Scoop: Koch Brothers Connections to Phoenix Anti-Transit Initiative Revealed

New evidence reveals the deep involvement of Koch Industries funding in the Phoenix anti-light rail campaign.

August 7, 2019, 9:00 AM PDT

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell

Phoenix Light Rail

Chris Curtis / Shutterstock

After starting small in an effort to alter plans in Phoenix that would build a six-mile track connecting south Phoenix to the 26-mile Valley Metro Rail system, the group that would eventually become known as Building a Better Phoenix would also start "receiving assistance from an Arizona nonprofit associated with oil barons Charles and David Koch," according to an article by Steven Hsieh.

"The shadow of the billionaire brothers over Phoenix's light rail debate would not come as a surprise to anyone who's following transit policy in the United States. Notorious for bankrolling dark-money campaigns, the Koch brothers recently have thrown their weight behind efforts to stop public transportation projects across the country," writes Hsieh, referencing a New York Times article (also picked up by Planetizen) that detailed the anti-transit efforts of the Koch family.

The forces behind the anti-transit efforts that have won several significant victories in recent months in Phoenix are significant because of Proposition 105, already in early voting for the August 27 election. Hsieh explains the proposal facing voters:

If more city residents vote "yes" than "no" on the initiative by August 27, Valley Metro will halt plans to extend light rail down South Central Avenue. Passage of the initiative would also terminate new routes in west and northwest Phoenix. The city would likely lose billions of federal dollars, and revenue from a public transportation sales tax approved by voters in 2015 would instead go toward funding infrastructure improvements.

Scot Mussi, president of the Koch-funded Arizona Free Enterprise Club, has, in the past, denied connections to the anti-transit campaigns. Now, however, Hsieh is claiming that Musi, "appears to have helped draft the language for Proposition 105, arranged meetings regarding the signature-gathering process, and has regularly spoken with leaders of the movement, according to interviews and records."

Tuesday, August 6, 2019 in Phoenix New Times

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