Attendees of these summits are warned that the seminars, where the Kochs and their allies hatch strategies for electing Republicans and advancing conservative initiatives on the state and national levels, are strictly confidential; they are cautioned to keep a close eye on their meeting notes and materials. But last week, following the Kochs' first donor gathering of 2014, one attendee left behind a sensitive document at the Renaissance Esmeralda resort outside of Palm Springs, California, where the Kochs and their comrades had spent three days focused on winning the 2014 midterm elections and more. The document lists VIP donors— including John Schnatter, the founder of the Papa John's pizza chain— who were scheduled for one-on-one meetings with representatives of the political, corporate, and philanthropic wings of Kochworld. The one-page document, provided to Mother Jones by a hotel guest who discovered it, offers a fascinating glimpse into the Kochs' political machine and shows how closely intertwined it is with Koch Industries, their $115 billion conglomerate.
The more than 40 donors courted by the Kochs include hedge fund and private-equity billionaires, real estate tycoons, and executives of top corporations, including Jockey International and TRT Holdings, owner of Omni Hotels and Gold's Gym. A number of them have never been identified as members of the Koch donor network, including Schnatter, one of the more prominent names on the list.
Come on out for world domination and drinks in the desert!
And this shouldn't surprise a lot of us in Wisconsin, but we do get an idea on just "who is AFP."
At least half of the one-on-one sessions involved representatives of Americans for Prosperity, the political advocacy group founded by the Koch brothers and their top political adviser and strategist, Richard Fink, a Koch Industries executive vice president and board member. The AFP officials called to duty for these discussions included AFP's president Tim Phillips, chief operating officer Luke Hilgemann, vice president for state operations Teresa Oelke, and vice president for development Chris Fink (Richard Fink's son). The state directors for AFP's Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Florida chapters were also slated for tête-à-têtes during the Koch summit. (AFP spokesman Levi Russell declined to comment on the meeting document.)Ah yes, Luke Hilgemann, a former Chief of Staff for slimeball State Rep. Scott Suder (who's back in the news for using campaign funds to do some partying of his own). He also used to be a board member at the sketchy United Sportsmen of Wisconsin, and famously boasted "BRING IT!" in relation to the sliminess becoming public. These guys were so "Unintimidated" that United Sportsmen's state grant was rescinded, Suder resigned his seat in the Assembly and Hilgemann high-tailed it to D.C. to work at the AFP corporate offices soon after.
In the past, Koch Industries has distanced itself from AFP and its political activities. The company has said the group is just one of "hundreds of organizations" that receive funding from the Kochs and that it operates "independently" of Koch Industries. But the document suggests a close collaboration between officials of Koch Industries, AFP, and Freedom Partners, whose staff and board are stacked with numerous current and former Koch Industries employees. Michael Lanzara and Jeff Noble, who transitioned over to Freedom Partners from Koch Companies Public Sector—the company's legal, lobbying, and public affairs branch—were scheduled to meet with donors alongside AFP staffers. The Koch brothers and Richard Fink were also listed as taking part in some of these sessions. (Fink, a man of many hats within the Koch firmament, is also an AFP board member; David Koch chairs the board of the Americans for Prosperity Foundation.)
But as Mother Jones shows with the list, Hilgemann isn't the only Koch whore with Wisconsin connections that was at the Palm Springs blowout. Here are some of the others.
DonorsIs it any wonder why Scott Walker was so quick to take that phone call 3 years ago, and asked "David Koch" for help during the Uprising? He knows his owners as well as anyone. And if we don't stop these sickos, we'll be owned by them as well. It's these oligarchs' ultimate end game.
Bob and Steve Fettig: The Fettigs run the metal fabrication company Tankcraft, based in Darien, Wisconsin. Steve is the company's CFO; Bob is CEO.
Debra Waller: Since 2001, she's been the chairman and CEO of [Kenosha-headquartered] Jockey International Inc.
"Players" (read: Koch front men and women)
David Fladeboe: He's the state director for Americans for Prosperity-Wisconsin.
Luke Hilgemann: He's Americans for Prosperity's chief operating officer.
And that's why it's sickly ironic that these two guys get fined and convicted in federal court for messing up (Koch-owned) Angel Soft's computer server in 2011, but the Kochs can help to launder hundreds of millions of dollars to political causes and duck the taxes they and their fellow oligarchs should owe, and claim "free speech". I think we got the "lawbreakers" and the "good guys" mixed up here.