WBUR

The United States Of Koch

he Koch Industries Inc. headquarters in Wichita, Kan. (AP)

he Koch Industries Inc. headquarters in Wichita, Kan. (AP)

As our nation celebrates its independence, two men are bending our government to their will. I speak, of course, of the Koch brothers. Here are 12 things to know about them.

1. They are the fringe 1 percent: David Koch, 71, and Charles Koch, 75, are each worth about $20 billion. Koch Industries is the second largest privately owned company in the U.S. with annual revenues of $100 billlion.

2. They own practically everything: Based in Wichita, Kansas, they own companies around the world in oil drilling, refining and pipelines; natural gas, chemicals, minerals, fertilizers, fibers and polymers, paper products, commodity and financial trading; timber, cattle ranching; and business development.

Through their holdings and subsidiaries, they make products we use or encounter every day, like Dixie cups, Stainmaster carpet, Chevron gas, Georgia-Pacific plywood, (more about GP below), Dacron fabric and many, many familiar names.

3. They think they own their employees: Last year, they wrote to their employees, some 65,000 in all, telling them which candidates and causes to support and that their jobs could be at risk if the desired results did not obtain. This muscling of workers is allowed because of the Citizens United decision, which the Kochs supported through legal briefs — including one from the far-right Cato Institute, which they founded and fund.

4. They back Scott Brown: The Koch political action committee dropped $2,500 on Brown in February. Previously the Kochs had directed $50,400 to his campaign. Brown glad-handed David Koch at a recent MIT event, thanking him for support in his special election win. “Your support during the election, it meant a, it meant a ton. It made a, it made a difference and I can certainly use it again.” Watch the conversation here.

5. Right from the start: The brothers founded the powerful but little-known, starve-government, no-regulations, no-taxes-on-the-wealthy group Americans For Prosperity.
Their father, an oil man, was a charter member of the John Birch Society, a lunatic fringe group that in the 1950s accused President Dwight Eisenhower, among many others, of being a communist agent.

6. They are already attacking the Court’s health care ruling: The brothers’ Americans For Prosperity goliath has begun a $9 million TV ad campaign in 12 swing states targeting the Affordable Care Act as an Obama tax, Politico reported. AFP is a major backer of several superPACs, including Karl Rove’s multi-million-dollar GPS Crossroads, which has been running TV attacks against Democrats across the country.

7. They are major polluters: The University of Massachusetts at Amherst’s Political Economy Research Institute named Koch Industries one of the top 10 air polluters in the nation. Greenpeace found that they gave tens of millions to lobby against environmental legislation, not counting all of their oil and gas lobbying. A new documentary revealed abnormally high rates of cancer among residents of a small Arkansas town who live near a wastewater channel for Georgia-Pacific, a Koch Industries mainstay.

8. They are in the climate change denial business: A report by Greenpeace called the company a “kingpin of climate science denial.” They finance a broad network of foundations, think tanks, and political front groups that oppose laws promoting clean energy and wise climate policies. ThinkProgress.org, an award-winning liberal blog, reported that David Koch denied the existence of climate change and shrugged when asked if carbon pollution causes global warming.

9. David Koch believes global warming is good: In 2010, New York Magazine quoted David Koch as saying global warming will be a good thing for the planet and will help “support enormously more people because a far greater land area will be available to produce food.” He is, after all, in the fertilizer, cattle, and oil “bidness.”

10. They were a major force in the Wisconsin recall: They invested tens of millions in saving Gov. Scott Walker and state legislators from being recalled. So extensive was their political activity, observers said Wisconsin became “a wholly owned subsidiary of the Koch brothers.” The duo are major backers of ALEC, the Republican state-law-writing and lobbying outfit. One of ALEC’s major victories was Florida’s stand-your-ground law at the heart of the Treyvon Martin case.

11. They host the rich and powerful: The ever-secretive Kochs have, for nine years, held invitation-only, heavily-guarded political strategy and fundraising seminars for executives from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, and a large group of businessmen, including major hedge fund managers, the CEO of Bechtel, oil billionaires and others. Their highest priority: the defeat of President Obama.

Seen mingling with average billionaires were Supreme Court Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas, who (coincidentally?) sided with the Koch brothers on the Citizens United case and the Affordable Care Act case.

12. They are changing our government: Leaving aside their multi-million dollar lobbying to get their way in state capitols, they are also changing the face of Congress. They were the earliest bankrollers of the Tea Party movement, now 66 members strong in the U.S. House. Virtually every Republican candidate for president sought their support and money. From Romney to Gingrich to Santorum to Bachmann to Perry to Cain, they all solicited the brothers’ blessing.

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  • Karen Lavallee

    i could just throw-up its so discusting.  kfl

  • Jkilcommons

    This is so lame. it’s something straight out of athe left wing talking points on the Koch’s This is suppose to be taken seriuosly? The Koch brothers are so evil etc. their anti science (both have Master Drees from MIT). Hard as it is for liberal members of the press to fathom, the Kochs’ giving is no more fueled by self-interest than are the donations of Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, or George Soros. These men are all motivated by the desire to make the world a better place. They just have radically different conceptions of how to go about that. George Soros thinks the way to improve society is to redistribute resources. Bill Gates and Warren Buffett believe they should use the wealth they have earned through the free-market system to “give back” through charitable works. They don’t need to worry if the policies they advocate expa…nd the public sector’s responsibilities, as they can insulate themselves from the effects of a more burdensome government in ways most citizens can’t. Liberals journalist, look at wealth creation as a zero-sum game where for every winner there is a loser, it might make sense to focus your philanthropy on redistributing goods from some to others. But if you believe that a free marketplace can create the best opportunity for the largest number of people, it makes sense to use your resources to preserve and protect America’s system of democratic capitalism. The question is not why the Kochs use their philanthropic dollars to protect the capitalist system; it’s why so many others who have benefited from that system don’t. This article is so pathetic.

    • jerry person

      You have sold your sole to the devil. Just like all stgreet walkers. I can just imagine what you will do for a dollar. Have you molested a child yet today. Most of Kochs flock are evil police who ruin generations of our youth so their pimp koch can prevail and make the money. The officer gets almost nothing just like all street whores. Todays prostitutes have badges and are addicted to Koch.

    • jerry person

      Talking about pathetic. How many tricks are you required each day?

      • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_HZPDJ6YYI4AGL62Z5DNTF5OA6Q Chas

         Good God!  Walker the antichrist – you are not only a complete nitwit.

  • http://twitter.com/supertascha Supertascha H Obama

    Interesting the Jkilcommons did not address what appears to be the article’s strongest argument – the Koch brothers, owning chemical companies, oil pipelines and refineries, etc., have a vested interest in trying to buy off politicians so that they can have less stringent regulations which, as major polluters, would be favorable to them. Perhaps die hard “free market” defenders can somehow overlook what appears to be pretty basic corruption – of the sort one would expect in a much less developed nation.  The American people need to see what the Koch brothers, and others like them, are doing. Plain and simple, they want to buy off government officials so that they can dump their gunk into the environment with impunity.  There is nothing philanthropic about that.

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_HZPDJ6YYI4AGL62Z5DNTF5OA6Q Chas

       All completely without basis in fact and appears to be the ramblings of a paranoid conspiracy theorist.

      • http://twitter.com/supertascha Supertascha H Obama

        Want facts? Trying Googling “Koch Industries” and “fines”. One of the first hits you’ll see is an article in Bloomberg entitled ‘Koch Brothers Flout Law Getting Richer With Secret Iran Sales’ which, by the way, is another really good reason not to like them. In the article, if you read it, you will learn that “From 1999 through 2003, Koch Industries was assessed more than $400 million in fines, penalties and judgments” which does not include a $25 million settlement for stealing oil from federal lands or the $269 million verdict for killing two teenagers when one of their pipelines exploded. 
        Facts about the Kochs are pretty easy to find, if you are trying, but I notice there aren’t any facts in any of your replies. If facts aren’t your thing, then maybe at least you can follow your own advice and stop writing “jibberish” that ”
        clearly emanates from someone who thinks that political discourse is nothing more than childish name-calling and coarse language.” Pathetic indeed. 

  • jerry person

    Their father made his first millions from Josef Stalin. The guy who killed and made slaves of everyone except his relatives. Koch is a Stalin and KGB/GOP all the way.  Reagan working for koch helped Koch win the cold war as we are now witnessing.  No onwe made money from stalin but KOCH.  The Russia Tea party has control of the US House and many state governments. That is why the GOp must follow the dictator or they fear he will torture them like he has forced walker and many of their flock to torture children and seniors. Stalin showed them torture and harming the people allows them to get their sicko perverted kicks.

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_HZPDJ6YYI4AGL62Z5DNTF5OA6Q Chas

       Wow.  this guy is a completely whacko.

  • Walker the antichrist

    Only Koch sluts will tell you it is untrue. Anti American antichrist followers just like in the new testement. God will destroy the GOP and it`s evil once again.

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_HZPDJ6YYI4AGL62Z5DNTF5OA6Q Chas

       This comment is without any basis of fact nor is it a refutation or counterargument of any kind.  This jibberish clearly emanates from someone who thinks that political discourse is nothing more than childish name-calling and coarse language.  Absolutely pathetic.

  • Jkilcommons

    This is just more left wing prop. from Payne. A liberal dem. old hack Why anybody takes this guy seriuosly. He worked on John Kerry campaign 2 decades ago and he thinks he has something insightfull to say.. Oh please This is just more liberal bs talknig points. Funny no mention of liberal darlings like,   George Soros and his fortune. Soros a hedge fund operator and speculator, Soros was actually convicted of insider trading. Yet the Left hammers on Koch Industries for providing energy that America has used to power its economic growth, and energy we will continue to need

  • FerdtheMoonCat

    I worked for Koch for over twenty years and my children went to school with theirs.  Here’s a few things to know about them from someone who actually knows them:
    1.  They are extraordinarily generous.  Their gifts to charity are huge, and their personal compassion is boundless.
    2.  They are exceptionally astute business people, having grown their company from $250mm annual revenue fifty years ago.  The tens of thousands of people that have worked for Koch have shared in that financial success, without exception.
    3.  Their employee communications are certainly no worse than communications from union bosses to union members.  Koch employees’ don’t have mandatory deductions from their wages as do union members, which deductions are funneled directly to union bosses’ political causes.
    4.  The Kochs’ public policy organizations are dwarfed by liberal organizations such as the Ford Foundation, the Tides Foundation and many, many others, which have been channeling far more than the Kochs to liberal causes for decades longer than the Kochs.
    5.  Obamacare is a tax, principally on the middle class, contrary to how it was marketed.  All citizens have the right to oppose taxes, and this one is no different.
    6.  Thank goodness someone questions the boondoggle comprised of the global warming sycophants.
    7.  What’s the financial difference between the people with whom the Kochs associate and the mega-millionaires from NYC and Hollywood that the liberals love to cultivate?
    8.  I thought changing government was O’bama’s 2008 mantra?  What is wrong with advocating change in government?  You might want to check out the website for the Tides Foundation before embarrassing yourself again.

    • Jerry Person

      did you short the koch. Please what a crock of bs. You have also told us the world is flat and there are wmds. Next you will say your religous.  Please use sauve when near children your a flaming predator.

  • comment

    The election of 2012 does matter. Money will speak loudly, with unbridled distortion. Are we as a nation prepared to stand up for the future of our children and the future of our country? Are each of us willing to do the small things to make sure that MONEY does not drive the message to those voters who are not really paying attention?

  • Anders4him

    Wow, certainly nice to read a “non-biased” news piece like this….NOT!

    This is another example of the lame stream media which is becoming increasingly ignored as it is blatantly biased and extremely subjective.  Wish more companies were like Koch instead of on the dole, like the banking industry, the oil industry, and on and on……

    Global warming scam and the EPA…..best things ever for One World Government!

    • comment

       It appears that Anders4him is not familiar with BUR political commentary. This is an opinion page. The commentary of Dan Payne represents freedom of speech, the true definition of freedom of speech not that as opined under People United.

      We are a divided country. Why? What role does the money of the 1% play in ginning up anger, fear, and far right sided, and I do mean far, rhetoric?

      Does the Koch machine have a band of “1% warriors” who follow any potential negative media coverage of the Koch agenda, as to prevent opinions that are contrary to the Koch goals?

      May I suggest that in the future Dan Payne use the by-line, political commentary under his name so as not to confuse.

  • Jerry Person

    Facts show Koch`s father made his first millions building power plants for josef Stalin. The facts are facts. Also even the Catholic nuns think Walker and Ryan are preaching the words of the devil. They have no religous following in any way. So all you stupid sheep let`s stick to Facts not Koch propaganda. I know your brainwashed idiots. But try to think and read just once. Koch is KGB/GOP/ Tea party. Communist sypathisors.

  • Jerry Person

    ALEC helped pioneer some of the toughest sentencing laws on the books today, “truth in sentencing” laws. In 1995 alone, ALEC’s Truth in Sentencing Act was signed into law in twenty-five states. (Then State Rep. Scott Walker was an ALEC member when he sponsored Wisconsin’s truth-in-sentencing laws and, according to PR Watch, used its statistics to make the case for the law.)   This forced Wisconsin to build new or rebuild 71 county jails 71 courthouses and dozens of prisons. This also forced Wisconsin to build  or remodel 238 police stations.  This also forced Wisconsin to buy or lease several hundred halfway houses etc. This also forced Wisconsin into hiring some 30,000 plus public sector workers to work at these places. Every time Scott walker says he is for small government and talks about the budget. remember who caused the budget problems and huge government in Wisconsin. He is for small government like George Bush was. He hires millions in the name of Homeland security. Vote Conservative and for small government. Vote out Scott Walker. Can we afford his tax and waste ideals and  huge government? If not for Walker and Alec Wisconsin would have tens of billions in surplus. We could get tax refunds again. Lets blame the real reason for budget problems. “Scott Walker”.
    As we all know this ended liberty and justice for all in Wisconsin. It has made our justice systems get rich quick schemes. Remember when Reagan stated we do not want to end up like Russia with a camera and a cop and every corner and big brother listening in on every phone call. Not in my America.  Even Ronald Reagan would call the Tea Partyers communist. Restore freedom and liberty and justice for all. Vote for a democrat and vote out the Russian Koch Tea Party. Koch`s daddy made his first million from Josef Stalin.

  • Jerry Person

    If you state facts to A republitard they will call it bias. That is because they only know what the brainwashing recording says. They can not think for themselves or tie their own shoes

  • Jerry Person

    As the nuns have stated no Christian would consider anything Walker, Ryan or His cronies say.

  • John_Hoffman

    My vote cannot be bought by The Koch Brothers.

  • Jarrod

    I can’t even register my discontent for these men n what they do. As for me I consider them as traitors and should be treated as so not hailed as money men and can do what ever they want.

  • Salamat1

    Disgusting. But no surprises.

  • Light Dancing

    Leaving destruction with everything they touch.

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