Clarence Thomas Secretly Participated in Koch Network Donor Events - 2023-09-22
For decades, the Kochs have held deep antipathy to government regulation. When Charles Koch's brother David ran for vice president on the Libertarian Party ticket in 1980, the party platform called for abolishing the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Energy and the Food and Drug Administration.
Every winter, the network holds its marquee fundraising event in the Coachella Valley in Southern California. Hundreds of donors fly in to learn how their money is being spent and plan for the coming year. Former staffers describe an emphasis on preventing leaks that bordered on obsession. The network often rents out an entire hotel for the event, keeping out eavesdroppers. Documents left behind are methodically shredded. One recent attendee recalled Koch security staff in a golf cart escorting their Uber driver out of the hotel to make sure he left. The former staffers spoke on the condition of anonymity because they feared retaliation.
To score an invite to the summit, donors typically have to give at least $100,000 a year. Those who give in the millions receive special treatment, including dinners with Charles Koch and high-profile guests. Doling out access to powerful public officials was seen as a potent fundraising strategy, former staffers said. The dinners' purpose was "giving donors access and giving them a reason to come or to continue to come in the future," a former Koch network executive told ProPublica.