Did Mitch McConnell Fail to Disclose His Trip to the Koch Donor Conference?

This post first appeared in The Nation.

Mitch McConnell traveled to a secret meeting of donors connected to the Koch brothers network—and it now appears he didn’t disclose the expenses for that trip.

Documents obtained by The Nation, The Undercurrent and the Center for Media and Democracy from the Orange County Sheriffs Department reveal that Mitch McConnell was scheduled to arrive for the confab at the St. Regis Resort in Dana Point, California, on Saturday, June 14. Audio from the conference, which we reported in August, confirms that he gave a speech there the following day.

Yet the hotel expense for that night at the St. Regis does not appear to have been disclosed in McConnell’s filings with the FEC nor to Senate Ethics.

Federal legislators are required by law to disclose trips like this one, unless they pay for them personally. McConnell’s campaign did not return request for comment about how he paid for the hotel.

Melanie Sloan, the executive director of the Center for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, told me that personal payments are rare. “That’s just not the way members of Congress operate,” she said. “They have too many other pots of money at their disposal to pay for these things themselves.”

Politicians have very few requirements for travel disclosures and can easily obscure these trips when they don’t stay overnight. For example, flight expenses indicate the airline and costs, but not the destination or purpose of travel. Thus, hotel expenses are often the only way to tie a politician to a particular event.

Secrecy was of course the name of the game for this event. The Koch brothers paid a premium to conduct the donor event in private; they reserved the entire venue and hired private security officers to supplement their own security team.

There are many ways for McConnell to have paid for the trip if not out of his own pocket, according to Democratic attorney Joe Sandler, who specializes in campaign finance ethics. But there is no evidence of any of these routes.

McConnell could have sought approval from the Senate Ethics Committee as a third party expense, paid by a nonprofit or for-profit group—in this case Freedom Partners or Koch Industries. The Senate’s Outside Paid Travel Database shows no Ethics Committee filings for Mitch McConnell.

Moreover, the FEC reports for Freedom Partners Action Fund, the Koch outfit which funded the conference, likewise do not show any expenditure for McConnell’s stay at the St. Regis, though it’s possible they could have disguised it by lumping it with in-kind contributions to candidates. But McConnell still would have to have sought approval from Senate Ethics, which he didn’t.

McConnell theoretically could have listed it as a Senate office travel expense, paid for by taxpayers, but that is supposed to be restricted to home-state travel for the purposes of legislative business. Those disclosures aren’t due until after the election, but it is unlikely McConnell chose this flagrantly incorrect route.

Finally, McConnell could have had his trip paid for by his campaign committee, his leadership PAC or another PAC.

But the St. Regis in Dana Point appears nowhere in the FEC reports for the senator’s campaign committee nor his leadership PAC. And indeed, all of the other Senate candidates in attendance—Tom Cotton, Joni Ernst and Cory Gardner—disclosed in this fashion, via their campaign committees.

“The absence of any report of the expenditure by the campaign or leadership PAC raises serious questions about how the trip was paid for and why the costs were not treated as a campaign expense as they were by the other campaigns,” said Sandler.

Mitch McConnell: Dodd Frank Finance Reform Is Obamacare for Banks

I went to Louisville last week to ask Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell to elaborate on how he would “go after” Democrats on financial services, as he told donors at the June Koch brothers retreat he would do if Republicans take control of the Senate, in audio released by The Undercurrent in August.  McConnell doubled-down on those remarks, calling the Dodd Frank financial reform bill “Obamacare for Banks.”  Check out my exchange with him here…

Koch Hits

I’m very proud to say that my web-show, The Undercurrent broke all the audio tapes from the Koch brothers retreat over the past several weeks.  The tapes have had an incredible impact in the media leading up to the election, with stories in The Nation, Huffington Post, New York Times, and many others.  Majority Leader Harry Reid discussed them on the floor of the Senate and called on Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who attended the retreat, to repudiate offensive statements made there.  Bill Clinton talked about them at the Harkin Steak Fry.  And reporters around the country have been asking the candidates who attended about their connection to the Kochs.

Check out this compilation video to see some of the best media hits so far…

EXCLUSIVE AUDIO: AZ Governor Candidate Doug Ducey at Koch Retreat





June 16, 2014



KEVIN GENTRY: So I’d like to actually invite our next panel to come up. Uh, Jeff, if you want to get your team to start getting positioned up here. Jeff Crank leads Aegis. That is the candidate recruitment support effort that really came out of 2012 as well, and we have a little bit of a panel discussion, but until, until we’re getting organized, what I’d also like to do –

Yesterday at lunch we heard from, um, Pete Ricketts, who’s long been a member of this group, who recently was chosen as the Republican nominee for governor of, uh, of Nebraska. But we also have another one in our midst who’s also decided to step into the arena, uh, Doug Ducey, who’s the state treasurer in Arizona. He took Coldstone Creamery from about three stores to an international enterprise. He’s been part of this group. And also a little neat thing last year, really stood up to a lot of the cronyism in the business community in Arizona and led the charge against a tax hike ballot initiative that was successful.

And, Doug, we appreciate if you’d step into the arena — you’re around here somewhere, and if you would just stand up and say a few words. There, there you go. Thank you. And, please, share a few words. I know your primary is not until August, but uh, it’s great for you to step into the arena as well.

DOUG DUCEY: Thank you, Kevin. Thanks for having me here. I want to say thank you to Charles and David as well. I have been coming to this conference for years. It’s been very inspirational. Uh, Charles, I asked what I would do if I wasn’t afraid, and I said I’d run for governor.


DOUG DUCEY: So uh, in this business, you’re known by the company you keep, and uh, we’re proud that we’re off to a fast start. Uh, we’re proud that Governor Scott Walker from Wisconsin has come out and endorsed our campaign. And a lot of this resonates in a State like Arizona because I don’t come from any political background. Uh, I grew up in Toledo, Ohio. Uh, my dad was a cop. I’m very much a product of the Midwest and the working class. For full disclosure, though, my first elective office was homeroom representative in the fifth grade (inaudible).


DOUG DUCEY: That, that was a tough primary, and a lot of those kids are still mad at me, so they’re coming after us.


DOUG DUCEY: But I think to tell the story in Arizona, uh, my folks splitting up my junior year, my mom moving West, and the high school counselor literally pointing to a map and saying, “Doug, schools are plentiful out there, and there’s a lot of opportunity.”

So I got in my Datsun B210 and drove from Toledo to Tempe. I didn’t know one person and I had never been in Arizona, and it’s been quite an adventure. But when I tell the story in Arizona, I’m able to ask people, uh, how many of you were born somewhere other than the State of Arizona, and it seems like 90 percent of the hands in the room go up. So I say, let’s make certain that the bad ideas that are crossing the Midwest and killing California are not reapplied in the state of Arizona. And it doesn’t matter what room that’s said, in everyone starts applauding. It gives you confidence in the messaging we have here at the conference. Uh, the fact that my entire adult life has been in the private sector, studying finance at Arizona State, worked my way through college at Anheuser-Busch, and then began my career with Proctor and Gamble. And then along with a few others we built an ice cream company called Cold Stone Creamery.

We started small with a good idea, and we built 1,440 stores in all 50 states. We operate in 25 countries around the world today, and I want everybody to know we did it without government. We did it without subsidies. We did it without tax incentives for chocolate-dipped waffle cones.


DOUG DUCEY: We did it the right way — big dreams, hard work, and great people. And things like that happen when states embrace free enterprise.

When I did run for Treasurer in 2010 after I sold the business in 2007, I learned a lot at this conference, and I learned a lot when I stepped forward to battle a $1 billion permanent sales tax increase called Proposition 204. Prop 204 looked like it was a shoo-in to pass in September of 2012. We started to message against it. It was polled at over 60 percent. And on Election Day we won. We literally flipped the electorate. And last year for a change, taxes went down in the State of Arizona.


DOUG DUCEY: So I can’t emphasize enough the power of organizations like this and engagement from those in the business community. The other side was completely financed by government entities and special interests, and we didn’t have to raise as much as they did. We just had a better idea, and that was lower taxes for all Arizonans, and flip that argument that they had that it would help education and help the children that we were able to expose that these dollars were not going to the classroom.

So what’s next? The real action is in the governor’s office. And I have to tell you, uh, Charles Murray, if you want to lead a textured life and get out of Paradise Valley, Arizona, you can come to Kingman and Bullhead City and Lake Havasu. But by and large this year will resonate because no one, whether they’re in a Republican room, or a Kiwanis Club, or a Rotary Club, is happy with what’s going on in our economy, or what their children are learning in traditional K-12 classes.

So I’m very confident we’re going to take back the Senate here in 2014, but then the battle for freedom comes back to the states, and who’s in the governors’ offices is important. And I’m grateful for what this conference does. Thanks for having me.



GOP Legislator Dodges Koch Retreat Question





June 16, 2014


KEVIN GENTRY: As you’re transitioning off, I actually realized that Congressman Jim Jordan is here. He’s been here this weekend. I’d like him to come as well up for a few brief remarks just as we did with, uh, Doug.

Uh, first of all, background. Uh, Jim Jordan from Ohio was a four-time state champion high school wrestler for a 150 and one record, and then, uh, records in college as well. But, uh, uh, maybe that’s appropriate for Congress, I’m not sure.


KEVIN GENTRY: But he has been really one of the leaders in the House, just as Senator McConnell mentioned yesterday in the Senate, on the IRS abuses. And I think he’s going to share with us a few words about what the situation is like, uh, and maybe what the path looks like moving ahead with respect to some of the Lois Lerner stuff.

But also I know that you all have anecdotally shared with us that you feel like within the past couple of years you’ve seen a little bit more overreach from the IRS than might be typically possible. So, uh, perhaps, uh, you might (inaudible) a little bit more on that, too. Jim, take it away.

JIM JORDAN: Thank you, Kevin. Uh, I had one loss to some guy named Charles Koch.


JIM JORDAN: Good to be with you all. I, I, I said the other night, I learned a long time ago good things don’t just happen. If you want to accomplish something (inaudible) of significance, it takes work, it takes effort, it takes sacrifice. Most importantly, (inaudible) is to get off the sidelines, and get in the game. So thank you for what you are doing and the impact that you are having.

The last year of my life has been primarily focused on getting to the bottom of this IRS scandal. This is fundamentally an attack on your First Amendment right to speak out in a political fashion against the government. And we are so focused on it because the Justice Department’s criminal investigation is a complete sham.

The FBI leaked to the Wall Street Journal January 13th of this year that no one is going to be prosecuted. The President goes on national television and says there’s no corruption, not even a smidgen. On Super Bowl Sunday he said that. And the person heading the investigation, the attorney assigned to the Justice Department, Barbara Bosserman, was a mascot (inaudible) the President’s campaign investigation. He’s got a vested interest in its success, and yet he’s supposed to be impartial and balanced about doing the investigation.

So we’re doing everything we can to get to the truth. And of course just this past week we learned that, shazam, we lost the e-mails. We can’t find them. So we are, we are going to do all we can to get to that.

Many of you have talked to me already.  If you got any, anyone who hasn’t, please let us know. We’re requesting that kind of information. That is helpful as we go, uh, through the investigation. We’re going to continue to do everything we can to get to the (inaudible). Um, I still haven’t (inaudible) wrestling.

When you think about the people who impacted your life in a positive fashion, most people, next to your parents, it was probably a coach or teacher you had along the way. And for me, with, without a doubt it was my high school wrestling coach (inaudible). He was the toughest teacher (inaudible), and he was the toughest wrestling coach in the whole darn State of Ohio.

And this is not an exaggeration. Every single day he talked about discipline. He said, “Hey, Jordan, this is not any class, an (inaudible) class. You want to do well in my class, it’s going to take discipline. You’re going to have to read the material the night before (inaudible), participating in class, meaning it’s going to take self-discipline if you want to do well in this class, my class.”

And then the rest (inaudible) used to drive me nuts. Every day when self-discipline, the most important character quality necessary to achieve something of importance, and he would say it over, and I was like, that guy is stuck up.


JIM JORDAN: He sounds like my dad. I get it from my dad every day, and now I’m getting it from my coach. But he had a great definition, and it hangs in our wrestling room today.

My brother is a coach at our high school. He’s won the state championship the last 14 years in a row (inaudible) Ron McCann’s wrestling room. In a statement Ron McCann says that “Discipline is doing what you don’t want to do when you don’t want to do it.” That meant doing it coach’s way or we’re going to do it your way. But more importantly, we need to be doing things the right way when (inaudible).

We are at a point in history in this country (inaudible) where we have got to do things the right way, not the convenient way, not the easy way. The right way. And if you do that, we will continue to be the greatest Nation ever.

We had the opportunity a year ago to (inaudible). This, this will remind you what a great country we have. You all know this is what’s involved. This is the Wright brothers (inaudible). Two pictures — first picture, 1903, Kitty Hawk. The first flight, they flew 101 feet. You remember you all learned that from school in class, time to take you back. They put that picture down. The next picture they hold up, 44 years later, Chuck Yeager breaking the sound barrier. Amazing country.

And literally as I’m walking out of the room, it hit me, why should it stop there? I represent Wapakoneta, Ohio, hometown of Neil Armstrong. Why didn’t they show us the third picture of Neil Armstrong stepping on the moon? Think about this Nation. In 66 years two guys flying 101 feet in a contraption they call an airplane, and 66 years later we put a man on the moon. It’s the greatest country ever. And if we have the discipline to remember that, and remember the principles that made it great, it will stay the greatest country. God bless you. Thanks.



EXCLUSIVE AUDIO: VA Scandal Driven by Koch-Funded Group to Undermine Obamacare



June 16, 2014


KEVIN GENTRY: Okay. So just as a reminder, if we do need to enforce the time discipline, we do have that new device. Just so everybody and our speakers are aware, if you go over time, this is what you will hear, let’s be clear. (Inaudible) wakeup call tomorrow morning. If you want it on your cell phones as a ringtone, we can do that, too.

KEVIN GENTRY: So one of the key capabilities I know that you all helped build a group called Concerned Veterans for America. And obviously there are a lot of folks who have had military service that quite obviously are very patriotic, love this country, but are no longer actively engaged as they may be into this process. And this has been a really helpful effort. But not surprisingly, too, is the whole crazy debacle of the Veterans Administration. Concerned Veterans for America has arisen to the forefront. In fact, you all may recall them bringing this issue up last fall and really driving hard on it and continuing the drive as well.

We’ll have Pete Hegseth come up in just a minute. Pete is the — well, he was at Princeton, was editor of the conservative newspaper there, the Princeton Tory. He went on into the Army, served three tours of duty as an infantry officer in Iraq, Afghanistan, and also Guantanamo Bay.
So I’m going to have Pete come up after we watch this little video to show a little bit about what they’re doing, and we’ll hear from Pete Hegseth.

[Video Presentation.]

PETE HEGSETH: I don’t think he wanted to accept. I want to thank Kevin for that introduction and for this opportunity. My name is Pete Hegseth. I’m the CEO of Concerned Veterans for America. It’s an absolute honor to be here. And I’m excited to share some of the things Concerned Veterans for America has accomplished over the last year with the help of this network and how we’re building for the future.
Concerned Veterans for America is an organization this network literally created to empower veterans and military families to fight for the freedom and prosperity here at home that we fought for in uniform on the battlefield. Quite simply, to fight for the well-being of veterans, their families, and all Americans.
Which brings me to the Department of Veterans Affairs. Now, unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last couple of months, you know about the crisis at the Department of Veterans Affairs. What you probably don’t know is the central role that Concerned Veterans for America played in exposing and driving this crisis from the very beginning.

After years of effort behind the scenes privately and publicly, the scandal eventually made national headlines when initially in Phoenix it was exposed that veterans were waiting on secret lists that were meant to hide the real wait times veterans had at VA facilities of months and months and months. Veterans literally dying while waiting on secret lists that benefitted only bureaucrats.
In driving (inaudible) and monitoring this crisis, we utilized the competitive advantage that only this network provides: the long-term vision to invest and the resources to back it up. We focused relentlessly on both exposing the failures of VA bureaucracy and improving the lives of veterans, meeting our people where they’re at.

The Concerned Veterans for America issue campaign pushing for systemic reform of VA bureaucracy is of critical importance, we think, for three key reasons. First, it is going — it has produced and will produce more market-based public policy victories that will improve the lives of veterans and their families; second, it provides the perfect opportunity to educate the American people about the failures of big government; and three, to position us for the long term as a trusted, effective, and credible grassroots organization we can build upon.

A perfect example of this approach has been what we call our VA Accountability Project, which was launched earlier this year to highlight the problems at VA. Before the scandal broke we launched this project to highlight the problems, talk about market-based solutions, and then organize veterans to take tangible actions to do something about it.

Now, when veterans and military families aggressively and professionally made their charge on Capitol Hill and in their communities, the status quo in Washington literally had no ammunition to fight back. The emperor has no clothes. Credible, intellectually-armed, motivated veterans are a formidable force, and a lesson that Nancy Pelosi herself and her friend Harry Reid learned firsthand.

Now, case in point. Two pieces of groundbreaking VA reform legislation passed the House of Representatives with an overwhelming majority. Now, most bills that pass 390 to 33 or the other one (inaudible) passed 426 to nothing are nothing-burgers, they’re insignificant. They’re the name of a post office because that’s all they can bring up. But both of these bills that were passed were real reform, and I’ll go into that in a second. And Nancy Pelosi and the majority of collectivists voted for them. They didn’t like the bills, but they had to vote for the bills because they were outnumbered by a new, nimble, and principled movement of veterans.

But those bills didn’t just die, shockingly enough, in the do-nothing Harry Reid Senate. Ten days ago, the Senate struck a historic deal, a deal that Concerned Veterans for America was central to in every aspect literally ensuring that the language stay focused on real market-based reform, and we pushed the ball across the finish line.

Now usually deals in the Senate include only one thing: billions and billions of dollars in more spending. Not this one. This deal, as with the legislation in the House, was instead built on two market-based reforms that were injected by Concerned Veterans for America and advanced the entire point, the entire way. The first is accountability, the central belief that you can fire, and should be able to fire quickly under-performing VA managers for cause, restoring basic accountability in the Department. (Inaudible) Ronald Reagan said the closest thing to eternal life is a government program.

PETE HEGSETH: The closest thing to an eternal job is being a manager at the Department of Veterans Affairs. Veterans died in it, and no one has been fired still. This bill would empower the Secretary to actually fire a manager for cause, a reform the new Secretary said he needed immediately.
The second is choice — and that’s the crown jewel of this — the choice to see a private doctor if they cannot be seen in a timely manner in the VA. Veterans will literally get a card and the ability to visit a private doctor if they need.

The latter reform, which seems like a no-brainer to everyone in this audience, is a huge development, rocking the core of big government status quo in Washington. The option for veterans to choose private care upends how the VA has fundamentally done business for the last seventy years, attacking the very heart of the failed top-down government-run single payer healthcare system that’s failed veterans.
Now, frustrated veterans across the country have been clamoring for this choice for decades, but Washington special interests have squashed their pleas. Not anymore. As a result, we hope to improve the lives of nine million veterans in America and their families, while at the same time stopping bad legislation of just throwing more money at a dysfunctional department.

Now, not surprising, as has been a theme of this couple of days, during Senate negotiations between John McCain and the (inaudible) of the toadie bill and our favorite socialist from Vermont, Bernie Sanders, Concerned Veterans for America’s name explicitly came up, both in private and on the floor of the Senate. But their shallow name-calling didn’t work. (Inaudible) Senator McCain, and Senator Burr, and Senator Rubio and others called them out. The merits of our cause and the credibility of veterans leading the charge have carried the day. Judge us by our work. It speaks for itself.

Perhaps most importantly to this effort, we have created a new line of defense against the march towards socialized medicine, educating veterans and Americans in the process. Veterans have had government-run healthcare for decades. We’ve had the preview of Obamacare, and the scandal has exposed the inevitable result of central planning for all Americans: massive wait times, impenetrable bureaucracy, de facto rationing, wasted tax dollars. It goes on and on.

Throughout this effort, Concerned Veterans for America, along with our network partners, have intentionally broadened the debate to include big government dysfunction generally, further fortifying a new skepticism that AFP and others have brought to what government-run healthcare does.

Now finally, Concerned Veterans for America’s efforts have been successful because they’re based on a multi-year outlook that requires time, time and investment that only this network and our incredible partners in this network can provide. Our tangible and targeted grassroots efforts have worked because we’ve been on the ground day in and day out, and not just in an election cycle, investing in the community. The same activists calling congressional offices about VA accountability, then pick up the phone with the i360 database and call their fellow voters to engage them in garnering data. That’s useful now, in 2016, and into the future.

To that end, we’re doing a Defend Freedom Summer Concert Tour in Ohio, North Carolina, Florida, and Virginia with a patriotic rock band that vets just love. It’s been amazing to watch hundreds and hundreds of folks come out for these events, clamoring for something that fights the status quo and gives them an opportunity to get back into it. And they’re not just there to clap and (inaudible). They’re taking action, signing up to be volunteers to make phone calls and knock on doors. They want to be part of something greater than themselves. They’re tied not just to us, but also the success that we have. What started as an organization (inaudible).

In closing, it’s not just the VA. We’re also fighting out-of-control spending and mounting debt, both of which present a clear and present national security threat, not to mention pushing for reform in defense spending and fighting burdensome regulations on business.


We are Concerned Veterans for America, not Concerned Veterans of America or for Veterans. We had to raise their right hand to defend the Constitution of this country. And there’s no reason why that service should ever stop. When you’ve seen the fragile nature of freedom on the battlefield, it motivates you to say there’s something I’ve got to do about it here and that’s what I’m trying to do with Concerned Veterans for America.
Our recent legislative victories, as historic as they may be, is really just a first step for us. Now, when I say “us,” I mean us. I include you in this entire network in what we’ve accomplished. And I want to include every single supportive element of this fantastic network that helps us do what we do and they in government do what they do. This win for accountability and choice at the VA is a tangible return on investment, for our assets. And the central role that Concerned Veterans for America plays gives us priceless private and public credibility with veterans and citizens who are looking for a challenge to that status quo and are ready to be activated in countless ways.

I want to thank you for this opportunity. I thank Charles and David, Marc Short, Kevin Gentry, everyone that puts in the sweat equity that makes this possible. And I want to thank you for your courage for standing up and being here. Thank you for your incredible commitment to a free society. This network is making history, and we’re just getting started. Thank you.

KEVIN GENTRY: (Inaudible) Libre Initiative and Generation Opportunity, Concerned Vets is something that came out of this network, and you all as investors are the ones who made this happen.

I Challenged Mitch McConnell on Offensive Koch Remarks

During Senate debate on a constitutional amendment to limit money in politics, Harry Reid discussed offensive remarks made by Richard Fink, the Koch brothers’ top strategist, in audio recently released by The Undercurrent, from their June retreat.  Reid called on Mitch McConnell, who spoke at the retreat, to repudiate the statements.  At the daily Senate press briefing that afternoon, I asked McConnell if he would do so…  Check out his priceless reaction…



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EXCLUSIVE AUDIO: Koch Lawyer Analyzes the Opposition






June 16, 2014



“The Opposition:

Understanding Their Strategy and Infrastructure”



KEVIN GENTRY:  Mark Holden, our General Counsel at Koch Industries, is going to talk a little bit about some reports recently uncovered about (inaudible) the opposition. Mark, take it away.

MARK HOLDEN: Thanks, Kevin. Good morning, everybody. (Inaudible) I’m here to talk about our opposition, the Democracy Alliance, and it’s part of an organization, a vast group, for the Obama Administration (inaudible). Three things I want to discuss. One, who they are (inaudible); two, what they’re doing; and three, what does it mean for us.

For those of you not familiar with the Democracy Alliance, it was started in 2005, and it was started by a group of (inaudible) wealthy liberal philanthropists and business owners, and they were coming together. They wanted to (inaudible) Democracy Alliance endorsed. We’ve been able to learn a lot more details about them in the last couple of months from documents that someone in the group, Democracy Alliance, left behind at their last seminar.

KEVIN GENTRY: (Inaudible) both ways. We’ve got a lot more, so.


MARK HOLDEN: And it’s very interesting stuff. At the end of the sessions here, we’re going to have some handouts, and you’ll be able to see some of the documents that we were able to get a hold of. And it was all – I’m general counsel (inaudible) legal, appropriate with (inaudible).


MARK HOLDEN: What you’re going to see, though, is a very vast network that the left infrastructure, (inaudible) talk about a permanent infrastructure again and again and again, that has, according to their own documents, at least 172 different organizations, and we’ll talk about that. The overwhelming number of these organizations are two 501(c)(3)s, 501(c)(4)s who don’t disclose their donors. Neither does Democracy Alliance. They don’t disclose their members. The overwhelming majority of them have attacked (inaudible) in the last 40 days. And that’s not going to let up.

Some of the names involved in the Democracy Alliance I’m sure you know: George Soros, Tom Steyer, Peter Lewis, Rob McKay, the heir of the Taco Bell empire, and Chris Hughes, one of the co-founders of Facebook.

Now, the strategy they’re focusing on is very different. They stay on message (inaudible) investments and have everybody in line. Their bottom line is not that different than ours, but in some ways they’re much better at it.


…who are committed to a strong democracy and a more progressive America, who play a leadership role in building a movement infrastructure to execute and advance a progressive agenda.

And they don’t say this, but I’ll say it. They had a really big head start in building their infrastructure — 70 years’ head start. And here’s what they build on (inaudible) infrastructure (inaudible) a permanent bureaucracy in the regulatory system. They built it on unions and what they did (inaudible).

Of course, they don’t have to worry about the media (inaudible) like we do (inaudible). The media will lie for them. They basically own them in many ways. The media, like the New York Times for example. They’re also (inaudible) the teachers’ union. And then, of course, by and large, traditionally, our educational institutions, which if you went to public school, in a blue-collar town (inaudible) like I did, (inaudible) that they wanted it.


MARK HOLDEN: Because kindergarten through grade 12 and then go to college at the University of Massachusetts, four more years of this. (Inaudible) but he never learned.


MARK HOLDEN: But anyway, they built on all that when they started. They really started on third base. And one might (inaudible) say, they didn’t build that, but they relied on it. Last year about this time, the Democracy Alliance had a meeting out here (inaudible).


MARK HOLDEN: And afterwards Rob McKay — Rob McKay opened up to an LA Times reporter about what they’re trying to do. And he was one of the co-founders and a former board member. And he (inaudible) resources to specific political issues, does not deter the broader strategy. “We have got to do both. Every dollar we’re putting into this is into groups that are part of the permanent infrastructure.” And we talked about that yesterday, right? Yesterday (inaudible) you’ve got to do both (inaudible). But what we’re doing is trying to do it all at the same time and build up (inaudible) already have in place, that they’ve just glommed onto basically.

And so what they do is they try to build a permanent infrastructure to win elections, and they obsess about us, all of you. Mr. McKay goes on to say, “We keep an eye on what the Koch network is doing.” You can read that (inaudible).

This is the one quote that cracks me up. “The thing that I think keeps everyone on edge is the overwhelming dollars that they can throw at stuff. (Inaudible) groups on the left, okay. “I’m proud of the numbers we’ve generated over time, but we all know we’re going to have to be successful with less.” (Inaudible) I do like Taco Bell, but (inaudible) so I won’t go to Taco Bell anymore (inaudible).

Okay. So here’s what they’ve built, and these are some of the documents we were able to get. This is the 2014 portfolio snapshot, and of course it opens up with a warning about us, as you’ll see here in a second. (Inaudible) “Conservatives, particularly the Koch brothers are playing for keeps, with an even more pronounced financial advantage than in recent election cycles.” Not really true, as you’ll see in a minute, but anyway, thanks for the love.

So the next slide here will (inaudible) this is the core functions of the progressive movement. And this is in one of their documents where they identified 21 groups this cycle that they wanted their investors to focus on, and I did copy this if you want to see it afterward (inaudible). But I really want to focus on the left-hand side of the slide. There are 11 core areas they focus on, and then there are 21 groups.

Here’s the deal. If you look — if you do the math here, there are 21 groups identified that they want their investors to focus on. Nineteen of the 21 are focused on that yellow bulb: advancing progressive ideas, (inaudible) communicating propaganda, get the message out. Nineteen of the 21 are focused on — it’s the red one at the bottom with the two arrows –integrating state/national attacks, coordinating activities and messaging.

And that’s the one thing I admire about them, somewhat – they are always on message both ways: national, state, and local (inaudible). (Inaudible) story. We have about 47 (inaudible) what happens. Lastly, 17 of the 21 are focused on that green, kind of aqua above the (inaudible) grassroots network. So that’s what they’re focused on there. They’re constantly recruiting new talent, innovating, (refreshing, getting the group started,) building the movement like we talk about. Yeah, I mean this isn’t rocket science (inaudible) political science.

But here’s the deal. This is what we’re trying to do. They’re building and they had a 70-year head start, and this is what they’re building up, and they’re still focused on it again, and again, and again. And that’s what we need to do.

Now, Harry Reid during his testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee two weeks ago, for the Koch amendment to the First Amendment, as it was called. He said that the Koch brothers must have 15 different phony organizations that pump money into the system. Well, Harry Reid was wrong again, that if you include the groups that are on the Freedom Partners 990 last year, which is they’re talking about our organization (inaudible) going on. I don’t know what Harry Reid was talking about.

You have 31 groups (inaudible). So let’s say we have 31 groups in our network. None of them (inaudible). They’re actually doing stuff (inaudible) and they know that. But look at what the progressives have, what the left has. This is their — one page of the progressive infrastructure map for 2014, just one page. They have 172 groups, 172. I was really bad at math, but 172 is a lot more than 31.

And here’s the deal. These groups, 113 of them have attacked us — attacked us repeatedly. So that’s what we’re up against. And this was the progressive infrastructure map. I think they must’ve run out of names or something because MoveOn (inaudible) et cetera. But it’s pretty — it’s pretty comprehensive. It’s pretty impressive at some level.

So we have to take a step back because most of these groups on these lists have (c)(3)s and (c)(4)s, as I mentioned to you earlier. So what we have here is the Democracy Alliance, funding (inaudible) a shadowy network of c(3)s, c(4)s – who don’t disclose their donors, remember — who attack us as a shadowy network of c(3)s, c(4)s) (inaudible). Whatever they may say about us goes the same for them.

Now here’s something people don’t know about. We don’t have these — we have many more ideas and tactics.


Charles and I, we’ve been working on these issues for 50 years or more, but in the last year, because of the LIBRE Initiative, Generation Opportunity, Concerned Veterans for America, Americans for Prosperity, and many others — I don’t want to — by not mentioning them, I don’t mean to exclude them. They’ve been very effective. They’ve done a great job. And I’ve always accepted and appreciated everything this group, this room has done. I really do.

(Inaudible) all morning (inaudible). And what we have is a drop in the bucket compared to the left. (Inaudible) and they outnumber us. They outnumber us by a lot. So why do we get all the love? We know this, right? We talk about it all the time. Because you’re effective. If you weren’t any good, they wouldn’t care. You’re eff-, you’re effective, and here’s the deal. They know. And you know the quote, first they ignore you, then they mock you, then they attack you, and then we win. We’re close to winning. I don’t know how close, but we should be because they can’t attack the ideas. They don’t have the real path. All they do is target and they just try to silence people. You know, they’re afraid of us. They really are. They’re afraid of this room.


MARK HOLDEN: And so, why are they doing it? The well-known philosopher, Bob Marley, said it best with “I Shot the Sheriff.”


MARK HOLDEN: They want to kill it before it grows. They didn’t do that. Too late. So they (inaudible). They still try to keep people from joining, try to shame them, embarrass them, whatever. And you know what? That’s dark, and that’s scary. And I’ll tell you, in some areas (inaudible).

You have been great. You’ve been a great group, a phenomenal group. But on the productive infrastructure slide we just looked at there are at least four groups: Voto Latino, Latino Engagement Fund, (inaudible) La Raza (inaudible). And that’s just four of them. (Inaudible) in the introduction, in 2011 — that’s the last time we have data for from their 990s — there were another 20 at least (inaudible) groups on the left (inaudible) $300 million, most of it through government grants.

So, LIBRE, awesome. We’re up against a lot, and they’re not satisfied that they outnumber us 24 to one now, so all the Federal money, all the left money. They still want us snuffed out. That’s the way they are.

You can look at our (Inaudible) on that list. We have progressive infrastructure map and core functions. You’ve got media groups. You’ve got income inequality groups. You’ve got environmental groups on climate change. You’ve got (inaudible) groups, whatever it is. They (swarm), they outnumber us in numbers, pure numbers. It’s not even close. But that’s okay because we’re going to grow. And it’s not about the numbers, but we have a lot of progress (inaudible). We are at a competitive disadvantage. For example (inaudible) you might have a (inaudible), right? Six to one (inaudible). Now, I don’t know what (inaudible).


MARK HOLDEN: (Inaudible) front groups across the board. Youth engagement, because of Generation Opportunity, I know there are other groups who are aligned with us, but really we should talk about Generation Opportunity. (Inaudible) progressive infrastructure (inaudible), and they’re growing more (inaudible). I’m not saying we do like they do and create a bunch of foreign organizations like Harry Reid accused us of. I’m just saying this has got to keep growing, because we’re doing a lot with a little.

But they’re very effective, and it’s not just numbers. I’m going to give a couple examples (inaudible) tomorrow. The first one deals with how they’re able to get their messages out very effectively in the mainstream media. And the second one is more troubling, more so than the first one. American Bridge, David Brock’s organization — I don’t know if you’ve (inaudible) of Media Matters for America. And he’s also the head of American Bridge. This is a group that’s been active for like, several years. (Inaudible) et cetera, et cetera. It was on May 14th, that — a Wednesday night, I got an e-mail from Mike Allen of Politico saying, “Hey, David Brock (inaudible) party guy. Do you have any comment?”


And then that afternoon, another of our media people got a call from (inaudible) affiliate. He called Koch. He was asking for comment. He wanted to talk about the (inaudible). It was David Koch’s candidacy for the 1980 Libertarian Party, but it was a (inaudible).


MARK HOLDEN: And he says no, I’ve got a bunch of documents, David’s scholarly writings from the 70s and 80s. And they’re like, okay, and (inaudible). So we gave some quotes and comments. That was Thursday afternoon. Sunday morning, front page of the New York Times (inaudible). American Bridge gave them that.

Now I (inaudible), from the, you know, Wednesday to the front page of the New York Times, the Sunday Times, which a lot of people read. Very effective.

The next one is actually a larger problem: the American Constitution Society. I don’t know how many of you’ve heard of them. They were established — they are supposed to be the left-wing, progressive Federalist Society. That’s how they market themselves. The Democracy Alliance, what are their core values? (Inaudible) core values (inaudible). One of them is to preserve and defend an independent judiciary. Well, the American Constitution Society, one of their alumni, you might have heard of — Eric Holder.


MARK HOLDEN: No? Okay. The really obvious thing Holder (inaudible), a real focus for him, fundamentally changing the (inaudible) U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. Prior to November of last year, the D.C. Circuit was evenly split with acting judges, four conservatives, four liberals. And they wanted to get three more judges who were in the pipeline confirmed.


He couldn’t get anything through the Congress when he controlled the House and the Senate. Ain’t nothing happening now. But he’s had (inaudible), and he’s got all of these agencies running wild (inaudible) and before that.

So here’s what’s going on. All these things — (inaudible), the IRS (inaudible), HHS, Dodd-Frank, NLRB, the list goes on and on — ultimately they’re all going to come up to the D.C. Circuit to be challenged by the different groups, some of the groups that (inaudible).

And so, what happened was — well, first off, here’s our friend again. This is different because it was nine years ago.


So what happened? November of last year, Senator Reid and the Democrats (inaudible) the filibuster rule. You didn’t need 60 votes to get anything done anymore. You could confirm appellate court judges and district court judges with a straight line vote. And so, what happened next? Wow. We have four judges appointed to the D.C. Circuit Court.


This is serious, though. Seven to four now progressive. That stuff is all coming up. Rule of law goes out the window. Everything goes out the window. They just want to win. Alright, so what do we do? Well, let’s look at one more slide (inaudible). This is the amount of money…


And then on top of that, they say there’s, another $30 million given to about 150 other groups just by Democracy Alliance. So if we’re already up to $330 million, (inaudible). So that’s another $100 million.

Then we have Big Labor. They say they’re going to spend $300 million. That’s quite low. That was in the New York Times, but we’ll go with that number. Then let’s add $400 million. That’s what PACs and super PACS have already spent this cycle (inaudible). Now, we’re not sure how much of that would be included in the labor money. I don’t know. It’s hard to know, but maybe we’ll (inaudible). It doesn’t really matter at this point (inaudible) a billion is what we estimate the massive amount of what PACS and super PACS are going to spend on Democratic (inaudible) on that number.


Not sure if that’s the right number or not. It’s somewhere in that ballpark. So that’s $2.2 billion.

So here’s the deal. 172 is a lot more than 31. $2.2 billion is a lot more than $290 million. But they’re still afraid of us because we have the facts, we have the ideas, we have the commitment. And at some point, some time, some way, we’re going to have to stop talking about shadowy organizations, and billionaires, and millionaires, and whatever else. And when we stick to the ideas, (inaudible) lives better. We have the facts, and they know that.

So we’ve got to hang in there. We can’t give up. I know (inaudible). None of you will back down (inaudible). We can’t back down, and we won’t back down. Now, (inaudible).

So next up, Marc Short and Tim Phillips (inaudible) the Senate.










EXCLUSIVE AUDIO: Koch Retreat Talks United Negro College Fund




June 15, 2014




Part 3

“Drive the National Conversation”



KEVIN GENTRY: All right, ladies and gentlemen, if you would please take your seats. Well, we’re going to continue to get really valuable feedback on how we can make these meetings better from your standpoint that really informs how we put these programs together and how to organize them and structure them. And one of the things that we figured out for talking points for Senate material from the presentations is we’re going to give a lot of that to you tomorrow in some of the afternoon presentations. And if we don’t get it to you tomorrow, we’ll follow up with you as well so that — I know a number of folks are trying to take notes very quickly. Sometimes (inaudible) what you think will be most helpful to you, and perhaps you can use it more effectively as well.

I know Will Ruger has a lot on his plate. I think he’s also willing to make that presentation to other groups if you think it would be valuable (inaudible). What are you doing back there? My God (inaudible). Thank you very much, Dale. You got to like him. You really do.

So this afternoon is essentially divided into three presentations that take the form that Rich was making in the previous presentation on the three topics (inaudible) today: driving the national narrative, taking advantage of science and the universities, and then also advancing in the states.

And so, toward this, as in the other conversation, Dale Gibbens who has become somewhat familiar to a number of you all (inaudible). Dale is the head of human resources at Koch Industries, and you’ll hear the story about Charles recruiting him (inaudible) for leadership in this effort and also building these capabilities. And (inaudible) interesting ways to talk about it a little bit more effectively to communicate to you guys here, and educate you specifically more effectively on the dangers of big government as well as the advantages of a free society. So, Dale, take it away.

DALE GIBBEN: Thank you, Kevin, and I’m glad to be here. Welcome to all of you to beautiful Southern California. I hear it’s (inaudible). So I’m glad to be here.

Well, as Charles and others have mentioned, the reason we’re here doing what we do is to help improve people’s lives as they see it. And we believe that advancing a free society as a top (inaudible) is the most effective, and frankly, maybe the only way to make this happen.

So I’m very excited for this panel this afternoon. It’s going to be very interesting. We believe that the critical piece of this strategy at this point out is to drive a national conversation with the goal to have citizens across the country who are debating and discussing and actually working on real solutions instead of just firing rhetoric and lashing out back and forth with each other. So this afternoon what we’d like to do is to explore that a little bit and talk about how to drive the national conversation.

Now, clearly we are in the early stages of this. We are not anywhere near being able to (inaudible). But today we have a panel that’s going to focus on this, and focus, in particular, on reaching across divisional lines with potentially unlikely allies. And we’re going to talk a little bit about that today in order to find common ground and figure out how we can work together to have a conversation and begin to develop real solutions to help people improve their lives.

So I’m excited for that. It’s our belief that we’re going to have to do this procedure, and we’re going to have to do it with people we may not always agree with on every issue. There’s no question that there’s some issues that we’ll talk about that these gentlemen up here (inaudible) there’s some that we may not completely agree on. To be honest with you, there’s a lot of people in this room that don’t agree with each other. I often disagree with Rich, but he’s convinced me that he’s right, so (inaudible).

So let me start by introducing by our panel today, and these guys — these gentlemen are the (inaudible) examples on how we form alliances that perhaps some wouldn’t expect and might surprise you a little bit.

So I’ll start off by introducing Dr. Michael Lomax to my left here next (inaudible). Dr. Lomax is the President of the United Negro College Fund, and you may have heard that recently Koch Industries and the Koch Foundation announced a partnership with UNCF where we’ll contribute up to $25 million for merit-based scholarships for young and women as they attempt to reach their potential through education. So we’re glad to have Michael with us this afternoon.

Next, down to my left is Norman Reimer. Norman is the Executive Director of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. This is a group that we’ve worked with for a number of years on over-criminalization issues, and have done a number of events recently. Norman will tell you a little bit more about that, what his group is doing, and their work is particularly focused on removing legal barriers for the impoverished population.

Next to him we have Steve Lombardo. Steve is our new — Koch Industries’ new Chief Marketing and Communications Officer. Steve brings a wealth of experience in the communications, messaging, and branding arena. In some ways, he’s become (inaudible) been working here for a while. Steve is going to — Steve is going to help us — he’s involved with the UNCF effort as well, and he’s going to help strategists.

And then we have another family member up here (inaudible). So Rich Fink. So let’s get started. All right, Rich, why don’t you kick things off and talk to us a little bit about why you believe driving the national conversation is so important, particularly (inaudible).

RICHARD FINK: (Inaudible) comments about (inaudible) and that is, I think what we need to do is pull the country together. You know, I think the American people (inaudible) really (inaudible) want to cooperate and solve problems and make things right, as opposed to these vicious (inaudible) another.

So in some sense, they do like — Norman and Michael, in our group are unlikely allies. In quite another sense, very smooth and natural allies, (inaudible) and reaching people that are working hard to add value to people’s lives. That’s exactly what we do. (Inaudible) areas of commonality to get something to done to help people reach their own full potential is exactly what we’re about, as he said.

And we do this (inaudible) taxpayers will unite America to focus on a positive vision. That’s what this group does. This group creates value, okay? The other side creates divisiveness, but we solve problems. And I think working with everybody who is (inaudible) to solve problems is exactly how (inaudible).

DALE GIBBENS: Michael, (inaudible).

MICHAEL LOMAX: Well, look, polarization is something we experience every day (inaudible) just demonstrated again that the nation is deeply divided, and it’s not just that people disagree. We demonize the people that we don’t agree with. And we think that they’re not just wrong-headed, they’re bad. And so, that’s a terrible environment to try to get anything done, and it’s an almost impossible environment in which to affirm something (inaudible) nationally, as opposed to merely sectarian.

So at the UNCF we’re not big idea people. We’re not ideological. We’re just trying to move a needle. And the needle that we’ve been trying to move for 70 years is getting African-American kids to and through college. We started doing that at the end of World War II in 1944. We couldn’t do it by ourselves, and we worked with business leadership in this country. John D. Rockefeller led our first campaign with $750,000 in 1944. And over the 70 intervening years, we’ve raised $4 billion (inaudible).


MICHAEL LOMAX: Prescott Bush was on that first committee. You know, Eli Lilly was alive and well (inaudible). Paul Mellon and a whole a lot of wonderful people wrote checks. But they did it in order to help people help themselves. And today all we want to do is move that needle, to give more college-ready high school graduates a chance to earn a college degree and live their life. And so, I’m here working with, uh, in this partnership because this is what we’ve been doing for 70 years, and we’ve got to do a whole lot more. Thank you.


DALE GIBBENS: Norm, what’s your perspective on that?

NORMAN REIMER: Well, my perspective — I’ll tell you why we have to have unlikely alliances in order to drive the national conversation. I come to this from the standpoint of a criminal defense lawyer. Our Constitution has the most amazing provision. It requires that when the government goes after someone and tries to take away their liberty, destroy their reputation, in some cases even take their livelihoods, they are entitled to have somebody stand up for them. Now, I would venture to say that there probably isn’t a single person in this group who doesn’t have a friend, or a relative, or a co-worker, a neighbor, someone who you care about who hasn’t been caught up in the criminal justice system in this country.

Our criminal justice system has become overly abusive, overly inclusive, and far detached from what it was supposed to do, which is to go after people who are fundamentally, practically bad people. And as a result of that, I want to just put some perspective on this and give some numbers. Numbers can be very, very enduring.

This country today has 2.1 million people in prison as we sit here. We have five percent of the world’s population and 25 percent of the world’s prisons. You heard Will Ruger in his wonderful speech earlier today talk about how we have four percent of the population and 34 percent of the world’s (inaudible). Well, there’s something very wrong. We aren’t a Nation of bad people. We couldn’t possibly be that bad. We are a Nation that has made bad choices, and these choices have been made by politicians of every perspective, and we have to do something about that.

And so, my view is that the way we’re going to do something about that is by reaching out to different points of view, find some common ground, and begin to get our arms around this problem. We have — I think it’s (inaudible) large numbers. (Inaudible) We are arresting 14 million people a year. There are between 65 and 70 million American adults who have a criminal record. That’s one in four adults in this country.

On top of all of that we have something called collateral consequences. These are the hidden penalties, the part of the sentences that aren’t imposed by a judge, that prosecutors don’t ask for, but that (inaudible) people for the rest of their lives, making it impossible to get into work, sometimes to get educational loans, to get into housing. We have got to tackle that problem. We’ve got to drive the national conversation. Look at this problem and face up to it.


DALE GIBBENS: Awesome. Michael, could you explain a little bit more to us how you partnered with Koch and what exactly (inaudible)?

MICHAEL LOMAX: Well, first of all, although this has gotten a lot of attention, our friends at — Charles is laughing.


MICHAEL LOMAX: And, you know, and we knew we were going to get attention. And what I have hopefully demonstrated to Charles is that what I said as far that once given a grant, UNCF does not return it, and so –


MICHAEL LOMAX: But no matter how tough the questions we would get from the media, they aren’t as tough as the questions I get from young people every day, which is, Dr. Lomax, how am I going pay for my college tuition? Today, UNCF is the number one provider of scholarships for minority college students in this country. We will award 12,000 scholarships this year valued at $100 million and over to students at 900 colleges and universities. That’s scale and that’s impact.

But for every one of those scholarships, we’re going to turn down nine highly qualified kids because we don’t have the money to support them. So when I came to Koch Industries, who’s been a partner of ours now for nine years when they bought Georgia Pacific, I said, look, you know, you guys have been helping us with emergency scholarships and you’ve supported some of our assistance programs. Let’s do something together which, which demonstrates that if you make a $5,000 scholarship award to a student their freshman year of college, she has a 90 percent chance (inaudible). And you’ll increase the African-American — increase the African-American graduation rate by 70 percent.

So what we are working to do is to demonstrate that a small investment in a hardworking, industrious, focused student can remove a financial barriers and help her graduate, and we can do this with (inaudible). Twenty-five hundred dollars every semester (inaudible). And with the (inaudible) program, we’re hoping to demonstrate what that investment will (inaudible).

One of the criticisms we got from this was — mind control.


MICHAEL LOMAX: They have not met the kids. I can’t control my own kids (inaudible).


MICHAEL LOMAX: But what I will tell you is that students want the opportunity to pursue their academics without worrying about how they’re going to pay. And this is going to give good students the chance to focus on what they need to focus on, which is getting an education. And we’re going to focus on two areas that they’re going to work on across institutions and in the network, and that is entrepreneurship and innovation.

And the only thing I will tell you that African-American kids want more than a college degree is a successful career, and many of them want to work for great companies like Koch Industries and a whole lot of them want to start there. And so, I think that the one thing that we’re not hearing is that these folks don’t know anything about running a business. And so, we’re expecting that our students are going to a chance to learn from their successes (inaudible).

DALE GIBBENS: All right. You’ve been involved with a number of campaigns and in particular with the UNCF effort. Why is it so powerful for something like this (inaudible)?

STEVE LOMBARDO: You know, the — after (inaudible) about mind control, I’d really would like to do some of that in our communications efforts. Norman points out about the arrest rate and criminalization and so forth. Makes me wonder why Koch Industries wasn’t arrested for giving $25 million to UNCF.


STEVE LOMBARDO: It was a very important — and I think I credit Michael and the team for this. It was very important that we accentuate the positive about this. And part of that, and I give credit to a lot of people here, was message discipline along the way. When they’re (inaudible) are coming across, we stuck to our message, and our message was about helping people improve their lives. And in this case, he conveyed the news.

So, you know, in that case it was very easy to promote our conversation because we stuck to a positive message. And, you know, a lot of times Michael handled a lot of very difficult questions along the way, but we have a message discipline, and I think that was clear.

And, look, ultimately, the proof is in the pudding. We ended up with this AP story that Michael did an interview with. It was a terrific story. It was picked up by 30 media outlets across the country. And over a week’s period we had a little over 15,000 social media messages. Most of them were on Twitter. And of those, 87 percent were positive. So kudos to Michael and the team. They did a great job.

DALE GIBBENS: Norman, why don’t you talk a little bit more in detail about the project that you have?

NORMAN REIMER: (Inaudible) about where we’re going and how I think we’re going to (inaudible). Thank you for the investment that Koch Industries made with us. We’ve been able to build some bridges with (inaudible). So let me give you some of the basics of how this would work out.

We did a report a number of years ago that had a profound impact. It was cited widely on the failure of the Congress to have adequate intent requirements in the laws that they passed. Intent means the moral (inaudible). We seem to be punishing people that they don’t know that they did something wrong.

And this is a project I did jointly with the Heritage Foundation, an extraordinary (inaudible). And I was privileged to having as my co-author (inaudible), Former Attorney General Edwin Meese. I have to tell you that got a lot of attention. We went up to the Hill, and we presented it. And we had people that you wouldn’t believe would even be in the same room patting us on the back and thanking us for this work.

Another example is a coalition that gets together now every month on over-criminalization (inaudible). We have representatives from (inaudible) mandatory minimums, from the Chamber of Commerce, but all kinds of different groups. This is percolating (inaudible) and dialogue (inaudible) that common ground.

Another example is a quite an interesting story (inaudible), there is in the House a task force on over-criminalization. It’s been formed under the Crime Committee in Judiciary (inaudible) eight hearings on (inaudible) at different aspects of over-criminalization.

Now, I can’t say that anything is going to come out of this in this session of Congress. But what I can say is this. When you have a Bobby Scott, a Louis Gohmert, and John Conyers, and Goodlatte, and Sensenbrenner, and Bachus, and Hakeem Jeffries all sitting and working on a project together, that’s pretty remarkable.

I’ll give you two more examples. A few weeks ago, I was invited down to Austin by the Charles Koch Institute to do a — to participate in a panel that would be talking about this problem that we have with mass incarceration and how we get people reintegrated into society. That was a panel that not only included unions, but it included the right-on-crime folks. It included the former Police Commissioner from New York and former Federal inmate, Bernard Kerik. And it also included the President of the NAACP. And that combination of people up there on the stage (inaudible) lit up the social media networks. I mean, everybody was buzzing and chattering about what (inaudible) is that we’re coming together and we’re finding common ground on these things.

The last example I’ll give you is we just recently released a report on what we’re calling the “Restoration of Life,” which is how to fix this problem of getting people who have had a brush with the criminal law back into a productive mode. And the room was filled with people from across the political spectrum and the media, from NPR to the Wall Street Journal. That’s the kind of (inaudible) for.

So let me just close out my view on all of this by saying this. It’s obvious to anyone who’s spent 30 seconds with me that I’m passionate about criminal justice reform. But I’m even more passionate about our democracy. And I have come to the conclusion that we cannot afford the luxury of not having discourse with those we disagree with. Our system of checks and balances will permanently result in gridlock if we turn our back on discourse and compromise.

And I’ll close with just one very personal thing that I’ve been thinking about as I sit here today. When I was a young man growing up in the 1950s, I had — I was very interested in public affairs (inaudible). And I had two heroes. One was William F. Buckley, and the other was a man by the name of Allard Lowenstein (inaudible). I’m sure everybody knows Buckley. He was the father of the modern conservative movement.

But Allard Lowenstein was a very liberal congressman. He served one term in Congress and was most noted for leading the dump LBJ movement. But he was a brilliant man, and he would engage with Buckley on (inaudible) year in and year out. And they would have the most wonderful discussions. First, they would identify the issues, they would figure out where they agreed (inaudible), and then they would passionately talk about how (inaudible) had it all wrong. In the 1980s, Allard Lowenstein was tragically murdered by a deranged (inaudible). His family reached out to Bill Buckley (inaudible).

So the lesson to be learned from that is this. These are people who had fundamentally different ideologies, fundamentally different views, but both loved their country, and both were willing to engage. That’s what we have to do. That’s how we’re going to drive the discourse in this country. That’s how we’re going to drive the national conversation. Being willing to listen and absorb, and have thoughtful, thought-provoking interaction. And we will find solutions to these problems.


DALE GIBBENS: Michael, (inaudible) be part of something that is helping people improve their lives. And I know you and I talked a little bit about your relationship with this group. What final thoughts do you have on (inaudible)?

MICHAEL LOMAX: Well, I would say, first of all, that we survived this week, the announcement of this partnership. I wasn’t sure –


MICHAEL LOMAX: I wasn’t so sure at the beginning of the week. I think we survived because I think Americans are hungry for the opportunity to believe in something together and actually to work on it in partnership. And it’s painful the amount of acrimony that is out there on the public airwaves.

And (inaudible) when I went on the Tom Joyner Morning Show — I know you all probably don’t know who Tom Joyner is (inaudible). And he is noted for black radio in the morning drive time, and gave me a hard time about it. And finally Tom Joyner said, “You know, do good. Do good.” And he said, “You know, I’m fine with it.”

I think a lot of people warm up to (inaudible). And there are not many ways of doing good any better than helping a young kid achieve his or her dream of a college education. I take that very seriously for the rest of us. I took that potentially at risk.

I believe that there’s (inaudible) opportunities. And I moved out there on faith, and my faith was rewarded. By the end of the week, we had over 500 students already on that website trying to be to be Koch scholars.


MICHAEL LOMAX: The demand and the means are there, so I think have three things that we’ve got to do: we can’t do something (inaudible) and assume the attacks won’t continue, so I think we’ve got to remain vigilant and tell our story of this partnership consistently and accurately.

And number two, UNCF has got to keep reminding all Americans of our mission. For 40 years we’ve been telling folks, “A Mind is a Terrible Thing to Waste.” It still is — we’ve added something to that — “A Mind is a Terrible Thing to Waste, But a Wonderful Thing to Invest In,” and we need more investment. And I think it’s real important that over the next 12 to 24 months that we demonstrate to America that this courageous partnership between Koch Industries, and Charles Koch Foundation, and UNCF has been good for America and that it’s wound up (inaudible) of investing in our kids and building a better future for them (inaudible).

I support wholeheartedly what Norman said. Education and incarceration are inextricably linked. And young people who don’t get an education are more vulnerable to incarceration. The greatest predictor of who’s going to jail is (inaudible). And you know, and so I want to make sure that all those kids who overcome all those barriers and do everything right, stick to that (inaudible) in that college classroom are able to get that education. And that’s why I’m joining up with Koch Industries and Charles Koch Foundation on this project. And I hope that others will link arms with us, and Norman, and (inaudible) and demonstrate that national purpose hasn’t been lost in sectarian (inaudible).


DALE GIBBENS: (Inaudible) Norm and Michael (inaudible), thank you for your courage in being here. This is an example of what we’re trying to (inaudible) the national conversation (inaudible). Thank you very much


(End of session.)