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Is Cuomo in bed with Koch brothers?

Stephon Johnson | , Amsterdam News Staff | 5/25/2011, 9:24 a.m.

Their influence is wide and some would say noxious.

They've affected local, state and national politics on a massive scale. Wisconsin and Ohio are currently feeling the brunt of their influence. They have heavily funded the Tea Party and helped organize efforts to fight health care reform.

They are the infamous, conservative billionaire industrialists the Koch brothers, and the question of the hour is, have they now set their sights on New York and our new governor?

According to campaign finance records, David Koch and his wife, Julia, together donated up to $87,000 to Cuomo's campaign last year. Between November 2009 and July 2010, David made three separate gifts of $18,000, $6,900 and $25,000, while Julia made donations under her own name, including $10,000 during the month of January in 2010 and $15,000 in July of 2010.

The total sum is more than Koch donated to Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker's campaign, which amounted to $43,000.

David and his brother Charles are the billionaires behind Koch Industries, the second-largest private corporation in America. Over the past few years, they have spent a huge amount of money lobbying in Washington, D.C., to preserve industry tax breaks and tax credits, and defeat attempts to regulate greenhouse gases. In 2004, the company spent $857,000 on lobbying in the nation's capital. In 2008, it was spending up to $20 million. Companies run by the Koch brothers also trade carbon emission credits in Europe and derivatives in America.

The Koch brothers also have financed conservative think tanks, including the National Legal and Policy Center. The Policy Center looked for dirt on Rep. Charlie Rangel, and it was information supplied by the Policy Center that formed the basis for the witch hunt-style investigations by the New York Times and the New York Post that ultimately led to Rangel's congressional censure. The Policy Center has also initiated ideological attacks against President Barack Obama and his administration, according to the New Yorker magazine.

After telling the AmNews that they would send a response, no statement had been received by press time from Cuomo's press office. One state politician, however, weighed in on the situation.

When asked at a reporter's roundtable last Friday if he thinks Cuomo is being influenced by the Koch brothers, State Sen. Adriano Espaillat said, "I hope not. I think Cuomo obviously received great campaign funding from across the board, including unions, right? Unions were very supportive of Andrew Cuomo and I hope that their donations don't steer him into their vision of what America should be like."

One could say that the Koch brothers continue to infect the mainstream media as well. Last Thursday, Tea Party activists gathered on Capitol Hill to rally and persuade Republican politicians to further cut government spending. While there were reportedly less than 200 people in attendance, the rally produced multiple stories from local and national outlets in the mainstream media.

On the anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s assassination, 2,000-plus protesters marched to Koch Industries' offices in Washington, D.C., and tried to deliver an invitation to Charles and David to come out and speak with the protesters. They refused to address the crowd. According to ThinkProgress.org, several reporters were present at the rally, but there was little mainstream coverage of the event.