The hilarity of the day: A journalist at a little online alternative magazine, the Buffalo Beast, made a cold call to Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker. Posing as energy megabillionaire and Tea Party funder David Koch, Beast editor Ian Murphy not only got past some oblivious staff members to get Walker on the phone, the Tea Party-backed governor spilled a dirty-tricks plan to deceive opposing legislators.
Here’s the short, comprehensible version of the prank, at the Huffington Post.
Murphy’s ruse also reminded me of a story recently in the Los Angeles Times about the real David Koch, describing his influence in the new Congress. The focus of the story was the number of people with close ties to David Koch and his brother Charles who are in high-level staff positions for new members of Congress. The influence is most evident in the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which decides the fate of climate legislation and the EPA–both of which the Kochs bitterly oppose–and energy policy. But it also contained this passage:
When the 85 freshman GOP lawmakers marched into the Capitol on Jan. 5 as part of the new Republican House majority, David Koch was there too.
The 70-year-old had an appointment with a staff member of the new speaker, Rep. John A. Boehner (R-Ohio).
Nothing to see here, right? But David Koch doesn’t meet with staff. It’s like lunching with the servants.
From my few years of reporting in Washington, here’s what that “appointment” means. The staff name on the appointment log gets Koch into an office or meeting room. Boehner just pops by (“My, what a lovely surprise!”) and the staffer has to hit the loo or call his girlfriend. Koch and Boehner schmooze to their heart’s content, unrecorded by the appointments secretary.
So the call to a Wisconsin governor who’s trying to smack down workers’ rights gets a lot of news coverage–and it should. Really, how could Walker have a chief of staff too dumb to insist on a callback number from “David Koch.” But the real damage gets done in the Energy and Commerce Committee–and during the little private talks in Congressional offices, covered up by the ruse of an appointment with “staff.”
For more on the Koch brothers, their energy businesses and their politicial influence, see Oil Watchdog’s Meet Koch Industries page.