Against the Kochs

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Jan. 31 2011 8:10 AM

Against the Kochs

Ken Vogel wraps up this weekend's protest of a biannual meeting for influential businessmen hosted by Charles and David Koch. (If you haven't been paying attention , liberals very, very slowly caught on to the fact that the Kochs bankroll many of the libertarian projects that have taken on political heft in the Tea Party era.) The event itself was closed to the public, but Kate Zernike scooped the invitation, and a coalition of liberal groups and leaders -- hello again, Van Jones! -- held a sizable rally outside the Rancho Mirage meeting/

Despite the publicity, the conference drew a slew of prominent politicians and conservative donors, including House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, Home Depot lead investor Ken Langone, former Attorney General Ed Meese, Americans for Prosperity President Tim Phillips, long-shot GOP presidential candidate Herman Cain and former Jack Abramoff associate and Bush appointee Patrick Pizzella. Other big donors, including retired Sysco chief John Woodhouse and Amway founder Rich DeVos, were expected to attend, as well. 

The luxury resort was closed to everyone except Koch conference-goers and those attending a meeting of federal judges from the Ninth Circuit, who coincidentally had scheduled their gathering for the same hotel, and who were expected to bring a significant security presence as well.

David Weigel David Weigel

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

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Liberal protestors couldn't get close . Witness:

But I'm not sure what the point was. Vogel frames the story with an interview of Tim Carney, who's a journalist and, coincidentally, one of the few people at the Koch gathering who felt like talking, and Carney stresses that he told the crowd about the dangerous intersection of government and business -- of rent-seeking, basically. Last year Carney recapped a previous Koch speech for me, and not only did he give another variation of this speech, he told me that he was urged to do it by Charles Koch -- whose head could be seen in cartoon form on a blimp above the gathering, caricatured as a rent-seeker.

I'm generally in agreement with libertarians that the Kochs are more interested in funding libertarian projects than getting favors from the government. But let's not forget that their massive collection of business interests do intersect with the state at some points, and profit of off taxpayers.

More Carney here ; he will post his speech at some point.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter.