Monday, February 21, 2011

The GOP Owned And Operated By Koch Industries

I’d never heard anything about Koch Industries, (or at least anything I’d actually paid attention to anyway), before last August when I read a very interesting story in the “NewYorker” . It’s quite a long piece, but a real eye opener and well worth taking a few minutes to read. It gives amazing details of the billionaire Koch Brothers, Charles and David and the long term behind the scenes workings of Koch Industries.

The brothers Koch are worth a combined fortune of $35 billion, which puts them right behind Bill Gates and Warren Buffett in the “Shit Loads of Money Honey’s” who’s who. Koch Industries headquarters is located in Wichita Kansas and is estimated to have annual revenues of $100 billion. Yep, I’d call that shit loads of money. Koch owns and operates oil refineries in Alaska, Texas and Minnesota, among other things in various places.

According to the article:

“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.
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.”

I must say, as far as the Koch brothers are concerned, “political manipulation” takes on an entirely new meaning. For the most part they have done their best to keep the scope of their political financial influences quiet, but that influence seems to have reached epic proportions. Just as a quick look, the following groups are just a few that were either started by, financed either directly or indirectly by the Koch brothers.

Americans for Prosperity Foundation
Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation
The Claude R. Lambe Charitable Foundation
David H. Koch Charitable Foundation
KochPAC
Republican Governors Association
Cato Institute
Heritage Foundation
Independent Women’s Forum
George Mason University & Mercatus Center
Foundation for Research on Economics and the Environment
Citizens for a Sound Economy
Citizens for the Environment
Economic Education Trust
Triad Management
Patients United Now
Club for Growth

The Heritage Foundation is just one of the tea party front groups for Koch. Virginia “Genni” Thomas is a consulting attorney for that group, as well as the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. Salon.com did another very interesting piece yesterday, “The bigger Clarence Thomas scandal”  and what do you know…

“Now Common Cause has just revealed that Thomas took an all expenses paid trip in 2008 to Palm Springs for four days to make a speech with money that he says came from a conservative legal group but that may have actually come from the controversial company Koch Industries. In 2010 the Supreme Court overturned limitations on corporate political spending in Citizens United v. FEC. The Koches -- staunch fiscal conservatives who own an energy conglomerate -- have run wild with that new freedom, so Common Cause argues that Thomas should have disqualified himself from ruling in Citizens United. (If Thomas had recused himself the 5-4 decision would have been tied 4-4 and the lower court ruling upholding the spending limits would have stood.)”

Conflict of interest, or bought and paid for? This is but one example of how the Koch brothers operate. Think about it, who would benefit more from the Citizen United ruling than an entity like Koch Industries. And run wild they have, pouring money into the GOP by the boat loads literally buying candidates that they can use to manipulate legislation for their own financial gains.

Gov Scott Walker of WI seems to be another beneficiary of Koch financing. According to an article in “Mother Jones” :

"Wisconsin Republican Governor Scott Walker, whose bill to kill collective bargaining rights for public-sector unions has caused an uproar among state employees, might not be where he is today without the Koch brothers. Charles and David Koch are conservative titans of industry who have infamously used their vast wealth to undermine President Obama and fight legislation they detest, such as the cap-and-trade climate bill, the health care reform act, and the economic stimulus package. For years, the billionaires have made extensive political donations to Republican candidates across the country and have provided millions of dollars to astroturf right-wing organizations. Koch Industries' political action committee has doled out more than $2.6 million to candidates. And one prominent beneficiary of the Koch brothers' largess is Scott Walker.
According to Wisconsin campaign finance filings, Walker's gubernatorial campaign received $43,000 from the Koch Industries PAC during the 2010 election. That donation was his campaign's second-highest, behind $43,125 in contributions from housing and realtor groups in Wisconsin. The Koch's PAC also helped Walker via a familiar and much-used politicial maneuver designed to allow donors to skirt campaign finance limits. The PAC gave $1 million to the Republican Governors Association, which in turn spent $65,000 on independent expenditures to support Walker. The RGA also spent a whopping $3.4 million on TV ads and mailers attacking Walker's opponent, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett. Walker ended up beating Barrett by 5 points. The Koch money, no doubt, helped greatly.
The Kochs also assisted Walker's current GOP allies in the fight against the public-sector unions. Last year, Republicans took control of the both houses of the Wisconsin state legislature, which has made Walker's assault on these unions possible. And according to data from the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, the Koch Industries PAC spent $6,500 in support of 16 Wisconsin Republican state legislative candidates, who each won his or her election.
Walker's plan to eviscerate collective bargaining rights for public employees is right out of the Koch brothers' playbook. Koch-backed groups like Americans for Prosperity, the Cato Institute, the Competitive Enterprise Institute, and the Reason Foundation have long taken a very antagonistic view toward public-sector unions. Several of these groups have urged the eradication of these unions. The Kochs also invited (PDF) Mark Mix, president of the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, an anti-union outfit, to a June 2010 confab in Aspen, Colorado; Mix said in a recent interview that he supports Governor Walker's collective-bargaining bill. In Wisconsin, this conservative, anti-union view is being placed into action by lawmakers in sync with the deep-pocketed donors who helped them obtain power. (Walker also opposes the state's Clean Energy Job Act, which would compel the state to increase its use of alternative energy.) At this moment—even with the Wisconsin uprising unresolved—the Koch brothers' investment in Walker appears to be paying off.

Imagine that. But it gets better!

“Today 11:43 AM Little-Noticed Provision In Walker's Bill Could Reap Huge Gains For Koch Industries
The Huffington Post's Amanda Terkel reports:
While there has been significant attention devoted to the fact that Walker's 144-page budget repair bill would strip away collective bargaining rights for public employees, the site "Rortybomb" points out a less noticed provision that would allow the state to sell or contract out any state-owned energy asset in no-bid deals with private corporations. From the legislation (emphasis added):
16.896 Sale or contractual operation of state−owned heating, cooling, and power plants. (1) Notwithstanding ss. 13.48 (14) (am) and 16.705 (1), the department may sell any state−owned heating, cooling, and power plant or may contract with a private entity for the operation of any such plant, with or without solicitation of bids, for any amount that the department determines to be in the best interest of the state. Notwithstanding ss. 196.49 and 196.80, no approval or certification of the public service commission is necessary for a public utility to purchase, or contract for the operation of, such a plant, and any such purchase is considered to be in the public interest and to comply with the criteria for certification of a project under s. 196.49 (3) (b).
It's unclear what "the best interest of the state" is.”
But if this deal goes through, one of the companies that could stand to benefit significantly is Koch Industries. Koch already has several companies in the state, including a coal subsidiary, timber plants and a large network of pipelines.
During the 2010 election cycle, Walker received $43,000 from the Koch Industries PAC, his second-largest contribution. The PAC also gave significantly to the Republican Governors Association, which in turn helped out Walker considerably in his race. Koch also contributed $6,500 to support 16 Republican legislative candidates in the state.
The Koch-funded group Americans for Prosperity has also been standing with Walker throughout his budget battles, busing in Tea Party activists and launching the site, Stand With Walker. After the election, Walker and other Republican governors received guidance from the American Legislative Exchange Council, a group that is also funded by Koch dollars and has pushed anti-union measures.

People need to wake up to all this corporate manipulation before it’s too late, and start looking deeply at where the money behind the candidates they are voting for is coming from. It appears this battle against workers rights and unions is not just taking place in WI. There is talk of the same thing taking shape in 15 other states, by (you guessed it) GOP officials backed by… (you guessed it again!) Koch money.

I would ask where all the tea party rage is on this, but… (Yep!) Koch money is funding the tea parties too!

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    There's THREE pages of this kind of bribery:

    http://www.fec.gov/finance/disclosure/norindsea.shtml

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