Tuesday, June 24, 2014
"Citizen Koch": from "Citizens United" to the stormy term of Scott Walker as governor of Wisconsin; can rich people buy public policy?
There have been a few documentaries flaming the Koch family (heavy into the energy industry and into conservative political fundraising) and the latest is “Citizen Koch”, directed by Carl Deal and Tia Lessin.
The film starts with narrative of the Supreme Court decision in the “Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission” (link) in 2010, which held that the First Amendment prohibited government from stopping companies, unions or interest groups spending money on causes as if they were individuals. The case had come out of “Hillary, the Movie” (reviewed here May 1, 2009).
Most of the film deals with the stormy tenure of Republican governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin, elected in 2010 (wiki ). To repair the Wisconsin budget, he undermined public employee unions. This would eventually lead to a recall election in 2012, which he still won. Most of the film dealt with the fundraising to keep him in office, a lot of it under Americans for Prosperity under the Koch brothers.
The film mentions the difficulty that some lower income people (mostly African American) have in voting even today. (See "Freedom Summer", June 22.)
The film also leaves the snarky impression that only people who compete for power with money can prevail in public policy fights; intellectual honesty of individual speakers doesn't count for much in their "real world".
The website for the film is here. The filmmakers say that PBS was originally supposed to run the film, but declined because the Koch family gives PBS so much money.
I saw the film at the AMC Shirlington Theater in Arlington VA, with only one other person in attendance.