A better way for the Kochs to spend their millions

Analyzing the Koch brothers' influence
Analyzing the Koch brothers' influence

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Analyzing the Koch brothers' influence 01:28

Story highlights

  • Sally Kohn: Koch brothers reportedly plan to spend $889 million to influence 2016 campaign
  • She asks why not spend it on education, clean water and more -- rather than to buy election?

Sally Kohn is an activist, columnist and television commentator. Follow her on Twitter: @sallykohn. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

(CNN)Here comes spendageddon!

To influence the 2016 elections, oil barons Charles and David Koch have pledged that their political network will spend $889 million, media reports say. Basically -- wrap your head around this if you can -- the ultra-conservative Koch brothers want to keep their business and personal taxes as low as possible and keep regulations on the energy industry as low as possible.
Sally Kohn
And if they get their way, that $889 million in money donated by the Kochs and others to the groups they founded, will turn out to be just a drop in the bucket, a small investment for which they stand to gain much more in tax breaks and free pollution.
    Mind you, in 2012, the Koch brothers helped create and fund a network of dark-money groups that raised more than $400 million for GOP candidates -- and President Barack Obama still won re-election, and Democrats gained seats in the House and Senate. But in the 2014 midterms, the Koch brothers' batting average improved: The Koch-backed Freedom Partners Action Fund had an 88% success rate, for example.
    But since they spent $23.7 million for just 88% success, one wonders if the Koch money might be better spent elsewhere.
    The Koch brothers have already shown they can have a heart. I imagine that's even been confirmed by scans at New York-Presbyterian Hospital, where David Koch has contributed more than $100 million. And museums, ballets and educational institutions have also benefited from the Koch largess.
    Which donors are attending Koch brothers' winter meeting?
    Which donors are attending Koch brothers' winter meeting?

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    Which donors are attending Koch brothers' winter meeting? 01:29
    Why stop there? Should the brothers want to use the money they've set aside for political giving, along with money to be contributed by like-minded people, actually to help the American people -- and the rest of the world -- instead of influencing election outcomes for their singular bottom line, here is what $889 million can buy:
    • 559,119,496 meals for the homeless -- equal to 916 meals for every homeless person in America for one year;
    •19,525 new teachers for New York City public school students -- or 24,170 new teachers in Birmingham, Alabama, where first-year teachers are paid less;
    • 15,180 entry-level psychologists at Veterans Administration hospitals, helping and healing servicemen and women all across the country;
    Clean water for 29,633,333 people around the globe;
    • Give all $889 million to Save Darfur, to help 3 million people displaced in refugee camps and as a belated wedding present for George and Amal Clooney;
    McConnell on secret audiotape
    McConnell on secret audiotape

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    Create 222 endowed Ayn Rand chairs of economics, politics and greed at Harvard University (I'm just joking -- also Harvard doesn't need money.);
    • 1,781,563 iPads, to increase technology access and learning for children in school districts bankrupted by tax cuts;
    • 7,408,333 goats to provide milk and meat to rural families all across the world;
    • 88,900,000 football pumps, perhaps all of which we should send to the New England Patriots;
    • 5,229 new single-axle snowplow trucks (just sayin');
    • One year's supply of birth control pills for 1,481,666 women;
    • 437,931,034 gallons of gas at today's low prices, helping millions of low-income families afford to get to work and school;
    • Pay off New Jersey's entire fiscal year 2014 budget gap resulting from Gov. Chris Christie's magical accounting -- and have $89 million left over;
    • 34,297,839 mosquito nets, to help reduce incidents of malaria, which kills an estimated 500,000 people each year -- mostly children;
    Or, finally, instead of hiding in the shadows of dark-money organizations gambling $889 million to try and buy our elections, the Koch brothers could be more direct. They and their fellow conservative donors could give $1,201 each to 740,043 voters in Florida, Virginia, Colorado, Iowa, New Hampshire, Ohio and Wisconsin -- swing states that Obama won in 2012, but only by a 740,043 total margin. Yes, that would be buying votes. But isn't that what they are already trying to do?