Press Release

Release: Kochonomics in Wisconsin and North Carolina

How the Koch Brothers Built an Economy that Works for Them

Washington, D.C. — As heads of Koch Industries, Inc., America’s second-largest privately held company, a business empire heavily invested in oil and gas, chemicals, transportation, and manufacturing, the brothers Charles and David Koch are the fifth- and sixth-richest individuals in the world, worth an estimated $52 billion each. Their spending on federal elections is well-known, but “Kochonomics in Wisconsin and North Carolina” details not just how the Koch brothers and their allies have spent heavily on elections, but also how their continued investment has paid off. Released Monday by the Center for American Progress Action Fund, the report details how the Koch brothers have been benefitted financially by policies supported by Koch-backed elected officials and promoted by Koch-funded organizations.

North Carolina and Wisconsin are self-described “model states” for the conservative ideology the Koch brothers are attempting to impose. While they would argue ideology is the driver, it is a reality that Koch Industries has significant financial interests in these two states, including several subsidiaries that have gained from recent policy changes, specifically to the tax code. And thanks to heavy spending in political races by the Koch brothers and organizations such as Americans for Prosperity, both of these states have taken a sharp conservative turn where the legislature and state executive offices are concerned.

“The Koch brothers have spent hundreds of millions of dollars trying to buy federal elections, but it is at the state and local level where they are impacting the day-to-day lives of hard-working families,” said Gov. Ted Strickland, President of the Center for American Progress Action Fund. “Kochonomics simply means that the Koch brothers and their allies will spend whatever it takes to help their bottom line, no matter the impact on middle-class, working Americans.”

In Wisconsin, the Koch brothers and their allies aggressively promoted tax cuts that will result in their business subsidiaries paying far less, in one case as little as 0.15 percent by 2016. During the same time period, Wisconsin’s working and low-income families had to pay an additional $170 million in taxes. And this all came after the Koch brothers’ massive support for anti-working families Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI).

The Koch brothers’ and their allies’ actions had similar results in North Carolina, where millionaires and billionaires now pay thousands less in taxes, while middle-class workers pay more. State lawmakers, including Koch-backed House Speaker Thom Tillis, eliminated local business taxes, as well as the Earned Income Tax Credit.

“While the Koch brothers’ influence hangs over the elections in these states, where Walker is running for re-election and Tillis is running for Senate, the aftermath of that influence still hurts working families,” Strickland said. “They were able to buy an economy that works for them, regardless of the impact on everyone else, including thousands who work at their companies. It’s time to get that kind of influence out of our politics.”

Read the full report here.

For more information or to talk to an expert, please contact Benton Strong at 202.481.8142 or bstrong1@americanprogress.org.