The liberal activist group Common Cause is rallying its supporters to protest David and Charles Koch’s convocation of conservative heavy hitters in California this weekend. The billionaire Koch brothers, whose family business is one of the largest private companies in the world, are longtime funders of many conservative causes, including Tea Party groups, and initiatives to defeat Obamacare and global warming legislation.
A couple of hundred conservative donors, activists, politicians, and businessmen are expected to join the Koch’s event in Rancho Mirage. Past meetings have featured movement pillars like Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Sen. Jim DeMint and several Supreme Court Justices.
“This conference brings together some of America’s greatest philanthropists and most successful business leaders whose companies have created millions of real jobs,” Nancy Pfotenhauer, conference spokesperson told The Daily Caller. “Attendees will discuss solutions to our most pressing issues and strategies to promote policies that will help grow our economy, foster free enterprise and create American jobs.”
Common Cause and its allies see a more sinister agenda. They’ll be shouting outside — and in at least one case, from above. Greenpeace has chartered a blimp emblazoned with the words “dirty money” to fly over the conference.
Pfotenhauer seemed unruffled. “We respect all Americans’ rights to free speech and to peaceably assemble,” she told TheDC, “and we hope that any protesters will respect the community and not cause an inconvenience for residents.”
Prior to the rally, the liberal group plans to host an opposition panel discussion called, “Uncloaking the Kochs: The Billionaires’ Caucus and its Threat to our Democracy.” The featured speakers include Robert Reich, former Labor Secretary and now chairman of Common Case’s National Governing Board; Van Jones, Senior Fellow, Center for American Progress and former “Green Jobs Czar”; Erwin Chemerinsky, dean of the law school at the University of California-Irvine; Lee Fang, an journalist at the Center for American Progress; and DeAnn McEwen, co-President of the California Nurses Association.
“Our goal here for the panel Sunday is to talk about the Billionaires Caucus agenda, its human impact and what can be done to restore the voices of ordinary Americans to the our political process,” explained Bob Edgar, president of Common Cause.“Our government is supposed to be of, by and for the people, but it has been hijacked by self-interested billionaires. We must take it back. “
Despite the hyperbole, the Koch conference doesn’t sound so different from many off-the-record political conferences, including those held by the professional left. Shortly after the 2010 elections, for example, liberal groups converged on Washington D.C.’s Oriental Mandarin hotel, The meeting, hosted by Democracy Alliance featured liberal leaders such as Van Jones, hedge fund manager Donald Sussman, and AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka. Michael Vachon, a George Soros representative, and Peter Lewis, CEO of Progressive Insurance also attended.
Yet to listen to the activist left describe it, this weekend’s meeting is a threat to the existence of life on this planet. “They are actively standing in the way of our nation transitioning to a 21st Century economy focused on clean energy and job growth creation,”warned Van Jones. “Nationally, their influence is more profound….They are the Number One funders of climate change deniers.”
*An earlier version of this story incorrectly identified Fred Baron as an attendee at the Democracy Alliance’s Oriental Mandarin Hotel event.