By Hiroko Tabuchi with the New York Times
In cities and counties across the country — including Little Rock, Ark.; Phoenix, Ariz.; southeast Michigan; central Utah; and in Tennessee — the Koch brothers are fueling a fight against public transit, an offshoot of their longstanding national crusade for lower taxes and smaller government.
The billionaire brothers are financing local conservative groups to campaign against local transit plans that include building light-rail trains, traffic-easing tunnels, and new bus routes.
“Do you agree that raising the sales tax to the highest rate in the nation must be stopped?” Samuel Nienow, one of the organizers, asked a startled man who answered the door at his Tennessee ranch-style home in March. “Can we count on you to vote ‘no’ on the transit plan?”
At the heart of their effort is a network of activists who use a sophisticated data service built by the Kochs, called i360, that helps them identify and rally voters who are inclined to their worldview. It is a particularly powerful version of the technologies used by major political parties.