Did James Bopp Conspire with Koch Industries?
Deep Relationships Point to Coordinated Effort to Unleash Corporate Spending in Politics
James Bopp is the most prolific anti-campaign finance attorney in America and was the man who orchestrated the Citizens United v. FEC ruling that reversed previous Court rulings and dozens of state and federal laws that banned corporate spending on political campaigns.
In January 2010, right after the Citizens United ruling, Bopp told the New York Times “We had a 10-year plan to take all this down. If we do it right, I think we can pretty well dismantle the entire regulatory regime that is called campaign finance law. … We have been awfully successful and we are not done yet.”
So, the question becomes: Who is the “We” that was part of that ten year plan to dismantle campaign finance laws?
Might it include Charles and David Koch, and the attendees at the semi-annual secret retreats that they host among self-interested corporate donors and the political operatives who carry their water? The Koch’s have bragged that Supreme Court Justices Thomas and Scalia have attended these political strategy sessions. Justice Thomas has said that he merely “dropped by” even though he spent four days at the same retreat where the meeting was occurring.
Bopp’s law firm has been paid nearly $1.5 million dollars from the Republican National Committee and an additional $1 million from a foundation he created that has been funded by anonymous major donors from the conservative community. The Koch’s seem to have both a penchant for keeping their political spending top secret and an interest in eradicating campaign finance laws that require disclosure or bar the use of corporate funds from politics.
Bopp is listed as general counsel for the James Madison Center for Free Speech; the organization’s board of directors includes Betsy DeVos, wife of Dick DeVos and daughter-in-law of Richard and Helen DeVos. Richard and Helen are among the rich and powerful folks who attended the Koch Brothers secret meeting in Aspen, Colorado, in June 2010.
Has James Bopp ever attended one of these Koch meetings?
The Cato Institute, which Charles Koch founded, filed an amicus brief in the Citizens United ruling that called for the Supreme Court to ignore its own precedent and reverse a ban on corporate spending to influence elections. The Center for Competitive Politics, headed by Bradley Smith, also filed a brief urging the repeal of laws banning corporate spending on campaigns. Smith got his start teaching law at George Mason University, which is heavily funded by the Kochs, and he remains associated with the Institute for Humane Studies where Charles Koch is chair of the board and funder. Smith has publicly defended the Koch’s political spending. Did Cato, or the Center for Competitive Politics discuss their amicus briefs with James Bopp and the Kochs?
Given that legitimate questions have been raised about bias and conflicts of interest on the part of Justices Thomas and Scalia in the Citizens United ruling due to their connections to the Koch Brothers, Americans deserve to know if James Bopp discussed this case with the Kochs or their associates, who in turn may have discussed them with Justices Thomas and Scalia. Perhaps Bopp will answer these questions on Thursday, February 24, when he discusses the future of campaign finance law at a forum hosted by the University of San Francisco Law Review.
If he won’t, one has to wonder why not? What harm could come of letting America know whether its second largest private corporation has participated in efforts to eviscerate laws aimed at reducing their role in influencing our elections?