Who Is this Koch?

John J. Walters Sep 22, 2011

At the risk of sounding like I’m not properly up to date on my conspiracy theories, I must admit that until the other day I hadn’t even heard of the Koch brothers, who allegedly are pulling all the strings at the Maryland Public Policy Institute.  According to David Moon of Maryland Juice, because these two billionaires support other libertarian causes, they must also not only be paying our bills but dictating what we write about on our policy blog.

Alright, full disclosure time.  Are the Koch brothers funneling money into the Maryland Public Policy Institute?  I have absolutely no idea.  If I had to guess, however, I would say no, mainly because we are nowhere near the size of institutions like CATO or the Heritage Foundation (which are apparently recipients of Koch dollars).

As the social media guru (a title I just made up right now) for the MPPI, I can honestly say that I have no idea who any of our donors are, nor has the thought of what they might think about what I write ever affected my work.  I was hired because my skill set and political ideology were relatively in sync with the mission of the MPPI, as was everyone else.  Period.

Not only does that mean that I am not bound to write exactly what the Koch brothers tell me to, it also means that I am free to write things that even my immediate superiors disagree with.  In general, I find that we line up fairly well on most issues, but there have certainly been issues on which we have not seen eye-to-eye, and that’s fine.  In many ways, it is much like the first amendment.  We are free to say what we choose, with the understanding that we will use this privilege responsibly.

I hate to rain on anyone’s parade, but we are not the puppets of anyone.  You can tweet incendiary tweet after incendiary tweet using all the hash-tags you want, but it still doesn’t make it true.  Sorry.

The Maryland Public Policy Institute is here to discuss important political news and ideas.  We are ready and willing to engage in conversation and debate about these issues.  The original Maryland Juice post that started this whole exchange certainly qualifies as an opener to such a debate, as (I think) did Marc’s response on Monday.

But when debate devolves into name-calling and repeatedly spouting unfounded accusations of bias, we draw the line.  We employ researchers with respectable backgrounds and reputations for integrity.  You may not agree with everything that we produce, but we make every effort to solidly present our case while recognizing that there often are other sides with legitimate defenses.

We do the work that we do because we believe it is an important contribution to the political conversation.  And our donors give us money because they believe this as well.  And that’s the end of the story.