The left wing obsession with private people spending their own money

We have seen this in New Zealand with political donations. The Labour party in particular have taken it upon themselves to obsess over political donations.

This of course famously blew up in David Cunliffe’s face when it was discovered that he was taking secret donations from the top end of town via secret trusts. We won’t hear too much more from Labour any more about trusts and donations.

The Democrats in the US have a similar affliction, despite Barack Obama outspending the Republican by a massive amount and the unions big money being deeply involved in funding the Democratic party.

They too are focused on private citizens like the Koch brothers.

A Quinnipiac University poll in January ranked, in order, the three issues voters cared about the most: the economy, the federal budget deficit, and health care. Not included on the list? Charles and David Koch.

And therein lies the dilemma for Democrats, who of late have turned the full fury and might of their political operation against the billionaire brothers from Kansas. Can they persuade voters to care about two private citizens whom regular people have barely heard of—especially when the country’s still-underwhelming job market has many of those same people more worried about just getting by?

It’s not as if the Koch brothers are peripheral to the 2014 midterm elections. Their most visible political group, Americans for Prosperity, has spent roughly $30 million pummeling Democrats, mostly senators up for reelection, for their support of Obamacare. With good reason, Democrats worry that money has fundamentally shifted the 2014 map in the GOP’s favor, especially in Southern battlegrounds such as Louisiana and North Carolina. 

But if the Kochs are a story this election, the Democratic political machine is trying to make them the story. The party has tipped its hand in major articles published in The New York Times and the Associated Press. Harry Reid is blistering AFP’s ads in stem-winding Senate floor speeches. (The majority leader afterward had to back off his accusation that all of their ads are lies.) Emails from the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee now include a marquee that says, “The GOP is ‘Addicted to Koch!’ ” Just last week, in his campaign’s first TV ad, Alaska’s Mark Begich blasted the two men by name for running what he called misleading advertisements against him.

“I don’t go down to tell them what to do, I expect them not to come up to Alaska and tell us what to do,” said one person featured in the ad.

Democrats, armed with reams of poll data, argue that voters don’t like interference in their elections from well-heeled outside forces. They’re not wrong. Broadly speaking, voters are wary about enormous sums of cash in politics, and it’s easy to turn people against outsiders.

But that argument might be beside the point. Voters don’t like the outside interference, but their distaste doesn’t necessarily have the resonance to push voters away from the GOP. And even for all of the influence wielded by Americans for Prosperity and other Koch-affiliated enterprises, they’re still just outside groups in an election in which voters are still just choosing between Republicans and Democrats.

“There’s a trap in campaigns that’s called the Other People’s Money trap,” said Brad Todd, a Republican strategist. “Voters care about their money, not other people’s money. Anytime my candidate is talking about the voters’ money and my opponent is talking about other people’s money, I feel pretty good about our chances.”

In any case the Koch’s money is dwarfed by the unions. Eighteen unions have spent more on political donations than the Koch brothers.

So how big of a threat are the Koch Brothers?

Over the past twenty five years, from 1989 to 2014, Koch Industries has donated$18,083,948 in political contributions to Republicans. While that seems like a large sum, it only ranks them as number 59 on the list of top all-time political donors – behind 18 different unions.


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