by Janet Ritz
Jane Mayer, reporting on The New Yorker Magazine, has written a comprehensive article entitled: Covert Operations, The billionaire brothers who are waging a war against Obama. In it, Mayer gives an exhaustive report on the Koch brothers' funding of extreme right-win opposition to the current administration.
The Kochs are longtime libertarians who believe in drastically lower personal and corporate taxes, minimal social services for the needy, and much less oversight of industry—especially environmental regulation. These views dovetail with the brothers’ corporate interests. In a study released this spring, the University of Massachusetts at Amherst’s Political Economy Research Institute named Koch Industries one of the top ten air polluters in the United States. And Greenpeace issued a report identifying the company as a “kingpin of climate science denial.” The report showed that, from 2005 to 2008, the Kochs vastly outdid ExxonMobil in giving money to organizations fighting legislation related to climate change, underwriting a huge network of foundations, think tanks, and political front groups. Indeed, the brothers have funded opposition campaigns against so many Obama Administration policies—from health-care reform to the economic-stimulus program—that, in political circles, their ideological network is known as the Kochtopus.Koch Industries contacted me earlier this year after I had written a report on The Huffington Post about their involvement with funding right wing organizations. I received an email response that led to a series of questions they never answered:
In a statement, Koch Industries said that the Greenpeace report “distorts the environmental record of our companies.” And David Koch, in a recent, admiring article about him in New York, protested that the “radical press” had turned his family into “whipping boys,” and had exaggerated its influence on American politics. But Charles Lewis, the founder of the Center for Public Integrity, a nonpartisan watchdog group, said, “The Kochs are on a whole different level. There’s no one else who has spent this much money. The sheer dimension of it is what sets them apart. They have a pattern of lawbreaking, political manipulation, and obfuscation. I’ve been in Washington since Watergate, and I’ve never seen anything like it. They are the Standard Oil of our times.”
On April 6, 2010, I received a request for a correction from Koch Industries regarding their involvement with Dick Armey; a request that began with the representative's claim of Koch Industries' "environmental stewardship."
I updated my post regarding Dick Armey (from current to prior involvement with Koch affiliated groups) and requested answers in return to four questions about Koch Industries' environmental stewardship and involvement with Americans for Prosperity:
1. Is AFP, as seemingly implied in Lee Fang's [Think Progress] article, planning to challenge any town hall meetings, representatives or legislators over upcoming climate legislation in the manner as was observed during last summer's town hall meetings on the health care debate?
2. Is Koch Industries, as stated in Fang's article, "the largest funder of climate science denying organizations in the world" and, whether that is true or not, what is Koch Industries' position on climate change?
3. Does Koch Industries have a position on the threats of violence that have become a risk with an incited population?
4. Is Koch Industries either working with and/or interested in working with the current administration to find the best way for both business and the environment to succeed? If so, what initiatives have been proposed and/or undertaken? If not, what would you like to see happen?
The representative replied that that Koch would get back to me. I await further communication.
On April 15, 2010, Rachel Maddow reported on a curious incident where another site had received unsolicited emails from Koch Industries. The emails seemed to attempt to reply to some of the questions above. The site itself had not solicited the information from Koch:
Curiouser and curiouser...
LABELS: CLIMATE CHANGE, DICK ARMEY, ENVIRONMENT, JANE MAYER, KOCH INDUSTRIES, RACHEL MADDOW, TALKING POINTS MEMO, TEA PARTY MOVEMENT