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Thorner: Follow the money behind effort to revise the U.S. Constitution



Conservative billionaires Charles and David Koch are heavily invested in criminal justice reform

By Nancy Thorner – 

Given the number of responses noting interest in my ConCon article published at Illinois Review on March 2, 2017, One state after another reject Convention of States' efforts, another Con Con update seemed timely and appropriate.

A national convention will only happen if 34 states, a two-thirds majority, sign onto the idea.  So far in 2017, 10 out of the 10 states targeted have rejected ConCon (Convention of States), the latest state being Idaho:  Arizona, Arkansas, Idaho, Kansas, Montana, South Dakota, Utah, Virginia, Washington, and Wyoming. 

In state after state, real conservatives have rejected the big money pushing the Convention of States, as real conservatives defend the Constitution instead. Consider this: The U.S. Constitution has been amended only 27 times since it was ratified in 1788.

The latest state, Idaho, on Wednesday, March 1, after nearly three hours of debate that stretched through the lunch hour where turns were taken taking either pushing the need to rein in the growing federal debt or warning that a convention could veer off into hot-button social issues, the Senate voted against SCR 108 by a resounding rejection of 11-24. That vote effectively killed the bill that called for Idaho to petition for an Article V Convention to amend the U.S. Constitution for a balanced budget amendment.  

Although the sponsor of Idaho's SCR 108, Sen. Marv Hagedorn, R-Meridian, argued, "We are either going to control our addiction or it will be controlled for us", Senate Minority Leader Michelle Stennett countered with, "The founding fathers did phenomenal work in creating this lasting governing document and I don't consider it a wise move to cut it up, especially considering the polarized political climate we are living in."  

As to the status of ConCon in Texas, even though the Texas Senate on Tuesday, February 28 voted in favor of measures calling for a convention of states, which was adopted on a party-line vote, 20-11, the issue is not yet settled.  The vote, however, did officially advanced one of Texas Gov. one of the emergency items for Texas Governor Greg Abbott in this legislative session.  Abbott applauded the Senate's passing of Senate Bill 21, saying that he looked forward to the House's approval, which seeks amendments that place restraints on the federal budget and check power and enact term limits for U.S. officials.    In the recent University of Texas/Texas Tribune poll, only 27 percent of those surveyed said a convention of states was needed to amend the U.S. Constitution, while 53 percent said the document has held up well.   

It is no secret that mega-donors, probably including the Koch brothers, are involved in pushing for a ConCon in Texas. That attests to the effort's unconditional support by both Gov. Abbott and Lt. Gov. Patrick, even though Texas senators were informed before their vote on February 28 that a vote for SJR2 (Convention of States) would amount to a black mark on any conservative politician's careers. Most importantly, they were told a duty exists for each to defend the Constitution against all its enemies, foreign and domesticAnd that meant to reject SJR 2.

Texas senators were enlightened further how the Republican national platform committee voted nearly unanimously against an Article V convention last July in Cleveland. Justice Scalia called an Article V convention a "horrible idea" in the last year of his life, and Phyllis Schlafly said it is playing Russian roulette with the Constitution. They were also reminded that the legendary Solicitor General under Reagan, Rex Lee, said constitutional conventions cannot be limited, and Chief Justice Warren Burger likewise expressed the same sentiment.

A lengthy article in the Dallas Morning News on Tuesday, February 28, 2017, connected this recent action by the Texas Senate in passing the Convention of States to massive donations by Tim Dunn, a wealthy oilman from Midland, Texas, and the Koch brothers.  Unlike most states, Texas has no limits on donations to the campaigns of state officials.  The Dallas newspaper explains:

Contributions to lawmakers from Tim Dunn and Empower Texans (which is primarily funded by Tim Dunn), 2010-2016:

  • Gov. Greg Abbott – $30,000 (Abbott put the Con Con/COS on the emergency calendar)
  • Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick – $649,546 (Patrick pushed the Con Con/COS through the Texas Senate)
  • Sen. Brian Birdwell – $25,234 (Birdwell was its primary sponsor)
  • Total Dunn contributions – $946,898 (other Texas Republican Senators fell in line on the Con Con/COS)
  • Total Empower Texans contributions- $3,965,725 (other Texas Republican Senators fell in line)
  • The Dallas Morning News explains further:

Lawmakers are also acutely aware of the agenda of the Koch brothers, billionaire conservatives who have spent heavily to support Republican candidates nationwide. Eric O’Keefe is a Citizens for Self-Governance board member who lives in Wisconsin and has a long history of political and financial ties to the wealthy brothers. The Koch brothers and related groups have given Texas lawmakers more than $900,000 since 2010. Abbott received $132,000 from the Koch brothers in 2013 and 2014. …

Donations to Dunn and O’Keefe’s Citizens for Self-Governance group indicate that its Constitution amending project is gathering steam, both politically and financially. According to tax records, contributions to CSG have grown from $1.8 million in 2011 to $5.7 million in 2015. …

CSG also operates at least two "dark money" groups, the Alliance for Self-Governance and Convention of the States Action. Those groups are not required to disclose the sources of their funding.

Charles Koch, of the multi-billionaire Koch brothers — who heads Koch Industries and basically funds Republican candidates who are willing to advance globalist goals — has let it be known that he is eager to reform the criminal justice system. 

With deep money pocket behind passing ConCon in Texas, it won't be easy to keep ConCon from passing the Texas House.  Fortunately, Texas has the U.S. Constitution and grassroots conservatives on its side, if they are not too intimidated to speak out and make their voices heard.

As a warning to legislators who are so disposed to vote for a Constitution Convention in their state, having been persuaded through the presentation of glowing ConCon rhetoric and/or the promise of contributions, they will be guilty of playing games with the Constitution.  It would open the door to repealing the Second Amendment, requiring taxpayer-funded abortion, repealing the Electoral College, and even changing our system of government into a European-style parliamentary system.  It means giving the media influence over changing the Constitution.


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  1. “It is no secret that mega-donors, probably including the Koch brothers, are involved in pushing for a ConCon in Texas.”
    …Are you kidding me? You offer absolutely zero proof for your accusations. If the Koch Brothers were behind this push at all wouldn’t one of their various organizations under the Freedom Partners banner be involved? If any of them are involved, can you state specifically which ones? You say “follow the money” but then don’t offer any evidence. Articles like this are dragging Illinois Review down. I used to come here as an alternative to the liberal capfax, but with complete steaming piles of B.S. like this it makes it hard to take anything on here seriously.

  2. Thank you for reading Illinois Review.
    We are well aware that this is a controversial topic among conservatives, and have asked those who support the revision of the Constitution to share their thoughts on Illinois Review. Thus far, we’ve not had anyone respond to our request.
    Please encourage those who would represent your viewpoint to send submissions to [email protected].
    Thanks! We appreciate your interest.

  3. Just last week, the West Virginia Senate rushed the convention of states through to passage, improperly skipping the mandatory public hearing in committee. Guess what? The prior president of the West Virginia Senate, Bill Cole, received into his PAC a $100,000 donation from the Koch brothers’ Freedom Partners Action Fund less than two years ago. There is more money where that came from.
    The aggressive demands for an Article V constitutional convention *are* coming from organizations and politicians funded by the Koch brothers, such as ALEC, the Convention of States, and even Cato (which in January supported a bizarre attempt for Congress to facilitate the goal). The Koch brothers have a long history of demanding term limits, a balanced budget amendment, and limits on the federal government, which are the three parts of the convention of states resolution being pushed with the backing of millions dollars in the states. The Koch brothers are also pro-abortion and liberal on other social issues.
    Eric O’Keefe is closely connected with the Koch brothers, and O’Keefe is the leading director on the Convention of States. That organization alone has spent millions of dollars on the constitutional convention project based on the Koch brothers’ goals for rewriting the Constitution.
    In Texas, KochPAC donated to a majority of the Senate committee that recently approved the resolution calling for a constitutional convention there, with at least one so-called conservative on the committee changing his position on the issue as a result. The Koch brothers have donated heavily to the Governor and Lieutenant Governor of Texas (there are no contribution limits to state campaigns in Texas), and both have oddly promoted with high priority a constitutional convention.
    ALEC, which has long been heavily supported by the Koch brothers, continues to cheerlead aggressively for a constitutional convention despite how 10 out of 10 states to consider it this year have rejected it. ALEC is supposed to represent a majority of the state legislatures, but most states reject the constitutional convention and yet ALEC continues to support it.
    Follow the money.
    Andy Schlafly

  4. Wrong on several points. First of all, Dr. Scalia was a supporter of the idea of a Convention of States. Second, and most importantly, a Convention of States does NOT amend the US Constitution. It PROPOSES amendments which must be ratified by the legislatures of three fourths (i.e. 38) of the several States. That means that only 13 state legislatures can kill a proposed amendment.
    Does anyone out there think we need term limits for members of the House and Senate? It will be impossible to get a term limits amendment without a Convention of States. Likewise with term limits for the members of the Supreme Court. I suggest that a big reason why things are in such a mess in this country is because of the very fact that we have never had a convention of states to amend the Constitution.

  5. The balanced budget amendment is merely the “bait” for convening a constitutional convention. Virtually all legal experts agree that a constitutional convention cannot be limited to any issues. The Koch brothers probably think they will be able to buy what they want, just as they are doing now in targeted states by funding lobbyists and massive campaign donations.
    The Koch brothers are pro-immigration, pro-abortion, anti-Trump, and anti-sovereignty. Forget about things like border security or pro-life goals if the Koch brothers succeed in rewriting the Constitution by convening a “Convention of States” (Article V Constitutional Convention).

  6. Justice Scalia strongly opposed a convention of states after he had the experience of being a Supreme Court Justice.
    As to the second point by Mike Merrion above, the ratification process is not a meaningful firewall against harmful changes to the Constitution. State legislatures would not be able to stop a runaway freight train driven by the liberal media and billionaires. State legislatures did not stop the 17th Amendment (direct election of senators). Instead, many ratified it unanimously!
    Finally, Mike asks “Does anyone out there think we need term limits for members of the House and Senate?” That’s a classic bait-and-switch tactic, because no one credibly argues that a convention of states (i.e., constitutional convention) would be limited to the term-limit issue. Indeed, the Convention of States’ own resolution does not limit it to the term-limit issue.

  7. How will they benefit from freeing criminals and ensuring that they’re never locked up again? I don’t see how they benefit, but that’s what’s so scary about it. They’re bargaining with the lives of working class people (who can’t afford private police) so that the rich can fulfill their own self gratification, and a bizarre one at that.

  8. Illinois just passed a new constitution when the problems got too big. That only created even bigger messes. The 10th Amendment is the answer to all of this. It’s amazing how many conservatives refuse to defend it because of “racism.”

  9. They sure are adamant about a concon instead of using Republican majorities right now to do right for the American people. I suppose maybe they’re not actually for doing right for the American people. I suppose that diverges from their agenda. Example: law and order.

  10. Assertions, as those written in the body of the article, are simply statements and do not carry proof of their own veracity. Many assume that a constitutional convention (pejoratively called a con-con) is the same as a Convention of States called by Congress to propose amendments. Article V addresses how the convention will be called, but it would be Congress that allows the convention to broaden the scope to more than the limits of the collective petitions. So it seems we should be more concerned by the actions of Congress that an super-majority of the states.

  11. Our Founders did not consider Article 5 a “horrible idea” in fact they knew what we would be coming up against in our generation. A run-away central government in DC. Our children’s future is at stake. The special session they had to see how the Convention of States would work was a resounding success, finding it was done purpose, without chaos and brought ideas and votes to a conclusion to safe-guard our country. It’s important to understand EXACTLY how it works in order to remove your fears. Remember it’s ONE vote per state. Since the writing of this article. Arizona has passed the resolution for COS and two days ago North Dakota joined them. Arkansas has passed it and ten states are full on board once they understand the safe-guards and power it brings back to the states and to the citizens. Conservatives understand that when Common Cause, supported by George Soros is against COS, they need to take a second look at what they are opposing. Anyone who says we have not done our homework needs to avail themselves to the Compendium on COS. Here is the link for you to give you full information: https://www.dropbox.com/s/muot3rb7puavb8g/Compendium%203.1.pdf?dl=0&preview=Compendium+3.1.pdf