New book puts spotlight back on Koch brothers

By: David Marcus - Email
By: David Marcus - Email

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WICHITA, Kan. -- A new book about the Koch brothers and their rise to prominence is putting the famous family back in the national spotlight.

The focus is on Charles and David Koch and the the family that helped put wichita on the political map. It's clear they continue to fascinate both their critics and supporters.

The brothers have been called everything under the sun by their democratic critics, especially Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. His dramatic rants about the Koch's on the Senate floor have taken on epic proportions.

"Harry Reid says they're absolutely un-American. He's used the term un-American. Now that's pretty amazing," says Ken Ciboski, Wichita State University Political Science professor. "I thought it was a free country and the Supreme Court has ruled you can spend money, money is speech, and you can spend your money any way you want to."

And the Kochs have spent plenty. According to Politico dot-com, Charles and David Koch have put in nearly 300 million dollars to back Republican and Libertarian candidates in the upcoming mid-term elections.

But why are the Koch's such targets, simply for spending their money on political candidates and causes they favor?

Daniel Schulman addresses this topic in his new book, "Sons of Wichita", which traces the Koch's rise. Schulman says attacks on the Koch's amount to little more than a fundraising strategy.

"They have risen to the point where they essentially operate what I would call a shadow political party within the Republican party," says Schulman. "Their political network is almost a political party unto itself."

And that so-called political network is only growing. The Koch's just launched a super-pac, Freedom Partners Action Fund, some say to increase their influence in the mid-terms.

But Schulman says the Koch's aren't blameless, when it comes to political mud-slinging.

"The Kochs do portray themselves as victims in some ways and there is some element of truth to that," Schulman says. "But politics is a messy business and those shots are being fired both ways."

The brothers are notoriously private. Three of the four refused to take part in Schulman's book. Interviews with family members, friends, and critics make up the bulk of the book.

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