Kamala Harris Pursues Confidential Koch Donor List

Koch BrothersPressing for access to confidential lists kept by the Koch brothers, U.S. Senate candidate Kamala Harris injected another note of politics into her tenure as California Attorney General.

Harris “has a fight on her hands trying to get the brothers’ Americans for Prosperity Foundation to give her access to the same confidential data it already provides to the Internal Revenue Service,” Bloomberg Politics reported. That organization has labored in court to maintain control over information about its contributors, arguing that they and it face routine threats of violence.

“Grotesque threats have been leveled against known associates of the foundation, ranging from threats to kill or maim to threats to firebomb buildings,” the Foundation alleged, as Courthouse News reported. “More mundane threats abound too, including boycotts, firings and public shaming, all of which are now demonstrated components of the playbook of the foundation’s more extreme opponents.”

Pressed on the prospect of public disclosure by judges at a recent hearing in federal appeals court, “Deputy Attorney General Alexandra Gordon told the judges that new regulations to prohibit such disclosure are in the making, though she didn’t know when they would be enacted,” the site added. Gordon waved away claims that Foundation contributors could be put in peril by the disclosure of their information. “We have basically some anecdotal evidence of threats, mostly arising from the founders of this foundation, the Koch brothers’ very public presence and very public events held by the foundation,” she said, according to Courthouse News Service. “That has nothing to do with whether this type of disclosure requirement is actually going to lead to harm.”

The legal battle between the Kochs and the state Attorney General began in December 2014, when Americans for Prosperity sued Harris for violating its First Amendment rights to free speech. Although California law requires all charitable organizations to register with the state and furnish copies of their public IRS filings, as the Los Angeles Times then noted, the so-called “Schedule B” filing, which lists the names and addresses of donors giving over $5,000 each tax year, is “kept confidential and not available to the public.”

While Americans for Prosperity “said they have been registered with the state since 2001 and had never before been asked for its list of donors,” the Times reported, a Harris spokesman said the Foundation “has been out of compliance with the law for a number of years” and “did not receive a communication previously from our office for one simple reason: the section responsible for enforcement has been chronically underfunded for years.”

By this year, however, the Kochs had gained the upper hand in court. This February, U.S. District Judge Manuel Real blocked Harris from pursuing the list “until the legality of the request has been resolved,” as Bloomberg Business observed, citing “a separate case in which the U.S. Court of Appeals in San Francisco halted the attorney general from enforcing the demand on the Center for Competitive Politics while that case was before that court.”

“Real rejected Harris’s argument that her office won’t publicly disclose the donor information, saying that California doesn’t have regulation preventing such disclosure and that, as such, it was left to the attorney general’s discretion whether to make it public. The judge agreed with the foundation that the attorney general’s office won’t be harmed by an injunction because it hadn’t had the donor information for the past decade.”

Whatever the outcome of the case, Harris stood to gain politically from putting the heat on Americans for Prosperity and the Kochs, who are reviled by Democrats as big-money GOP puppet masters. Of late, Harris has had to weather criticism of her own campaign spending, “using her campaign account to fund stays in upscale hotels and first-class airfares during her nearly five-year tenure as state attorney general,” as the Hill recently reported. “A review by The Hill of California campaign finance records reveals that Harris’s expenditures follow a pattern: The Democratic candidate regularly charges thousands of dollars in luxury travel and hotels to her campaign.”

Originally published by CalWatchdog.com

Teachers Union Determined to Purge Koch Brothers from College Campuses

Koch BrothersThe National Education Association’s mission to drive Charles and David Koch, the two wealthy philanthropist brothers from Kansas, into the sea is showing no signs of slowing down. According to its latest Labor Department filing, the nation’s biggest union gifted $150,000 (up from a mere $100,000 the year before) to the American Bridge, a leftist hit-PAC whose mission is to annihilate every politico whose politics run to the right of the late Joe Stalin. (Nothing new here: Over the years, NEA has lavished gifts on such leftist stalwarts as MALDEF, People for the American Way, Media Matters, ACORN, Al Sharpton’s National Action Network and Occupy Wall Street.)

The American Bridge’s latest gambit is to remove the Koch brothers’ influence from 250 campuses where they support educational initiatives in economics, philosophy, entrepreneurship, criminal justice and other disciplines. A recent case in point: Mississippi State will soon launch the Institute for Market Studies, which was made possible in part by a $365,000 grant from the Charles Koch Foundation. But before its launch, American Bridge filed an open-records request seeking emails between professors, and between the school’s faculty and the Koch foundation. This is nothing more than an intimidation tactic to discourage the faculty from participating in the venture.

Sadly the above is hardly an isolated incident. “UnKoch My Campus,” another group of NEA fellow travelers, is busy all over the country trying rid our schools of the dreaded brothers. From the NEA website,

Between 2005 and 2013, the billionaire Koch brothers spent at least $68 million on college and university campuses — to fund faculty, research and publications, and to spread their anti-worker gospel to generations of students.

Last week, NEA Higher Ed faculty and staff leaders sat down in a windowless room in Orlando, Fla., and pledged to shine a light on those Koch campus investments — as well as the pernicious effects of the broad ‘corporatization’ of public higher education.

This is about corporate interests trying to control higher education. The Koch brothers are just one of those interests,’ said Theresa Montano, president of NEA’s National Council for Higher Education, who called for greater transparency of where that money goes and what exactly it buys.

After reading the above, one would think that the Kochs want to exploit and corporatize the schools they donate to, and run them as right wing monoliths. But nothing could be further from the truth. The Kochs are libertarians which pretty much rules out the dictator angle. But in another post on the NEA website, we learn the real reason for the NEA’s enmity toward the brothers – the Kochs want to “… limit the rights of teachers, firefighters, police and other public workers through ‘right to work’ legislation and the elimination of fair share.”

There it is! The union dreads the Kochs, not because they want to rule the world but because they have the audacity to want to free workers from being forced to join a union if they don’t choose to. And freedom to the unions is like a crucifix to Dracula. Lindsey Berger, the co-founder of UnKoch My Campus, pretty much admits this. Quoted on the NEA website, she says, “Every dollar spent by Koch in academics is there for a reason.” And then, quoting Charles Koch, “There are basically four ways in which we can fight for free enterprise. Through education, through the media, by legal challenge, and by political action…I do maintain however that the educational route is the most vital and most neglected.”

So in addition to worker freedom, we can add “fighting for free enterprise” as a reason why the union loathes the brothers.

Are the NEA and friends’ attempts at capitalism-bashing effective? It has worked on college campuses where many students are taught that capitalism is the root of all evil (while they enjoy their  many toys and comfy lifestyle that were created by it.) They are also not taught that a competitive market and freedom of speech are inexorably tied, or that the most successful countries in the world employ free markets, or that global poverty has been cut in half in the last 20 years primarily due to capitalism.

As the battles rage on our college campuses, the anti-Koch strategy may not be working so well in the political realm, however. In fact, several Democratic officials have blamed their party’spoor showing in the 2014 election on its obsession with the brothers. “[Attacking the Koch brothers] raises money for sure. But is it good to motivate a voter? No,” said one anonymous state party executive director. Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party chairman Ken Martin said, “Americans are focused on bread and butter issues and could care less about who is funding the campaigns.”

No matter. The NEA won’t stop its assault on the Kochs. The union’s leaders are obsessed to the point of derangement, as worker freedom and free markets are anathema to their existence. The Kochs scare them to death. As well they should.

Originally published by UnionWatch.org

Larry Sand, a former classroom teacher, is the president of the non-profit California Teachers Empowerment Network – a non-partisan, non-political group dedicated to providing teachers and the general public with reliable and balanced information about professional affiliations and positions on educational issues. The views presented here are strictly his own.

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