WASHINGTON – Koch Industries Inc. and its employees and subsidiaries spent $1.2 million in the last election helping to elect Republican governors who are trying to take away bargaining rights of state workers.
Republicans Scott Walker of Wisconsin and John Kasich of Ohio, who won election last November with Koch support, are pushing to limit the ability of public-employee unions to negotiate for salaries and benefits.
This is a very well-financed, well-coordinated assault on labor unions, said Craig Holman, a lobbyist for the Washington-based advocacy group Public Citizen. If they can break the backs of organized labor, they will have accomplished a great deal toward deregulating the American society.
Public-employee unions contributed $20.5 million to federal campaigns for the 2010 elections, more than 80 percent of it to Democrats, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, a Washington research organization. In Wisconsin, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees made $83,888 in donations, all to Democrats, according to the National Institute on Money in State Politics, a Helena, Mont.-based research group.
Koch, a closely held energy and chemical company based in Wichita, Kan., is controlled by the billionaire brothers David and Charles Koch.
Along with other corporations, Koch Industries has often opposed organized labor on regulation and free trade, Holman said.
The $1.2 million in Koch support for Republican governors includes $1.1 million given to the Republican Governors Association, which spent more than $3.4 million in support of Walker, according to Common Cause, a Washington-based advocacy group that opposes the governors proposal.
In addition, Koch gave $43,000 directly to Walker, his single largest corporate source; $11,000 to the Wisconsin Republican party; $22,000 to Kasich; and $34,000 to the Ohio Republicans.
Koch also supported the 2008 campaign of Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, according to the National Institute on Money in State Politics. The Republican Governors Association, which received $25,000 from Koch, was the biggest source of campaign cash for Daniels, institute records show.
As for Koch Industries, the company never had discussions with either of these elected officials related to the legislation now under consideration, said Philip Ellender, president of government and public affairs for Koch Cos. Public Sector.