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Tuesday, August 21, 2012

New Ads Attack the Koch Brothers


As patrons of conservative groups, the billionaire Koch brothers have bankrolled plenty of negative ads, but now they are a direct target of one.

With a $500,000 ad purchase on Tuesday, an outside political group allied with Democrats said it was beginning an effort to tie the industrial executives to their agenda.

“Billionaire oil tycoons Charles and David Koch and their special interest friends are spending $400 million to buy this year's elections and advance their agenda,” a narrator says in the 30-second version of the ad, by Patriot Majority USA, running on CNN and MSNBC. That “greed agenda,” the ad contends, includes cutting taxes for the rich, eliminating the minimum wage, cutting education financing and subsidizing oil companies.

The Kochs are “hiding in plain sight,” said Craig Varoga, the president of Patriot Majority USA. The group commissioned polls that found that most Americans were no t aware of them, Mr. Varoga said.

“Our goal is to increase their name ID and tie it to their actual causes,” he said.

However, Mr. Varoga refused to identify the backers of his group's effort. As a tax-exempt “social welfare” organization, Patriot Majority USA is not required to disclose its donors.

A top Koch official dismissed the effort by “the president's allies” to “attack and demonize private citizens and job creators who disagree with them on the direction this country is going.”

In a statement, Philip Ellender, president of Koch Companies Public Sector, also called the ads “dishonest” and an “attempt to shut down free speech,” adding, “Koch has a long history of standing firm for the principles of economic freedom, and we will continue to do so, in spite of the ongoing attacks.”

Mr. Varoga said his group's goal “is not to demonize them whatsoever; our goal is to talk about thei r agenda.”

Though the “Stop the Greed Agenda” effort coincides with high election season, it will extend beyond November, Mr. Varoga said, adding that Patriot Majority USA plans to spend millions of dollars on the push through “the end of next year and beyond.” New spots are coming in September, he said, and direct mail and ways for people to participate online are also in the works.

“The Koch brothers have been doing this for more than two decades,” Mr. Varoga said. “Their agenda is not going to get undone or stopped in two weeks.”