House Republicans have followed orders given to them by the Koch brothers and advanced a bill that would keep Koch political contributions a secret.
In a letter to the members of the House Ways and Means Committee, the Kochs made their views clear:
On behalf of Koch Companies Public Sector, I urge you to support the Preventing IRS Abuse and Protecting Free Speech Act, legislation that would prohibit the Secretary of the Treasury from requiring that the identity of contributors to 501(c) organizations be included in annual returns.
We share the belief held by Congressman Peter Roskam, Speaker Paul Ryan, Chairman Kevin Brady and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell – all stalwart defenders of free speech rights for all Americans regardless of one’s political beliefs – that guaranteeing First Amendment protections is of critical importance to our country.
The targeting of non-profit organizations by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to limit free speech under this Administration is well documented. From the IRS subjecting donors of nonprofit organizations to the gift tax, to the direct targeting of conservative non-profit organizations based solely on their beliefs, this legislation could not be more pertinent.
House Ways and Means Republicans did what they were told, and advanced the bill on a 22-15 party line vote.
The Koch Industries letter is a perfect example of the sort of corruption that has been caused by Citizens United. The Koch Industries letter is a message from the Koch brothers telling the House Republicans that they bought and paid for with dark money contributions how to vote.
House Ways and Means Committee Ranking Member Rep. Carl Levin (D-MI) said during his opening statement on the markup of the bill, “The Republicans have thus far prevented the IRS from issuing regulations on political spending by 501(c)(4) organizations. It is no secret as to why they are working to keep donors a secret – the three largest spenders from 2012 – representing fully 51% of the total – include Karl Rove’s Crossroads GPS spent $71 million; Americans for Prosperity, the Koch brothers, spent $36 million; and the American Future Fund, also the Koch brothers, spent $25 million. What this bill does, to put it simply, is to solidify the secrecy around the role of big money in campaigns.”
It is unlikely that this bill HR 5053 a.k.a. The Koch Corruption Protection Act will make it out of the Senate. If it managed to pass the Senate, President Obama would veto it as soon as it hit his desk.
The Koch brothers are working hard to make sure that their attempted purchase of the federal government remains hidden from the American people. The idea that rich people have a fundamental right to hijack our electoral system is undemocratic.
The passage of this bill through committee is a sad day for democracy and a big reminder of why the American people must fight to get rid of Citizens United.
Mr. Easley is the founder/managing editor and Senior White House and Congressional correspondent for PoliticusUSA. Jason has a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science. His graduate work focused on public policy, with a specialization in social reform movements.
Awards and Professional Memberships
Member of the Society of Professional Journalists and The American Political Science Association