The Koch brothers, of course, are the bogeymen of the political left, thanks to their unapologetic interest in writing checks to bolster their conservative-libertarian worldview. In 2014, Charles Koch gave $5 million to candidates, PACs, and 527s; his brother gave $2.5 million more. Their larger network of PACs and non-profits, including the increasingly substantial Americans For Prosperity, spent $100 million.
Spending $5 million or $7.5 million or $100 million is not that big a deal when you're as wealthy as the Kochs. Or, to put it in terms that the other side of the spectrum will appreciate -- George Soros's giving $1.7 million from his estimated $28 billion fortune probably isn't keeping him up at night, either.
Soros's net worth -- which, again, is an estimate from Bloomberg -- is much more steady. That increase during February isn't explained, though it might relate to a deal he executed in that time period.
The Kochs' net worth jumps around far more than Soros's, a function of how the data is tracked and what it's tied to. (You can read more about the Kochs and Soros, if you want.) There's huge volatility in how much each Koch is worth. Below, their combined earnings or losses on the Billionaires Index each day.
There have been several days in the last six months that they've lost $2 billion, or close to that. And several times that they've made $1 billion or more. As a reminder: Americans spent about $6 billion total on the 2014 elections -- state and federal -- and that's less than three times what the Kochs lost in one day this week.
One last point of reference. Say you drew a line on the ground at the foot of the Lincoln Memorial. Call that the $0 dollar line. Next, you draw a line one inch away. That represents the distance from zero dollars to the average American net worth (in 2013, from the Russell Sage Foundation) -- $56,335. How far away would the line for spending in 2014 elections be?
It would be about 3,000 yards away, nearly to the Native American museum of the Smithsonian, just at the foot of Capitol Hill.
The line for Soros's net worth would be 8 miles from the Lincoln Memorial, about three-quarters of a mile past the eastern-most point in Washington, D.C.
The line for the Kochs -- each of them -- would be 14 and a quarter miles away, past Andrews Air Force Base even as the crow flies, well outside the Beltway.
Earlier this week, the line would have been 20,000 inches closer. But at that scale, it doesn't make much difference.