Who Are the Koch Brothers and Why Does Harry Reid Hate Them?

Source; http://www.flickr.com/photos/9313013@N04/

Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/9313013@N04/

If you haven’t heard of the Koch brothers, don’t worry — you aren’t alone. According to a George Washington University poll, 52 percent of voters don’t know who Charles and David Koch are, either. That said, perhaps you should, because as The Washington Post points out with its laundry list of companies and products the two own, you’re likely giving them a lot of money when you go out shopping for anything from gas for your car, to toilet paper, to clothes. Then, that money goes to whatever interests the two see fit to support — usually conservative or libertarian political groups and projects.

It is perhaps for this reason that Harry Reid is so vocally opposed to the two, having recently gone on a number of anti-Koch rants on the Senate floor, calling them “about as un-American as anyone that I can imagine” in late February, and claiming that, “Senate Republicans are addicted to Koch,” in early march, according to The Washington Post.

He criticized them especially hard over an aid package to Ukraine, which he claimed was delayed in order to protect political nonprofits form new IRS rules. “Republicans delayed this aid package for 10 days in order to protect the Koch brothers and billionaires just like them,” said Reid, according to NPR, referring to Koch’s non-profit group Americans for Prosperity.

I believe in an America where economic opportunity is open to all. But based on their actions and the policies they promote, the Koch brothers seem to believe in an America where the system is rigged to benefit the very wealthy,” said Reid, according to Politico. He may be looking to improve his image, with an unfavorability rating at 35 percent according to The Post. Democrats tend to be more aware of the Koch’s — only 43 percent among self-identified liberal Democrats haven’t heard of him — and of those, 45 percent have a negative perception of them, 20 points above the average public.

While Koch’s use for Republicans is clear, Slate’s David Weigel offered up still another Democratic use for Koch. According to Weigel, who examined Democrats fundraising emails, those campaign emails that hit on the Kochs tended to make a significant amount more money. Of course, it’s only conjecture, but on average, the nineteen emails that had not mentioned the Kochs pulled in a total of $48,146.30, about $2,534.02 each. In contrast, there were five emails that mentioned the Koch brothers in various capacities, for a total result of $32,668.72, averaging $6,533.74 per email. It is of course possible that it had less to do with the Koch brothers as the tone of the email, or some other caveat, but it’s believable that liberal individuals might be more susceptible to anti-Koch sentiment as a campaign strategy.

Weigel’s take on it was that, “The Democratic base, which has been hearing about and fearing the Kochs for nearly four years, responds to this stuff.”

More From Wall St. Cheat Sheet:

Follow Anthea Mitchell on Twitter @AntheaWSCS