Charles and David Koch are two of the most powerful individuals in America but also two of the most dangerous and anti-Americans in recent times. Because of their enormous wealth, they have been able to influence the outcome of political elections and legislation at both the national and state levels.
The Koch brothers own Koch Industries, a conglomerate headquartered in Wichita, Kansas, whose annual revenues are estimated at hundred billion dollars. Since their father, Fred, died, in 1967, and the brothers took over, the Koch Empire has expanded. The Koch Brothers operate oil refineries in Alaska, Texas, and Minnesota, and control about four thousand miles of pipeline. Koch Industries owns Brawny paper towels, Dixie cups, Georgia-Pacific lumber, Stainmaster carpet, and Lycra, among other products. Forbes ranks it as the second-largest private company in the country and its consistent profitability has made David and Charles Koch among the richest men in America. Their combined fortune of thirty-five billion dollars is exceeded only by Bill Gates and Warren Buffett.
As longtime libertarians, the Koch Brothers believe in significantly lower personal and corporate taxes, minimal social services for the needy and less oversight especially environmental regulation. A study conducted by 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. The Greenpeace report showed that from 2005 to 2008, the Koch Brothers gave more money than ExxonMobil to organizations fighting legislation related to climate change, underwriting a huge network of foundations, think tanks, and political front groups. The Koch Brothers have funded opposition campaigns against many the Obama Administration policies from health-care reform to the economic-stimulus program.
Koch Industries issued a statement that the Greenpeace report “distorts the environmental record of our companies.” David Koch recently complained that the “radical press” had turned his family into “whipping boys,” and had exaggerated its influence on American politics. However, Charles Lewis, founder of the nonpartisan watchdog group, Center for Public Integrity said, “The Koch Brothers are on a whole different level. There’s no one else who has spent this much money. The sheer dimension of it is what sets them apart. They have a pattern of lawbreaking, political manipulation, and obfuscation. I’ve been in Washington since Watergate, and I’ve never seen anything like it. They are the Standard Oil of our times.”
Here are a few of the Koch Brothers un-American deeds:
- Documents and interviews unearthed by Brave New Foundation researchers illustrate a 28.4 million Koch effort that has manufactured 297 opinions and commentaries, 200 reports, 56 studies and six books distorting Social Security’s effectiveness and purpose. This is just one example of the vast industry comprised of Koch brothers’ spokespeople, front groups, think tanks, academics and elected officials, which has built a self-sustaining echo chamber to transform fringe ideas into popular mainstream public policy arguments.
- Because of their vast political influence, the Koch Brothers have either purchased or attempted to purchase free and fair elections. The brothers have funded efforts suppress 21 million Americans from voting as Koch dollars influenced the writing and adopting of voting suppression bills in 38 states.
- Americans for Prosperity, funded by the Koch Brothers, led the effort to remake a successful school diversity policy in Wake County, NC; which was the model framework for many school districts across the country. The 2009 school board election provided the Koch brothers’ front group an opportunity to lay the groundwork for candidates who advocate for re-segregation, or in Jim Crow terms “neighborhood schools.” The Wake County residents rose-up against their segregationist policies and successfully removed them during the following School Board election.
- As previously noted, Koch Industries is among the top ten worst air polluters in the United States. Georgia Pacific, a Koch Industries subsidiary in located in Arkansas, is one of the largest manufacturers of the human carcinogen, formaldehyde. While the Koch brothers wage war against safety precautions, this factory is dumping millions of gallons of waste water into streams that flow near a small rural town on a daily basis. The surrounding area is noticeably affected by air pollution especially in a minority neighborhood now dying of cancer. The brave community members of Crossett give powerful testimony to how they believe their health is being ravaged by a Koch Industries plant.
- The Koch Brothers and its employees are the single largest oil and gas donors to the House Energy and Commerce Committee. With abundant evidence linking the Koch business to the Canadian tar sands, the Koch Brothers refuse to testify in Congress about their financial interest in the Keystone Pipeline. Of course, the allies in Congress purchased by the Koch Brothers are doing their best to stall and remove oversight.
- At a time when state and local governments are slashing higher education funding, the Charles Koch Charitable Foundation has given more than14.39 million in grants to over 150 universities. In return, some of these campuses are required to hire professors and other candidates who adhere to Koch-defined ideological guidelines and views.
A record amount of money was spent on the recall election in Wisconsin, thanks to the Citizens United decision, which paved the way to unlimited corporate and union spending on elections. Governor Scott Walker raised $30.5 million dollars; most of which came from the Koch Brothers. Walker’s opponent, Tom Barrett, raised 3.9 million primarily from small donors. As a result, Walker won his recall reelection by a sizable majority.
It is estimated that the Koch Brothers and other right-wing organizations spent over 1 Billion dollars to “purchase” the 2012 elections. This past January, the Koch Brothers held another of their secret meetings with wealthy conservatives at a lush resort in Palm Springs, California, for the purpose of raising funds. With the re-election of Barack Obama, the American people did not allow the 2012 elections to be purchased. What about the 2014 elections?
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