The Koch Connection in Scott Walker's War on Working People

Wisconsin's embattled Governor Scott Walker took large donations from Koch Industries in the run-up to the 2010 election that swept him into office. reports that Koch Industries donated a total of $43,000 in two separate contributions -- $15,000 on July 8, 2010 and another $28,000 on September 27, 2010 -- to the Friends of Scott Walker Political Action Committee (PAC), to help get Walker elected governor.

The Koch Industries' PAC also helped Walker through a now-familiar political maneuver that lets corporate donors avoid campaign finance limits. The Koch's PAC gave $1 million to the Republican Governors Association, which spent $65,000 to support Walker, along with a whopping $3.4 million on mailers and television ads attacking Walker's opponent, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett. Walker beat Barrett by 5 points, thanks in part to Koch funding.

Walker has taken a total of more than $70,000 from gas and pipeline companies, and opposed a high speed rail project that would have reduced Wisconsin's dependence on oil. Koch Pipeline Company, L.P. operates a pipeline system that crosses Wisconsin, part of the nearly 4,000 miles of pipelines the company owns or operates, and the Koch's paper and wood products division, Georgia Pacific, has six facilities in Wisconsin. A Koch subsidiary, the C. Reiss Coal Company, has locations in Green Bay, Manitowoc, Ashland and Sheboygan. All of these business interests give the Kochs ample reason to attempt to influence Wisconsin politics.

This is About More than Just Wisconsin

More and more the events taking place in Wisconsin are seen as the front line in corporate interests' increasingly pitched war on middle-class and public sector workers. Corporate leaders see organized labor as the last real line of serious, grassroots resistance against a corporate takeover of the government. The gains made by labor unions provide a ceiling for the level of benefits and wages that the rest of the American workforce is able demand, which draws the ire of corporations that want to boost profits by driving down wages and benefits for workers. Walker is just one of a group of Koch-sponsored politicians who are helping the billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch dismantle organized labor in the U.S.

The portrayal of events in Wisconsin as American workers' line in the sand against corporate power makes the situation even more compelling and underscores the importance of these events to workers across the country. Keep your browser on PRWatch as we continue to cover the events unfolding in Wisconsin.

Updated 1:32 PM Mountain Standard Time, February 18, 2011


War on working people? Since when are taxpayers not "working people"? Why do Dems only defend people who work for the government and never those who pay for government to exist?

Dear Fazsha: I don't think this is a partisan issue or that Dems "only defend people who work for the government and never those who pay for government to exist" or the Rs do the opposite. The Center has been deeply critical of the Obama Administration and we have been deeply critical of the new Walker Administration on some issues. I think that there is, however, an unfortunate effort by some of the wealthiest interests in this country to try to pit working people against each other by blaming government for Wall Street's destruction of the economy in order to shift focus away from the culture of greed.

Look at the tax cuts to the rich that Walker rushed through. Not to mention the 61% of corportions who pay NO TAXES in Wisconsin that he continues to protect. Do you think the Koch Brothers pay taxes on their massive profits. Not likely. They already have a no-bid sale in the works to buy our power plants for pennies on the dollar and as of January, were posting ads in FLA and GA to hire cheaper power plant managers to replace the ones who are here. Is this how you close a deficit? Or is this how you put Wisconsin out of work?

Dear Anonymous: I think you are right to raise the question of how much in corporate income taxes Koch pays in Wisconsin and nationally. That information is closely guarded by the company but I believe the public has a right to know. Just as it should know how much the other companies, including the big banks, in this state are paying in income taxes here, across the country and nationally. On the no-bid sale and employment ads for power plant managers, I just wanted you to know as I noted in my report <a href=""> Koch Denies Interest in No-Bid Deals; Opens New Lobby Shop </a> that it there are some indications that the ads you reference are from Alliant, not Koch. The Koch company denies any interest in the power plants. It remains to be seen what they were planning to lobby on and will be lobbying on with the new lobby team during Walker's time in office. Thank you for writing in!

The criminal actions by the Wisconsin republicans legislators is unacceptable. It is amazing that the State Attorney General there has not spoken about how the legislature violated his ruling of last year. Of course he is in Walker's pocket so why would he enforce his own rule. This not just class warfare. THIS IS AN ATTEMPT TO MAKE ALL AMRERICANS "SLAVES" to big business. This country is in a fight for its life. Every country is watching to see if the great American "expiriment" will survive. One thing is certain, we are not going to give this "WAR" up! I gav 20 + years of my life defending the Constitution which obviously means NOTHING to ANY republican, b ut I'll be damned if I'll let them "ENSLAVE" us and destroy our Constitution without a fight. Where do you stan d?