Filmmaker and liberal activist Robert Greenwald, who has just released a highly critical "documentary" about Charles and David Koch, said today that conservative-leaning billionaire activists are fundamentally different from their left-wing counterparts.
In a Friday interview, MSNBC’s Martin Bashir pointed out that the billionaire industrialist Koch brothers are simply "leveraging their wealth" by investing in political causes. "There are people on the left and right who do exactly that," he said.
While Greenwald acknowledged that the kind of activity the Kochs engage in is perfectly legal, he rejected any equivalence between the Kochs and left-wing billionaire George Soros, who is currently embroiled in a legal fight stemming from allegations of domestic violence.
"[The Kochs] are using their billions of dollars and hundreds of million of dollars to further their own selfish economic interests," Greenwald claimed. "People on the left who were doing this are using it against their economic self-interests. That's a very, very important fundamental difference."
Greenwald’s Brave New Foundation has long benefitted from Soros’ largesse, and the targets of his documentaries have often coincided with the billionaire activist’s pet causes.
Furthermore, Soros himself has admitted that his political and financial interests often align. In a 2004 profile in the New Yorker, he detailed a specific example of a time he financially benefitted from his political philanthropy.
Soros said that he tries to maintain a strict separation between his financial and his philanthropic work. Yet he acknowledged, "There are occasionally symbiotic moments between political and business interests." He cited one example: an attempt to set up a public-policy think tank in England which had at first looked like a fruitless venture; it had landed him in what promised to be one of the most boring conferences of his life. But, chatting with British notables, he caught a serendipitous glimpse of a way to break into the closed world of the British bond market, which he soon did. It became "one of the most rewarding weekends of my life," he said. "I made many millions."
Additionally, Soros is heavily invested in green energy companies that have directly benefitted from federal funding championed by liberal groups he actively funds, such as the Center for American Progress. The Kochs have consistently opposed such funding, and in turn have been targeted by the same Soros-funded groups, including Brave New Foundation.
In contrast, the Koch brothers have taken political positions that hare directly at odds with their own financial interests, including a massive campaign to end ethanol subsidies, from which their company directly benefits.