DonkeyHotey / Flickr koch brothers caricature...
DonkeyHotey / Flickr

Come on now, Los Angeles Times—really with this headline? “They snubbed Trump. But the Koch network has still exerted a surprising influence over the White House.” Is anybody actually surprised that the Koch brothers are using this Republican administration for all they can get out of it?

It started with the quick rollback of a dozen Obama-era environmental and labor regulations — a to-do list orchestrated by Koch-backed groups even before Trump was sworn into office.

By spring, the Koch-backed Concerned Veterans for America was instrumental in passage of the Veterans Affairs Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act, a long-fought Koch effort to make it easier to fire employees at the beleaguered Veterans Affairs department, providing a blueprint for how to make an end-run around civil service protections that could be replicated across other federal departments.

In July, the Kochs celebrated the official demise of the border-adjustment tax, a tax-reform proposal backed by House Speaker Paul D. Ryan that was bitterly opposed by many business groups, including the brothers. GOP congressional leaders and the White House announced that idea would not be part of the upcoming tax-reform package.

They snubbed Trump because they didn’t think he would win. There were no principled objections to him during the campaign, and since he’s been in office, they’ve been more than happy to provide the infrastructure for his tainted regime. “The vacuum in Trump not having his own network,” says Richard L. Hasen, a professor at the UC Irvine law school and campaign finance expert, “is filled by people who’ve been cultivated for years by the Koch network.” Which is nearly everyone in all the think tanks and most of the Republican establishment by now.

Whether they—and following their lead, the rest of the GOP—stick with Trump will depend on whether all the trouble he’s bringing down on himself and the rest of the party keeps them from getting their tax cuts or having the deregulatory agenda fully implemented. Until proven otherwise, Trump is their useful tool. No surprise there.

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This is a Creative Commons article. The original version of this article appeared here.


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