All three are very wealthy. They are the 1%. The Koch brothers are estimated to have a net worth of $41 billion each. George Soros has a net worth of $23 billion. The Koch brothers are tied for number 6 on Forbes top billionaires list while Soros is 27. They earned their fortunes in very different ways.
The Koch brothers run the second largest privately owned company in the US called Koch Industries, an oil refinery business. Soros is chairman of Soros Fund Management, a hedge fund company. He’s made his fortune in large part by selling short against international currencies and collapsing financial institutions. In 1997, he was dubbed “the man who broke the Bank of England”; and he was blamed by the Malaysian Prime Minister for collapsing their currency during the Asian financial crisis. He was also convicted of illegal financial dealings in France. His big bet now is collapsing the U.S. dollar and the free enterprise system.
All three have given generously to several organizations.
Now we’ll review their financial contributions. Here’s figures from Open Secrets Institute is one of George Soros’ organizations, and they provide part of the funding of OpenSecrets.org; so even realizing that their data may be skewed toward a more pejorative coverage of the Kochs, I’m going to rely on their data. According to Open Secrets, the Koch brothers have spent over $50 million in lobbying from 1998-2010. During that same time, Soros and his primary Lobbying organization, the Open Society Policy Center, spent about $13 million.
Donations to federal candidates, parties, and political action committees give a smaller advantage to the Kochs. They invested $2.58 million vs. Soros’ $1.74 million from 1989 to 2010. When extended to include the past four years, the Koch brothers have contributed $18 million in political donations. This sounds like a great number, until we look at the 58 organizations ahead of them, including 18 different unions, according to Open Secrets. Those unions’ political contributions total over $638 million, almost all of whose funds go to liberal candidates, and is more than 35 times what the Kochs donate. Among those are the American Federation of State, County, & Municipal Employees ($60,667,379), the National Education Association ($53,594,488), the United Auto Workers ($41,667,858), and the Service Employees International Union ($38,395,690.)
But from here, the money for political influence gets a little more shady. From 2001 to 2010, the Koch brothers invested $1.5 million in other political groups, called 527 organizations, compared to Soros’ whopping $32.5 million.
The proliferation and expanded influence of 527s was made possible by the problematic McCain-Feingold Campaign Finance Reform of 2002, so named because of the tax code, Section 527, that they fall under. As described by Benjamin Dangl, the groups “operate as shadow political campaigns working indirectly for or against a particular candidate.” Once contributed funds get to these groups, they can go anywhere; and the audit trail is virtually non-existent. Some are run totally above board and are very straightforward in their objectives. Many others are not. As Dangl says, “Prominent think tanks and campaign finance reform lobbyists say 527s are ‘illegal loopholes’ that enable the privatization of political campaigns.”
The groups that these men contribute to tell an even more significant tale than the sheer dollar volume they pump into our dysfunctional crony-capitalist, or corporatist, political system. Since the Koch brothers are ideological libertarians, they’re driven by the classical-liberal Jeffersonian philosophy that America was founded on. Perhaps nothing defines this self-defined mission for the brothers better than the mission statement on the Cato Institute website, which states, “The mission of the Cato Institute is to originate, disseminate, and increase understanding of public policies based on the principles of individual liberty, limited government, free markets, and peace.”
The Cato Institute, the Koch’s crown jewel, was established 40 years ago with seed money from Charles Koch, and his brother David still serves on the Board of the organization. Cato is recognized as the sixth most influential think tank in the nation, and number 14 internationally, with its scholarly and empirically documented research.
They also have contributed significantly to the Reason Foundation, publisher of Reason Magazine, applying reason and logic to economic and personal liberty issues. Nobel laureate Milton Friedman strongly supported the Foundation. And with a grant of $30 million, the Koch brothers were instrumental in the establishment of the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, with similar objectives.
George Soros runs the Open Society Institute and the Soros.org website; and he contributes heavily to many organizations that ideologically are aligned with leftist causes, including Moveon.org. He is reviled abroad for his shady efforts to foment revolution and collapse currencies. His foundations have been accused of shielding spies and breaking currency laws, and he’s invested over $400 million in institutions of higher education to promulgate and teach his extremist ideology.
In closing, I will say both sides are heavily investing in their political agenda. Although Harry Reid would like us to believe only the Koch brothers and the conservatives are guilty of this. The difference and concern is their ideology. It’s clear that the Koch brothers are more interested in promoting conservative values and lobbying for their companies benefits. George Soros and been constantly involved in questionable business practices. He is determined to push his political agenda to collapse the american economy. He has even been accused of betting on the collapse like he has in other countries.
We believe Soros is t)3 bigger threat. Harry Reid is a hypocrite and obsessed with focusing on the Koch brothers while taking money from George Soros.