Harry Reid’s ‘Koch Brothers’ Addiction — in Two Charts

Democrats are name-dropping the billionaire brothers on the floor of Congress.

National Journal
Shane Goldmacher
See more stories about...
Shane Goldmacher
April 9, 2014, 6:09 a.m.

On Feb. 26, Sen­ate Ma­jor­ity Lead­er Harry Re­id took to the Sen­ate floor and de­clared that bil­lion­aire Re­pub­lic­an busi­ness­men Charles and Dav­id Koch were “un-Amer­ic­an.” He’s barely been able to stop talk­ing about the “Koch broth­ers” ever since.

On March 4, Re­id de­clared that Sen­ate Re­pub­lic­ans were “ad­dicted to Koch.” On March 13, Re­id men­tioned the “Koch broth­ers” in a floor speech 25 times. This week, he said Re­pub­lic­ans should wear Koch in­signia on their suits — like NAS­CAR drivers.

It’s all part of Re­id and the Demo­crats’ cal­cu­lated ef­forts to sum­mon a suit­able vil­lain in 2014. Re­id be­lieves that the Kochs, the fin­an­ci­ers at the cen­ter of a na­tion­wide GOP net­work that is spend­ing mil­lions of dol­lars on cam­paign ads against Demo­crats, are the per­fect foil.

The good folks at the Sun­light Found­a­tion have cre­ated a tool, Cap­it­ol­Words, to show just how much Re­id and his fel­low Demo­crats are push­ing the “Koch broth­ers” mes­sage.

The “Koch broth­ers” — who run Koch In­dus­tries, the Kan­sas-based firm that For­bes ranks as the second-largest private com­pany in the United States — went un­men­tioned on the House and Sen­ate floors between Feb­ru­ary 1998 and Decem­ber 2010.

But in March 2014, their names were called out 79 times — and no one cited them more than Re­id. Already, the Koch broth­ers have been name-dropped 38 times in April.

“They may be­lieve that who­ever has the most money gets the most free speech,” Re­id de­clared in mid-March. “That is wrong, it is un­fair, and it is un­true. I will do whatever it takes to ex­pose their cam­paign, their cam­paign to rig the Amer­ic­an polit­ic­al sys­tem to be­ne­fit the wealthy at the ex­pense of the middle class.”

The volume of the Demo­crats’ Koch broth­ers mes­saging is cranked so high that its rise rivals con­gres­sion­al men­tions of Rus­si­an Pres­id­ent Vladi­mir Putin, even amid the in­cur­sion in­to Crimea and the in­ter­na­tion­al stan­doff over Ukraine. In fact, so far in April, Sun­light’s data show that “Koch broth­ers” has been said more than “Vladi­mir Putin.”

What We're Following See More »
Clinton Campaign Also Hacked
6 hours ago
More People Watched Trump’s Acceptance Speech
7 hours ago

Hillary Clinton hopes that television ratings for the candidates' acceptance speeches at their respective conventions aren't foreshadowing of similar results at the polls in November. Preliminary results from the networks and cable channels show that 34.9 million people tuned in for Donald Trump's acceptance speech while 33.3 million watched Clinton accept the Democratic nomination. However, it is still possible that the numbers are closer than these ratings suggest: the numbers don't include ratings from PBS or CSPAN, which tend to attract more Democratic viewers.

North Carolina Voter ID Law Struck Down
10 hours ago

The US Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals on Friday overturned North Carolina's 2013 voter ID law, saying it was passed with “discriminatory intent." The decision sends the case back to the district judge who initially dismissed challenges to the law. "The ruling prohibits North Carolina from requiring photo identification from voters in future elections, including the November 2016 general election, restores a week of early voting and preregistration for 16- and 17-year-olds, and ensures that same-day registration and out-of-precinct voting will remain in effect."

Massive Oil Pipeline Approved for the Midwest
11 hours ago

An oil pipeline almost as long as the much-debated Keystone XL has won final approval to transport crude from North Dakota to Illinois, traveling through South Dakota and Iowa along the way. "The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers gave the final blessing to the Dakota Access pipeline on Tuesday. Developers now have the last set of permits they need to build through the small portion of federal land the line crosses, which includes major waterways like the Mississippi and the Missouri rivers. The so-called Bakken pipeline goes through mostly state and private land."