Small Town Newspaper Still on the Story: New Revelations about Koch Brothers’ Clandestine NM Meeting

September 11th, 2013 · No Comments · journalism

By Arthur Alpert

An eccentric small town newspaper, the Corrales Comment, just ate the Albuquerque Journal’s journalistic lunch.

In its Sept. 7 issue, the Comment, published twice a month, followed up on one of the most delicious New Mexico stories in memory – the Koch brothers’ clandestine conference of national political leaders and super-rich corporate executives with special guest, Governor Susana Martinez.

The account added significantly to what we know.

The Comment reported Governor Martinez was introduced to “a stable of million-dollar donors” and at one point, there was talk of her challenging Sen. Martin Heinrich for his seat at the “political strategy” session.

The Comment also confirmed that billionaires Charles and David Koch attended the August 2-6 event.

Noting the Kochs had spent approximately $400 million to thwart Barack Obama’s re-election, the Comment wrote:

“Aided by their political advocacy group, Americans for Prosperity, the Koch brothers have become the poster child for outrage over the corrupting influence of anonymous big money in American politics.”

Also new in the Comment article was a list of corporate participants:

“Coal mining executive Ben Statler, Waste Management’s chairman, Dean Buntrock, Brandon Stewart and Stephanie Vitkus of the Heritage Foundation, Pat Cronin with The Center for New American Security, Amway founder Rich DeVos, Wall Street Access Corporation former vice-president Charles Rentschler, venture capitalist Nancy Einhorn, Georgia-Pacific’s Jim Hannan, social media strategist David Erickson, and at least three other members of the Koch family.”

The account built on and credited the work of political blogger Joe Monahan (JoeMonahansNewmexico.blogspot.com) and KOB-TV reporter Steve Mieczkowski.

You can read it at CorralesComment.com

Full disclosure: I know Jeff Radford, the editor and publisher of the Comment and did a little work for him a year ago.

Earlier, I called the paper “eccentric.” Perhaps because Jeff was a correspondent for Time Magazine when news magazines ruled, his publication scants the use of bylines and attribution. (The Tamaya story in the print edition is anonymous. Radford’s byline appears on the web site.)

Also, Corrales Comment regularly (and unconventionally) prints the full text of town ordinances or scientific reports, pages and pages’ worth. Radford does it, he says, in the service of “News Reporting as if Democracy Matters”.

So the eccentric Corrales Comment added to our knowledge of  the hush-hush goings-on at Tamaya. Our statewide daily has offered nothing.

Nothing, that is, since James Monteleone’s catch-up story Wednesday, August 7 on the Koch brothers’ excellent adventure here.

And his next day postscript that yes, the Kochs confirmed it was their party. (It was the second item of a “political  notebook.”)

In that piece, after noting the presence of Paul Ryan and Eric Cantor, Monteleone took from the Koch Industries website an explanation of meetings like the Tamaya powwow – to gather “some of America’s greatest philanthropists and most successful business leaders” to “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.”

Of course it was.

For some reason, Radford wasn’t satisfied and set out to advance the story.

Not so the Journal.

It’s probably a matter of appetite. News people, like Radford, salivate at the prospect of finding out what’s happening behind locked, guarded doors.

Whereas the Journal’s editors, avowed scourges of government secrecy, lose some taste for transparency when their friends hold power.

And when the ultra-rich and political allies gather, surreptitiously, just   maybe to discuss increasing their ownership stake in the USA, well, suddenly, the editors are no longer hungry.

Which makes them politicians, of course, not journalists. But you knew that.

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