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The Koch brothers and the Liberty movement

11 Feb
I have a long history of brief brushes with Charles and David Koch.

In 1980 I was kind of a college intern for the Ed Clark for President Campaign.  David Koch was the Libertarian Party vice presidential candidate, allowing the LP to finance itself despite the Federal Election Commission and campaign finance rules meant to crush new parties and challenges to incumbents (the only people who can give big donations to a campaign are the candidates themselves).  I actually ran into David Koch at an Americans for Prosperity event in DC a year ago and told him that I had worked on his campaign in 1980 and he said “That was my baptism by fire!”

After the Clark campaign, I was attacked by Murray Rothbard (who had never spoken to me, though when I was 20 and he was 60+ we had from time to time been in the same room).  I am at the very end of his long list of “Craniacs” (agents of Ed Crane) and members of the “Kochtopus” (people who work on projects funded by the Kochs) in one of his many screeds, this one published in his newsletter Libertarian Forum (now archived by the Ludwig von Mises institute at ).  Rothbard famously in his dotage became a cranky old man who attacked anyone who did not worship him, as the South Park kids would say, an A-U-T-H-O-R-O-Y-T-A-Y. (In this Rothbard was repeating a libertarian cycle of abuse, himself in the 50s having been abused by Ayn Rand, who disapproved of his Catholic wife Joey.  I am tempted to begin my own version of the Ron Paul Newsletters, covering the libertarian movement, to be entitled Cranky Old Jews.)  Except for working for 11 months for the Clark campaign, I have never been paid by anything funded by the Koch brothers, though I once wrote Charles Koch a letter for some reason (in the 80s) and got a letter back from him.

Ed Crane

Fast forward to the 90s.  Among my real estate clients was a Yugoslavian defector, a female Olympic athlete, who had lived in Manhattan for a decade or two — and dated David Koch.  It’s always funny to run into people, especially through real estate, who are connected to people you know in some other aspect of life.  My client was rather wistful.  It was clear that David Koch was the one, or at least the wallet, that got away.

And apparently the libertarian movement is now in the same position as my client.

The Kochs fund a number of libertarian think tanks and groups, like the CATO Institute.  In the past decade or so they have also given maximum amounts of money to Republican candidates and PACS, and famously organize retreats for multi-millionaire donors which Soros and Podesta funded brothels like the Center for American Regress constantly write about and attempt to infiltrate.  They have also given a lot of money to various tea party groups, including Americans for Prosperity.

Curiously, when Rand Paul ran for Senate, the Kochs gave money to the conventional Republican he was running against in the primary (I am told — I have not checked this at, but you can go there as I have in the past and see the donations to Republicans, and no LP candidates, in general).  Only after Rand was the nominee did the Kochs donate to him.

Now I am extremely grateful to the Kochs for their funding of all aspects of the tea party and liberty movements, including libertarian groups.  According to multiple off the record sources, the Kochs do plan to use their donor status to effect a “vertical integration” of the libertarian movement organizations they fund into the tea party movement.  This is in part occasioned by the recent death of CATO board member William Niskanen.  Niskanen, Ed Crane, and Charles and David Koch are the board.  The board is now down from 4 to 3, and so the Kochs, if in agreement, control what will happen.  (Probably coincidentally next week there is a CATO lunch forum for a tea party book.)  According to my sources, this integration will include the Reason Foundation and other groups that the Kochs help to fund.  It might include many firings or resignations by CATO and other staffers and scholars who concentrate on civil liberty or foreign policy issues.

I am not sure that strategically this is a mistake.  Perhaps the idea is that libertarians are well established enough in academia in spots that egg heady think tanks are no longer a priority.  But the Kochs’ friendship with Herman Cain does make one pause and wonder if the new orientation will include shunning foreign policy and civil liberty issues.  We will have to keep a watch.

Tea Party Patriots: The Second American Revolution
(Henry Holt, 2012)

Thursday, February 16, 2012
Noon (Luncheon to Follow)
Featuring the authors Mark Meckler and Jenny Beth Martin, Cofounders, Tea Party Patriots; with comments by John FundAmerican Spectator; moderated by Edward H. Crane, President, Cato Institute.
Mount Vernon Place, Undercroft Auditorium, 900 Massachusetts Ave., N.W., Washington, D.C. 20001
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In 2009, an unemployed mother of two and a politically inexperienced northern California attorney met on a conference call that would end up launching one of the largest grassroots political movements in American history. Mark Meckler and Jenny Beth Martin have since become the faces behind the Tea Party Patriots. By promoting the basic principles of free markets, limited government, and fiscal responsibility, the Patriots have capitalized on the recent groundswell of discontent around the country, inspiring a much-needed resurgence in the importance of constitutional constraints. In their new book, Meckler and Martin explain the genesis of this movement, what the Tea Party is and is not, and what its plans are for the future. Join us for the launch of this book by two emerging leaders, with comments by John Fund, a senior editor at the American Spectator and former political columnist for the Wall Street Journal.

Cato events, unless otherwise noted, are free of charge. To register for this event, please fill out the form below and click submit or email, fax (202) 371-0841, or call (202) 789-5229 by noon, Wednesday, February 15, 2012. News media inquiries only (no registrations), please call (202) 789-5200.