The billionaire industrialist Koch brothers have launched a rebranding campaign and their goal is to make themselves and the circle of rich libertarian donors they’ve organized look like good people. So writes Jane Mayer in this week’s New Yorker magazine.
Her story digs into the public relations dilemma the brothers and so many other super rich Americans face as they advocate policies that keeps government off of the backs and out of the pockets of big corporations and the billionaires that run them.
The bothers’ political network has three times the number of people working for them than the Republican National Committee, and it has pushed the Party’s agenda rightward, Mayer writes. In the process, the Kochs have earned a reputation as nasty big-oil tycoons who don’t care about everyday working people.
This became clear to them after they sank millions into the 2012 presidential race and were told up until days before the election that their favored candidate Mitt Romney would win.
But after the wealthy former Massachusetts governor lost the 2012 election to Barack Obama — a race the brothers spent millions trying to buy — they were baffled by their failure and decided to recalibrate a strategy to lure the middle third of the country that either major political party needs in order to win a general presidential election.
The brothers’ network amped up its rhetoric about criminal justice reform and how free markets improve the “well-being” of communities. They donated to the United Negro College Fund, the Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers and the LIBRE Initiative, an organization working to build prosperity in Hispanic communities. They shifted their image from being secretive greedy businessmen to accessible philanthropists, borrowing from a script perfected by John D. Rockefeller, who saved his reputation after the Ludlow Massacre through charitable giving.
Here in our square state, The Colorado Independent has reported on efforts by the Koch brothers to privatize education and smash teacher unions, to stop wind energy development, and on their ties to the campaign of Republican U.S Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado.
Mayer’s story is a must-read for anyone interested in the history and future of these billionaire bros.
Check it out here.
Photo credit: DonkeyHotey, Creative Commons, Flickr.