Reports of a recent Koch donation made to House Speaker Paul Ryan’s joint fundraising committee have led to a barrage of unfriendly headlines in left-wing media outlets, but critical details have conveniently been left out.
The misleading narrative began when earlier this month, the International Business Times broke a story on a large campaign contribution made by longtime libertarian donors Charles Koch and his wife, Elizabeth. Charles serves as CEO of Koch Industries, a major multinational corporation based in Kansas.
The couple gave a combined amount of nearly $500,000 to Team Ryan, the speaker’s joint fundraising committee.
However, it’s the timing of these two donations that is mostly drawing the ire of many Democrat activists.
The IB Times report distinctly noted that, according to Federal Election Commission records, the donations were filed on Nov. 29, several days after the House of Representatives passed its own version of tax reform.
The conjecture made is loud and clear: Ryan ushered in tax reform to help his fat-cat donors, and was rewarded with a big payday after it got done. With the story enforcing a liberal narrative that Republican leaders simply operate to help the rich and powerful, it caught like wildfire among mainstream outlets.
Nevertheless, every story misses serious context and background.
Stating that GOP tax reform is a benefit for Koch Industries is akin to stating that a clean power bill will result in better air quality for your rich neighbor — both statements are an obvious fact, as both bills would affect virtually everyone. In fact, tax reform will benefit 90 percent of Americans who file their taxes.
The $1.5 trillion tax bill slashes the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 21 percent and simplifies the tax code entirely. Major U.S. companies enjoying the benefits of the cuts are passing those down to the average American worker at a prolific rate. Yahoo released a running list of nearly 170 companies that have announced what they are offering post-tax passage.
The Koch donation, while seemingly large, is actually a paltry sum compared to the speaker’s total haul last year.
Altogether, Team Ryan raised more than $44 million in 2017. This means a $474,000 contribution from one family represents barely one percent of the total amount he took in that year. It would be extremely difficult to argue that a donation making up just one percent of his entire fundraising haul would somehow dictate how he legislates.
Ryan has established himself as a fundraising juggernaut since taking the House reins in late 2015 — mostly to the benefit of his Republican colleagues, not himself. The Wisconsin congressman has transferred $32 million to the National Republican Congressional Committee. He has hosted almost 50 fundraising events for GOP caucus members and raised an additional $4.75 million directly into his colleagues’ campaign accounts.
Understanding these numbers indicates just how insignificant the Koch donation is in relation to the speaker’s entire fundraising operation.
One last glaring detail not addressed: the dates of the reported Koch donations are when they were filed with the FEC and do not necessarily reflect an exact date of when they were made. To draw a conclusion of when exactly the Kochs actually sent the checks would mean you would have had to confirm that fact with the family or another reliable source — something the IB Times story did not appear to do.
Despite important background and context not provided, Ryan detractors have continued to trumpet the Koch donation story, with Democrat candidate Randy Bryce among the critics.
National Democrats, very convinced Bryce has a shot at unseating Ryan, have given major attention to his candidacy, despite serious questions of character arising since he began his run for office. Among other examples — Bryce did not pay off his delinquent child support payments until after launching his campaign, and recently paid off a loan to a single mother he avoided for roughly 15 years after he was outed by the media.
Bryce has tried to portray himself as an everyday working man, always taking professional photos of himself in a hard hat, telling anyone who will listen that he loves boxed wine, and dressing in plain clothes for television ads. Supplementing his “average Joe” image, Bryce has continued to hit the speaker hard over the issues of out-of-state donations, framing himself to be someone only beholden to Wisconsin voters.
However, the Democrat candidate has admitted to seeking donations in liberal hotbeds across the country. Just last week, Bryce stated that his campaign actively reaches out for donations from California and New York over his home state because “that’s where a lot of money comes in from.”
When asked by MSNBC anchor Katy Tur how he could represent Wisconsin when so much of his money comes from the coast, the self-professed workingman was struck with a bout of honesty.
“Well, we’re getting the message out in the first congressional district for sure. We are going out and reaching out to New York and California. That’s where a lot of money comes in from,” Bryce stated, according to the Washington Free Beacon.
Jason Hopkins is The Western Journal’s Washington, D.C., correspondent.
Truth and Accuracy
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.