The saying "politics is a rich man's game" is perhaps more true today than it ever was, with the Supreme Court decision striking down limits on political campaign contributions in 2014, signaling a turning point in the political landscape that handed outside groups unprecedented leverage in shaping an election. As the next presidential election looms large and politicians left and right indicate their intentions to run, the Koch brothers will spend almost $900 million for 2016's campaigns, in an outrageously singular effort by an outside group to chart the course of an election.
Charles and David Koch, perhaps two of the most widely reviled names on the fringes of U.S. politics, oversee a network of politically conservative donors that aims to pour $889 million into the upcoming general election. The staggering goal was announced Monday at this past weekend's winter donor retreat, an annual event of the Koch brothers' primary political operation, Freedom Partners. The money is set to be allocated to projects like field operations, new technology and policy work, reported The Washington Post.
The figure will come close to how much the Democratic and Republican party nominees are expected to spend, respectively, in 2016. In 2012, the Democrats spent $1.07 billion, and the Republicans $1 billion in the presidential election.
The group, consisting of hundreds of well-heeled donors on the right — including the Koch brothers — is considering whether to spend some of that money on the GOP primary, too, The Washington Post reported. The exorbitant sum reflects the network's ambitious drive to increase its already significant clout in American politics.
In attendance at the retreat were also three potential Republican presidential candidates — Sens. Marco Rubio, Rand Paul, and Ted Cruz — who were participants of a forum at which they were asked if the super-affluent had too heavy a hand in politics. All three predictably answered no, with Rubio defending the 1 percent's right to control politics:
I believe in freedom of speech and I believe that spending money on campaigns is a form of political speech that is protected under the Constitution. And the ones who seem to have a problem with it are the ones that only want unions to be able to do it, their friends in Hollywood to be able to do it, and their friends in the press to be able to do it.
Using their preposterous amount of wealth, the Koch brothers have long pursued an objective of limited government — particularly in the interests of corporate America — trying to convince regular citizens that big government is bad government. According to The New York Times, in Charles Koch's welcoming remarks on Saturday at the Palm Springs retreat, he implored donors for much more than financial contributions:
Much of our efforts to date have been largely defensive to slow down a government that continues to swell and become more intrusive – causing our culture to deteriorate. Making this vision a reality will require more than a financial commitment. It requires making it a central part of our lives.
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