A New Target for Brave New Films: The Koch Brothers

When an independent, Democratic fund-raising group was launched last week by former White House aides Bill Burton and Sean Sweeney, one of the reasons for going outside the traditional finance system was to counter the flow of funds flowing to like conservative orgs — including money coming from the Koch Brothers.

The billionaires are now the subject of a series of videos coming from another independent org, Robert Greenwald’s Brave New Films, with the focus of the first on the multiple homes they own. Greenwald has disclosed a list of Brave New Films’ donors to the New York Times, and notes the bulk of their donors are not only low dollar, but already posted on their website.

There’s a reason behind it: Brave New Films is set up as a 501(c) organization in the tax code, meaning it doesn’t have to disclose its donors. Last year, President Obama criticized the rise of conservative groups set up in a similar way, and Democrats have long suspected that the Koch Brothers are big bankrollers of such election spending.

More than likely, such outside fund-raising groups are only going to grow. Burton and Sweeney’s org, Priorities USA, includes a 501(c) arm in addition to a political action committee. Jeffrey Katzenberg, who provided initial funds, and his political consultant Andy Spahn will be among those tapping very high dollar donors from entertainment and other major cities to contribute.

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  1. Robert Kessler says:

    Points noted, however I don’t know that there’s much to be gained in arguing “tone”.
    As for the “commie chant”, it is very simple. There is a clear-cut set of political ideas that are defined by Marx, (Karl not Groucho) and by Communism in general. Whether they are recast as “progressive”, or “compassionate”, or any other name you wish to use, they still operate to destroy the economic engine that truly benefits lower income people by providing them jobs and an opportunity to better THEMSELVES. Without getting into a history of Communism and it’s influence on our culture during the 20th century, in particular the 1960’s and forward, let me just offer that the ideas are still with us, and entrenched in the American Left. The only major difference today is that modern Marxists don’t believe in control of the means of production, they believe in control of the results of production.
    Another fact of the Left in this regard, is the fact that the vast majority of people who identify as “Progressive” have no idea that their ideas are Marxist/Leninist/Stalinist/Maoist/Castroist. They believe that they are operating with a set of ideas based on “compassion”, “caring”, “earth spiritedness” or whatever jibber jabber you hear being used.
    Concerning your conclusion that since the Koch brothers are involved in industries that pollute the environment we must “keep our eye on them”, I’d like to remind you that there is no fundamental industrial process that does NOT pollute the environment.
    ToddCW pollutes the environment.
    Manufacturing windmills and solar panels pollutes the environment.
    Making movies pollutes the environment.
    And as to your charge that the Koch brothers “skirt the laws”, by which I assume you mean “break the laws”, I think it is YOU that are obligated to give concrete examples.
    And really, you and Robert Greenwald aren’t concerned with how the Koch brothers may or may not “pollute the environment”, you are concerned that they contribute to conservatives. Robert Redford has done vast damage to the Utah wilderness but you don’t seem to be too concerned about HIM. So please don’t try to mask your resentment as environmental consciousness; it’s completely political. Just be honest.

  2. ToddCW says:

    Interesting back and forth between James and Kessler. It just seems like the viewpoint of the right is infused with anger rather than cold pragmatic conservative intellectualism. Comes off as hysterical in many ways. I don’t think the commie chant has been heard since the 60’s and early 70’s and now it is in vogue again.
    Altruism and compassion are really not a typical corporate mantra and this is why we have laws and regulations. It is smart to keep an eye on those who can enrich themselves by skirting the laws or changing them. If the Koch brothers had business interests in something benign and they skirted things a little, oh well. Sadly they are involved in industries that pollute our environment.
    That is my opinion because if it were fact I would back it up with empirical evidence. This is the internet so please include any links to studies that would convert your opinion to fact and put your link where your mouth is Kessler.

  3. Robert Kessler says:

    Mr. James,
    I truly appreciate your civil response.
    So, are you now saying that your problem with the Koch brothers is that they “secretly” funded organizations? Really? So…there is a difference between the vast web of organizations “openly” funded by George Soros (no more a whipping boy than the Koch brothers), and the organizations funded by the Kochs? You believe that Rachel Maddow had to spend a year “ferreting out” the hairy hidden hand of the Koch brothers?
    What is the Tea Party Express a “front group” for? Oh….Tea Party people. Hmmm. Seems pretty straightforward to me.
    How about a partial list of Soros funded groups. Tell me if they sound transparent to you:
    Center for Community Change
    Ruckus Society
    Gamaliel Foundation
    Brennan Center for Justice
    Progressive Change Campaign Committee
    Media Matters For America
    People Improving Communities through Organizing
    Casa de Maryland
    The Lynne Stewart Defense Committee
    Global Exchange
    National Abortion Federation
    Now, George Soros is perfectly entitled to spend his money any way he wants. The fact that his funding goes to left wing political organizations whose names sound warm and cuddly but who’s goals encompass a textbook socialist/Marxist agenda, cannot be ignored. To compare them to the Tea Party Express and Americans for Prosperity, and claim that the Koch’s must be fascists is a bizarre inversion of political definitions.
    Next, you claim that conservatives “never seem to find any” environmental regulations that “they like”? Are you kidding me? Do you think conservatives don’t like clean water and clean air? What we’re talking about here is an environmental movement that has gone from promoting cleaner cars to trying to ban the internal combustion engine. From saving the bald eagle to saving the “Southwest Maricopa County Flanders Weed”. It’s gone too far. It has elevated Gaia to equal status with human beings.
    “TRACES of POTENTIALLY long-term damage” from an oil spill that only happened in deep water because the environmentalists have driven oil exploration off the land in the first place is not a good reason to choke off almost our entire domestic energy production in the name of ” environmental consciousness”. And to label the opponents of such restrictions as “not caring” is just…a lie.
    Concerning the mortgage melt-down; I did not blame “the poor”. I blamed Barney Frank for pushing a policy that forced lenders to break their OWN lending regulations. I blame lawyers like Barack Obama who sued Citibank to force it to make bad loans. Did Wall St. take advantage of the flood of new mortgages? YES. But they never would have had toxic assets to play loose with in the FIRST PLACE were it not for the hatcheted lending regulations all done in the name of “helping the poor”.
    Credit default swaps and mortgage backed securites were never a problem when the default rate was the traditional 1/2 percent. But after the twisting of the lending regulations caused a jump in defaults to 5%, the assets went wiggly. The flood of newly eligible borrowers produced an artificial bubble, which drove up housing prices. As soon as this layer of newly qualifiable borrowers were satiated, the loans stopped, the bubble stopped, and the entire industry ran into a brick wall of over-production and excess inventory.
    The entire narrative depends on the facts of this timeline. Think of it this way; if the securities being traded were shares of gold, and the credit default swaps were on gold-backed products, there would never have been an issue. It was the underlying asset that was the problem. The Barney Franks and Barack Obamas of the world imagined that the only reason lenders weren’t making more loans was that they were RACIST. If these people had understood the underlying principle of risk management, they might not have sued the banks to force them to LOSE money. Of COURSE the banks passed the bad assets on knowing they were defaulting at a higher rate. What do you think businesses do when the government forces them to lose money? What are they SUPPOSED to do, manufacture money out of thin air like the government does?
    On the issue of credit cards, you and I are in complete agreement when it comes to ending the practice of raising interest rates on existing balances.
    As far as what the interest rates ARE…that’s between them and the consumers who buy their product.
    Concerning public sector unions; have you heard of a country called Greece? Are you trying to claim that there is NO evidence of public sector unions bankrupting states? Oh…I see what you’re doing. You say “Gov. Walker raided the surplus to pay for corporate tax cuts”. You equate “lowering taxes” as “giving money away”. As if my income is YOUR money. Or my business profits belong to YOU. So, you imagine that public sector salaries and benefits wouldn’t bankrupt anyone as long as the state kept extracting more money from the people who actually make stuff. Are you playing the “evil corporations and their selfish PROFITS are keeping us from hiring more government workers” game?
    Well, then I understand why you support George Soros.
    Let me ask you, do you REALLY imagine that George Soros spends his money to HELP people? Are you kidding me? George Soros makes his money by bankrupting countries and profiting when their currencies collapse. He’s done it all over the world. Why do you imagine he’s doing something different NOW?
    He is funding left wing organizations because left wing ideas are economically destabilizing. They destroy health care, they destroy pension funds, they destroy housing, they destroy education, and they destroy the very engine that moves poor people upward.
    Listen, my friend. Let’s take a breather for a second. I really truly understand that from your perspective, the way to “help the world”, and “help the poor” and “save the planet” involves giving a group of people enough power to force “the rich” to pay for “the poor”; to force corporations to “stop polluting”, to pick what technologies should succeed and which ones shouldn’t, to decide how much doctors should earn, to mandate what kind of light bulb you can use and how warm you can heat your home.
    I used to believe in those solutions, too. I’m not being patronizing when I tell you that I sincerely believe that you have a good heart.
    For myself, I have simply come to the conclusion that those solutions MAKE THINGS WORSE.
    I think you will be better served, if you care enough to consider, to recognize that you and I and you and conservatives in general don’t differ because YOU CARE and THEY DON’T, it’s because we see the solutions differently.
    It’s just arrogant to say conservatives don’t like ANY environmental regulations, that conservatives don’t CARE about “the poor”, that conservatives aren’t highly evolved conscious beings PROGRESSIVE folks.
    What the two sides need to be debating is the effectiveness of their solutions. Do you believe that taxing business more REDUCES POVERTY? Then let’s discuss THAT idea, not which of us “cares about the poor”.

  4. Lacuna says:

    Funny, the trollbots are funded by the Koch Brothers too, and here they are posting on this wall. Please, do not feed the Trolls.

  5. Charley James says:

    Mr. Kessler ….
    I’m not sure whose talking points you’ve been reading but your reply to my post is so filled with inaccuracies it begs for a response.
    I’ll get George Soros out of the way first, a favorite whipping boy of the right. The difference between Mr. Soros and the Koch Bros. is that Mr. Soros discloses which organizations and candidates he supports; the Koch’s hide behind folksy-sounding front groups such as the Tea Party Express and Americans For Prosperoty (both of which the Koch’s helped create and fund extensively but it took journalists such as Mr. Greenwald and Rachel Maddow more than a year to uncover their involvement because it was so well hidden.
    While many on the right claim that there are “good and bad” environmental regulations, they never seem to find any they like. The damage to the Gulf Coast continues to be extensive and independent academic studies – not those funded by oil companies – are beginning to see traces of potentially long-term damage to the undersea eco-system. These include things ranging from reducing plankton and algae to dolphins giving birth to undersized calves.
    Financial catastrophe being the fault of the poor is another bit of right wing nonsense. Neither Barnie Frank nor any other Democrat told Fannie and Freddie to start chasing Wall St. profits by joining the sub-prime mortgage fraud launched by Countrywide and readily joined by everyone from BofA and AIG to Merrill Lynch to Goldman Sachs and the ratings agencies such as Moody’s. It was the Republican-led deregulation of the markets started by Ronnie Reagan (another great American shyster) and pushed by the Bushes, both Elder and Younger, that caused the Great Collapse of 2008. Mortgages were sold by financial institutions and mortgage brokers to people who weren’t qualified but the lenders got away with it because they created the era of the Great Swap where they didn’t have to hang on to the mortgages they created. Moreover, the bank’s credit card business has been a Ponzi scheme for 25 years, ever since the industry convinced a few states to drop usury laws so they could move their credit card ops to friendly jurisdictions. And then the credit card companies marketing swami’s got in the act and started giving everyone as many credit cards as they wanted instead of using common sense.
    There is absolutely no academic, statistical or real life validation of the falsehood that public sector unions have bankrupted the states. Case in point: Texas, which has no public sector unions but still has something like a $20-billion deficit. In Wisconsin, public sector union employee’s pension fund had a surplus until Gov. Walker raided the surplus to pay for coroporate tax cuts, then screamed that the unions were bankrupting the state.
    With respect to your example of public workers striking for more money rather than plowing snow, it’s far fetched and almost silly – sort of like the arguments in favor of torture that say, “Wouldn’t you use torture on a captured terrorist if you knew he could give you information to disarm a dirty bomb in the middle of Manhattan?” I rely on public transit exclusively because I don’t own a car. Recently, bus, subway and tram operators were threatening to go on strike in my city as a contract deadline approached. Getting off a bus one afternoon, I told the driver that a strike would totally inconvenince me but I thought they deserved the 68-cents an hour raise they were asking for. Oh, and as in Wisconsin, the transit worker’s pension is fully funded, almost entirely by worker contributions.
    Robert Greenwald’s journalism followed in the tradition of people such as Lincoln Steffans, a muckraker, not William Randolph Hearst who was a yellow journalist (Fox is today’s version of Heart). Steffans was called an anarchist and worse at the time for exposing how sweat shops and slumlords were enriching a very few (i.e., the Koch Bros. of that time) while leaving millions of others barely able to get by. Today, Mr. Greenwald is being called a “lefty” and “pinko” and worse, but only because the term anarchist has gone out of fashion.
    To answer your final question, yes: I do think. I’m not sure that you do.
    Charley James

  6. Robert Kessler says:

    Charley James,
    I think that the fundamental error that you make is in the assumption that if someone has a different view of an issue, they must “hate”, or “not care”.
    There are a ton of “environmental regulations” that do almost nothing but drive up the cost of producing energy, food, and transportation. These hurt the poor first and most. Wanting to draw a line on how much housing doesn’t get built because of the desire to preserve a particular weed doesn’t mean “you don’t care about the environment”. A year after the Gulf spill, and the damage is almost undetectable, but the ban on drilling is driving gas prices through the roof and hurting who the most? The poor.
    “Financial regulation” can be good, or it can be bad. Forcing lenders to write home loans to people that normally wouldn’t qualify was not pursued by the lending industry, it was forced on the lending industry by left wing politicians (see Frank, Barney), and it precipitated the housing meltdown. Bernie Madoff’s should be hanged (figuratively speaking), But properly run hedge funds help thousands of start up businesses.
    Social Security and Medicare MUST be changed; they are going to disappear COMPLETELY for EVERYONE unless they are changed. Wanting to make those changes doesn’t mean you “don’t care about people”.
    Finally, There are two types of unions. Private sector and public sector. It is the public sector unions that are bankrupting the states. If private sector Hollywood writers go on strike, it hurts the studios, but it doesn’t hurt the average working person in America. No one cares if Paramount, or McDonalds for that matter, goes out of business. But when a public sector union says “We’re not going to plow the snow off the streets unless you give us more money”, no one can escape the consequences, particularly the working poor. And when those public sector unions can extract dues from members and use those dues to elect Democrats who vote to raise public sector unions salaries, you get an unholy circle that traps us all.
    You don’t think that George Soros, the man who makes billions by bankrupting nations, isn’t funding all sorts of left wing organizations that produce the “research” that he feels promotes his agenda? I don’t happen to think that George Soros gives a rats ass about anything but furthering his own, historically predictable, wealth generation schemes.
    I think Greenwald’s program carries on the tradition of what’s called YELLOW journalism.
    Don’t you think?

  7. Charley James says:

    Ah, wouldn’t you know that an article about Robert Greenwood’s unfolding expose of the Koch Brothers’ would bring out every right wing troll in sight.
    The Brave New Film series shows how the Koch boys attempts to destroy environmental regulation (they are among America’s biggest polluters), financial reform legislation (they single-handedly fund right wing “think tanks” that use sketchy math and ideology to promote the Koch’s vision of the banking world), Medicare (the Koch’s don’t need it so why should anyone else have it), S-CHIP (after all, the Koch’s can afford medicine for their kids so who cares about the kids of the poor and unemployed?), and Social Security.
    Future releases will show how the Koch’s are funding anti-union political activities in states such as Wisconsin, Michigan, Indiana and Ohio.
    Greenwald’s series is in the best tradition of what used to pass for journalism in this country. Bravo to Brave New Films!

  8. doug r says:

    Holey crap, your comment section got immediately infected by Kochsuckers…

  9. AtCha says:

    We have a new Marxist uprising in the US and that is of the radical New Left. Theyre piranhas and they target people for the sake of reaping their own glory by attempted embarrassment of others. Hollywood is home of Hypocracy and the only way to throw a wrench in their scheme is to not buy tickets for a certain moguls movie or not to watch a specific network operated by one of these Hollywood CEOs

  10. Kels says:

    Wow… if we want to produce a piece about greed, which is what I think this film is supposed to do, then we should start with the greedy people in Hollywood. That is one of the most financially segregated ways of life I have ever seen, working on a Hollywood movie set.

  11. Robert Kessler says:

    And by “commie cesspool” I mean “idiot millionaires who believe in Marxoid equality for everyone but themselves”.

  12. Robert Kessler says:

    I wonder what Hollywood would do to a filmaker that wanted to “expose” Jeffrey Katzenberg’s private life. Hollywood would charge bigotry, of course. They would call it “Nazism”, “McCarthyism”, and “mean-spirited”. What if the filmaker wanted to show Katzenberg’s homes, and vacations, and money and time he spends to influence politics through film and television, and HIS charitable donations. What if they wanted to point out HIS billions of dollars of income and imply that HIS political influence was nefarious?
    Hollywood is playing the old game of isolate, personalize, and demonize. They did it to Richard Mellon Scaife, they do it to Sarah Palin, and they’ll do it to the Koch brothers. John Wayne, Jimmy Stewart, Clark Gable, and Ronald Reagan must be spinning in their graves at the commie cesspool their industry has become.

  13. Timmeh says:

    The commie left has a new villian and they’re going to try and crush them as they do anyone who threatens their Marxist dreams. Time to start boycotting uber-liberal/left Hollywood. The Koch brothers help finance conservative politicians, nothing more. This conspiracy that the loony liberal left has with them is entertaining enough. What a bunch of morons.

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