Rewire has unveiled a new investigative report by Senior Washington Correspondent Adele Stan revealing that so-called “free market” organizations linked to the Koch brothers, including the Center for Protect Patient Rights (CPPR) and Freedom Partners, are dispensing tens of millions of dollars to groups working to end reproductive rights and undercut the rights of pregnant women. Anti-choice beneficiaries of largesse from organizations and wealthy donors in the Koch network have used these funds to support laws seeking to eliminate women’s rights to abortion and contraception and establish the “personhood” of fertilized eggs, embryos, and fetuses.
“Over the past ten years, so-called pro-life groups and legislators such as Congressman Paul Ryan have increasingly been involved in efforts to deny women their rights while simultaneously shredding the social safety net on which the most vulnerable in this society depend. It is a marriage of ‘church and commerce’ not previously seen in the United States,” said Jodi Jacobson, President and Editor-in-Chief of Rewire. “Now it is clear that the Koch brothers are pouring money into a policy agenda that recognizes both corporations and fertilized eggs as people, but not the personhood of women. Koch money is directly fueling anti-choice battles in states like Texas, North Carolina, Ohio, and Nebraska, and contributing significantly to a dangerous push for a national 20 week abortion ban at the federal level as well.”
Freedom Partners, called “the Koch brother’s secret bank” by Politico, acts as a a “pass-through group” funneling money to other pass-through groups like the Center to Protect Patient Rights and anti-choice organizations in order to obscure the original source of funding. Since November 2011, Freedom Partners gave CPRR $115 million dollars, which they parceled out to groups with anti-choice agendas.
Run by longtime Koch political operative Sean Noble, the Center to Protect Patient Rights has provided the following anti-choice funding:
- In 2011, they donated $1.5 million to the Concerned Women for America Legislative Action Committee (CWALAC) working to lobby for the Texas anti-choice law and similar bills in other state legislatures. Freedom Partners has gifted CWALAC directly with more than $8 million from late 2011 to the present.
- In 2010, they granted more than $1 million to the anti-choice Susan B. Anthony List, accounting for nearly 15 percent of the group’s funding that year. The SBA List spent about $2 million in advertising to support anti-choice candidates across the country.
- In 2010, they provided Americans United for Life Action (AULA) with 39 percent of the group’s operating budget that year.
- In 2009, they dispensed $250,000 to Independent Women’s Voice, which opposes the birth control benefit in the Affordable Care Act and the Nebraska Right to Life, which helped pass the state’s first 20-week abortion ban the following year.
Of the top ten outside spending “social welfare” groups engaged in the 2012 elections, all but one was either right-wing or conservative. Though the Koch brothers and other donors in their network signal disinterest in fighting against abortion rights, they share an interest with anti-choice groups in depleting the power of Democrats, who are more inclined to support reproductive rights. In fact, in most states, the same legislators who champion the right’s pro-business, anti-regulatory agenda, also advanced destructive regulations on abortion clinics and restricting women’s rights generally.
Some examples of this electoral ripple-effect include:
- The $32 million Freedom Partners gave to Americans for Prosperity (AFP)—purportedly focusing on economic policy—was nearly all deployed in support of anti-choice candidates, as was the $15.7 million bestowed on 60 Plus, a “free-market,” anti-Obamacare group that claims to represent senior citizens.
- Americans for Prosperity and 60 Plus received windfalls from the Center to Protect Patient Rights. Americans for Prosperity pocketed $2.25 million from CPPR in 2009 and $1.9 million in 2010, while 60 Plus won $2.6 million in CPPR money in 2009, a whopping $9 million in 2010, and another $2.4 million in 2011.
- Art Pope, former chairman of the board of David Koch’s Americans for Prosperity, helped propel North Carolina’s recent anti-choice bill as his family foundation funds the North Carolina Family Policy Council that lead the charge.
Report author Adele Stan exposed the connections through analysis of tax records, pulling apart a multi-layered non-profit structure that that protects the Kochs from revealing their donors while pumping millions into political fights to restrict access to abortion and contraception.
“The Koch brothers would have you believe that they have little interest in rolling back reproductive rights,” said Stan. “But the proof is in their network’s spending patterns, which shows their willingness to deliberately harm women in pursuit of their goals.”