Lee Fang adds an interesting detail to my story on yesterday’s Koch Brothers protest in Rancho Mirage. Riverside County Sheriff spokeswoman Melissa Nieburger told me that the city of Rancho Mirage contracts its police force from the county sheriff. What I didn’t know is that the sheriff’s department covered a large shortfall in their budget with stimulus funds:

In recent years, the Riverside County sheriff’s department faced massive budget shortfalls, according to Melissa Nieburger, a spokeswoman for the department who spoke to ThinkProgress. President Obama’s Recovery and Reinvestment Act, also known as the stimulus, provided $13 million in emergency funding and helped maintain about 50 sheriff jobs in the county. The stimulus-supported sheriffs weren’t only guarding the Koch brothers, but also Majority Leader Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA), a Koch meeting attendee whose party is now seeking to defund the unused money from the stimulus.

While Rancho Mirage is composed of luxurious resorts and giant chain restaurants, Riverside County as a whole is suffering massively from the popped housing bubble, leading to declines in property taxes and budget woes. Clearly, the state is in no position to help anyone. So the federal government’s lifeline really helped them, not only on law enforcement but education and health care. And as Lee says, “Koch’s front groups lobbied aggressively to kill some of the funding for the very sheriffs” who stood out in front of their event.

Usually, the Koch’s Brothers rewards of government largesse come from specific examples of corporate welfare, which obviously is not in keeping with their libertarian image. In this case, they benefited from the stimulus helping to sustain the infrastructure of local governments. In the absence of the sheriffs, I suppose the Kochs could always have hired a mercenary army for security. But that would have cost them money. The taxpayers of Riverside County, and the feds, footed the bill for yesterday’s display.

Now seeing the value of local government, I’m sure the Kochs will sign on to the “Local Jobs for America Act” to help fund more of them and increase tax revenue. Or, perhaps, not.

David Dayen

David Dayen