Koch Brothers Gather Data On Political Opponents

Since the Citizens United Supreme Court decision in 2010, corporations and unions have enjoyed free range when it comes to spending money to influence elections. It has allowed individuals and small consortiums to set up Super-PACs that can spend an unlimited amount to further their interests.

There has been significant push back against the trend of unlimited spending in elections, and candidates like Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders play up their rejection of Super-PAC money. Practically, however, these political action committees are as strong and influential as ever — and their affiliates are at the forefront of new shadowy techniques being developed in order to sway elections.  

The most noteworthy big spenders on the Republican side are Charles and David Koch. As noted in previous columns, Republican candidates have caught up with the social media and online prowess of the Democrats, exemplified by Barack Obama’s successful 2008-2012 campaigns.



Now, the Koch network has taken the lead over more liberal groups in a different and recently exposed operation focused on data gathering and targeting. According to a Politico story published on Wednesday, the Koch brothers have “quietly built a secretive operation that conducts surveillance and intelligence gathering on its liberal opponents.”

Republicans lost the past two general elections pretty comprehensively and this “surveillance and intelligence gathering” operation is one part of the Koch Brothers' increasingly robust strategy to retake the White House and shape American politics.

Those close to the action call this new 25-person strong group the “competitive intelligence team.”

The team analyses all types of data from the locations of organizers to geographic data contained within social media posts. There is also analysis of the types of technologies that Democratic campaigners are using in order to assess the successes of new tactics.

This all seems shrouded in conspiracy-like mystery, and as these revelations gain traction, questions should be asked about the influence these types of technologies have on the ability of our democracy to function.

Big donors have already shown that they can shape elections, but grassroots and community groups still enthusiastically promote their political views using First Amendment rights. Their ability to influence voters by doing so is now being curtailed by murky Koch-supported and CIA-trained intelligence operatives.

Americans need to ask how this spying will be detrimental to the democratic process.

1 comment about "Koch Brothers Gather Data On Political Opponents".
Check to receive email when comments are posted.
  1. Henry Blaufox from Dragon360, November 23, 2015 at 10:30 a.m.

    This appears to be little more than the decades old "opposition research" and other negative campaign tactics, combined with audience  and interest group targeting. The national Democratic Party may have used it effectively first, but it's inevitable that their opponents would catch up. The basic technique has been around since at least the 1960s or 70s, when political use of mass media took off. Direct maqil firms using computer generated lists based on likely interests, targeted to zip codes, were the early practitioners; and they took a substantial portion of the direct mail budget as their fees.

    As for the effect of "big money," please observe that so far in this cycle, the candidates backed by the so called big donors are way behind; some have already dropped out. So perhaps alarm about the latest threat to the US elctoral system is premature.

Next story loading loading..