Business Impact

The Koch Brothers and their political groups have been instrumental in the crusade to undermine the science of climate change and obstruct clean energy legislation.

Why have they taken on this dirty campaign? Koch Industries, the oil conglomerate and driving force behind the brothers’ $100 billion fortune, is one of the United States’ worst polluters.

According to the Political Economy Research Institute at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, Koch Industries ranked in the top 30 polluters nationwide on each of these three metrics: air, waterand greenhouse gases.

In order to preserve their eye-popping, oil-soaked profits, the Kochs are willing to spend millions to mislead the public about climate change and fill Congress with legislators who oppose protections for our environment. For them, it’s just another self-serving investment.

For our children and grandchildren, not so much. Continue reading to learn how Koch Industries’ business practices have impacted your state.

Business Impact

Rand Paul redefines sucking up to Koch brothers

Rand Paul pulled one of the biggest suck-ups of all time when he said, “the Kochs have consistently lobbied against special-interest politics,” in his lavish praise of the Koch brothers in TIME. Rand either doesn’t understand the definition of “special interest” or ignored the Koch brothers’ long history of being “takers,” not “makers” as Paul Ryan would say — redefining special interest politics in the process.

As everyone knows, the Kochs might not walk the halls of Congress themselves, but they plan to spend $889 million to buy the 2016 election and employ an army of political operatives to strong-arm the Republican Party. One by one, Republican presidential candidates, governors, senators and House members are signing onto the Kochs’ extreme worldview: Tax cuts for the wealthy and corporate America, eliminating the minimum wage, slashing Medicare and dismantling Social Security, and opposition to safe air and water standards, to name a few.

The Koch brothers have written the modern special-interest textbook on best practices for turning immense wealth into legislative largesse. And with the help of politicians like Rand Paul, they have gotten their way at the expense of middle class workers far too often.

To understand how laughable Paul’s homage is to David and Charles Koch, look no further than their body of work as the kings of special-interest politics:

1986 TAX REFORM EXEMPTION FOR KOCH INDUSTRIES

The Los Angeles Times: Koch Brothers “Got Special Deals” Under Transitional Tax Rules In 1986 Tax Reform Bill; Tax Code Writers Allowed The Brothers’ Company To Use Depreciation And Tax Credits For Expansion Of Their Minneapolis Refinery, “Though Such Benefits Were Curtailed For Most Other Businesses In 1986.”  According to The Los Angeles Times:  “The Sullivans’ special deal is one of the loopholes that continues to make some taxpayers more equal than others under the “reformed” federal tax code, though hundreds of other breaks were eliminated.Some were written in to see that corporations and individuals didn’t suffer unfairly when Congress changed the rules of the game in 1986. Others provide special benefits for broader groups of taxpayers — and often, despite their patent unfairness, enjoy wide popular support.Two other individuals who got special deals under the so-called transitional tax rules were Kansas oil billionaires Charles and David Koch, owners of the private Koch Industries conglomerate. The tax code writers allowed the brothers’ company to use accelerated depreciation and an investment tax credit for their planned expansion of a big Minneapolis oil refinery, though such benefits were curtailed for most other businesses in 1986.  [The Los Angeles Times, 3/5/1989]

KOCH INDUSTRIES LOBBYING

Center for Public Integrity: Kochs’ Public Pose as Libertarians, Role as “Financial Angels for Conservative Movement” are “At Times In Conflict” With Koch Industries “Lobbying Steamroller for the Company’s Interests.” According the Center for Public Integrity, “Charles and David Koch, the owners of the country’s second-largest private corporation, are libertarians of long standing, who contend that government regulations, taxes and subsidies stifle individual initiative and hamper American competitiveness. In recent years, the Kochs have played an increasingly public role as financial angels for conservative causes, politicians and foundations.  What’s not so well-known is the activity of Koch Industries in the trenches in Washington, where a Center for Public Integrity examination of lobbying disclosure files and federal regulatory records reveals a lobbying steamroller for the company’s interests, at times in conflict with its public pose.”  [Center for Public Integrity, 4/6/11]

CPI: Koch Industries Uses Trade Associations Like The National Petrochemical & Refiners Association, And The National Environmental Development Association “To Represent Its Interests In Washington.” According to The Center for Public Integrity, “These totals do not include the work of the trade associations that Koch uses to represent its interests in Washington. There’s a major industry group called the National Petrochemical & Refiners Association, and obscure organizations like the green-sounding National Environmental Development Association’s Clean Air Project, whose membership lists Koch and two of its subsidiaries (Georgia-Pacific and Invista) with a dozen industrial giants like ExxonMobil Corp., General Electric Co. and Alcoa Inc.” [Center for Public Integrity, 4/6/11]

CPI: Gregory Zerzan, Former Acting Assistant Secretary And Deputy Assistant Secretary At The U.S. Treasury Department, Works As A Lobbyist For Koch. According to The Center for Public Integrity, “Gregory Zerzan is a good example. Zerzan was a senior counsel for the House Financial Services Committee before serving as an acting assistant secretary and deputy assistant secretary at the U.S. Treasury Department during the George W. Bush administration. Zerzan then worked as counsel and head of global public policy for the International Swaps and Derivative Association before joining Koch Industries as a lobbyist.” [Center for Public Integrity, 4/6/11]

Carbon Standards

Center for Public Integrity: “It’s In The Kochs’ Commercial Interest To Preserve America’s Reliance On Carbon-Based Energy Sources.” According to The Center for Public Integrity, “It’s in the Kochs’ commercial interest to preserve America’s reliance on carbon-based energy sources. Despite recent diversification, Koch remains a major petrochemical company with refineries in North Pole, Alaska; Corpus Christi, Texas; Rosemount, Minn., and Rotterdam in the Netherlands; an array of chemical plants; a coal subsidiary (the C. Reiss Coal Co.) and 4,000 miles of pipelines.  So it is not surprising that, when the Obama administration and the Democrats on Capitol Hill proposed to regulate the emission of greenhouse gases in recent years, Koch Industries responded with a fervent counteroffensive.”  [Center for Public Integrity, 4/6/11]

Center for Public Integrity: Koch Companies Lobby Heavily Against Use of Low-Carbon Fuel, Which Contribute Less Than Other Fuels to Global Warming.   According to the Center for Public Integrity, “Of particular concern to Koch lobbyists in Washington, according to their disclosure forms, are measures to encourage or require the use of low-carbon fuels. These sources of energy, in their manufacture and use, contribute less than other fuels to global warming.”  [Center for Public Integrity, 4/6/11]

  • Center for Public Integrity: Koch Refinery In Minnesota Processes Large Amount of “High Carbon” Canadian Crude Oil; Opposed Low Carbon Standards Because  “Canadian Crude Generates More Greenhouse Gas Emissions” And So Low-Carbon Standards “Would Cripple Refiners That Rely On Heavy Crude Feedstocks.” According to The Center for Public Integrity, “The Koch refinery in Minnesota is designed to process heavy ‘high-carbon’ Canadian crude oil, and is fed by a pipeline from Canada. Koch ‘is among Canada’s largest crude oil purchasers, shippers and exporters,’ the company says, with a trading and supply office in Calgary and a terminal in Hardisty, Alberta. Much of the oil comes from the mining of oil sands, which have a particularly heavy carbon footprint because the process releases greenhouse gases from peat lands and boreal forest, and requires a great deal of energy to heat and sweat the oil out. ‘Canadian crude generates more greenhouse gas emissions’ and so low-carbon standards ‘would cripple refiners that rely  on heavy crude feedstocks,’ the Koch Industries website notes. ‘It would be particularly devastating for refiners that use heavy Canadian crude.’” [Center for Public Integrity, 4/6/11]

CPI: Kochs Opposed Efforts in Washington, California to Introduce Low-Carbon Standards, Other Measures to Slow Global Warming. According to The Center for Public Integrity, “When lawmakers in Washington and states like California sought to address global warming by requiring the use of low carbon fuels, Koch Industries responded. Koch lobbyists listed the legislation as a lobbying priority on Capitol Hill. And in California, where a wide-ranging series of measures to slow climate change were launched by former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, Koch joined the fight to defeat them.  A Koch subsidiary, Flint Hills Resources, donated a million dollars in support of Proposition 23, an unsuccessful attempt funded by Koch and other energy companies last year to stall implementation of the low-carbon standards and other remedial climate measures in California.” [Center for Public Integrity, 4/6/11]

CPI: Koch Lobbyist Disclosed He Was Lobbying To “Oppose Government Mandates On Carbon Reduction Provisions … [And] Provisions Related To Climate Change, And Oppose Entire Bill.” According to The Center for Public Integrity, “‘Oppose government mandates on carbon reduction provisions … [and] provisions related to climate change, and oppose entire bill,’ Koch lobbyist Robert P. Hall wrote, listing his goals on the 2008 lobbying disclosure form. The firm’s lobbying expenditures soared in 2008 as Koch Industries and its subsidiaries — Georgia-Pacific, Invista, Flint Hills Resources, Koch Carbon, Koch Nitrogen — peppered the EPA and members of Congress with objections. Several worked on measures that would strip the EPA of the power to regulate greenhouse gases through the Clean Air Act.” [Center for Public Integrity, 4/6/11]

CPI: Koch Representatives Joined “ExxonMobil, ConocoPhillips, Eli Lilly And Other NEDA-CAP Members To Register Concerns With EPA Officials Over The Proposed Mandatory Reporting Rule For Greenhouse Gas Emissions.” According to The Center for Public Integrity, “Koch-supported groups like the National Environmental Development Association’s Clean Air Project joined the effort. In a recent meeting, five Koch representatives joined colleagues from ExxonMobil, ConocoPhillips, Eli Lilly and other NEDA-CAP members to register concerns with EPA officials over the proposed mandatory reporting rule for greenhouse gas emissions, the record shows.” [Center for Public Integrity, 4/6/11]

Toxic Chemicals

CPI: Koch Industries Has Worked “To Dilute Or Halt Tighter Federal Regulation Of Several Toxic Byproducts That Could Affect Its Bottom Line, Including Dioxin, Asbestos And Formaldehyde.” According to The Center for Public Integrity, “Koch has since worked, on Capitol Hill and in various regulatory proceedings, to dilute or halt tighter federal regulation of several toxic byproducts that could affect its bottom line, including dioxin, asbestos and formaldehyde, all of which have been linked to cancer.” [Center for Public Integrity, 4/6/11]

Center For Public Integrity: “Koch Industries Argued That Moderate Levels Of The Toxic Chemical Dioxin Should Not Be Designated As A Cancer Risk.” According to The Center for Public Integrity, “At an EPA hearing last summer, representatives from Koch Industries argued that moderate levels of the toxic chemical dioxin should not be designated as a cancer risk for humans.” [Center for Public Integrity, 4/6/11]

  • CPI: Georgia-Pacific Claimed To Have “A Significant Interest In” And “To Be Significantly Impacted,” By The EPA’s Decisions On Dioxin. According to The Center for Public Integrity, “Dioxin is released from incinerators, hazardous waste treatment, pesticide manufacturing, paper plants and other sources. With 165 manufacturing facilities across the United States, Georgia-Pacific ‘has a significant interest in and will be significantly impacted,’ by the EPA’s decisions on dioxin, Koch officials told the agency in April 2010.” [Center for Public Integrity, 4/6/11]

CPI: Georgia-Pacific “Strongly Disagreed” With The National Toxicology Program’s Decision To List Formaldehyde As A Human Carcinogen. According to The Center for Public Integrity, “‘GP strongly disagrees with the [National Toxicology Program] panel’s conclusion to list formaldehyde, a natural component of every cell in the body, as a human carcinogen,’ wrote Traylor Champion, the firm’s vice president for environmental affairs, in a February 2010 letter.” [Center for Public Integrity, 4/6/11]

CPI: Georgia-Pacific Became A Target For More Than 340,000 Claims By Plaintiffs Because Of Their Use Of Asbestos In Their Products. According to The Center for Public Integrity, “When Koch Industries purchased Georgia-Pacific, it inherited a titanic liability regarding asbestos. Georgia-Pacific had used asbestos to make gypsum-based drywall products, and starting in the 1980s the firm became a target for more than 340,000 claims by plaintiffs who said they suffered lung and other diseases, including mesothelioma, a deadly cancer. By 2005, the company was spending $200 million a year and had to build a $1.5 billion reserve fund for asbestos liabilities and defense costs.” [Center for Public Integrity, 4/6/11]

  • CPI: Koch Industries General Counsel Mark Holden Griped That “Many Of Those Claims Are An Outright Abuse Of The Legal System … That Often Involve People Who Are Not Sick.” According to The Center for Public Integrity, “In a 2008 Koch Industries publication, General Counsel Mark Holden griped that ‘many of those claims are an outright abuse of the legal system … that often involve people who are not sick … all because of over-zealous litigators and a legal system that gives them perverse incentives.’”[Center for Public Integrity, 4/6/11]
  • CPI: Koch Industries Has Lobbied Against “Legislative Proposals Intending To Restrict The Use Of Asbestos And Improve Public Knowledge.” According to The Center for Public Integrity, “The number of new claims has dropped with tougher federal safety standards. But in the 110th Congress Koch lobbyists still sought to sway members on legislative proposals intending to restrict the use of asbestos and improve public knowledge, even Senate Resolution 462, which called for a ‘National Asbestos Awareness Week.’”[Center for Public Integrity, 4/6/11]

Koch Opposed Legislation “That Would Toughen” Standards, And Require Manufacturers “To Use Safer Chemicals And Processes” To Prevent And Minimize The Effects Of Toxic Releases From Terrorist Attacks. According to The Center for Public Integrity, “Another major preoccupation of Koch Industries lobbyists during recent sessions of Congress was the Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards, a federal effort to identify and regulate chemical facilities that could be vulnerable to terrorist attacks. In 2009, the House passed legislation that would toughen the standards, and require manufacturers like Koch to use safer chemicals and processes to add another level of protection and minimize the effects of toxic releases from terrorist attacks or catastrophic accidents. Koch opposed the changes, claiming they ‘increase cost and regulatory burden while shifting focus away from security and toward environmental considerations.’ The chemical security provisions were listed as lobbying targets by Koch representatives in 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010.” [Center for Public Integrity, 4/6/11]

Ethanol

Center For Public Integrity: “The Kochs Bought Four Ethanol Plants… With A Combined Annual Capacity Of 435 Million Gallons.” According to The Center for Public Integrity, “In Iowa As its corporate officials and publicists decried ethanol as a costly government boondoggle, the Kochs bought four ethanol plants in Iowa in recent months, with a combined annual capacity of 435 million gallons. In Washington (where ethanol tax subsidies cost the Treasury some $6 billion annually) Koch representatives lobbied Congress on ethanol and other biofuel subsidies.” [Center for Public Integrity, 4/6/11]

CPI: Koch Industries’ Subsidiaries, Flint Hills And Koch Supply & Trading, “Currently Buy And Market About One-Tenth Of All The Ethanol Produced In The United States.” According to The Center for Public Integrity, “Koch Industries’ status as an ethanol player goes beyond its new Iowa plants. Koch blends ethanol and gasoline nearby, in its Minnesota refinery. By its own account, the company’s subsidiaries, Flint Hills and Koch Supply & Trading, currently buy and market about one-tenth of all the ethanol produced in the United States.” [Center for Public Integrity, 4/6/11]

CPI: Koch Industries Accept Ethanol Subsidies Even Though They Claim To Be Opposed To Them Because They Did Not Want To “Place Our Company And Our Employees At A Competitive Disadvantage.” According to The Center for Public Integrity, “The Kochs seem to have recognized that their actions might seem hypocritical and in a January 2011 newsletter the company tried to explain things to employees who have been ‘scratching their heads and wondering: what is going on? After all, ethanol production is heavily subsidized, mandated and protected,’ Koch Industries acknowledged, ‘while Koch companies openly oppose such government programs. […] ‘We are not going to place our company and our employees at a competitive disadvantage by not participating in programs that are available to our competitors,’ Razook assured Koch employees.” [Center for Public Integrity, 4/6/11]

Oil Industry Price Gouging, Speculation, Tax Breaks, and Loopholes

Center For Public Integrity: “Oil Is The Core Of The Koch Business Empire.” According to The Center for Public Integrity, “Oil is the core of the Koch business empire, and the company’s lobbyists and officials have successfully fought to preserve the industry’s tax breaks and credits, and to defeat attempts by Congress to regulate greenhouse gases.” [Center for Public Integrity, 4/6/11]

  • CPI: “Koch Was A Pioneer Importer Of Russian Oil To The United States. According to The Center for Public Integrity, “The company has a history of pragmatism in commercial affairs. Koch was a pioneer importer of Russian oil to the United States, including a 2002 shipment of Russian crude that Koch sold to the U.S. government to help fill the U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserve. And though it opposes a cap-and-trade solution to global warming for the United States, Koch makes money trading emissions credits under a similar program in Europe.” [Center for Public Integrity, 4/6/11]

CPI: Koch Lobbyists “Spend Much Of Their Time” Fighting Attempts To “Curb Price-Gouging, Windfall Profit-Taking And Speculation In The Oil Industry.” According to The Center for Public Integrity, “Koch lobbyists spend much of their time, according to their disclosure reports, fighting attempts by members of Congress to curb price-gouging, windfall profit-taking and speculation in the oil industry.” [Center for Public Integrity, 4/6/11]

CPI: Koch Officials Worked To “Dilute A 2009 Federal Trade Commission Rule Governing Manipulation Of The Energy Markets” And Lobbied To Preserve Oil Industry Tax Breaks. According to The Center for Public Integrity, “To this same end, Koch officials worked to dilute a 2009 Federal Trade Commission rule governing manipulation of the energy markets.  Meanwhile, Koch has lobbied to preserve some of the oil industry’s coveted tax breaks and credits.” [Center for Public Integrity, 4/6/11]

CPI: Industry Tax Breaks Koch Has Lobbied For Include The Section 199 Subsidy And The “LIFO” Rule. According to The Center for Public Integrity, “One benefit is known as the Section 199 deduction, approved by Congress several years ago to help the hard-pressed U.S. manufacturing sector. In light of the oil and gas industry’s hearty profits, the Obama administration and members of Congress have sought to end the Section 199 subsidy for energy firms and save the U.S. Treasury $14 billion over 10 years. But Koch lobbyists and trade associations have worked to preserve the deduction. Another industry tax break that drew the support of Koch representatives is the venerable ‘LIFO’ (last-in, first-out) accounting rule. It allows energy companies effectively to raise the value of their existing inventory (and thus pay lower taxes on profits from sales) when the price of oil soars.” [Center for Public Integrity, 4/6/11]

CPI: “Koch Lobbyists Listed The Expiring Bush Tax Cuts As A Lobbying Objective.” According to The Center for Public Integrity, “Koch lobbyists listed the expiring Bush tax cuts as a lobbying objective last year, and the Koch brothers were among an elite, relatively few Americans who profited when the income tax cuts for those earning more than $250,000 a year were extended in a year-end deal.” [Center for Public Integrity, 4/6/11] 

Commodities Regulation

CPI: “Koch Lobbyists Labored To Preserve The Exemption, Known As The ‘Enron Loophole,’ That Excused Energy Commodity Contracts From Regulation.” According to The Center for Public Integrity, “In that time, the market for trading derivatives and swaps in the energy industry has gone largely unregulated. And in past Congresses, Koch lobbyists labored to preserve the exemption, known as the ‘Enron Loophole,’ that excused energy commodity contracts from regulation.” [Center for Public Integrity, 4/6/11]

David Koch Received A Tax Exemption To Buy A Mansion For His Children To Play In

Mother Jones Headline: “David Koch’s Americans for Prosperity Is Fighting a Tax Perk He Once Exploited”  [Mother Jones, 1/30/15]

While Americans for Prosperity Lobbied Against Historic Proiperty Tax Credits, David Koch Used “Used A Near-Identical Tax Credit When He Renovated His Historic Palm Beach Villa—And Saved Money At Local Taxpayers’ Expense.”  According to Mother Jones: “Americans for Prosperity, the free-market advocacy group established by the Koch brothers, mounts battles around the country on issues big and small via its nationwide network of chapters. Right now in North Carolina, AFP is vigorously opposing the revival of a state tax credit for renovating historic properties. The credit, which can be claimed by a company or a person, expired at the end of 2014, and the state’s Republican governor, Pat McCrory, is pushing to renew it. AFP is working hard to thwart him. But the group’s lobbying on this issue might be a tad awkward for one of its main benefactors: David Koch, who cofounded AFP and currently serves as chairman of the AFP Foundation. He used a near-identical tax credit when he renovated his historic Palm Beach villa—and saved money at local taxpayers’ expense.”  [Mother Jones, 1/30/15] 

AFP-NC State Director On Tax Credits For Historic Buildings: “We’re All For Historic Preservation, We Have No Problems With That. But If People Are Going To Do It, They Need To Do It Within The Private Market.” According to The Fayetteville Observer, “Gov. Pat McCrory sent his secretary of cultural resources to Fayetteville on Tuesday to continue pressuring his fellow Republicans who control the General Assembly to revive a tax credit for people and developers who rehabilitate historic homes and buildings. […]  Donald Bryson, director of North Carolina’s branch of the fiscal conservative and politically influencial [sic] Americans for Prosperity organization, argued that the tax credit is best buried. ‘We think that it’s another one of those tax credits that complicates the tax code,’ Bryson said. ‘We’re all for historic preservation, we have no problems with that. But if people are going to do it, they need to do it within the private market. I don’t know why that requires a state tax credit.’” [Fayetteville Observer, 1/27/15]

Palm Beach Officials Rewrote Tax Exemptions Governing Landmarked Buildings So That They “Apply Only To Renovations And Not To House Expansions Or Improvements.” According to the Palm Beach Post, “Town officials will write criteria so that tax exemptions for restoring landmarked buildings apply only to renovations and not to house expansions or improvements.” [Palm Beach Post, 2/1/02]

Palm Beach Councilman Allen Wyett Said The Exemptions Were “Rich Man’s Welfare.” According to the Palm Beach Post, “‘It’s rich man’s welfare,’ Councilman Allen Wyett said. ‘The rest of us taxpayers are subsidizing millionaires’ welfare.’” [Palm Beach Post, 2/1/02]

Palm Beach Was Set To Lose As Much As $104,000 In 2003 In Property Tax Because “The Increased Value Of Landmarked Property Resulting From Restoration Is Exempt For 10 Years.” According to the Palm beach Post, “The town will lose as much as $104,000 next year in property tax because the increased value of landmarked property resulting from restoration is exempt for 10 years. That exempt value will total $25.5 million next year.” [Palm Beach Post, 2/1/02]

Palm Beach County Lost About $126,180 Less In Tax Revenue As Well. According to the Palm Beach Post, “Palm Beach County will receive about $126,180 less in taxes as well. The reduction does not apply to school or any other taxes.” [Palm Beach Post, 1/9/02]

Wyett Said That The Koch Tax Break Was As Much As $48,000. According to the Palm Beach Post, “‘Voters had in mind preserving the average home, not mega-mansions. Granting a $48,000 tax break is not what was envisioned by voters,’ Wyett said of Koch’s estimated tax reduction.” [Palm Beach Post, 1/9/02]

David Koch Received Tax Exemption On A $12 Million Expansion Of His Home. According to the Palm Beach Post, “Among the tax exemptions the council approved last month were $8 million for The Breakers and $12 million for oil financier David Koch’s house.” [Palm Beach Post, 2/1/02]

David Koch Was Awarded The Ballinger Award In 2008 For Their Home Expansion. According to the Palm Beach Daily News, “The Koch’s efforts earned them the 2008 Ballinger Award presented by the Preservation Foundation annually to renovation, preservation and restoration projects deemed superlative for maintaining the historic architectural traditions of the island. The foundation has handed out Ballinger Awards since 1988. In 1991, the previous owners of El Sarmiento were given the award for the restoration of that property.” [Palm Beach Daily News, 12/14/08]

The Kochs Expanded Their “Grand And Very Formal” Home To Include The Property Next Door Because The Playroom For Their Three Children Under 10 “Was Too Small.” According to the Palm Beach Daily News, “When Julia and David Koch decided to purchase the property neighboring El Sarmiento, the grand and very formal Mizner-designed 1923 Mediterranean Revival house they have lived in since 2001, they foresaw the creation of a ‘magnificent compound.’ ‘We wanted to make a place for the children,’ said Julia Koch, who had created a playroom for the couple’s three offspring, all of whom are under 10 years old, from a former guest bedroom at El Sarmiento. ‘It was too small for them, especially when they had friends come over to play.’” [Palm Beach Daily News, 12/14/08]

They Purchased The House Next Door “To Accommodate The Koch Children’s Needs.” According to the Palm Beach Daily News, “So the original concept for the house next door, a 1925 British Colonial-style residence that had been renovated in 1931 by island architect and leading proponent of the Bermuda style, Howard Major, was to accommodate the Koch children’s needs.” [Palm Beach Daily News, 12/14/08]

“Only A Portion Of The British Colonial-Style House, Five Arches Stretching Across The First Floor Of The East-Facing Façade Of The Residence, Had Been Landmarked…” According to the Palm Beach Daily News, “Only a portion of the British Colonial-style house, five arches stretching across the first floor of the east-facing facade of the residence, had been landmarked, but [architect Thomas] Kirchhoff and the Kochs recognized the character and details of the entire east elevation, the south-facing elevation and an enclosed courtyard, all of which had been created by Major, were significant and worthy of restoration and improvement.” [Palm Beach Daily News, 12/14/08]

The Kochs Refer To The Second Home As “The ‘Playhouse’,” Which Would Provide “A Setting For The Children To Play.” According to the Palm Beach Daily News, “In the process, it was determined that the ‘playhouse,’ as the Kochs now refer to the second home they acquired, also would serve a number of functions besides as a setting for children to play.” [Palm Beach Daily News, 12/14/08]

The Koch “Playhouse” Includes An “Interior Courtyard,” Which “Was Made Somewhat Smaller, Allowing For A Motorcourt And Garage.” According to the Palm Beach Daily News, “There is a gracious second-floor apartment for the house manager and his wife, an exercise room, a gallery and family room, and underneath an expansive basement where a mega-generator and all climate and utility equipment for both houses is now located. An interior courtyard was made somewhat smaller, allowing for a motorcourt and garage along the west-facing side of the house.” [Palm Beach Daily News, 12/14/08]

Koch carbon takes over downtown Green Bay

A Koch Industries subsidiary, C. Reiss Coal, is wreaking havoc in Green Bay, Wisconsin.

The mineral transport company produces enormous coal piles that have monopolized part of the downtown waterfront for over ten years. A Wisconsin county commissioner is pushing for a study to measure the potentially deleterious health effects of the dust buildup that has become menace to the facility’s neighbors.

Green Bay Mayor, Jim Schmitt, said, “We thought maybe they’d get out of this business, but they’re committed to (it) … I would like nothing more for them to self-relocate (but at a cost of) of at least $20 million, it’s not going to happen in the next four years.”

Unsurprisingly, a spokesman for the facility said they have no plans to move the piles.

This is not the first time Koch Industries has jeopardized the health of it’s neighbors. Over the last few years, a Koch carbon facility came under serious scrutiny for their storage of hazardous petroleum coke, a waste byproduct of oil refining, in turn producing large clouds of dark dust over Detroit.

This has become a predictable narrative for Koch Industries whose mishandling of hazardous materials and disregard for environmental safety has been well documented.

It’s clear the Kochs care a hell of a lot more about their bottom line than about the health of Wisconsinites. 

P.S. 
Thank you, Senator Reid, for your call to action to expose the self serving agenda of the Koch brothers. Senator Reid was one of the first to recognize that the shadowy billionaires’ ability to use their money to co-opt the Republicans Party is a solemn threat to our democracy. The Senator’s leadership has driven American Bridge’s communications, research and rapid response operations. We will continue to fight to hold the Koch brothers accountable. Thank you for your service, Senator Reid.

The Koch brothers want you to think they’re being noble

Today, Charles Koch co-authored a Politico piece titled “The Overcriminalization of America.” For the Koch brothers, it’s just the latest move in their most recent political pet project, having spent the last few months touting criminal justice reform. With around 2.4 million people incarcerated in the United States, including a disproportionate number of minorities, that seems like a noble mission, right?

It would be, if only their motivations weren’t so dishonorable. The Koch brothers’ “come to Jesus” moment didn’t arise over the problems they saw with the criminal justice system; it came after Koch Industries and employees came under scrutiny from law enforcement in the course of their work. They didn’t like the scrutiny, and they’ve been donating hundreds of thousands of dollars every year since 2004 to reform the criminal justice system. Supporting groups like this was simply a business decision for them, not a moral one.

The Koch brothers claim they aren’t trying to make this a political issue and that this is all about libertarian principles, but we know all too well that the they expect results from their political spending. They spent big in at least 10 different Senate races in 2014, dropping $150 million on the elections. And now they can count senators from Kentucky, Iowa, North Carolina, Louisiana, and Colorado as their new (bought and paid for) friends. So what do the Koch brothers expect from their newly minted senators? As Bloomberg reported, “[The Kochs] want their senators to be soldiers.”

Before the 2014 elections, they backed then-North Carolina House Speaker Thom Tillis and he delivered for the Kochs by cutting taxes for the wealthy. They also backed Governor Scott Walker in Wisconsin and he delivered by attacking collective bargaining rights to the point where public workers saw pay cuts and lost their ability to negotiation over health coverage, safety, or sick leave. Long story short: they use their money – and the web of conservative organizations they have either set up or funded, a.k.a. the “Kochtopus” – to affect change that helps their bottom line. So what do you think they expect from this spending on criminal justice reform?

Federal judge with ties to Kochs rules in Scott Walker’s favor

Enforcement of campaign finance laws in Scott Walker’s Wisconsin is the ultimate nursery tale gone bad, with the fox guarding the henhouse at every turn. Case in point: a federal judge with ties to the Koch brothers ruled yesterday that outside groups, like the many organizations receiving Koch funding, can legally coordinate on “issue advocacy” with political campaigns, like that of Koch favorite Governor Scott Walker.

Given that Walker faces an ongoing John Doe investigation into potential illegal coordination of efforts with outside groups during the 2012 recall election, it was hardly a surprise when his Attorney General, J.B. Van Hollen, declined to represent the state’s Government Accountability Board in a lawsuit challenging the coordination rule. The lawsuit was argued before U.S. District Judge Rudolph Randa, who issued an injunction yesterday overturning the Wisconsin state law banning coordination between political campaigns and “independent” political groups, provided that the groups are only engaging in “issue advocacy.”

This is not Randa’s first ruling related to the law banning coordination, as Randa previously ruled in the John Doe inquiry that coordination was acceptable, so long as the outside groups are not advocating for voting for or against a specific candidate. He then ordered a halt to the John Doe probe, a ruling that was later overturned by the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

When you examine Randa’s ties to the Koch brothers, the rulings look less like consistent opposition to the coordination rule, and more like a concerted effort to legalize coordination between Walker’s campaign and Koch-affiliated groups. Randa has attended an expenses-paid Koch brothers junket, and one of his assistants is married to a Walker campaign attorney. Koch-funded groups have spent millions on Walker’s behalf and in support of his extreme political agenda.

Campaign finance experts note that there’s reason to believe this ruling will also be overturned, but in the meantime, a judge with ties to both the Kochs and their favored candidate has once again wielded his gavel to their benefit.

Koch tied Judge Ruled To Legalize Coordination between Koch groups and campaigns

Randa Issued Ruling Striking Down Prohibition On Coordination Between Outside Groups And Campaigns

Judge Rudolph Randa Overturned Wisconsin Law Banning Coordination Between Campaigns And Issue Advocacy Groups.  According to the Wisconsin State Journal, “U.S. District Judge Rudolph Randa on Tuesday ordered Wisconsin officials not to enforce state law banning coordination between campaigns and “independent” political groups so long as the groups engage only in so-called issue advocacy. Randa’s order came in a lawsuit filed by Citizens for Responsible Government Advocates against the state Government Accountability Board and Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm. Randa had previously ruled in a John Doe investigation that groups can coordinate with candidates so long as they don’t expressly advocate for or against a specific candidate, and he ordered a halt to the probe.” [Wisconsin State Journal, 10/14/14]

Judge Had Ties To Koch Brothers And Walker Campaign

Judge Randa Attended Expenses Paid Junkets Funded By Koch Brothers

Judge Who Paused John Doe Probe Into Walker Campaign Finance Regularly Attended Expenses –Paid Judicial Conferences Funded By The Koch Brothers. According to The Center For Public Integrity, “The federal judge who ordered an end to an investigation into possible illegal campaign coordination between Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and conservative groups during two recent recall elections regularly attended expenses-paid judicial conferences sponsored by conservative organizations including the Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation and the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation — groups that have funded efforts against campaign finance reform.” [Center For Public Integrity, 5/27/14]

Husband Of Assistant To Judge Randa Was A Walker Campaign Attorney

Wife Of Walker Campaign Attorney Worked As Assistant For Judge Randa. According to The Wisconsin State Journal “An assistant to the federal judge who ordered a halt to the state’s secret investigation into possible illegal campaign coordination between Gov. Scott Walker’s campaign and conservative groups is married to a lawyer for Walker’s campaign — which could be grounds for a judge to step down from a case. Steven Biskupic, a former U.S. attorney who is representing a party in the secretive John Doe probe, wouldn’t say Thursday whether his wife Cary Biskupic’s employment with Judge Rudolph Randa posed a conflict of interest.” [Wisconsin State Journal, 5/9/14]

Koch Controlled Outside Groups Supported And Spent Money On Walker’s Behalf In Wisconsin

David Koch: “We’re Helping Him, As We Should. We’ve Gotten Pretty Good At This Over The Years. We’ve Spent A Lot Of Money In Wisconsin. We’re Going To Spend More.” According to the Capital Times, “According to the Post, Koch said of Walker: ‘We’re helping him, as we should. We’ve gotten pretty good at this over the years. We’ve spent a lot of money in Wisconsin. We’re going to spend more.’ The Post added: ‘By ‘we’ he says he means Americans for Prosperity, which is spending about $700,000 on an ‘It’s working’ television ad buy in the state.’” [Capital Times, 2/22/12]

Groups Affiliated With The Koch Brothers Spent Money On Ads Supporting Walker

Americans for Prosperity Announced $900,000 to Support Scott Walker’s Reelection Campaign.  [TPM, 5/27/14]

February-March 2011: Club For Growth And Americans For Prosperity Spent Over $220,000 On Ads For Walker In Wisconsin. According to Green Bay Press-Gazette, “The Club for Growth Wisconsin, a conservative organization with ties to New York real-estate developer Howie Rich, has doled out the most money so far, purchasing 826 ads at a cost of $193,605 – $30,000 more than next highest spender, the union group AFL-CIO. Americans for Prosperity, a group with strong financial backing from the billionaire Koch brothers, has been highly active as well, pumping $34,365 into local markets for 156 ads to run from Feb. 23 to March 2 in favor of Walker. Two groups against Walker’s agenda – the Greater Wisconsin Committee and America’s Families First – have spent a combined $120,000 on ads. Even before Walker laid out the specifics of his budget repair bill, the Club for Growth Wisconsin was running advertisements in support of the Republican governor.” [Green Bay Press-Gazette, 3/9/11]

Americans For Prosperity Established A Stand With Scott Walker Website Amidst The Protests Against His Budget. According to The Capital Times, “The billionaire brothers whose political action committee gave Gov. Scott Walker $43,000 and helped fund a multimillion-dollar attack ad campaign against his opponent during the 2010 gubernatorial election have quietly opened a lobbying office in Madison just off the Capitol Square. Charles and David Koch, who co-own Koch Industries Inc. and whose combined worth is estimated at $43 billion, have been recently tied with Walker’s push to eliminate collective bargaining rights for public workers. The two have long backed conservative causes and groups including Americans for Prosperity, which organized the tea party rally Saturday in support of Walker’s plan to strip public workers of collective bargaining rights and recently launched the Stand with Scott Walker website.” [The Capital Times, 3/2/11]

Americans For Prosperity Purchased $700,000 In Air Time Across Wisconsin Touting The Accomplishments Of Walker. According to the Wisconsin State Journal, “Wisconsin’s political spending blitz is getting a fresh infusion of cash from a national conservative group that’s spending $700,000 on a series of commercials touting the accomplishments of Gov. Scott Walker. The nonprofit foundation of Americans for Prosperity, the group founded by billionaire conservative activists David and Charles Koch, on Thursday confirmed to Washington Post blogger Greg Sargent it purchased air time across Wisconsin for a 60-second spot and another ad to be unveiled next week.” [Wisconsin State Journal, 2/10/12]

Americans For Prosperity Launched A $500,000 Ad In Support Of Walker’s Initiatives. According to The Associated Press State & Local Wire, “Two conservative groups have launched a new television ad supportive of Gov. Scott Walker’s initiatives, including curbing public employees’ collective bargaining rights. The 60-second ad is by the Americans for Prosperity Foundation and the MacIver Institute. Matt Seaholm, state director of Americans for Prosperity, said Friday the buy is for more than $500,000 and the ad is running in Milwaukee, Green Bay, La Crosse and Wausau.” [The Associated Press State & Local Wire, 11/18/11]

Koch Connection“National Federation Of Independent Business (NFIB) Has Endorsed Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker For Reelection. According to the Center for Media and Democracy, “The National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) has endorsed Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker for reelection. No surprise here. The NFIB purports to represent small business, but receives much of its funding from big business interests including the Kochs, the far-right Bradley Foundation, and Karl Rove’s Crossroads GPS — which are the same groups that have long supported Walker.” [PRWatch.org, 10/1/14]

What Grinches Would Cause an End to Flights to the North Pole?

Frontier Airlines is ending its season flights to Fairbanks, and it’s all the Koch brothers’ fault. Actually though.
 
According to KTUU, “A spokeswoman for Fairbanks International Airport says the airline cited the closure of the Flint Hills Resources refinery in North Pole and higher fuel costs as a major factor in the decision. Flint Hills ended production in May.”
 
Flint Hills, a Koch Industries subsidiary, came under fire after closing their North Pole refinery in February, killing 80 jobs and facing accusations of violating environmental standards. And Alaska continues to pay the price for the Koch brothers’ self-interested decision to close the refinery — from the toxic groundwater they left behind, to increased costs on road construction. Frontier flights to Fairbanks are the latest victim.
 
The Koch brothers continue to bankroll ads attacking Dan Sullivan’s opponent in their attempt to buy him a Senate seat. What he needs is an airplane seat so back home to Ohio after he loses the election — hope he wasn’t planning on flying Frontier!

To the Surprise of No One, Kochs Spend Big to Buy Access to Republican Governors

The New York Times reported yesterday that the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), a government and ethics watchdog group, uncovered a treasure trove of documents exposing the major corporate donors to the Republican Governors Association. Names on the list include Walmart, Exxon Mobil, and – yep, you guessed it – Koch Companies Public Sector, a.k.a. Koch Industries’ lobbying arm.

While that isn’t surprising, it does shed some light on just what the Kochs and their big-money pals are trying to buy: golf outings, policy breakfasts, secret donor meetings, an “intimate gathering” with Republican governors and Republican VIPs (whatever that means), and the Republican governors’ ears. In short: Access. Influence. Sway.

These donors would be model residents in Kochville, the Koch brothers’ self-serving utopia where horrible things like the minimum wage, social security, and environmental protections don’t exist. And, for the low, low price of $100,000 – or two easy payments of $50,000 – the Kochs and their prospective Kochvillians get “the ability to bring their particular expertise to the political process,” which is code for tax cuts for the wealthy and cuts to education, among many, many other anti-worker and anti-middle class policies.

The truth is, this is a bargain compared to what the Kochs are spending on their extreme Senate candidates this year alone. The Koch brothers’ Americans for Prosperity plans to spend $125 million, and when you count the Kochs’ dark money donor network, that number rises to half a billion dollars.

It’s no question that too much money in politics leads to self-serving policies and self-serving politicians – just ask former Virginia Governor (and former chairman of the Republican Governors Association) Bob McDonnell, who was recently convicted of felony corruption for his misdeeds in office. And now nearly half of all current Republican governors are facing charges of corruption or other scandals. So as these governors sell their loyalties to their backers, they should remember that the Kochs and their pals won’t be there to bail them out when things go south because they’re just as self-serving as their agenda.

Koch Subsidiary In AK Pays $80k To Settle Mishandled Hazardous Waste Accusations

A Koch Industries subsidiary, Flint Hills, has already made some unsavory headlines in Alaska. That’s because they decided in February to close their refinery in North Pole, AK — killing over 80 jobs — rather than meet environmental standards and pay for groundwater cleanup.

It’s hardly a surprising sequence of events. The Flint Hills episode is consistent with the Kochs’ mantra of money over all else, and their disregard for environmental safety has been well documented, including by former Koch Industries managers.

Now, Flint Hills has agreed to pay the $80,000 in a settlement over accusations of mishandling hazardous waste. Here’s what happened in this specific incident, as described by Fairbanks Daily News-Miner:

After filtering groundwater, Flint Hills disposed of the used filters in an open trash bin at the site. The filters soon “self ignited” inside the bins, according to an EPA complaint, requiring a response from the North Pole Fire Department to extinguish two fires.

Meanwhile the Kochs are spending heavily trying to overtake a Senate seat here, using ads that purport to want what’s best for Alaskans while denying the truth about their own record in the state.

They’ve made it abundantly clear already: they care a hell of a lot more about their bottom dollar than they care about Alaska.

REPORT: Legacy of Loss: Koch Industries’ Layoffs and Environmental Harm in Battleground States

It’s no secret that the billionaire Koch brothers’ top priority is continuing to grow their massive fortune, no matter what it takes. Their oil conglomerate, Koch Industries, is the second largest privately held corporation in America, and states across the country are feeling the impacts of their activities. Koch Industries and its subsidiaries own facilities in 35 states across the country, including battleground states like Iowa, Michigan, Florida, Wisconsin and North Carolina — states where the Republican candidates are closely tied to the Koch brothers. These states have been subject to job loss, significant environmental damage, or both, at the hands of the Kochs’ business empire.

This report provides a breakdown of the impact Koch Industries has had on key states. The Kochs’ extreme, self-serving agenda is bad for working families. And that reality is starkly embodied not only by their political persuasions, but by their business endeavors.

Read the full report here

Legacy of Loss: Koch Industries’ Layoffs and Environmental Harm in Battleground States

Texas Attorney General and gubernatorial candidate Greg Abbott has a good thing going on with the Kochs. As we previously wrote, much to the delight of the Kochs, Abbott actually acted to limit standards for public chemical disclosure even in the wake of the deadly explosion in West, Texas.

And Wayne Slater of Dallas Morning News reported that the move came after massive contributions from the fertilizer industry who stands to benefit from the relaxed chemical rules. Donations that included $75,000 from the Kochs, including $25,000 from Charles Koch’s son, Chase, who heads the fertilizer division of Koch Industries.

The Kochs have proven time and time again that they really don’t care about how people’s safety is affected by the work of their oil conglomerate, so long as they are maximizing profits. In fact, according to Daniel Shulman’s book, Sons of Wichita, a former Koch Industries pipeline manager “testified in a deposition that the company had taken a shockingly cavalier approach to pipeline safety.”

Abbott took heat for limiting chemical disclosure, but he stood strong with special interests and against the safety of his constituents. And for that, it appears the Kochs will continue to reward him. They just dropped another $25,000 into his campaign.

The Kochs have had affection for Greg Abbott for a while. This headline is from last September: When Greg Abbott needs an airplane who does he call? The Koch brothers. It appears their relationship is only growing sweeter.

Not once, but twice over the past month, employees at the Buckeye Mill in Perry, Florida, have been subjected to releases of toxic chlorine dioxide into the air. According to WCTV, on both May 22 and May 28, the harmful chemical was released from the plant, which is owned by Koch Industries subsidiary Georgia Pacific.

Exposure to chlorine dioxide, primarily used to bleach wood pulp, is limited by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, which describes the chemical as a “severe respiratory and eye irritant.” Reportedly, workers were evacuated from the Buckeye plant after the release of what witnesses described as a big green cloud, and while there were no injuries reported, these incidents highlight the risk inherent in the operation of these and other plants that use the toxic chemical.

Groups like U.S. PIRG have highlighted that safer alternatives exist to using chlorine dioxide to bleach paper, yet, according to PIRG, multiple Koch Industries owned Georgia Pacific plants continue to use and stockpile the chemical, endangering hundreds of thousands of people who live near the facilities. According to a report from Greenpeace, Koch Industries has consistently gone to bat against efforts to secure chemical facilities from terrorist attacks, in addition to advocating against other basic environmental protections.

Why rent a plane to write your name in the sky, when you can leave toxic green clouds in your wake?

Paid for by American Bridge 21st Century Foundation