GOPers Cave to Koch Stance on Export-Import Bank

In the Kochs’ invisible primary, the crop of GOP presidential wannabees are bending over backwards to win the financial backing of the electorate of two. An aide to the Kochs told the Daily Signal that opposition to the Export-Import Bank would be a key factor in determining whether a candidate would garner the billionaire brothers’ support.

Of course, the Kochs are opposed to the program because it gives small businesses an edge over their multi-national corporation, Koch Industries. Now the Kochs have set their sights on killing the bank through several of their organizations, including Americans for Prosperity, Freedom Partners, and the LIBRE Initiative.

The truth is the Ex-Im Bank’s mission is to protect American companies and give them a competitive edge abroad. For more than 80 years, it’s been a bipartisan program because it promotes American exports. Last year alone it supported 164,000 jobs here at home with no cost to taxpayers. The reauthorization of the Bank is set to expire in June — if Congress doesn’t act.

The Kochs have pledged to spend nearly $900 million on the 2016 election and the GOP hopefuls are squabbling for piece of it. Most of the field has rushed to call for an end to the institution, including Jeb Bush, Scott Walker, Marco Rubio, Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, and Bobby Jindal. The coveted Koch endorsement will likely go to whichever contestant best caters to Koch priorities. Just last month, Rubio participated in a conference call with Koch-backed Americans for Prosperity to push for the death of the Export-Import Bank.

The billionaire sweepstakes in the GOP primary are on! How far will the GOP presidential field go to stay in the Kochs’ good graces?

The Kochs Block Solar Energy in the Sunshine State

This week the Kochs were vilified in a Gainesville Sun editorial for their greedy efforts to stave off threats to their oil and gas empire. The paper blames Americans for Prosperity, the Kochs’ political arm, for an obscure regulation that limits the expansion of solar power in the Sunshine State. 

Florida is one of five states that has a law on the books prohibiting residents from selling power from solar panels installed on homes or businesses — instead consumers can only buy electricity directly from utilities. The Gainesville Sun pins the ban on AFP’s intense lobbying efforts to protect their fossil fuel fortune. The paper points to overwhelming evidence that the expansion of solar energy would save money, reduce fossil-fuel emissions, and create jobs.

Time and time again, the Koch brothers’ self-interested actions proved to be beneficial to their bottom line at the expense of hardworking Floridians. As part of the mandate to expose Koch tactics, this month Bridge Project released a report titled Florida Man Buys State: Koch Impacts in the Sunshine State. It’s a comprehensive look at the billionaire brothers political maneuvering in the key swing state. The report includes an outline of Koch efforts to squash a ballot initiative that would allow businesses to sell power to property owners directly.
“The Koch Brothers are so singularly dedicated to their bottom line that AFP even drew the ire of other conservative groups by opposing a proposed ballot initiative with broad support that would open Florida up to the solar industry, a move that would threaten Koch’s oil and gas operations,” says the report. “Conservatives for Energy Freedom co-founder Debby Dooley criticized AFP’s efforts by saying, ‘You don’t throw your principles out the window to benefit your corporate benefactors.'”
 
The Koch machine is working overtime to rig the system in their favor — even in the face of commonsense reforms like expanding solar energy in the Sunshine State.

Home-State News: Another Koch Condemnation on Renewable Energy

Another newspaper in their own backyard is lambasting the Kochs and Governor Brownback for their attacks on renewable energy. Last week, the Koch brothers’ hometown publication, the Wichita Eagle, issued an editorial roasting the Kochs and Brownback for their assault on wind energy. This week it’s the Butler County Gazette exposing how deeply involved the Kochs actually are in special-interest lobbying.

Last week, Governor Brownback announced a “compromise” on the state’s renewable energy standards, changing a mandate into a voluntary goal. The agreement also decreased the lifetime property tax exemption for renewable projects to a 10-year exemption. Americans for Prosperity has been attacking the standards since January 2014, calling for an end to the mandate. Now the Gazette editorial board is saying the wind industry was “bullied into the deal” — revealing that the “compromise” was brokered behind closed doors, with Americans for Prosperity seated at the table.

Before this Koch-Brownback attack, Kansas was ranked second in the nation in wind energy potential. According to the The Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Lab, if Kansas were to develop 7,158 MW of new wind by 2030 the economic benefit would amount to $7.8 billion, resulting in more than 26,000 new jobs.

Naturally, the Kochs and their elected officials are opposed to any regulation that damages their fossil fuel fortune. And after boosting Governor Brownback’s campaign, the Koch brothers are making sure he returns the favor by pushing policies that protect their bottom line.

The Vatican Knocks the Kochs for Climate Change Criticism

The Church is fighting back against Koch attacks on climate change. In an interview with Life Site News, Vatican Prelate Sánchez Sorondo called out self-serving fossil fuel tycoons for criticizing the Church’s efforts to combat the effects of climate change. 

In response to the pope’s call to action on Catholics and world leaders, the Kochs are using their dark money and conservative cronies to derail the Holy Father’s work to protect the environment. The Koch brothers will stop at nothing to protect their profits. Last month, the Heartland Institute, a Chicago-based think-tank that is backed by the Kochs, went to Rome to protest the Vatican’s action on climate change.

When the Vatican prelate was asked if he had any choice words for his detractors he said, “The Tea Party and all those whose income derives from oil have criticized us, but not my superiors, who instead authorized me, and several of them participated.”

The Vatican prelate stressed the moral urgency of climate change; he cited the disastrous effects this global crisis will wreak on the poorest populations. Koch cash and junk science won’t buy off the Church.

Check out Bridge Project’s 50-second Spanish language web ad, Los hermanos Koch se oponen al Papa por el cambio climático, about the Kochs’ attacks on the pope.

Koch Cash Falls Short After Fueling Toxic Kentucky Gov. Primary

Even the Kochs have limits: after using millions of dollars to fuel a shady, personal, muddy, primary fight the Koch machine came up short on Tuesday, seeing their candidate Hal Heiner spend roughly $100 per vote to come in a distant third.

According to the Louisville Courier-Journal, the Kochs backed two political action committees in support of Heiner: Citizens for a Sound Government (CGS) and the Bluegrass Action Fund. Both of the groups are led by, Alan Phillip, a longtime Koch operative. According to CNN, the Bluegrass Action Fund spent $400,000 on an advertising blitz calling eventual nominee Matt Bevin “dishonest” for misrepresenting himself on LinkedIn and taking federal money while their chosen candidate launched attacks in person and on television highlighting an allegation that one of his opponents, James Comer, abused his college girlfriend.

The Kochs besmirched the Republican brand in Kentucky before coming up short, but this is just a preview of the dark money and dirty tactics the Kochs will bring to the national stage in 2016.

The Kochs go Missing in Oregon

Americans for Prosperity, the Koch brothers’ political arm, has inexplicably abandoned their post in Oregon. According to the Institute for Research & Education on Human Rights, AFP national has said “ the organization no longer maintains a chapter in that state.”

AFP has been active in numerous cities across Oregon since 2007, even before the Tea Party movement sprung into existence. One possible explanation is that the surplus of local and nationally linked Tea Party groups pushed AFP Oregon out of business. Another possible reason is that some of the local chapters went off the rails when they began to plunge into conspiracy theories about Islamophobia and Agenda 21.

References to the AFP Oregon chapter have been completely scrubbed from AFP’s national website. AFP declined to comment on what relationship exists between the national and local chapters or why the Oregon chapter had been deserted. This is a victory for Oregonians who — for now — won’t have the Kochs interfering in their state politics.

McConnell Names Koch Shill to Key Senate Post

Mitch McConnell owes the Kochs big time. The Kochs bought McConnell a slew of GOP Senate seats in the 2014 midterms and handed him his post as Senate Majority Leader. In addition, Koch Industries gave over $10,000 to buoy McConnell in his own Senate battle. Now McConnell is hiring a Koch crony to push the Koch agenda through Congress. McConnell has hired Hazen Marshall, a former lobbyist on behalf of Koch Industries, to serve as his new policy director.

Koch Industries spent a hefty $13 million on influencing the federal government last year. Marshall previously served as partner of the Nickles Group where he worked on behalf of Koch Industries. There, he lobbied on the Kochs’ pet issues, including against the Wind Production Tax Credit. The wind PTC has been crucial to the growth of the wind energy industry as it has boomed in recent years, providing more affordable energy, supporting thousands of new jobs, and protecting our environment. But self-interested fossil fuel titans like the Koch brothers are lobbying to crush the wind industry. The Kochs will stop at nothing to stave off threats to their petrochemical empire. 

Since the midterms, Koch lieutenants have been dispatched to work in offices across Capitol Hill — demonstrating the deep ties between Koch-world and the GOP. Joni Ernst hired her chief of staff from the Koch-backed National Federation of Independent Small Business, Jim Inhofe tapped his Environment and Public Works Committee press secretary from the Koch-funded Generation Opportunity, and Tom Cotton’s former spokesman is the new director for Americans for Prosperity-Arkansas. It’s getting harder and harder to separate the Koch shills from the GOP.

The Kochs’ Continued Attack on Renewables in North Carolina

The Koch war on renewables continues in their campaign to halt the threats to their behemoth fossil fuel empire. Americans for Prosperity, the Kochs’ political arm, is lobbying against North Carolina’s House budget proposal, which includes the extension of tax credits for solar and renewable energy projects. Not ones to discriminate in their opposition to different types of renewable energy, Americans for Prosperity is pushing to kill all targeted renewable tax credits.

AFP won’t stop there. In a letter to the House Finance Committee, AFP’s State Director, Donald Bryson, pushed to abolish all renewable tax credits and lower personal and corporate income tax rates to exempt billionaires like the Kochs from paying their fair share.

Despite the Koch efforts to eliminate these successful programs, it’s all too clear that renewable energy credits pay dividends in private investment. According to recent estimates, between 2007 and 2014, $229.8 million in tax credits has resulted in over $2.6 billion in private investment in renewable projects.

This is just the Kochs’ latest attempt to dismantle a thriving renewable industry in North Carolina. Last week, Last week, the Koch-purchased North Carolina House issued an AFP-backed bill to limit the percentage of North Carolina’s electricity sales from renewable sources. It looks like the Kochs’ bought and paid for elected officials are handing their investors another victory in their ploy to protect profits.

Kiss Academic Freedom Goodbye: The Koch Brothers Invade College Campuses

College campuses are pushing Koch propaganda and you might not even know it. Case in point: A ​new study out of Arizona State University says the state could phase out the​ personal​ income tax in six to eight years, which would exempt tycoons like the Kochs from paying their fair share. What the study doesn’t say is that the Koch brothers funded ASU’s Center for the Study of Economic Liberty to the tune of $3.5 million, which turned around and produced the very report that would mean enormous gains for billionaires like the Kochs.

Predictably, Arizona Governor — and Koch pawn — Doug Ducey is backing the proposal. Prior to his election, Governor Ducey attended a Koch summit where he was caught professing his love for the billionaire brothers and groveling for Koch funds.

But that’s not all.

ASU also accepted more than $1 million in Koch ​cash ​to pay for a history professor’s position. According to an op-ed in the Arizona Republic, “The job description read like propaganda position meant to service the agenda of a couple of unnamed billionaires.​”​

​Hundreds of universities big and small, from the state of Florida up to Tennessee, Kentucky, and beyond, are accepting Koch cash. Koch donations are actually not donations at all — but rather another medium to disseminate their message. Money from the Kochs comes with countless strings attached and that may be in the form of ideological requirements of the professors, ​or ​the production of works that back policies which increase Koch profit margins.

But students are catching on: across the country they are demanding that their universities “Unkoch My Campus.”  The campaign tries to shed light on how much power the Koch brothers wield over academic decision-making.

The Kochs’ insidious infiltration of institutions that pledge to be unbiased hallmarks of academic integrity is unnerving. From loading up universities with their tainted donations to spending nearly $900 million this election to try to buy the White House — the Kochs continue to push their propaganda.

Koch brothers welcome flat tax acolytes Cruz and Paul with open arms

It’s hard to understate just how important tax reform is to the Koch brothers, but if you asked them to finally admit that climate change is caused by humans to enact a flat tax, they wouldn’t think twice. The New York Times confirmed todaythat their preferred method of tilting the scales in their favor – the flat tax – is sure to be a major debate in the GOP primary. Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, Ben Carson, and Rick Perry all strongly support the flat tax, which the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities describes as:

“injurious to working and middle-class Americans, who would have to pay higher taxes to help make up for the massive revenue losses, face deep cuts in key programs — likely including programs such as Medicare — to accommodate the large revenue losses, or both.”

In other words, the flat tax will force low and middle-income working families to shoulder more of the burden while billionaires like the Kochs get off with paying less of their fair share. A single mother making $35,000, for example, would pay $600 more in taxes under the flat tax. Meanwhile, it provides a cover for Republicans to enact massive cuts to Social Security, Medicare, and other vital programs.

Cruz and Paul are two of the Koch brothers’ chosen five to audition for the nearly $900 million they’re spending this election cycle. The flat tax is a potent issue for candidates to highlight for the Kochs – their Americans for Prosperity has made the flat tax a cornerstone of their tax agenda. In addition to pushing it nationally, AFP also lobbies state legislatures to adopt flat taxes, as Bridge Project’s Iowa report explores.

Experts from across the political spectrum agree that a flat tax is unfair, impractical, and would demolish working families – but that hasn’t stopped Ted Cruz and Rand Paul from teaming up with the Kochs to push it through.

The question is how far right will Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, and Scott Walker be forced to stay in the Kochs’ good graces?

Paid for by American Bridge 21st Century Foundation