David Koch, the right-wing multibillionaire, likes to pose as a class act. He’s thrown around several million bucks, for example, to get a wing of Manhattan’s Lincoln Center named for him and to buy a seat on the board of WGBH, Boston’s prestigious public television station.
These purchases make nice wallpaper, but they can’t cover up the ugliness at the core of Koch’s heart. He has poured a fortune (and his very soul) into the creation of dozens of faux-grassroots political attack groups and corporate fronts to advance his self-serving, plutocratic vision of America. Far from a class act, the Koch operation is as crass as they come.
One of the crudest arms of his vast and secretive political network is called Americans for Prosperity (AFP). The network runs astroturf campaigns to knock down the prosperity of working families and lift up the power and prosperity of corporate elites — like the Koch family.
AFP’s Michigan branch recently showed what it’s made of in a campaign to kill funding for a new international bridge between Detroit and Canada. Building this bridge would create jobs and ease traffic snarls, but it would compete with a corporate-owned toll bridge — and the Kochs virulently oppose all things public.
To stir-up public opposition, Americans for Prosperity went into a hard-hit Detroit neighborhood and plastered people’s homes with official-looking flyers that declared in bold type: “Eviction Notice.” The bogus flyers told homeowners that the state transportation agency was prepared to seize their homes to make way for the new bridge. “It was meant to startle people,” said AFP’s clueless and classless state director Scott Hagerstrom, who was perversely proud of the panic his lie had caused in this distressed community.
Such sensitivity is what has made the Koch name a four-letter word all across America.