Column – Bradblog.Com
Those of you who follow The BRAD BLOG closely may know that I’ve been working in the background, for a number of weeks, on an exclusive series concerning the billionaire Koch Brothers, the co-owners of the nation’s second largest private corporation, …
‘Inside the Koch Brothers 2011 Summer Seminar’: Part 1 of My 2-Part Exclusive at MOTHER JONES
[Now UPDATED with comment from the Kochs, finally, as given to ABC News & more…]
By Brad Friedman
6 September 2011
Those of you who follow The BRAD BLOG closely may know that I’ve been working in the background, for a number of weeks, on an exclusive series concerning the billionaire Koch Brothers, the co-owners of the nation’s second largest private corporation, the oil and chemical conglomerate Koch Industries. They are also massive funders behind much of the Rightwing political disinformation machine. The articles, as I can now reveal, cover audio I’ve obtained as recorded from inside their super-secret, super-confidential, invitation-only Summer Seminar held in late June at the tony Ritz-Carlton Beaver Creek Resort near Vail, CO.
Among this year’s attendees, in addition to hundreds of corporate baron billionaires and millionaires, were GOP public officials such as current Republican Presidential front-runner Gov. Rick Perry (R-TX), Gov. Bob McDonnell (R-VA) and Gov. Rick Scott (R-FL).
It appears the brothers went to extraordinary measures, particularly on the first night of the event, to assure that none of the uninvited would ever know what went on inside or even who the first night’s keynote speaker actually was.
Nonetheless, a few of their closely guarded secrets are about to spill out.
The first of my two articles in the series is finally published at Mother Jones today.
Part 1 focuses on the opening and closing remarks, as heard on tape, by billionaire brother Charles as he raises still more undisclosed political money and rallies his troops in advance of the 2012 Presidential election — or “the mother of all wars” as he’s heard describing it. On the first night, Charles welcomes his “great partners” to the event, alludes to President Obama as “Saddam Hussein” and proceeds to list — by name — those “partners” who have donated more than a million dollars to the Koch Foundation political causes over the past year. So much for the post-Citizens United “anonymity” that Koch exec Kevin Gentry, the emcee for both evening’s dinners, informs patrons they can “help protect.”
The full audio and text transcript of Charles’ opening and closing remarks are posted here.
Today’s article also details remarks, several rather noteworthy I think, made by the Kochs’ closing night speaker, Judge Andrew Napolitano of Fox “News.” The Fox host tells the crowd of corporate titans, among other things: how he got his job at Fox (it had to do with the FL 2000 Presidential election debacle, he claims); how he “sometimes” gets in “a little bit of trouble at Fox” when he’s too tough on Republicans, and; what he believes the Second Amendment to the Constitution is really for. You’ll have to read the article and/or the Napolitano transcript excerpts for the full details.
Finally, today’s report at Mother Jones describes some of the extraordinary security measures taken by the Kochs to try and ensure that nobody outside the dinner pavilion at the Beaver Creek Resort in Bachelor Gulch would ever know the identity of the GOP public official who delivered the keynote address on opening night. To this day, neither the official’s own constituents nor his own local media seem to have any idea that he’d ever even left the state to pal around with the Kochs, much less offer their opening night’s headline address.
In tomorrow’s report, we’ll reveal the identity of that headliner and detail his stem-winder of a keynote! But for now…
UPDATE 3:56pm PT: Has been a busy day over her for some reason. CNN’s just aired a not-bad story on the above (including a quick appearance by yours truly), and I’ll be on MSNBC’s The Ed Show tonight, late in the 10p ET / 7p PT hour. Ironically, I’ve been on Fox and CNN many times in the past. This will be my first appearance ever on MSNBC. Go figure.
After trying for days to get comment from the Koch’s on Charles’ “We have Saddam Hussein, this is the Mother of All Wars we’ve got in the next 18 months” remark, they’ve finally decided to respond now that the story is out and not, um, reflecting very well on them, it seems…
Jake Tapper of ABC News was the first to publish a reply from the Kochs today:
Philip Ellender, President and COO, Government and Public Affairs for the Koch Companies Public Sector, LLC, said in a statement that “Koch was not referring to President Obama in his remarks. The ‘Mother of All Wars’ is a common phrase, frequently attributed to Saddam Hussein on the eve of the first Gulf War. Amid record U.S. unemployment, continued economic decline, and loss of liberty, the U.S. has been plunged into its own ’mother of all wars.’ Our nation’s future will be determined in the coming months by the choices Americans make to address the serious economic issues facing our country.”
Ellender goes on to say, according to Tapper, the “Saddam” comment was “taken out of context…As is typical by far-left groups, these reports attempt to make more false claims about Koch.”
Not sure what “far-left group” he’s referring to, nor what “false claims” are being made. As to the quote being “taken out of context,” Charles Koch’s complete, unedited welcoming and closing remarks (when he repeats the same meme of a “mother of all battles” meme) were posted in full — both audio and transcript, along with the original story right here. You can decide for yourself if any of those remarks was taken out of context.
For the record, we contacted the Koch’s several times, specifically asking about the “Saddam Hussein” and “mother of all wars” remark, seeking clarification. Instead of offering it, all they did was offer a link to a page at Koch Industries describing what the seminars are supposedly for. They did not reply to several follow-ups, as we continued to try and get clarification from them.
By the way, Tapper also reports that neither “the White House, nor the Obama 2012 campaign, nor Democratic National Committee had any immediate comment Tuesday when contacted by ABC News and asked about comments made by Koch referring to the 2012 campaign as a repeat of the Iraq War.”
Besides that, there has been tons of coverage of this story today, all over the net. Some, though not all of it, pretty good. Happy to see it.
Oh, and tune in tomorrow. Part 2 of this report is likely to cause a few waves as well.
UPDATE 11:10pm PT: I’ve got a few more follow-ups now, including my appearances on CNN’s Situation Room today and MSNBC’s The Ed Show tonight and even a response, of sorts, from the White House to the entire fine mess. All now posted here…