Retreat of billionaire Koch brothers keeps political foes restive

The billionaire oil magnate brothers Charles and David Koch convened one of their so-called secret meetings in the Beaver Creek area this weekend, and progressives from around the state were in the area protesting it.

Problem is, they don’t know exactly where it was being held, said Jenny Flanagan, executive director of Colorado Common Cause.

The left-leaning group is protesting the right-leaning Koch brothers, who have spent millions on conservative causes and conservative candidates in the past few years, including to U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton, the Republican who represents Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District.

While Flanagan’s group doesn’t know all who are in attendance, they do know the event, titled “Understanding and Addressing Threats to American Free Enterprise and Prosperity,” is going on.

“They sent some of their folks to talk with me, and they videotaped our demonstration, but they were very peaceful and unobtrusive,” Flanagan said from Nottingham Lake Park in Avon, where about 50 people from around the state met, including several from the Western Slope.

The Koch brothers have become well-known in recent years for the millions they’ve spent on Republican candidates, and conservative groups, such as the Heritage Foundation, a Washington, D.C.-based conservative think tank.

Progressives have targeted the brothers not only because of their conservative credentials, but also in their opposition to   organized labor and efforts against global climate change.

“All across this nation, there is a coordinated attack on workers rights to join a union and it’s clear that these Koch brothers events are where these vicious attacks are being plotted and coordinated,” said Phil Hayes, political director of the Colorado AFL-CIO. “This is clearly where the top 1 percent of this country gets together to plot how to protect their massive tax breaks and screw the rest of us.”

In the past, the meetings have drawn such people as U.S. Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., a leader in the tea party movement.

It is unknown who is at this year’s event because the attendance list is secret, but Flanagan said she’s confident some Colorado Republicans such as Tipton are there.

In January, Tipton and his wife, Jean, attended an event in Simi Valley paid for by the Heritage Foundation, a group that has received about $3 million from various Koch foundations in the past few years. Tipton was among nearly 200 other members of Congress who attended the event, according to Tipton’s travel records.


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