Dear Commons Community,
Donald Trump skewered five Republican presidential candidates (Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, Scott Walker, Ted Cruz,and Carly Fiorina) as “puppets” of the Koch brothers. The occasion was the semi-annual meeting of Charles and David Koch and invited guests who discuss Republican politics and election strategy. As reported in the New York Times:
“As five of the 2016 Republican presidential candidates descended on an exclusive donor conference hosted by the oil-billionaire brothers Charles G. and David H. Koch, Donald J. Trump had a message for his rivals.
“I wish good luck to all of the Republican candidates that traveled to California to beg for money etc. from the Koch Brothers,” Mr. Trump, who leads in many national polls, wrote in a Sunday morning Twitter post. “Puppets?”
The candidates who made the pilgrimage to Dana Point, Calif., this weekend to address the gathering of wealthy donors were either pandering to the brothers at one of their twice-yearly seminars (beg-a-thons, in Trump parlance) or simply hoping to woo an influential network of Republicans who could help finance their campaigns through what is shaping up to be a grueling nominating process.
Rich donors have emerged as more crucial than ever this election cycle, with the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision allowing a tsunami of big money into politics, especially through “super PACs” — political organizations that are outside the campaigns but often act as de facto extensions of them.
A New York Times analysis found that fewer than 400 families had contributed nearly half the money raised in the 2016 presidential campaign so far, with roughly 130 families and their businesses providing more than half the money that Republican candidates and their super PACs had raised through June.
And so, as Mr. Trump assailed his rivals for behaving like “puppets” of the Koch brothers, many of the leading Republican candidates — including former Gov. Jeb Bush of Florida; Senator Ted Cruz of Texas; Senator Marco Rubio of Florida; and Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin — found themselves trying to walk the fine line between courting the brothers’ vast wealth and not coming across as their marionettes.
(Mr. Trump, who is heavily financing his own campaign, was not invited to the conference, where the coveted speaking slots were assigned by members of the Koch network. And a political data company set up by the Koch brothers has reportedly declined to do business with Mr. Trump’s campaign.)”
Mr. Trump for once is right. Many Republican candidates in national and local elections have become “puppets” of big money and corporate sponsors. The Koch brothers in particular have become the epitome of what is wrong with this trend and in the way elections are run in this country.