If you were wondering how a bunch of wannabe revolutionaries could afford to spend all of their time occupying wildlife refuges and pointing guns at federal agents instead of working, the answer is becoming more obvious: They are being bankrolled by the billionaires who hate the government just as much as they do.
Just as the last few Bundy militia hold outs were finally being rounded up and sent to jail, the Koch brothers announced that their heavily-funded powerful political network would be shifting to focus on dismantling laws that allow the government to own public lands. The Bundys’ plea for snacks and temper tantrums over sex toys may have made most of us laugh, but they clearly impressed the Kochs.
Though ClimateProgress has previously uncovered and reported on the dark money that the Kochs have provided for political efforts to seize and sell public lands, recent organizational changes reveal that the Koch network is providing direct support to the ringleader of the land grab movement, Utah state representative Ken Ivory, and has forged an alliance with groups and individuals who have militia ties and share extreme anti-government ideologies.
Ivory is one of the shamelessly corrupt legislators currently in office. He freely acknowledges that he receives a $135,000 a year salary from an organization called “American Lands Council” which works to erode America’s protected forests so oil and gas companies can move in. Not surprisingly, he’s also one of the most aggressive opponents of the very concept of federal land, introducing bills to sell it off to private companies. In fact, Ivory claims he works 60 hours a week at ALC, leaving him little time to actually represent his state in any meaningful capacity.
He will now be leaving that anti-government organization to head another one: Federalism in Action and will help start the group’s “Free the Lands” project. His replacement at ALC is Montana State Senator Jennifer Fielder – and she’s not any better.
Fielder’s selection as ALC’s CEO suggests that the group is tightening its ties with the violent anti-government elements of the land seizure movement that is represented by Cliven Bundy and his sons. Fielder’s land seizure efforts and campaign for Montana State Senate, for example, were vocally supported by a Militia of Montana organization that is run by white supremacist John Trochmann. In a recent blog post Fielder also expressed her support for the Bundys and the Oregon militants by referring to them fondly as “cowboys” and “protesters” performing “an act of civil disobedience” and bringing “new light to the widespread problems of a distant federal bureaucracy in control of local land management decisions.”
Her backers – the Koch brothers – probably love the Bundy family as well. They don’t have any interest in cattle grazing fees, surely, but they certainly salivate over the idea of seeing federally protected land turned over to the public. They have enough money to buy a large chunk of it. That means more fracking, more oil drilling, and more land for chemical waste deposits. A whole new opportunity to make a fortune.
In recent years, the Koch brothers have began freaking out because the massive amount of money they spent on influencing elections hasn’t really worked out well for them. In 2012, they went all out of defeat President Obama, spending over $400 million in a scorched-earth campaign. The money might as well have been thrown in a bonfire. Obama won in a landslide. Since then they’ve doubled down, suggesting they may spend up to a billion in 2016, but clearly they are shaken.
Rather than keep wasting money on losing in general elections, the billionaires appear to be shifting a lot of their energy towards individual targets. Hence we see them align themselves with the Bundy militia and their allies. With less money and less scrutiny, Koch Industries can still get its way – just on a smaller scale.
Feature image via YouTube screengrabs