March 4, 2011- Welcome to the latest installment of OpenSecrets.org Mailbag, where we answer your burning questions about the role of money in politics, political influence and the work we do here at OpenSecrets.org.
So without further ado, this week's questions:
QUESTION: I would like to know more about the Koch influence on the health care industry. — Barbara Meyer, Lakewood, N.J.
ANSWER: Ah, the Koch brothers, David and Charles. People seem to either love these billionaire businessmen for their libertarian leanings and willingness to put huge amounts of cash behind their political ambitions or, well, hate them for the same reasons.
This much we know: Koch Industries, the massive private holding company the brothers own, lobbies the federal government on a number of different topics, from energy issues to consumer safety matters. The company doesn't much involve itself directly in health industry concerns, according to its lobbying records, although an argument could be made that many of the issues in which it does involve itself affect people's health.
Koch Industries, the Koch brothers and organizations the brothers support do, however, support a number of federal-level politicians who have significant sway over health care policy. For example, our research shows that people and political action committees associated with Koch Industries donated $37,000 to members of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee during 2009 and 2010.
You should also check out our report from September that investigates the political activities of the Koch brothers (and their de facto liberal foil, George Soros). Find it by clicking here.