Citizen Koch: Carl Deal Talks Wisconsin, Florida and Beyond

'Citizen Koch' Director Carl Deal.
‘Citizen Koch’ Director Carl Deal.

The documentary Citizen Koch directs a great deal of attention at Wisconsin state politics, but when it premiered in Sarasota, audiences there noticed plenty of parallels between Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and Florida Gov. Rick Scott. Director Carl Deal is glad viewers don’t have to be Cheeseheads to understand the threat of Tea Party-fueled political machines.

“I think people in all states should be concerned,” Deal told SRQ, “particualrly in states like Florida where there have been regulations on corporations rolled back, and stronger disclosure laws have been decimated. We need transparency in government, and Florida is as vulnerable as any state.”

Citizen Koch, made by Deal and co-director Tia Lessin, looks at the impact of corporate donors David and Charles Koch through their political action committee Prosperity for America. The film does scrutinize the political upheaval after the election of Wisconsin’s Walker, when he went on an anti-union crusade that drew national attention. Deal said the film reaches well beyond Walker though, to other states and to the presidential election.

The film started as an exploration of global warming deniers’ recent political successes, then evolved into a story on a much craftier tale. “We started to realize this was not a story about an ideological battle, but on a strategy on how to kneecap the Democratic party,” he said. Deal viewed the attack on unions as less about bargaining rights and more about attacking labor for being a fundraiser for Democrats.

Deal said voters need to pay more attention and remain engaged with state politics, not just national. The state governments are who develop campaign finance laws, election rules and a variety of other important matters. “It’s where the most extremist elements of the conservative movement are spending their time and attention,” Deal said.

Citizen Koch premiered Sunday, April 7, and screens again today, April 8, at 5:45pm at the Regal Hollywood 20. The film is part of the documentary film competition this year

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