Koch Brothers

David & Charles Kock. $50,000 million.

 What if two of America's super-rich decided just buy itself a political party? What would that cost? The last presidential race cost only about a billion—2% of the Koch brother's wealth—for both parties. But why spend so much? If you're clever and secretive, just fund a fake grass-roots foundation, train some organizers, start party chapters, run some candidates, and let them raise the money. $100 million should should do the trick. That's pocket change.

If it worked, that would be the ultimate crony capitalism. Just buy a whole political party and uses it gain government favors.

So what influence would they want to have? If they owned a big oil company, they'd want to stop any climate-change laws. If they emitted a lot of air pollution, they'd want to go after the EPA. If they didn't want to pay taxes they'd want to cut any government spending and cut taxes on the rich. And if they owned a lot of different industries, they'd want their party to be anti-regulation down the line.

And to further such a project, it would be nice to end restrictions on corporate political contributions. But, then you'd need the help of the supreme court. Why not invite a couple of supreme court justices to your secret political meeting and have a chat with them? Sound far fetched?

It if worked it would be a fabulous investment. And most of those in your Tea Party would never need to know.

When the conservative financier Charles Koch sent out invitations for a political retreat in Palm Springs later this month, he highlighted past appearances at the gathering of “notable leaders” like Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas of the Supreme Court. (NYT)

The Koch brother's combined fortune of $50 billion xlnk.gif is exceeded only by those of Bill Gates and Warren Buffett.

Charles Lewis, the founder of the Center for Public Integrity, a nonpartisan watchdog group, said,

“The Kochs 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.”

"The brothers have funded opposition campaigns against so many Obama Administration policies—from health-care reform to the economic-stimulus program—that, in political circles, their ideological network is known as the Kochtopus." —The New Yorker

"In my mind, without a doubt nobody has had more influence on the anti-Obama campaign than the Koch-funded groups."  —Taki Oldham, an Australian documentary film maker who spent months following Tea Party activists

From the extremely conservative The WashingtonExaminer:

Americans for Prosperity is led by billionaire Republican donor David Koch, whose endorsement Romney seeks. An Oct. 4 internal Romney campaign memo obtained by The Washington Examiner describes Koch as the "financial engine of the Tea Party".

The quoted phrase in from a secret internal Romney campaign memo.

"Five years ago, my brothers Charles and I provided the funds to start Americans for Prosperity,"  —David Koch, 2009, at annual AfP gathering

It is the Kochs' links to a welter of mass mobilisation campaigns opposing Barack Obama that is making the biggest impact. Political monitoring organisations say the Koch-connected Claude R Lambe Charitable Foundation has given $3.1m to Americans for Prosperity.

"[T]his is the mother of all wars over the next 16 months for the life or death of this country."  —Charles Koch, June 2011, election planning meeting


Iran, Spills, etc.

From Bloomberg (the leader in global business and financial information)

By Asjylyn Loder and David Evans - Oct 3, 2011 10:28 AM PT, Bloomberg Markets Magazine

... David Koch ran for vice president on the Libertarian ticket, pledging to abolish Social Security, the Federal Reserve System, welfare, minimum wage laws and federal agencies -- including the Department of Energy, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Central Intelligence Agency. ...

A Bloomberg Markets investigation has found that Koch Industries -- in addition to being involved in improper payments to win business in Africa, India and the Middle East -- has sold millions of dollars of petrochemical equipment to Iran, a country the U.S. identifies as a sponsor of global terrorism. ...

From 1999 through 2003, Koch Industries was assessed more than $400 million in fines, penalties and judgments. In December 1999, a civil jury found that Koch Industries had taken oil it didn’t pay for from federal land by mismeasuring the amount of crude it was extracting. Koch paid a $25 million settlement to the U.S. ...

In 1999, a Texas jury imposed a $296 million verdict on a Koch pipeline unit -- the largest compensatory damages judgment in a wrongful death case against a corporation in U.S. history. ...

Sally Barnes-Soliz, who’s now an investigator for the State Department of Labor and Industries in Washington, says that when she worked for Koch, her bosses and a company lawyer at the Koch refinery in Corpus Christi, Texas, asked her to falsify data for a report to the state on uncontrolled emissions of benzene, a known cause of cancer. Barnes-Soliz, who testified to a federal grand jury, says she refused to alter the numbers.

“They didn’t know what to do with me,” she says. “They were really kind of baffled that I had ethics.”

... Koch Industries has spent more than $50 million to lobby in Washington since 2006. ...

The brothers have backed a foundation that has trained thousands of Tea Party activists. ...

The EPA had sued Koch Industries a year earlier for a series of pipeline leaks in several states, including one that left a 12-mile-long oil slick on Nueces and Corpus Christi bays in October 1994. ...

Two days before Christmas 1999, the jury delivered the verdict: Koch Industries had made 24,587 false claims in buying oil, underpaying the U.S. government for royalties on Native American land from 1985 to 1989. ...

Three months after the Smalley verdict, Koch settled the five-year-old EPA case for pipeline leaks, along with a second EPA case brought in 1997. The company paid $35 million to resolve those cases, which covered more than 300 oil spills in six states.

For six decades around the world, Koch Industries has blazed a path to riches -- in part, by making illicit payments to win contracts, trading with a terrorist state, fixing prices, neglecting safety and ignoring environmental regulations. At the same time, Charles and David Koch have promoted a form of government that interferes less with company actions.

‘Overall Concept’

“My overall concept is to minimize the role of government and to maximize the role of the private economy and maximize personal freedoms,” David Koch told the National Journal in May 1992.

In his 2007 book, Charles Koch says his company had difficulty keeping up with changing government regulations and that it did eventually build an effective compliance program for 20 areas ranging from environmental to antitrust to safety regulations. 

“We were caught unprepared by the rapid increase in regulation,” he wrote. “While business was becoming increasingly regulated, we kept thinking and acting as if we lived in a pure market economy.”


Koch and Cato

Ed Crane

Charles Koch founded the Cato Institute (Originally called the Charles Koch Foundation, Inc.) with Ed Crane in 1974 in Wichita Kansas. Koch had the money and Crane was broke. Each of the Koch Brothers has retained a 25% share of the institute, although Charles left the board of directors in 1992 and reduced his contributions. His brother David remained on the board and a major funder of the institute.

Now they are suing for control, and the institute is resisting. But just what is going on remains a mystery.

Source: The New Yorker