Today, Greenpeace proudly ads its voice to a growing coalition of groups to urge Tribune Company, publisher of the LA Times, the Chicago Tribune and several other major US newspapers, not to sell their print media to Koch Industries. SIGN OUR PETITION TO TRIBUNE COMPANY CEO PETER LIGUORI TO KEEP TRIBUNE’S NEWSPAPERS OUT OF KOCH’S HANDS.
Here’s a cool new toy.A popular article on Forbes today details a new smart phone app called “Buycott,” which is catching the attention of shoppers who want to make sure their money spent on groceries and other basic products isn’t enriching corporations with bad records on social and environmental responsibility.
Those are good reasons not to give a dime to the multi-billionaire Koch brothers, who own the vast majority of Koch Industries’ private stock. Yet many consumers may not realize that buying products like Quilted Northern toilet paper or Brawny paper towels contributes to Koch profits through their giant pulp and paper subsidiary, Georgia-Pacific. Nor perhaps did the incoming Obama Administration realize that the 2009 inaugural carpet was made by a Koch subsidiary called INVISTA. What a crummy business deal–the President buys your carpet, then you coordinate hundreds of millions of dollars from billionaires determined to defeat his re-election bid…if only there had been an app!
“I have a question–who bought this Koch Industries carpet? Are you serious?!”
The President’s staff aren’t alone. You may well have Koch products in your house. Continue reading →
If you were the Koch brothers and you wanted to connect better with Latino and Hispanic voters, after you just dumped millions of your own cash into a presidential election that didn’t go in your favor, you’d probably be annoyed if one of your favorite front groups started undermining your voter outreach.
That’s exactly what’s happening with the Koch-funded Heritage Foundation. Heritage is having a public relations crisis after releasing a contentious report claiming that immigration reform would cost $6.3 trillion over the next 50 years, indebting taxpayers to support people who live in the U.S. illegally. The offensive kicker is that the Heritage report’s freshly-resigned co-author, Jason Richwine, previously published a dissertation claiming that Hispanic and Latino immigrants have lower IQs than White people.
Here’s a helpful meme for Mr. Richwine:
As Heritage Foundation is one of the billionaire Koch brothers’ favorite groups to implement their political agenda–receiving more than $2.7 million from Koch-controlled foundations since 2005–this is a poor start for the Kochs’ new interest in reaching Hispanic and Latino voters in the U.S.
Brothers Charles and David Koch have spent decades and millions of dollars to influence the news we read in newspapers, see online and watch on TV. The Kochs regularly convene high security meetings with high society attendees, many of whom work in the media, influence it, or own it.
Now reporters across the country are eyeing the Koch’s first attempt to directly own media themselves. Last weekend’s New York Times confirmed Koch Industries’ bid for the Tribune Company as a way for the Kochs and their allies to “make sure our voice is heard.” Tribune’s newspapers reach tens of millions of U.S. citizens, an ideal captive audience for Charles Koch’s self-serving philosophy to promote “economic freedom,” and to end “crony capitalism,” an ironic choice of words for the one of country’s most infamous corporate political manipulators.
Tribune Co. owns eight newspapers and 23 TV stations across the country including the L.A. Times, the Chicago Tribune and Hoy, the country’s 2nd largest daily Spanish newspaper, a clear asset for conservative politicians still reeling from their underwhelming rapport with the U.S. Hispanic population in the 2012 election.
Correction: this post listed KS Sen. Julia Lynn as a supporter of the RPS freeze–she is not and her name was removed below.
A recent flood of Koch-supported think tanks, junk scientists and astroturf groups from inside and outside of Kansas are awaiting the outcome of a bill this week that could stall progress on the growth of clean energy in Kansas.
States around the country, including Texas, Ohio, Missouri and North Carolina are poised to cut back on government support for clean energy jobs using model legislation from the American Legislative Exchange Council. ALEC, which brings companies together with state lawmakers to forge a wish list of corporate state laws behind closed doors, is coordinating this year’s assault on state laws that require a gradual increase of electricity generated by clean energy sources.
This fossil fuel-funded attack ignores the good that wind energy has done for Kansas, a state known for its bipartisan support for its growing wind industry (see key report by Polsinelli Shughart). The state now has 19 operating wind farms that have brought millions to farmers leasing their land and millions more to the state, county and local levels (NRDC). The American Wind Energy Association says that Kansas wind industry jobs have grown to 13,000 with the help of incentives like the renewable portfolio standard.
Unfortunately, clean energy is not palatable to the billionaire Koch brothers or the influence peddlers they finance. Continue reading →
VirginiaAttorney General Kenneth Cuccinelli is working with coal companies and State Policy Network groups backed by Koch Industries to rollback VA’s voluntary clean energy program.
In states across the country, the American Legislative Exchange Council–or ALEC–and other State Policy Network groups are lining up to roll back clean energy laws, an effort complimented by captured politicians like Mr. Cuccinelli.
Ken Cuccinelli is a former ALEC member, and he’s working with ALEC member company Dominion Resources to end Virginia’s clean energy program. The same Dominion that just gave him $10,000 for his run for governor, on top of almost $46,000 in previous years for other political positions.
While Virginia’s voluntary renewable portfolio standard is far from perfect, it’s neither helpful nor inspiring for Mr. Cuccinelli to scrap the program altogether on behalf of a few vested dirty energy interests.
Rather, as Chesapeake Climate Action Network suggests, Virginia’s law needs to be strengthened in ways that increase clean energy production and the good jobs that come with it. Both Cuccinelli and CCAN agree the law has flaws and loopholes that don’t properly incentivize new clean energy development within the state of Virginia. Some of the law’s weaknesses: Continue reading →
The new numbers are in, ladies and gentleman: since 1997 the billionaire oil brothers Charles and David Koch have dumped over 61.3 million dollars into front groups that attack climate science and policies designed to solve global warming. According to the 2010 IRS records of their private foundations, the latest year available, the Koch brothers funneled another $4.38 million into the Climate Denial Machine from their private foundations.
Despite overwhelming consensus among climate change researchers and scientific institutions worldwide—including all the Academies of Sciences in industrialized countries, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, NASA and all other major US scientific institutions—recognition of global warming among Americans remains startlingly low. Fueled by Koch money, the Climate Denial Machine has executed an unceasing, anti-scientific and anti-regulatory public relations campaign that mirrors the tactics used by tobacco companies to deny the health consequences of smoking. Continue reading →
Watch the updated edition of this great TV program debuted last night on People & Power on Aljazeera. The show provides a concise and deep look at the political motives and growing power of the notorious Koch Brothers.
With the new Koch Foundation 990s in hand, we have updated the (public) Koch funding to global warming denial organizations, which totals nearly $60 Million dollars (1997-2010). We have also found a declining trend in the total funding reported to these denial front groups from the Koch Foundations and also fewer groups funded. This may be because the Kochs are prioritizing their political insurgency or as we suspect, they are finding creative ways to funnel the money through less visible pathways.
Enjoy a glimpse of what television could be…and the best 25 minutes you are spend all day.
Patrick Michaels, Cato Institute climate denier, squirming at questions about corporate and Koch funding. Michaels choice of words from this interview filmed last year is most interesting now that the Koch vs Cato lawsuit has made front page news, with the Koch brothers looking to execute a hostile takeover Cato - the power hungry eat their young.
The Al Jazeera Koch documentary will be broadcast worldwide over the next week: Wednesday, March 28: 1730 DC, 0630 KL, 0130 Doha, 2230 GMT
Thursday, March 29: 0430 DC, 1730 KL, 1230 Doha, 0930 GMT
Friday, March 30: 2230 DC, 1130 KL, 0630 Doha, 0330 GMT
Saturday, March 31: 1130 DC, 0030 KL, 1930 Doha, 1630 GMT
Sunday, April 1: 1730 DC, 0630 KL, 0130 Doha, 2230 GMT
Monday, April 2: 0430 DC, 1730 KL, 1230 Doha, 0930 GMT
Tuesday, April 3: 2230 DC, 1130 KL, 0630 Doha, 0330 GMT
Wednesday, April 4: 1130 DC, 0030 KL, 1930 Doha, 1630 GMT
Last weekend was a wild one for climate action in our nation’s Capitol, between the protest outside a conference run by Koch Industries front group Americans for Prosperity and Sunday’s large street protest against the proposed Keystone XL tar sands pipeline that encircled the White House with over 10,000 people.
The two issues came together when I and another Greenpeace activist found oil billionaire and Americans for Prosperity Chairman David Koch inside AFP’s “Defending the American Dream” conference, and questioned Koch about his company’s financial stake in the Keystone XL pipeline and their false statement to Congressman Henry Waxman (D-CA). Watch for yourself below.
Greenpeace presented Mr. Koch with a “Wanted for climate crimes” flyer featuring the faces of himself and brother Charles, and also asked about any changes in his view on climate change after a Koch-funded study appears to agree with what climate scientists have known for decades now—the globe is indeed increasing in average surface temperature. David Koch refused to answer questions, but clearly understood that accountability was expected for the $55 million he and brother Charles Koch have donated to organizations that work to confuse and deny the reality of climate science.
Mr. Koch’s day wasn’t all bad—shortly before the encounter he was lauded by Herman Cain, who declared, “I am the Koch Brothers’ brother from another mother!” The statement lifted David Koch out of his seat for a strange Nixon-style salute to the AFP audience. Chairman Koch also got to hear from Mitt Romney, Rudy Giuliani, and fellow climate denial financier and AFP director Art Pope. Among numerous other issues, the keynote speakers attacked environmental protections and peddled fossil fuel extraction. Herman Cain stated the need for the US Environmental Protection Agency to undergo an “attitude adjustment,” a popular sentiment among attendees who were also offered a panel dedicated to hating on the EPA.
Echoing Kochs’ efforts to dismantle the EPA
Opening the “Extreme Power Abuses” panel, Koch-backed Congressman Mike Pompeo (R-KS) bragged about his efforts to prevent EPA from regulating greenhouse gas emissions that fuel global warming, warning observers that EPA is “on the march, they will stop at nothing.”
Following Rep. Pompeo was Kathleen Hartnett White of the Texas Public Policy Foundation, a Koch and Exxon front, among other dirty donors. Hartnett White’s primary focus appears to be criticizing the EPA’s every move. She approved Texas’ first new coal-fired power plant in 20 years when she was chair of the Texas Council on Environmental Quality (TCEQ), and has grossly misrepresented the scientific conclusions of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. During the panel, Hartnett White pushed to continue allowing unchecked mercury emissions from coal plants, which the coal lobby has blocked from regulation since the 1990 Clean Air Act amendments. She downplayed the concerns of communities suffering from coal plant pollution with claims like “People do not die of particulate matter levels,” while ignoring clear threats to our health, such as mercury from power plants winding up in the fish we eat. Most indicative of Hartnett White’s do-nothing attitude on pollution: “there is no environmental crisis—in fact, there’s almost no environmental problems.”
Next up was a career polluter apologist from the American Tradition Institute, Chris Horner. Horner is also an affiliate of the Competitive Enterprise Institute. Horner’s current work involves harassing climatologist Michael Mann by seeking his emails from the University of Virginia, a favorite cause of climate denier and Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, who was also present at the AFP conference.
The EPA panel was concluded with the angry rants of Ann McElhinney, who has made a name for herself as an anti-environmental documentary filmmaker who circulates her films among various climate denier front groups. McElhinney accused environmentalists in general of being unequivocal liars while throwing some questionable claims* around herself. Claiming that “fracking is an absolute miracle,” McElhinney repeatedly attacked Gasland director Josh Fox for spreading a “message of hate” though his film. Similarly, McElhinney said that the proposed Keystone XL tar sands pipeline “is just wonderful,” and mocked the idea of an organized protest against Keystone XL two days later.
What McElhinney said that did seem on point was, “at the moment, the story of energy is being told by people that tell lies.”That certainly sounds right – if she meant the influence peddlers of the fossil fuel industry. But McElhinney then continued to demonize people with environmental concerns, rather than pointing out how polluters spend millions to influence our government through direct donations, lobbyists, trade associations, and front groups, including Americans for Prosperity and the very panelists McElhinney stood next to.
Americans for Koch’s Prosperity
Koch Industries and Americans for Prosperity have become synonymous to the people who pay attention to the billionaire oil baron brothers and their many front groups. AFP itself was spawned from predecessor group, the Citizens for a Sound Economy Foundation (CSE), which split from its sister group to form AFP and Freedomworks. While the Kochs left Freedomworks alone, they continue to fund and govern AFP—David Koch is the chairman of the AFP Foundation and the group has received over $5.6 million from the Koch Brothers’ foundations, according to the most recent five years of their tax filings. Co-sponsors and allies present at the conference have received large checks from the Kochs over the same time frame, such as the Heritage Foundation ($2.2 million), the Institute for Humane Studies ($4.4 million), and the American Legislative Exchange Council ($275,858).
Other known financiers of AFP and other corporate front groups, which often don’t have to report their donors, are the usual cadre of ideologically-driven conservative foundations backed by corporate interests who bankroll efforts to roll back environmental protections, attack health care reforms, increase corporate rights while decreasing corporate tax rates…check out the Lewis Powell memo for more history on how companies have seized our democracy.
*Standing out most among Ann McElhinney’s misleading statements were two in particular. First, she claimed that the gas industry website FracFocus www.fracfocus.org contains full disclosure of the chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing—it doesn’t. Second, she led the audience to believe that health concerns over tar sands water pollution [PDF] in Alberta, Canada were unsubstantiated. Specifically, McElhinney attacked Dr. John O’Connor, who discovered and was persecuted by industry (and industry-tainted government) for years for linking tar sands operations to unusually high cancer rates. This was formerly confirmed by the Alberta Cancer Board in May 2008, vindicating Dr. O’Connor. The cancer rates in the Fort Chipewyan area are 30% higher than expected rates. Most notably, McElhinney accused Dr. O’Connor of fabricating the death of a 33-year old in Fort Chipewyan, a community heavily polluted by chemical byproducts flowing up the Athabasca River. Read more about this specific industry/Alberta government attack on Dr. O’Connor in Andrew Nikiforuk’s “Tar Sands,” pp. 96-101.