You are hereMother Jones: Exclusive: The Koch Brothers' Million-Dollar Donor Club
Mother Jones: Exclusive: The Koch Brothers' Million-Dollar Donor Club
—By Gavin Aronsen
September 6, 2011- Twice a year, the billionaire industrialist brothers Charles and David Koch host secretive retreats for an exclusive list of corporate America's rich and powerful to strategize and raise money for their right-wing political agenda. Mother Jones has obtained exclusive audio recordings that shed some light on the brothers' latest retreat, held at a resort near Vail, Colorado, in late June.
In a speech that is part of these recordings, Charles Koch thanks donors who gave more than $1 million to the cause. We checked the audio against a list of participants at the Kochs' 2010 seminar in Aspen that was obtained by ThinkProgress.org and did additional research on these individuals. Below are the names Koch read that appeared on the previous guest list.
John Childs: Childs is the founder and CEO of private equity firm JW Childs Associates. In 2006, Boston Magazine placed the "notoriously media-shy" magnate—a.k.a. "the Republican ATM"—among the city's wealthiest residents, reportedly worth $1.2 billion. Childs donated $750,000 to outside political expenditure groups in 2010. He's also been involved in Florida wetlands conservation efforts.
The Cortopassis: Dean "Dino" Cortopassi and his wife, Joan, hail from Stockton, California. This article, which identifies the pair as philanthroposts, calls Dino a "wealthy self-made agribusinessman who is Stocktonian of the Year for 2005." He is suing the state of California for its failure to dredge streams in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.
Joe Craft: Joseph Craft is president, CEO, and chairman of Alliance Resource Partners, a coal company based in Tulsa, Oklahoma, that gave $2.4 million to outside political expenditure groups in 2010. His family is reportedly worth $1.9 billion.
The DeVoses: Rich and Helen DeVos hail from Michigan. The cofounder of Amway and owner of the NBA's Orlando Magic, Rich DeVos is reportedly worth in the ballpark of $4.2 billion. The Richard and Helen DeVos Foundation funds conservative Christian groups such as Focus on the Family. The DeVoses are big enough political donors to have their own profile at OpenSecrets.org.
The Farmers: Dick Farmer is from Ohio. The founder and former CEO of the Cintas Corporation, his story is literally rags-to-riches: He turned his father's Depression-era rag-cleaning business into a $3.5 billion enterprise. Farmer and his wife, Joyce, are longtime Republican boosters; during the 2002 election cycle the couple gave about $1 million to the party.
The Friesses: Foster Friess founded the investment firm Friess Associates in 1974 with his wife, Lynn; in 2001, he sold a majority share for $247 million. Friess is a champion of conservative Christian causes and one of Wyoming's richest men. His son, Steve Friess, helps him run the family's philanthropic foundation. (Steve's wife, Polly, was also on the list of Aspen Koch participants.)
The Fullinwiders: Jerry and Leah Fullinwider hail from Dallas. Jerry has pursued oil exploration and development in the United States, Canada, and Russia. He now serves under Ross Perot's son as vice chairman of Hillwood International Energy, which has operations in Iraq and Jordan as well as the United States and Russia. He also has ties to Hilarion Alfeyev, an anti-abortion Russian Orthodox bishop.
The Gilliams: Richard Gilliam and wife, Leslie, are natives of southwest Virginia. Richard founded the Cumberland Resources Corporation, which was one of the nation's largest private coal mining companies when Massey Energy bought it for nearly $1 billion in March 2010. He's now a director with the Vancouver-based mining corporation Endurance Gold.