database is merely one of a number of indicators that presage a campaign cycle impacted heavily by the Koch family.
Last year alone, Americans For Prosperity (a Koch brothers nonprofit Super PAC” outfit) cranked out $45 million in funding for right-wing candidates. The Koch Industries subsidiary Flint Hills Resources spent a full $1 million backing California’s Proposition 23, the failed legislation that would have significantly rolled back regulations on greenhouse gas emissions. And their influence peddling seems to have no end in sight. As the nation heads into its first post-Citizens United presidential election, Politico reports that the Koch brothers plan to pump more than $200 million into conservative causes and candidates. This volume of cash would place the duo into the same tier inhabited by establishment donor networks, such as Karl Rove’s American Crossroads organization. The Kochs are also taking a stab at the news sector. As a recent article from the Center for Media and Democracy investigates, large swaths of money from Koch-affiliated donors have been pouring into the Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity. The organization maintains 43 state news services, boasting accredited reporters with press clearance at state capitals. At the 2011 American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) annual conference in New Orleans, the Franklin Center was listed as a “Vice-Chairman” level sponsor. With such a dedicated relationship to the Kochs’ legislative brainchild, the Franklin Center’s news operations are unlikely to critically cover ALEC’s singular obsession with privatizating public sector functions. All of these factors indicate a formidable political machine. With the establishment of Themis, the Koch brothers could potentially hold the key to the GOP’s most effective get-out-the-vote tool. Holding such power will only help ensure their free market philosophy reigns supreme, should Republicans expand their power in November 2012.   Updated 11/09/2011, 11:40AM: This post originally stated that Sara Jerving’s piece concerning the Franklin Center was from Truthout​.org, though it was actually first published by the Center for Media and Democracy.
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Patrick Glennon is a writer and musician living in Chicago. He received his B.A. in History from Skidmore College and currently works as Communications Manager for the Michael Forti for Cook County Court campaign and as the web intern at In These Times.
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