Hush Hush

The Tea Parties' Billionaire Backers 

The billionaire brothers David and Charles Koch, both lifelong libertarians, have given more than $100 million to rightwing causes, funding so many campaigns against Obama administration policies that their ideological framework has become known as the Kochtopus. The Kochs, who run the Kansas-based company Koch Industries—which maintains oil refineries in Alaska and owns Brawny paper towels, Stainmaster carpet, Dixie cups, and Lycra, among other products—have given to other causes, including $100 million to the Lincoln Center and $20 million to the American Museum of Natural History. But their political causes in particular have gotten the most attention. As Charles Lewis, founder of the Center for Public Integrity, told The New Yorker, "The Kochs are on a whole different level. There's no one else who has spent this much money. The sheer dimension of it is what sets them apart. They have a pattern of lawbreaking, political manipulation, and obfuscation. I've been in Washington since Watergate, and I've never seen anything like it. They are the Standard Oil of our times."