As the nation focuses on the union battle in Wisconsin, Mother Jones magazine did some “follow the money” digging and found that much of the funding behind the Walker for Governor campaign came from none other than uber-conservatives, the infamous Koch Brothers.
A number of Koch-backed groups have long taken a very hostile view toward public-sector unions. Several of these groups have urged the eradication of these unions. Americans for Prosperity, a Tea Party group that’s actually a Koch Brothers front, has posted a website and petition called StandWithWalker.com. The website attacks all collective bargaining –not just for public employees’ unions. Americans for Prosperity was the group that organized a rally Saturday in support of Governor Walker (though those supporters were heavily outnumbered by the union demonstrators).
Why are the Koch Brothers so interested in Wisconsin? They have significant holdings in the state’s energy infrastructure, owning coal company facilities in Green Bay, Manitowoc, Ashland and Sheboygan; six timber plants throughout the state; and a large network of pipelines.
Viewed in this light, the $117 million in tax breaks for businesses enacted by Walker in January take on new meaning as a number of the big business interests that supported Walker’s campaign stand to benefit from the tax cuts. The American Legislative Exchange Council, another Koch-funded group, reportedly advised Walker and the GOP legislature on those tax cuts and its anti-labor legislation.
Likewise, Walker’s cutting of environmental regulations takes on a different shade, as does his appointment of a Republican known for her disregard for environmental regulations to head up the state’s Department of Natural Resources. Walker, furthermore, opposes clean energy jobs policies that might draw workers away from Koch-owned interests. Incidentally, the Environmental Protection Agency has cited Koch businesses for emitting thousands of pounds of toxic pollutants.
Koch Industries was one of the biggest contributors to Walker’s gubernatorial campaign, donating $43,000 over the course of last year.
The investigative efforts and the connecting of dots now raises a compelling question: Exactly who does Governor Walker really represent?