There is even more proof that Donald J. Trump’s promises to “drain the swamp” and be a different type of Republican are nothing but hollow rhetoric. There is compelling evidence that Vice President Mike Pence and 16 important Trump administration officials have close connections to the Koch Brothers.
Charles and David Koch are two of the wealthiest people in America; controlling a private fortune worth $96 billion, and the nation’s second largest private corporation Koch Industries, - worth $115 billion. They are also well known donors to right-wing, conservative and libertarian causes and proponents of extremist ideas like abolishing Social Security, Medicare and the income tax.
President Trump has appointed Koch allies to 16 of the most important jobs in Washington; including several cabinet positions, the Checks & Balances project alleged. Some of the Trump officials that might be beholden to the Koch brothers include:
- Vice President Mike Pence (R-Indiana) – Pence met with Charles Koch on June 23, 2017, in Colorado Springs, The Hill reported. The meeting was not on the vice presidential itinerary released by the White House and a spokesman for Pence claimed his boss would not meet with Koch. Koch spokesman James Davis said Charles Koch met with Pence for 50 minutes and discussed tax reform and the US Department of Veterans Affairs.
- Kellyanne Conway – Conway a senior advisor to Trump formerly worked for the Koch donor network.
- Secretary of Health and Human Services Dr. Tom Price - In 2016 as a Congressman he received a 100% rating from the Koch front organization Americans for Prosperity. Price’s Congressional agenda included drastic cuts to Social Security, Market Mad House reported. As Secretary of Health and Human Services Price oversees Social Security.
- Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta – formerly taught at the George Mason School of Law. The Koch brothers have given that institution $46 million since 2005.
- Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Dr. Ben Carson – Carson was a star attraction at Americans for Prosperity Events.
- Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao – Chao was formerly a Distinguished Fellow at the conservative Think Tank the Heritage Foundation. The Kochs donated $5.5 million to the Heritage Foundation between 1997 and 2013.
- Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos – The DeVos Foundation donated $3 million to Americans for Prosperity in 2011. Between 2009 and 2010 the DeVos Foundation donated $2.5 million to the Koch donors trust. The DeVos Foundation has given millions more to Koch organizations such as the Federalist Society and the American Enterprise Institute.
- Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross – is described as a billionaire and “friend of David Koch.”
- Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke – Americans for Prosperity supported Zinke’s electoral efforts when he was a Republican Congressman from Montana.
- Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt – emails obtained by The Guardian indicate that Pruitt had a close relationship with lobbying groups funded by the Koch Brothers including the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). Like Pruitt, ALEC is notorious for climate change denial. Among other things Pruitt attended a May 2013 ALEC board meeting when he was Attorney General of Oklahoma.
A full description of several more officials’ connections to the Koch Brothers can be found here.
Obviously the Republican Congress; which voted to confirm these Koch allies, cannot be trusted to protect average Americans or the environment. The best way to hold the Koch Brothers and their friends accountable is to elect Democrats like Austin Songer to Congress.
Songer supports a Constitutional Amendment that would overturn the Citizens United and Buckley v. Valeo U.S. Supreme Court decisions that allow billionaires; like the Koch Brothers to give unlimited amounts of money to politicians, such as Mike Pence. He also wants to abolish some of the organizations that enable the Koch Brothers to influence elections such as Super PACS.
Now is the time to really “drain the swamp” by electing a Congress that will run the Koch Brothers and their friends out of Washington once and for all.