Two reporters from the San Diego-based nonprofit investigative news organization where I work, inewsource, discovered the date and location of a secret summit hosted by billionaire right-wing activist siblings David and Charles Koch and unearthed some insights into the conference before being forced to leave the luxurious five-star resort hosting the event.
The reporters, Joanne Faryon and Brad Racino, checked into the St. Regis Monarch Beach Resort in Dana Point, California, a day before the entire hotel and its 400 rooms, spa, golf course, private beach and six restaurants were bought out for three days for a special event that organizers labeled the "T&R Sales Meeting." The least-expensive room at the St. Regis Monarch Beach Resort, with tax, is $609 per night.
They found out that the Koch brothers, who are the sixth-richest men in the world, with an estimated net worth of $41.3 billion, entitled the summit "American Courage: Our Commitment to a Free Society." The Koch brothers come from a lineage of right-wing activism that started with their father, Fred Koch, who, in addition to founding the oil refinery that would become the multinational corporation Koch Industries, was a founding member of the John Birch Society, which is an anti-communist, radical-right political group.
Among the groups the reporters discovered attending the conference (before being escorted from the premises by security, along with all other uninvited guests, on Saturday) were Americans for Prosperity, Mercatus Center, and the Libre Initiative.
Freedom Partners, which the Koch brothers use primarily for funding political candidates and causes they support, also attended the event. These groups are all part of a well-funded conservative network that contributes incredibly large amounts of cash, oftentimes anonymously, to causes supporting their ideological beliefs.
The majority of the event's attendees were described as being "mostly male, mostly white middle-aged and older, some with their families or wives." Racist commentary was overheard on the premises by guests of the summit.
The inewsource story provides a vivid description of many of the event's attendees and the mandatory secretive behavior of the hotel staff, who were instructed to not provide any information about the summit.
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