NY Times uncovers more campaign finance lawbreaking

The crack investigative team at the New York Times editorial page has uncovered more campaign finance lawbreaking, although, apparently, they don’t know it.

Writes the Times, “the billionaire Koch brothers, Charles and David… contributed handsomely — $80,000 worth — to (freshman congressman Mike) Pompeo’s campaign kitty.”

Really?  Wow!  Because federal law in 2010 prohibited either Koch brother from contributing more than $2400 to Mr. Pompeo’s campaign.  Now, OK, they could also contribute for the primary.  So that’s 2 brothers times two contributions of $2400 each, for a legal maximum of $9600.  Yet the Times tells us that they contributed more than eight times that amount to Mr. Pompeo, who represents the home district of Koch Industries. This appears to be rampant lawbreaking.

Oh, but wait, perhaps the Times was including contributions from the Political Action Committee of Koch Industries, which wouldn’t really be contributions from the Koch brothers, but is probably close enough for the Times editorial page work.  The Koch Industries PAC – funded by voluntary contributions from Koch employees, of which there are surely many in the district – could have contributed a maximum of $10,000 – $5000 each for the primary and general elections.  That gets us up to $19,600, or about one fourth that the Times claims they gave.

In fact, the Times probably drew their $80,000 number from this site, the Center for Responsive Politics, which for years has been misleading reporters and the public by attributing individual contributions to corporations. The Center includes a small disclaimer far down the page that points out that the contributions they attribute to Koch Industries (or in the case of Rep. Pompeo, to McCoy Petrolem, Textro, etc.) doesn’t really come from Koch Industries, and seems to feel that that is good enough for their work (after all, it appears to be a cut above the Times). Thus, if the wife of a mid-level manager of Koch contributes $250 to Pompeo because of his stand on abortion, the Center for Responsive Politics calls it a contribution from “Koch Industries.”

This ongoing effort – which by now we have to believe is intentional – by elements of the reform community to miseducate the public on the role of corporations in campaign funding is depressing. But we’ll do our best to keep pointing it out.

Oh, by the way, an actual review of the Federal Election Commission database indicates that the combined total giving to Mike Pompeo’s campaign by the Koch Brothers was not only not $80,000, it wasn’t even $9600. It was just $2400.


The Center for Competitive Politics is now the Institute for Free Speech.