Presidential candidate Herman Cain serves as front man for the billionaire Koch
brothers in a way rarely, if ever, seen in modern times for a prominent U.S.
major party candidate.
The relationship of Cain's campaign and his Koch backers should be this month's biggest campaign story, even more important in its implications for voters than the sex allegations raised against Cain two weeks ago.
That's because the secretive brothers -- Charles, 75, at
top left and David, 71 -- are using Cain to sell their overall agenda to transform the
United States into a Libertarian, free-market experiment. Whatever the merits of that, the discussion should be front and center in the campaign on a repeat basis. To be blunt, the experiment has vast potential to enrich some and kill others via such market forces as reduced medical care and environmental poisons.
They have spent lavishly to control the nation's watchdog institutions (including media, Congress and courts) and to groom Cain for the 2012 race. Cain appeared Nov. 4 at the Cain-funded Americans for Prosperity (AFP) convention "Defending the American Dream."
All viable national candidates have wealthy backers, of course. President Obama has out-raised all GOP candidates combined this cycle. What distinguishes the Koch (pronounced "Coke") relationship is the degree of one family's influence over a significant candidate at this stage -- and the radical nature of the candidate's platform.
Cain remains near the top of Republican polls two weeks after what could have been ruinous sexual misconduct allegations. Cain's survival with only slightly impaired approval ratings is due in significant part due to the Tea Party and similar political infrastructure underwritten by the brothers.The public deserves to hear why Cain is primarily a pitchman for the Koch agenda of more freedom for corporations, not a serious candidate with a chance to win.
Why the latter? For one thing, a serious candidate accused of sexual misconduct does not launch counter-measures easily construed as not simply damage-control but anti-female. Cain campaign manager Mark Block has been reckless in denouncing their motives, his lawyer warned accusers to 'Think twice' and a blogger at a Cain political action committee website called one accuser a "fat bimbo" and another an "ugly b*tch."
Cain seems friendly and a compelling speaker, as I found in meeting him two weeks ago while covering his Oct. 31 speech at the
National Press Club.
That was his first major response to the misconduct
allegations, which the Justice Integrity Project has collected in an archive featuring
also his campaign rebuttals. Study of the Cain campaign coincides with our
previous research on his friend Clarence Thomas, the Supreme Court associate
justice revealed this year to have failed to disclose an estimated $1.6 million
in family income and gifts on his sworn annual financial disclosure forms.
The Koch family is reportedly also involved in this clandestine funding, which has prompted 46 House Democrats to seek an impeachment probe of Thomas focusing on, among other things, false statements and bribery suspicions relating to his Supreme Court votes.
As envisioned in Cain's 9-9-9 tax plan and in the heightened freedoms for corporations fostered by Koch favorites like Thomas on the Supreme Court in his Citizens United ruling, the new United States would be an experiment whose shape is already becoming apparent. It would continue on the path to reduced taxes for corporations, no inheritance tax even for billionaires -- and much-lessened regulation aside from such targeted areas as tighter restrictions on voting eligibility and union organizing.
So, why is this is a consumer issue, not simply a political horse-race enlivened by Cain's recent front-runner status and allegations of sex scandal?
makes them unique," Common Cause Vice President Mary Boyle told the Guardian
last week of
Kochs, "is that they are not just campaign contributors; they are a vast
political network in their own right."