Despite the Media Generated Image, Political Donations From the Koch Brothers is Dwarfed by Those of a Liberal Group

by Robert Maynard

In September of last year, True North Reports carried an article that refuted the image of the Koch Brothers as the biggest source of money in politics:

Whenever money in politics becomes an issue, the media and the left cannot resist conjuring up the imaginary boogeyman of the dreaded Koch brothers as an unlimited money supply for right wing causes.  In an earlier True North Reports piece, I pointed out how figures on the left pointed to the possibility of money from the Koch brothers flowing into Vermont as an excuse to set up the fist super PAC in the state.  They did this despite the fact that there was no evidence of any such funding making its way into our state.  I also pointed out in that article that a lot of the money flowing into Vermont politics from out of state goes to the left.  It appears that this imbalance between perception and reality is being played out on the national level as well, where the amount of political contributions on the part of the Koch brothers is vastly overestimated and the amount of political contributions going to the left is vastly underestimated.

This vast gulf between perception and reality was exposed in a recent American Thinker article entitled “Busting the Democrat myth of the Koch brothers”.  The article is based on an OpenSecrets.org list of the top political donors from 1989 to 2012 and lists the top 100 donors.  Here is how it describes where the Koch brother rank:

Given all the noise from Democrats, we’d expect to see the Kochs in, at least, the top ten. Not there.

Or, the top 20. Not there either.

Certainly the top 50! Nope.

They rank 75th on the list.

One of Saul Alinsky’s rules in his book “Rules for Radicals” — required reading in the state university in Illinois I attended long ago — was to “demonize the opposition”. It works because attach credibility to repetition.

Human Events has an update on this in the form of an article, which points out that a liberal group grants to activist causes five times what Koch Brothers do, but go largely unnoticed by the media:

This week has been been declared “Sunshine Week” by a coalition including the American Society of News Editors, Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, Bloomberg LP, and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundations. The goal is to celebrate “open government” and access to public information. Some version of this event has been celebrated for the past 10 years.

In the spirit of Sunshine Week, Mark Tapscott of the Washington Examiner offers an interesting observation about the ostensibly corrupting influence of money in politics, and how this scourge is covered by the media: the Right-leaning Koch Brothers receive far more media attention than the deliberately “obscure” left-wing Tides Foundation – 1,130 hits on the New York Times website for the Kochs, versus only 64 for Tides – but the Tides Foundation actually donates over five and a half times as much money to activist causes.

Consider these numbers, derived from multiple searches of foundation grant databases, IRS Form 990s and other public records:

Three Koch foundations made a total of 181 grants worth $25,405,525in 2010 (most recent available records). The one Tides Foundationmade a total of 2,627 grants worth $143,529,590 in 2010.

It is pretty hard for the American public to get a clear picture of the challenges facing us politically when they are so ill served by a blatantly biased media.