The Koch Brothers take a lot of flak from the media. A. Lot. Of. Flak. Even more than Hollywood celebrities, Warren Buffett, and the infamous Tom Steyer who are all also heavily involved with political activism.
But as The National Review's Larry Kudlow points out, the brothers' deeds don't match the demonizing portrait that gets painted. David and Charles Koch are depicted as villainous figures with immense influence pulling strings behind the scenes. It's a characterization that seems far from the reality.
According to OpenSecrets.org, a campaign contribution tracking website run by the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics, the Koch brothers rank pretty low in the grand scheme of political donors. The site's “heavy hitters” list — a ranking of groups “that lobby and spend big, with large sums sent to candidates, parties and leadership PACs” — places Koch Industries at 59th, well below other organizations that are seen as less controversial than the brothers.
At the top of the list? ActBlue, a PAC that's raised an impressive $121,099,109 since 1989 (99% of which has gone to Democratic candidates). Ranked 2nd on the list is the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. Made up of 3,400 local unions the federation has raised $64,326,965 (80% of which has gone to Democrats). The nation's largest teachers union, the National Education Association, rounds out the top 3 with $60,510,533 raised since 1989 (57% to Democrats).
Other names of interest that rank above Koch Industries include unions, trade associations, PACs, and corporations that contribute heavily or mainly to Democrats. By no means an exhaustive list, the highlights include the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (ranked 6th), the American Association for Justice (ranked 8th), and the Carpenters & Joiners Union (ranked 9th).
Analyzing the “heavy hitters” list, it becomes easy to question who the big bad wolf really is.
While the media's main focus seems to be to disparage the Koch brothers, here are some of the things they've been doing that don't get mentioned:
- Koch Industries employs about 100,000 globally (60,000 in the US alone).
- Koch Companies support more than 200,000 US jobs and “about $11.8 billion in compensation and benefits.”
- Of Koch Companies' 60,000 US employees, approximately one-third are unionized.
- Koch Industries and the Charles Koch Foundation's partnership with the United Negro College Fund has resulted in a “$25 million grant that will provide nearly 3,000 merit-based awards to African American undergraduate, graduate, and post-doctorate students seeking scholarship assistance.”
- Globally, Koch companies “have earned 917 awards for safety, environmental excellence, community stewardship, innovation, and customer service.”
- Koch Industries has sponsored the Special Olympics in Wichita, Kansas for the past 33 years.
- “Through the Helping Heroes initiative, Koch companies have contributed nearly $230,000 to emergency response organizations in communities where they operate since 2011.” Koch's Georgia- Pacific Bucket BrigadeTM program, “has contributed more than $1 million to fire units in communities where the company operates to meet critical needs, as well as provide educational materials to schools.”
- Through the David H. Koch Charitable Foundation, Koch has contributed or pledged “more than $1.2 billion to cancer research, medical centers, educational institutions, arts and cultural institutions, and to assist public policy organizations.”
- David Koch's charitable foundation also provided $100 million to New York Presbyterian Hospital to build a new ambulatory care center, as well as $28 million to research causes.
- Yet another major Koch grant contributed $100 million to research cancer at MIT.
- Flint Hill Industries (a Koch company) earned a Clean Air Award from the Environmental Protection Agency.
These are only a few of the good deeds carried out by the Kochs and their companies, and the list of charitable works keeps going.