A group of libertarian billionaires in the US have taken advantage of the Supreme Courts’ decision on 21 January 2010 in the Citizens United case. The decision overturned a century of restrictions banning corporations and unions from spending money to support political candidates. They can now make unlimited contributions to political candidates, as long as they do so by giving money to groups that support the candidates, and not directly to the candidates.
These groups were previously called PACs, or Political Action Committees and had been limited to accepting donations of no more than $5,000 per individual and year. They now became “Super PACs” and they could now accept unlimited donations as long as the donation had no direct connection to the politician that would benefit. A writer for the New Yorker, Jeffrey Toobin; wrote that it “gave the rich people more or less free rein to spend as much as they want in support of their favored candidates”.
Billionaire activists were quick to establish large numbers of secretive nonprofit organizations that all claimed the right to conceal their donors´ identities.
The rich had found a means to weaponize philanthropy. They donated what has come to be known as Dark Money to these nonprofit “social welfare” groups that could forward untraceable cash to politicians they wanted to see in power. And, it was tax-deductable!
In the 2012 elections these Megadonors contributed more than $1,000,000,000 (one Billion) to influence federal elections.
Mark Meadows is perhaps best known today for refusing to talk to the Jan 6 Congressional Investigation about the events of that day. He has been held in contempt of Congress and the House has sent a request to the DOJ to have him put on trial for it.
Prior to his election to the House of Representatives in November 2012 Meadows had been a restaurant owner and Bible – school teacher in a small town in the westernmost corner of rural North Carolina. He was the kind of radical right candidate that Dark Money wanted to send to Washington. After only 8 months in Washington he had instigated a revolt on the part of 79 Republican House members against Obamacare by encouraging them to refuse to appropriate any funds for implementation of that law. They became known as the “Suicide Caucus” as they brought a virtual halt to the entire federal government for 16 days in 2013.
Meadows is typical of the type of Radical Right candidate that the Billionaires support. Their goals are simple: lower all taxes, and end all social welfare costs. There should be as little “government” as possible. The country is seen as having 53% “Givers” and 47% “takers”. The Givers are hard working Christians and the Takers are lazy folks looking for a free lunch. As the rich generate jobs they shouldn’t pay taxes.
Two of the most infamous Billionaire Megadonors are the Koch brothers, Charles and David. During the 2016 election Koch Industries and Freedom Partners (collective name for all their nonprofit front organizations) poured $750,000,000 into at least nineteen Senate, forty-two House, and four gubernatorial races.
The Koch brothers have also directed millions of dollars into education. An example is the Topeka (Kansas) school system where one of their organizations, the Young Entrepreneurs Academy taught classes for the district. Students were taught that FDR didn’t alleviate the Depression, minimum wage laws and public assistance programs hurt the poor, lower pay for women was not discriminatory, and government, rather than business, caused the economic crash of 2008. This program even paid students to take additional courses on-line.
According to Forbes in March 2015, the Koch brothers were worth $41,600,000,000 each. (41,6 billion)