It seems that in the coming presidential election season — occurring during an age of Citizens United and super PACs — super-wealthy political instigators such as the Koch brothers will have more sway over American politics than ever before.

How much are we talking about? The New York Times added up the numbers and came up with some alarming figures, pointing out in a report Monday that David and Charles Koch’s alliance of moneyed conservatives is prepared to shell out close to $900 million on the 2016 campaign, making this the most expensive election cycle in American history — and putting the Kochs and Friends network on the same level, spending-wise, as both the Democratic and Republican parties.

Just let that one sink in for a second.

The Kochs played host to a GOP lineup of stars at their annual retreat near Palm Springs, Calif., last weekend, drawing Republican hopefuls like Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and Sens. Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz and Rand Paul. Here’s a glimpse of what went down at that high-powered huddle (again per The New York Times):

Hundreds of conservative donors recruited by the Kochs gathered over the weekend for three days of issue seminars, strategy sessions and mingling with rising elected officials. These donors represent the largest concentration of political money outside the party establishment, one that has achieved enormous power in Republican circles in recent years.

Now the Kochs’ network will embark on its largest drive ever to influence legislation and campaigns across the country, leveraging Republican control of Congress and the party’s dominance of state capitols to push for deregulation, tax cuts and smaller government. In 2012, the Kochs’ network spent just under $400 million, an astonishing sum at the time. The $889 million spending goal for 2016 would put it on track to spend nearly as much as the campaigns of each party’s presidential nominee.

The Kochs’ efforts will put enormous fund-raising pressure on Democrats and liberal outside groups. Allies of Hillary Rodham Clinton, who appears to be preparing for a likely presidential campaign in 2016, expect that she will need to bring in more money than President Obama, the most successful fund-raiser in presidential history, and a “super PAC” supporting her is seeking to raise as much as $300 million in the coming months.

Hillary Clinton, should she choose to make another play for the presidency, and other Democratic contenders for the White House clearly have their work cut out for them.

— Posted by Donald Kaufman.

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