The Kochs and Their Astroturf Tea Are Demanding an Exemption From Campaign Finance Rules

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Americans should hope that their government weighs decisions affecting the outcome of America’s electoral process on laws and reality; not out of sorrow for fabricated suffering and misfortunes of billionaires claiming they are targets of disparaging public commentary and scorn. A little over three years ago, the conservative Supreme Court was overwhelmed with pity and sorrow for the Koch brothers and their surrogate conservative non-profit, Citizens United, and ruled that after being put upon by Federal Elections Commission rules regarding corporate campaign finance laws, the wealthiest corporations were entitled to First Amendment protections prohibiting government from restricting political independent expenditures by corporations.

Up until the time the High Court ruling on Citizens United was handed down, the public was oblivious to the Koch brothers’ machinations to hijack the electoral process resulting in little to no public outcry against exempting the richest corporations in the nation from buying elections.  It appears Americans are being kept unawares again as the Koch’s so-called grass-roots organization, the teabaggers, have asked for an FEC exemption on campaign finance disclosure rules.

The teabaggers appealed directly to the Federal Elections Commission in September with the outrageous claim they are being assailed by, and encounter unprecedented harassment from, both government officials and private actors.  Their appeal claimed their wealthy corporate contributors face widespread hostility and “a reasonable probability of threats, harassment, or reprisal” because of their extraordinary desire to “curb increasing government infringement of their individual liberties.” The Koch brothers’ organization also asserted that all they are comprised of are besieged individual groups who share common values including “limited federal government, respect for the original meaning of the Constitution, fiscal responsibility, and returning political power to the states and the people.”

To garner extra pity, the appeal claimed “the TEA Party is not a political party because it does not nominate candidates to federal office.” One wonders if Koch brother acolytes and tea party Senators Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, Mike Lee, and Marco Rubio, as well as a herd of congressional representatives qualified as candidates for federal office. It is claims like “the TEA Party is not a political party” that engenders some of the harassment as filthy liars and imbeciles the group claims qualifies them for exemption from campaign finance laws. To garner even more pity, the teabaggers claimed it is just a simple “nationwide grassroots movement that arose organically in 2009 out of an immense” hatred for the federal government; especially since the American people elected an African American man as President. The billionaire Koch brothers and their dark money certainly played a crucial role in the ascendance of the teabaggers who also benefitted from the Kochs’ influence on the Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling.

The FEC seems conflicted about whether to give the Koch brothers (teabagger) organization an exemption from adhering to campaign finance disclosure laws based on if they are either beleaguered victims of public derision and mockery, or just another political party and dark money concealment mechanism. In fact, although there is a public hearing to settle the issue set for November 21st, the FEC has drafted two separate rulings  in advance of the November 21st hearing to either; grant the Kochs an exemption based on the teabagger’s claim of public harassment and ridicule, or a rejection because the Koch’s teabaggers are not, as they claim, a minor party or organization. It has been well-documented, beyond a shadow of doubt, that the teabaggers are not an “organic grass roots organization,” and although their limited government, states’ supremacy, fiscal austerity, and individual liberty to flaunt federal law goals may be sincere, they were cultivated, incited, and heavily funded by the libertarian billionaire Koch brothers.

That the FEC is even considering granting the Koch brothers’ tea party an exemption from FEC reporting and disclosure requirements, including their dark money donors, is beyond outrageous in light of the democracy-killing Citizens United ruling courtesy of Koch surrogates Clarence Thomas and Antonin Scalia on the conservative Supreme Court. It is little surprise that, like the Citizens United ruling, the Kochs’ organization is appealing directly to the FEC leading up to the 2014 midterm elections. Americans are still reeling from the devastating effects of the Citizens United ruling on the 2010 midterms, and with news that the Kochs and teabagger Ted Cruz are embroiled in a shadowy Tea Party scheme driving a right-wing group “masquerading as a mainstream non-profit to push extremist laws” in every state, the likelihood they would transfer millions to an exempt organization is very real outcome of an FEC ruling favorable to the Kochs.

The report by the Center for Media and Democracy focusing on the State Policy Network revealed that the “network” and its “affiliates” are pouring $83 million in the states to promote an extreme conservative agenda, and they claim “that money is on the rise.” The group is backed by the Koch brothers and teabagger Ted Cruz, as well as numerous ties to ALEC. At its annual meeting in September there were representatives from “Koch Industries, the Charles Koch Institute, the Charles Koch Foundation, and several Koch-backed right-wing groups such as Americans for Prosperity.” With the group being investigated for orchestrating extensive lobbying and political operations while registered as educational nonprofits peddling an extreme conservative agenda to state legislators, it appears they are “in violation of IRS’ regulations on nonprofit political and lobbying activities.” A favorable ruling by the FEC granting the Kochs’ teabaggers an exemption to conceal their dark money makes it reasonable to assume the billionaire libertarians would simply shift tens-of-millions to teabaggers under cover of an FEC exemption.

Although the audacity of the Kochs’ teabaggers to demand an exemption from FEC campaign disclosure laws is an affront to the American people, and democracy, it should not surprise anyone. What is shocking is that the FEC even remotely considered drafting a favorable ruling to the Kochs’ organization; particularly in advance of a hearing a week away and especially based on their claim they are not a political party, are offended they are the butt of Americans’ jokes, and claim they face a “reasonable probability of threats, harassment, or reprisal” if they reveal their financing comes from the Koch brothers. Unlike the Koch brothers’ surrogates on the Supreme Court sneak attack on democracy, alerts from at least one progressive watchdog exposed the Kochs’ stealth attack on democracy leading up to the 2014 midterm elections.

News of this blatant assault on the electoral process should enrage the people and incite them to mobilize and march on FEC headquarters on November 21st to demand they reject the Kochs’ teabagger exemption with extreme prejudice. In lieu of a mass in-person advance on the FEC hearing to demand the Koch’s attempt to hijack another midterm election is stopped in its tracks, there is a petition to demand that the “FEC Don’t Let Billionaires Buy Our Electionhere. The Koch brothers own Republicans in Congress, governors’ mansions, and state legislatures, two Supreme Court Justices, and are attempting to own the electoral process outright. After the Citizens United ruling, if the FEC exempts the Kochs’ teabagger organization from adhering to campaign disclosure rules, they will finally achieve their ultimate goal and own America.

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