The Koch-Backed Coup Behind Boehner’s Bye-Bye


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by Victor Menotti, as published in Daily Kos
“The crazies have taken over the party,” is what Rep. Peter King (R-NY) said it signaled when House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) resigned Friday under pressure from hardline conservatives who wanted Boehner to take a tougher stance in budget talks, even if it shut down the federal government. Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) declared “disarray” as the order of the day for Congress’s ruling party.

However, a closer look at the financial and ideological forces behind the “renegade” Republicans points not to any aimless clan of “crazies” but to a clear-eyed, calculated coup backed by Washington’s two largest donors, the Koch Brothers.

What it means is that America—indeed, the world—is entering yet another new stage of oligarchic control by the world’s two wealthiest men, Charles and David Koch. Together, the two oil billionaire brothers have more money than Bill Gates, plus an expanding political influence network they’ve been funding for forty years. It also means that America’s progressive movements must urgently organize powerful grassroots opposition to Koch’s extremist agenda or else Koch will keep cooking our planet beyond repair.


Boehner was under pressured from members of the House Freedom Caucus (HFC), founded in January 2015 by Koch-backed members of the ultra-conservative Republican Study Committee (RSC) who felt it had grown too large and unwieldy.

“Freedom” is largely defined by this cabal as “economic freedom,” articulated on Koch’s website The brother’s unprecedented spending on 2014 elections won conservatives a new majority in the Senate and consolidated their control of the House.

HFC founding members (Rep. Scott Garrett, Rep. Jim Jordan, Rep. John Fleming, Rep. Matt Salmon, Rep. Justin Amash, Rep. Raúl Labrador, Rep. Mick Mulvaney, Rep. Ron DeSantis and Rep. Mark Meadows) formed their smaller, more strident group to advance a libertarian agenda championed by Koch.

Most HFC members score above 90 percent—with its leaders closer to 100 percent—on the Koch-funded Club for Growth online scorecard, which ranks elected officials’ voting records on the economic freedom agenda. Rumored to be the next Speaker, Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) scores 73%.

Only one month ago today, the Kochtopus’s top “astroturf agent,” Americans for Prosperity (AFP), feted HFC honcho (and ex-Chair of RSC), Rep. Jim Jordan (OH). “The Washington Award is the organization’s highest honor, offered to those who not only stand for the group’s values, but make progress toward policies that spread economic freedom and prosperity,” says AFP’s website.

Heritage Action, the political arm of the Heritage Foundation run by hardcore Koch-head Jim DeMint, instantly declared Boehner’s departure a victory for non-Establishment conservatives. Emboldened by their success, they hope to have one of their own as the next House Speaker.


Koch-funded politicians now possess “the power of the purse” and aim to use it as leverage to advance their extremist agenda. Call it a tightened death-grip by the Kochtopus over government, increasing Koch’s oligarchic influence over federal operations from the overall size of spending to food stamps to severe weather forecasting.

The new deadline for forging a fiscal compromise, and raising the debt ceiling, is now forecast to be December 11, which is also the last day of negotiations for a new global climate deal at the U.N. summit in Paris.

Having an inherent hatred for the U.N., Koch’s financial interests extend to stopping any international commitments to the U.S.’s cutting its carbon emissions. Koch has more tar sands assets in Alberta than Exxon, Chevron, and Conoco combined, meaning Koch may bear more risk in today’s carbon bubble than anyone else on Earth.

Setting this double-deadline means the Obama White House will be distracted from fully focusing on delivering a solid climate deal since they will be buried facing down Koch’s anti-climate, anti-poor, anti-government extremists threatening to shut down federal funding if they don’t get the budget deal they want in Washington.

While Americans are increasingly aware of the Koch’s name, and with astoundingly negative opinions, we must now turn into effective action that replaces Koch candidates with progressive climate champions. Stay tuned for more updates from frontline efforts to do exactly that.

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