Hello, dear readers, you may or may not know that I broke a major story last summer — 12 hours of audio from the June Koch brothers retreat. Hopefully, you do if you’ve been reading any of my posts! The project was very time consuming, mostly because of the process of transcribing very-hard-to-hear audio into a video format. I wrote a few of the biggest stories myself, for The Nation and Huffington Post: the original piece on the retreat in June, one on then-Senate-Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s speech on the history of money in politics, another on provocative statements made by Koch political guru Richard Fink, and finally an article on McConnell’s apparent lack of disclosure of his trip to Senate Ethics or the FEC. I partnered with journalists from the aforementioned publications and also Joan Walsh from Salon to write the rest, as there was too much material to tackle on my own.
The audio made a big splash, leading to tons of coverage on national and local media, the creation of many campaign ads against candidates in attendance and the hosts themselves, and criticism from then-Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid and President Bill Clinton. On September 10, during debate on a constitutional amendment to limit money in politics, Sen. Reid discussed Richard Fink’s offensive speech, and called on Sen. McConnell to repudiate his remarks. At the daily Senate press briefing that afternoon, I asked McConnell if he would do so.
Later in September and October, I went to Arkansas, Colorado, Iowa, and Kentucky to question all of the Senate candidates who had attended the Koch retreat: Tom Cotton, Cory Gardner, Joni Ernst, and Mitch McConnell respectively… I thoroughly enjoyed all of these adventures in holding legislators accountable, and I certainly don’t plan on stopping there. Subscribe to me on YouTube here and follow this blog to join me on the road to 2016.
Here’s an updated compilation of the media hits from that project…