The publication of an invitation that Koch Industries sent to top conservatives for a private strategy session in January lifted the curtain, however slightly, on the deep-pocketed funders betting on the Republican Party's re-emergence.
Among the list of invitees were think-tank types, private equity titans, energy conglomerates, and media personalities -- all partaking in a forum "to counter the most severe threats facing our free society and outline a vision of how we can foster a renewal of American free enterprise and prosperity."
But exactly how deep are their pockets? The good-government group Campaign Money Watch ran the names of those who attended Koch Industries' most recent gathering in June 2010 and found that they have contributed at least $35 million to federal candidates, parties, and political committees over the past 20 years.
Coming from a pool of roughly 210 attendees, the total is still a remarkable figure (only 36 on the list had no record of donating). That said, more than $15 million of the $35 million came from just ten attendees. Not all of the money went to Republicans. The Koch brothers, for instance, have given a small portion of their political donations to Democrats. But a vast majority was directed at the GOP. And in releasing its finding, Campaign Money Watch makes the assertion -- not illogically -- that Koch Industries and its guests are likely aiding some of the anonymous ad campaigns that are dominating the current electoral cycle.
"If you want to know the secret donors behind the corporate front groups flooding our elections this year, look no further," said David Donnelly, director of Campaign Money Watch. "They may try to skulk around the shadows during this election season, but they are far from unknown to Republican candidates and party committees."
Below are the top ten donors
- David and Julia Koch -- Koch Industries --2,244,480
- Dick Farmer -- Cintas Corporation --2,079,291
- John Childs -- J.W. Childs and Associates --2,016,350
- Stan and Karen Hubbard -- Hubbard Broadcasting --1,383,720
- Foster Friess -- Friess Associates LLC --1,379,381
- Rich and Helen DeVos -- Amway --1,276,559
- John and Joan Hotchkis -- Ramajal LLC --1,083,555
- Jack and Rose Marie Anderson -- Culver Corp. --1,078,930
- Fred and Marlene Malek -- Thayer Capital Partners --1,034,380
- Ken and Anne Griffin -- Citadel Investment Group --877,210
- Jim and Dorothy Patterson -- Gulf Stream Petroleum --839,580
Total -- $15,293,436
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