Secret GOP Donor Network Plans Meeting to Fight Policies That "Threaten to Destroy America"

David Koch, seen here with his wife Julia at Lincoln Center, Nov. 25, 2008, in New York, is worth $25 billion, reports Forbes. His brother Charles is worth the same amount. The Koch brothers were the subject of a 2010 New Yorker piece called "Covert Operations: The billionaire brothers who are waging a war against Obama." Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images

Koch Industry's David Koch with wife Julia Koch at David H. Koch Theater, Lincoln Center on November 25, 2008 in New York City.
Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images

Updated: 2:19 PM EST

A "secretive network of Republican donors" will head to Palm Springs this January "to review strategies for combating the multitude of public policies that threaten to destroy America as we know it," according to a report by the New York Times.

The four-day California getaway is being hosted by David and Charles Koch, the brothers behind energy and manufacturing conglomerate Koch Industries, which operates a foundation notable for financing libertarian and anti-environmentalist advocacy groups.

According to an invitation obtained by the Times, the meeting will line up "an exceptional group of leaders" and speakers to "develop strategies to counter the most severe threats facing our free society and outline a vision of how we can foster a renewal of American free enterprise and prosperity."

The Times also quotes documents stating that the convention will address "climate change alarmism and the move to socialized health care," and "the regulatory assault on energy."

Koch Industries host such meetings bi-annually, and the Times says the brothers demand complete secrecy from attendees - who largely comprise hedge fund executives, Republican donors, New York society figures, and prominent evangelists. At the most recent meeting of the network, in Aspen last June, Glenn Beck delivered remarks to the group. Also included among previous guests to such events are Supreme Court Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas, as well as Governors Haley Barbour and Bobby Jindal, and Senators Jim DeMint and Tom Coburn.

Left-leaning commentators have been quick to express their concerns about the meeting.

"The vast Koch Industries-led cabal of GOP donors, free-market ideologues and titans of industry is real, it turns out," writes Jesse Zwick of the Washington Independent.

The New Republic's Jonathan Chait writes that while "I usually tend to think the liberals can be a little paranoid when they imagine that there's a cohesive elite of super-rich Republicans consciously pulling the strong of the political system," reports "like this" worry him.

"Foremost on the agenda is getting everyday Americans to share the Koch brothers concerns about the global scientific conspiracy to falsify climate data, and other populist causes," Chait writes, adding later that "it's a real problem that a significant part of the American social and financial elite is in thrall to insane conspiracy theories."

In a similar vein, Republicans have long cited and criticized the political activism of liberal billionaire George Soros and others as an influential source of power and money for Democrats.

Soros, despite recently calling his political involvement in previous elections "an exception," announced on Wednesday that he will be donating $1 million to the progressive research center Media Matters.

"In view of recent evidence suggesting that the incendiary rhetoric of Fox News hosts may incite violence, I have now decided to support [Media Matters]," said Soros in the statement.

"Media Matters is one of the few groups that attempts to hold Fox News accountable for the false and misleading information they so often broadcast. I am supporting Media Matters in an effort to more widely publicize the challenge Fox News poses to civil and informed discourse in our democracy," he said.

Politico reports that David Brock, the founder of Media Matters, promptly commended Soros for his contribution:"We are especially pleased that in this moment of hidden right-wing billionaire money corrupting our democracy, Mr. Soros, upon deciding to support our efforts, quickly and transparently has made that support public," Brock said. 


Lucy Madison
Lucy Madison is a political reporter for CBSNews.com. You can read more of her posts here. Follow Hotsheet on Facebook and Twitter.

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