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"Citizen Koch": Spoiler Alert: The Money Did It 

Wednesday, Jun 25 2014

As the Tea Party continues its decline into irrelevance, Carl Deal and Tia Lessin's documentary Citizen Koch looks at how it got there, with a focus on the recall election against Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker in 2012. It's also ostensibly about Charles and David Koch, the conservative billionaires of the Citizen Kane-riffing title, but they remain out of focus, influencing events with their limitless coffers while hiding behind the Supreme Court's "corporations are people too" Citizens United ruling. (Also demonstrated, but not dwelled upon, is the racism toward Barack Obama that informs so much of the Tea Party's uninformed rage.) The heart of the picture is a handful of underpaid Wisconsin state employees, lifelong Republicans who feel betrayed by their new GOP governor. After being elected in the most expensive midterms in history — with much of his undisclosed funding coming from the non-Wisconsinite Kochs — Walker sets about dismantling the state employee unions and deriding them as "special interests," while giving tax breaks to the wealthy, raising taxes on the not-wealthy, and disenfranchising minority voters. For as dire as the situation still is, Citizen Koch is ultimately an uplifting story about how regular citizens learn to battle the corruption of absolute money by voting their conscience, and not along arbitrary party lines.

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Sherilyn Connelly

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