By Hightower, Jim
The Progressive , Vol. 75, No. 4
The multibillionaire Koch brothers are used to running their nefarious network of political front groups from behind closed doors.
For more than three decades, Charles and David Koch have been quietly funneling tens of millions of dollars from their industrial fortune into the Cato Institute, Federalist Society, Heritage Foundation, Americans for Prosperity, FreedomWorks, and dozens of other rightwing organizations set up to push their extremist agenda of plutocratic rule. From behind their plush curtain, they've operated as the rightwing's Wizard of Oz--only Ozzier.
But now, the curtain is being pulled back, and there they are--buck naked and butt ugly--for all to see.
What an unpleasant surprise it must have been, then, for the brothers to find ordinary folks peering at them and their fellow Republican billionaires behind the gated walls of the Rancho Las Palmas Resort, presumably untouchable in the Southern California desert. The rich had been invited to this lair of luxury in late January to participate in an exclusive four-day political retreat that Charles periodically organizes to plot strategy and funnel money into the next election.
In the past, these have been totally clandestine pow-wows. This year, however, the letter of invitation from Koch Industries was leaked to researcher Lee Fang at the Center for American Progress. In it, Charles bragged that "we will assemble an exceptional group of leaders" at Rancho Las Palmas. And he did but not the kind of leaders he intended to bring together!
Instead, he found some 1,500 grassroots leaders gathered at the resort to greet the elites. Accompanied by national media, these uninvited guests succeeded in uncloaking the Kochs, turning the family's name into a four-letter word.
I was among the rabble intruding into this corporate getaway, having been invited by the political reform group Common Cause to emcee the people's Las Palmas rally. I can testify that the Koch crowd was not happy to see us. In fact, photographer Michael Cline snapped a wonderful picture of an exasperated David and Julia Koch glumly watching us from their resort's balcony. …