Beyond the confines of libertarian organizations, sailboat racing clubs, Manhattan socialite circles and the borders of Kansas, the words “Koch brothers” didn’t mean much to most Americans before 2010. That was when the New Yorker’s Jane Mayer revealed to a broad audience how two of the four brothers — Charles and David Koch — were building a multimillion-dollar shadow campaign against President Barack Obama’s new administration.
Mayer’s piece, and the subsequent tsunami of Koch coverage that followed, have thrust Charles and David Koch into the mainstream political spotlight, turning them from obscure, private businessmen into poster children for a new era of big money politics.Through their series of closed-door seminars, in which an elite group of wealthy conservatives and libertarians have gathered twice a year since 2003 to raise money for right-wing causes, the Kochs have engineered a fundraising goliath that spent $400 million against Democrats in the 2012 election alone.
While Vogel does a fine job showcasing how both the left and the right have benefited from the new system, no one, it appears, has gamed it better than the Kochs and their network of donors.
“The Koch operation,” Vogel writes, “was far more sophisticated than the actual Republican Party. It was also more secretive, though, and tracing its ever-shifting contours was an ongoing challenge for me and my colleagues in the press corps.”