In Madison, record numbers of protesters have entered the 11th day of their fight to preserve union rights and collective bargaining for Wisconsin's public employees, inspiring similar protests in the states of Indiana, Ohio and Michigan. The protests have also helped expose the close ties between Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and David and Charles Koch, the billionaire brothers who helped bankroll the Tea Party movement.
On Wednesday, blogger Ian Murphy revealed he had impersonated David Koch in a recorded phone conversation with an unsuspecting Walker. For more on the Koch brothers' influence in Wisconsin, Democracy Now! interviews Lisa Graves, executive director of the Center for Media and Democracy, who wrote the recent report, "Scott Walker Runs on Koch Money." Graves spoke from the Wisconsin State Capitol building where protests continued to swell today.
"We learned this week that the Koch Industries, Mr. Koch's company, opened a lobby shop here right across from the Capitol. He and his team basically leased the place right before Governor Walker was elected and opened it the week of his inauguration," Graves says. "So, it looks like they're planning on doing some lobbying here in the state of Wisconsin."
"And I suppose that's not unexpected, because Mr. Koch wrote a million-dollar check to the Republican Governors Association, which was used, combined with other money, to run $5 million worth of ads in the state to put Scott Walker in office. And Koch Industries, through its PAC, donated $43,000 to Mr. Walker's campaign," Graves says. "And that was the second most of any PAC in the state of Wisconsin to donate to Scott Walker."
"So Scott Walker has a strong relationship, in essence, to this funder through the groups that he's funded. And in fact, Americans for Prosperity, which is one the groups that Mr. Koch has funded and that he chairs, is running ads now to support Scott Walker, and they actually ran ads to help get him into office. And so, this is a situation in which a billionaire is exerting extraordinary influence, far more influence than tens of thousands of Wisconsin residents who have come out to protest his outrageous effort to destroy the unions here," Graves says.