The Corner

The Koch Network Winter Meeting’s Unlikely Hero: Van Jones

You probably wouldn’t expect to see a large poster of CNN commentator and former Obama administration official Van Jones at the Koch Network’s winter meeting. As he mentions in the below video, he once attended a protest against Americans for Prosperity and the Koch Brothers back in 2011. (Phil Kerpen, then the director of policy for Americans for Prosperity, was among Jones’ most vociferous critics, leading the charge for his dismissal from the Obama administration in 2009.) But by 2015, Jones and Koch general counsel Mark Holden were co-authoring op-eds about over-criminalization, the country’s unwieldy and unjust criminal code, and the excessive use of prison sentences for nonviolent offenders. Their efforts helped propel the First Step Act to passage last year.

Attendees of the conference got to see a longer version of the below video, that featured an eyebrow-raising comment from Jones that he found himself on the other side of a lot of his usual allies like the NAACP, the ACLU, and the Congressional Black Caucus, who initially contended the bill didn’t go far enough. Jones alluded the even stranger situation of having Holden regularly at his side. Discussing the congressional opposition, Jones added, “I think a lot of them wanted to deny Trump a victory.”

As Jones mentions in the public version of the video:

Something about this issue brought out the best in both parties. And then two hours later, the government shuts down! … There’s a lot of stuff that we’re going to keep fighting on in America. I have no problem with that! The problem is there’s a lot of stuff that we do agree on that we’re not working together on at all. You’ve got awesome people and beautiful people on both sides who don’t know what to do together. And if we start working on that, a lot of this stuff is going to get better.

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