Daily Kos: Dark Money – The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right

Book cover for Dark Money by Jane Mayer

By Susan Grigsby
Sunday Feb 07, 2016

Indian Wells is a posh desert town in the Coachella Valley, neighbor to Palm Springs and Rancho Mirage, and known as much for its tennis stadium and golf courses as for its multimillion dollar homes. As Jane Mayer tells us in the introduction to her masterful and disturbing new book, Dark Money, it was the perfect place for the Koch brothers’ secretive semi-annual meeting of wealthy conservative donors in January 2009. Among the millionaire attendees there were also 18 billionaires whose combined fortunes in 2015,exceeded $214 billion. And while they may have had some differences:

The glue that bound them together, however, was antipathy toward government regulation and taxation, particularly as it impinged on their own accumulation of wealth.

They knew that with a Democrat in the White House, in the House speaker’s chair, and as the Senate’s majority leader, they had some work to do in order to rebuild the Republican Party. Mayer gives us a fly-on-the-wall view of the debate that was staged as part of the seminar between Sens. Jim DeMint and John Cornyn over the best way to move forward. According to Cornyn, the second-most conservative member of the Senate, the party needed to reach out and attract more members (even moderates) to become a big tent party if necessary. DeMint, on the other hand, argued that rather than expanding, the party needed to purify itself and become more committed to conservative principles. DeMint insisted that they must resist every policy that the new president proposed, to obstruct, in every way possible, the programs of the man that the people had just elected. Cornyn lost the debate.

Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right

By Jane Mayer
Published by Doubleday
January 19, 2016
Hardcover, 464 pages

The Kochs were unusually single-minded, but they were not alone. They were among a small, rarefied group of hugely wealthy, archconservative families that for decades poured money, often with little public disclosure, into influencing how Americans thought and voted. Their efforts began in earnest during the second half of the twentieth century. In addition to the Kochs, this group included Richard Mellon Scaife, an heir to the Mellon banking and Gulf Oil fortunes; Harry and Lynde Bradley, midwesterners enriched by defense contracts; John M. Olin, a chemical and munitions company titan; the Coors brewing family of Colorado; and the DeVos family of Michigan, founders of the Amway marketing empire. Each was different, but together they formed a new generation of philanthropist, bent on using billions of dollars from their private foundations to alter the direction of American politics.

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Albert Lea Tribune: GOP says bye-bye to homestead credit

Published Friday, March 30, 2012; 9:02 am
By Paul Marquart, Guest Columnist

Tough luck. That’s the message that Minnesota Republicans sent to homeowners in Greater Minnesota last week when they passed a tax bill that didn’t address the property tax increases they caused last session.

To understand why their bill was particularly troubling for Greater Minnesota it is helpful to review what happened last year. The budget the Republicans passed to end the state shutdown completely eliminated the homestead credit, a tax benefit that homeowners had cherished and valued for over four decades. This raised property taxes on homeowners, farmers and small businesses.

If you are curious what the elimination of the homestead credit meant to you, I encourage you to take out your 2011 property tax statement and compare it your 2012 statement, which should be coming soon in the mail. You will notice that on line 4A from your 2011 property tax statement the word “homestead” has vanished from your 2012 statement — along with your tax relief.

The permanent elimination of the homestead credit led to $370 million in property tax increases in 2012. The state now has the highest property tax level in our 154-year history. Over the last 10 years property taxes for homeowners have now increased by 92 percent. For farmers, property taxes have increased 150 percent. And Greater Minnesota was disproportionately harmed. Of the property tax increases last year, 64 percent of them came from Greater Minnesota. Rural Minnesota is hit with three times the property tax increases as the metro area. Rural homeowners’ property taxes rise eight times higher than metro homeowners — that’s right — eight times higher and rural businesses saw their taxes rise three times higher than in the metro area.

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mnpACT!: Have To Wonder Why Farmers Vote Republican…

by Dave Mindeman
Posted: 03/28/12 00:55

Some interesting notes on property taxes….

Residential properties on average lost 6 percent to 8 percent of their market value (Dakota County), Peterson said. Last year’s elimination of the federal First-Time Homebuyer Credit – which likely encouraged home sales in years past – could have contributed to the drop in values.

In 2011, home values decreased by 4 per cent. Of course, there isn’t a provable direct correlation between the loss of the First Time Home Buyers Tax Credit and the accelerated home value decrease, but the coincidence is glaring in a market that is supposed to be stabilizing.

To maintain the property tax base it looks like farmers are going to get slapped with a lot of the burden…

This year, farmland gained about 20 percent in taxable value.


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The Cucking Stool: ALEC’s fingerprints all over the Minnesota Capitol

Thanks to The Cucking Stool for this post and video (from Thursday, January 19, 2012):

Common Cause of Minnesota has been dusting for prints, and it has found ALEC’s on more than fifty (I think around sixty, actually, at last count) bills offered in the Minnesota Legislature. ALEC is the American Legislative Exchange Council. The ALEC website calls ALEC an “individual membership” organization, but as you will hear in this video from Mike Dean, that is hardly the case.

ALEC’s fingerprints all over the Minnesota Capitol from Steve Timmer on Vimeo.

Read the Common Cause Report: “Legislating Under the Influence.”