Billionaire Koch Brothers Fund Campaign Against Police Militarization

Left-leaning American politicos often complain about the political activities of the “evil” Koch brothers. They argue that Charles and David Koch use their disproportionate wealth to bend the American political system to suit their will. However, mainstream media outlets rarely point out the types of causes that the duo advocate for with their hard-earned wealth.

As Koch-funded Nick Gillespie at Reason pointed out, the billionaires have used their unusually-massive financial power to promote a wide range of liberal-friendly causes like drug decriminalization, marriage equality, cuts to defense spending, and opposition to the USA PATRIOT Act. Deroy Murdock at Newsmax wrote, “…since January 2009, the wicked Koch brothers’ companies have won 792 awards for environmental quality, operational safety, community service, and philanthropy.” The Obama administration, through bureaus like the Environmental Protection Agency, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, and the Department of Agriculture, has issued many awards to well-run, Koch-funded companies.

In the wake of the crisis in Ferguson, progressive politicos might also find common ground with the Koch brothers on police militarization. Tim Mak at The Daily Beasta recipient of a Koch fellowship, points out that Charles and David Koch have bankrolled opposition to police militarization for years. As an example, Radley Balko, author of Rise of the Warrior Cop: The Militarization of America’s Police Forces, took Koch-funded paychecks early in his career to write about the dangers of police militarization when he worked for Reason and The Cato Institute. Several organizations funded by the Koch brothers have been active in opposing what many see as an emerging police state.

The brothers Koch also helped fund the political campaign to re-elect Congressman Justin Amash, who recently said on Facebook, “The images and reports out of #Ferguson are frightening. Is this a war zone or a U.S. city? The government escalates tensions with its use of military equipment and tactics.” Amash was forced to fight tooth-and-nail to keep his seat during this year’s primary, mainly because he faced opposition from neoconservative groups. With help from the Koch brothers, Amash prevailed over the Dick Cheney wing of the GOP.

Speaking to The Daily Beast, Koch Industries Inc. attorney Mark Holden said, “We need to address issues such as overcriminalization, excessive and disproportionate sentencing, inadequate indigent defense that is inconsistent with the Sixth Amendment, and the militarization of police.” He continued, “We have deep respect for the moral dignity of each and every person and because of this, we’ve worked for decades to support those who defend the full range of individual rights.”

Even today, the news cycle is full of negative articles about the Koch brothers, laced with criticisms of their protected First Amendment activities.