Kochs Oppose IM 22 to Hide Rich Donors

Ah, so now we have the real reason the Koch brothers are trying to defeat Initiated Measure 22, the Anti-Corruption Act. It’s not so much the “Democracy Credits” that would encourage some candidates to stick with small donors but which the Kochs are deceptively portraying as “welfare for politicians.” It’s IM 22’s requirement that the Kochs and other PAC attackers tell us who’s funding them:

A group tied to billionaire Charles Koch has unleashed an aggressive campaign to kill a ballot measure in South Dakota that would require Koch-affiliated groups and others like them to reveal their donors’ identities — part of a sustained effort by his powerful network to keep government agencies and the public from learning more about its financial backers [Fredreka Schouten, “Charles Koch’s Network Launches New Fight to Keep Donors Secret,” USA Today, 2016.08.17].

Why don’t the Kochs want us to know who all contributes to their politicking?

Luke Hilgemann, Americans for Prosperity’s national CEO, cast the South Dakota fight as a battle to protect donors’ free-speech rights. Politicians who have been targeted by AFP over taxes and other policy issues over the years now want to unmask contributors’ identities “because they don’t like us bringing these issues to light and holding them accountable,” he said.

He argued that revealing donors’ identities could subject them to threats and intimidation and drive them away from funding advocacy groups.

“The chilling of public discourse is a bad path for the country to go on,” he said [Schouten, 2016.08.17].

So the Koch donors want to hold others accountable, but they don’t want to be held accountable themselves? That sounds awfully Trumpy to me.

And please, billionaires, don’t whine to me about threats and intimidation. If you participate in the political process, especially when you bring to bear far more financial firepower than regular working voters do, the rest of us have every right to know about your influence and check your influence by giving our small donations to the other folks in the race.

The Kochs’ astroturf Defeat22.com isn’t trying to defend South Dakota voters or taxpayers. Defeat22.com is trying keep secret the rich guys who are trying to buy South Dakota politics.

9 Responses to Kochs Oppose IM 22 to Hide Rich Donors

  1. well done cory. thank you

  2. Darin Larson

    There is something wrong when the identity of a $101 donor to a state level legislative campaign has to be disclosed, but the identity of a multi-million dollar donor to a PAC does not have to be disclosed.

  3. Mike Kokenge SR

    IM 22 was one I needed to do more digging on before drawing a conclusion. Thank you Cory for connecting the dots.

  4. Glad to connect, Mike! The Kochs’ desire for control and secrecy is what’s really behind their opposition to 22.

  5. Won’t at least some of this this be immediately challenged and overturned because of Citizen’s United? If so, what will survive?

  6. Dang, Paul! you and your hard questions. ;-)

    My casual review finds that Citizens United says we can’t ban contributions and independent expenditures from non-profits. IM 22 contains no such ban. IM 22 requires disclosure, which Citizens United allows.

  7. The postcard I received today from Defeat 22 does not display a disclaimer as directed under SD law:

    Disclaimer: All candidates, political committees and political parties must display or clearly speak the statement: “Paid for by (Name of candidate, political committee or political party)”on any printed material or communication. This disclaimer is not required on buttons, balloons, pins, pens, matchbooks, clothing, or similar small items upon which the inclusion of the statement would be impracticable (SDCL 12-27-15).

    It lists a website as http://www.defeat22.com

  8. I stand corrected – they included the Paid for language in the return on the address box.

  9. Alas, safe. Thanks, Monty, for the update! Does the postcard have any new lines of attack? Send me a picture when you have time!