“Our Goal of Advancing a Free and Prosperous America is Even More Difficult Than We Envisioned.’

Protesters from Occupy DC block a street in front of the Washington Convention Center during a demonstration against the billionaire conservative donor Koch brothers and Americans for Prosperity, on November 4, 2011 in Washington, DC.

Photo by NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images

Ken Vogel, the undisputed master of the Kochworld beat, puts on his pith helmet and wades back in. Do you think being a multi-billionaire prevents you from being angry about blowing a few hundred million? You thought wrong. Among the scoops:

- A new “Association for American Innovation” will be funded to push for free-market reforms in the states. (Americans for Prosperity, which until this year was constantly expanding in size and influence, was built with state chapters that worked on this and on elections.)

- Kevin Gentry, who runs the Koch donor events, has “urged more general analysis of how the Obama campaign” beat them, in a series of requests to political thinkers/allies.

- The donor conference has been postponed a few months, and Charles Koch, in an email to participants, cited the new research and rethinking as the reason. The email:

Despite November’s disappointing election results, I am convinced that America’s long-term decline is far from a foregone conclusion. Our goal of advancing a free and prosperous America is even more difficult than we envisioned, but it is essential that we continue, rather than abandon, this struggle.

We are working hard to understand the election results and, based on that analysis, to re-examine our vision and the strategies and capabilities required for success. This is a painstaking and time-consuming process. Although some of the needed changes are already evident, it will be several months before the state data necessary to complete this analysis is available.

For that reason, we are postponing the date for our winter meeting from January 27-28, to April 28-29, 2013.  Our team will contact you soon to see if you will be able to join us.  The summer seminar, which will build on April’s meeting, will follow on August 4-5.

Although this change may be inconvenient, our team sees it as necessary if we are to make the best use of our time together.  Meanwhile, we will be scheduling conference calls to update you on our progress and get your input on the preliminary findings and direction.

I hope to see you in April, as we roll up our sleeves and prepare for the sustained effort needed to secure a future of prosperity and economic freedom for all Americans.



But as the Vogel story (and all Vogel stories) demonstrate, the Koch organizations have rung a bell that they can’t unring. As a reporter for Reason magazine in the Bush years, I remember heading to Koch organization events with either an absence of non-partisan media or a media that carried zero interest in the organizations’ funding. The Kochs, in 2009, could build in obscurity. Now they rebuild under a magnifying glass.