They started taking a serious interest in politics in the 1960’s and in 1970 they convinced the Libertarian Party to put the younger of the brothers, David on the ticket to run as vice president. Needless to say, they lost. From that point their ideas about throwing around their weight and manipulating public perception seemed to expand and one might even say harden.
They claim to be followers of hard line libertarian thought, but upon closer scrutiny their ideas about public policy and government involvement in the private sector appear more about self interest than any larger philosophy about what’s good for America’s future. They own oil companies and related businesses. “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.” (http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2010/08/30/100830fa_fact_mayer?currentPage=1)
Greenpeace recently issued a report regarding Koch Industries detailing “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.” (http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2010/08/30/100830fa_fact_mayer?currentPage=1) One of those foundations is the think tank the Cato Institute.
Koch Industries operates interests related to their company internationally including oil interests in the Middle East. (http://www.boycottwatch.org/misc/KochPetrolium.htm) (http://www.kochind.com/factsSheets/TradingFacts.aspx) Additionally, “the Kochs operate oil refineries in Alaska, Texas, and Minnesota, and control some four thousand miles of pipeline. Koch Industries owns Brawny paper towels, Dixie cups, Georgia-Pacific lumber, Stainmaster carpet, and Lycra, among other products.” (http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2010/08/30/100830fa_fact_mayer?currentPage=1)
With all the chemical and oil related companies and subsidiaries under the Koch umbrella, it’s no wonder they’re so regulations obsessed. They pursue loosening environmental regulations more intently than even Exxon/ Mobil. It makes sense.
All the more when you look deeper into their track record regarding run-ins with the law. “In March 1999, Koch Petroleum Group, a Koch Industries subsidiary, pled guilty to charges that it had negligently allowed aviation fuel to leak into waters near the Mississippi River from its refinery in Rosemount, Minnesota, and that it had illegally dumped a million gallons of high-ammonia wastewater onto the ground and into the Mississippi River.
“Koch Petroleum paid the Dakota County Park System a $6 million fine and $2 million in remediation costs, and was ordered to serve three years of probation. (http://yosemite.epa.gov/opa/admpress.nsf/d0cf6618525a9efb85257359003fb69d/eae2020401d0bf098525689d00713ea5!OpenDocument) In 1999, a federal jury found that Koch Industries had stolen oil from government and American Indian lands, had lied about its purchases more than 24,000 times, and was fined $553,504.” (http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2000/11/27/60II/main252545.shtml)
” In January 2000, Koch Industries subsidiary, Koch Pipeline, agreed to a $35 million settlement with the U.S. Justice Department and the State of Texas. This settlement, including a $30 million civil fine, was incurred for the firm's multiple oil spills in Texas and five other states going back to 1990. (http://www.safetyonline.com/article.mvc/Koch-Agrees-to-35-million-Settlement-in-Two-E-0001?VNETCOOKIE=NO) The spills resulted in more than three million gallons of crude oil leaking into ponds, lakes, streams and coastal waters. (http://yosemite.epa.gov/opa/admpress.nsf/016bcfb1deb9fecd85256aca005d74df/981d17e5ab07246f8525686500621079)
“In 2001, the company reached two settlements with the government. In April, the company reached a $20 million settlement in exchange for admitting to covering up environmental violations at its refinery in Corpus Christi, Texas. (http://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/2001/April/153enrd.htm)( http://www.icis.com/Articles/2001/01/22/130888/doj-reduces-indictments-against-koch-industries.html)
“That May, Koch Industries paid $25 million to the federal government to settle a federal lawsuit that found the company had improperly taken more oil than it had paid for from federal and Indian land.” (http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2000/11/27/60II/main252545.shtml) (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Koch_Industries)
A giant corporation stealing oil from Native American lands and tax payer owned land. It begs the question, had there been poor to middle income people stealing from Native Americans or tax payers, what would they feel the appropriate punishments should be if any? Should we loosen regulations and laws concerning people who get caught stealing merchandise from department stores, stealing cars or burglarizing? What would the Koch brothers say?
If people started dumping their trash on the lawns of mansions owned by the Koch brothers should that be considered a crime? What about household chemical waste and engine oil into their wells for drinking water or the rivers and lakes they enjoy swimming in?
Why should our properties be worth less than theirs? Why should the water we drink be worth less? What gives them a free pass from God to do things the rest of us are not? If the government should not enforce crimes, then who? Which crimes are more deserving of punishment?
This is all being brought up because the brothers struck black gold again, but this time political black gold. All their years of political front groups, non-profits and think tanks designed to serve their political ambitions paid off when they discovered people were angry about all the taxpayer cash given to private industry in the TARP bailout and the stimulus.
They decided to play on these emotions as a way to get their political foot in the door. The Tea party became their in. One of their non-profit front organizations, Americans for Prosperity, which grew out of another of their organizations which split in 2004 (the other offshoot being FreedomWorks) has been instrumental in helping get the Tea Party where it is. Their longtime employees have taken highly placed positions and have been running things from behind the scenes.
This is the same Tea Party that is furious about government spending and pork. But, Koch Industries has received around $100 million in government contracts. (http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2010/08/30/100830fa_fact_mayer?currentPage=1) They don’t care about the little guy and his taxes, concerns or how the government spends that money.
If they were truly sincere they never would have taken that money in the first place. It would have been against those supposed “principles” they have been trumpeting. They are not true proponents of Tea Party principles nor do they stand by them.
Further proof of how they feel about the “little guy” can be gleaned from something one of their former Republican advisors mentioned in an interview. He said, “they’re smart. This right-wing, redneck stuff works for them. They see this as a way to get things done without getting dirty themselves.” (http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2010/08/30/100830fa_fact_mayer?currentPage=1)
Like all others involved in political activism and organizing they have their reasons. Most do. But, unlike these two, the people on the ground are not interested in loosening restrictions on billion dollar industries so they can get away with things the rest of us would be arrested on site for.
These two guys are telling all of us, who are bitter and angry about all those dollars injected into the veins of corporate America like some new super drug, just what we want to hear. Those millions of dollars per company they talk about? The Koch brothers own one just like them.
Heck they’ve been getting tax payer cash since 2000, long before the Republican TARP or the Democratic stimulus. The Koch brothers could care less, not because of what they own, but because of how they’ve behaved. If they really believed what they were trying to sell us, they would have demonstrated it a long time ago. It isn’t real.
To read about my inspiration for this article go to www.lawsuitagainstuconn.com.