(EnviroNews Politics) — Washington D.C. — On Jan. 18, 2018, Committee Team Ryan, House Speaker Paul Ryan’s joint fundraising committee, filed a report of receipts and disbursements that includes donations of $247,700 each by Charles Koch and his wife Elizabeth, made on Nov. 29, 2017. The Kochs gave their gifts just 13 days after the House passed its version of the tax bill.
The endowments represent the largest donation taken in during the last quarter of 2017 for Team Ryan, which is responsible for raising funds for the Speaker, the National Republican Congressional Committee, and a PAC run by Ryan. Each donation is more than twice the amount of the third largest contribution on the list – a gift of $104,495 from the National Independent Auto Dealers Association PAC.
These donations supporting Paul Ryan were made at the same time the Kochs contributed the maximum amount allowed by law, $237,000, to the National Republican Congressional Committee. According to Forbes, Charles Koch is worth $52 billion dollars as of Jan. 21, 2018.
With the biggest tax breaks handed out to corporations and the wealthy, it’s now likely the Kochs will become worth even more. Not only will their corporate tax rate be cut from 35 to 21 percent, but oil and gas investors (Koch Industries owns refineries) get a big break too, and their heirs will see a nice influx of money after their parents pass away when the now-smaller estate tax kicks in.
The timing of the donations, the first for the Kochs in 2017, isn’t suspicious however. In June, members of the Koch brother’s political network threatened to withhold their donations from Republicans until tax laws were changed and Obamacare repealed.
According to the Wall Street Journal, the Koch brothers are now spending millions of dollars in advertising to sell the tax plan to the middle class. Since the bill passed, people in the lower echelons of the economy have begun to realize the GOP tax plan overwhelmingly benefits the wealthy, and hence, the bill’s popularity has plummeted. But that hasn’t stopped these billionaires from attempting to prop it up with “education,” in the form of town halls, phone calls, door-to-door campaigns and nationwide ads over the media airwaves and digital channels.
When similar tax laws were adopted in the 1980s and the wealthy benefited from Reaganomics, the country’s economy took a downturn for the poorest, which leaves many people wondering how bad it could get when the current benefits dry up for the middle class. Many fear the GOP tax plan gives all the cake to the wealthy and leaves crumbs for the rest.
This isn’t the first time the Kochs have been linked to influencing politics with their money. According to Greenpeace, the Kochs have been linked to 84 different climate change denying organizations since 1997. The brothers have made their fortunes dealing in fossil fuels, petrochemicals and other products. In 2014, Koch Industries was one of only three companies that made all three top-30 lists for companies that create the most air pollution, water contamination, and environmental pollution, as ranked by the University of Massachusetts Amherst Political Economy Research Institute.