Tag Archives: Koch

Mitt + Koch = Prop 32 ways to buy CA

That’s what the banner flying over Mitt Romney’s Orange County fundraiser said today. Why?

First it was Wisconsin. Then it was Ohio. Now the Koch Brothers, Karl Rove and the Tea Party have their eyes on an even bigger prize: the eighth largest economy in the world. Home to 35 million people, 10% of the nation’s population. Yep. The ultra-right Koch Brothers with the help of Karl Rove and the Tea Party have just made a major investment in deep blue California.

The Koch Brothers and Karl Rove recently joined the Lincoln Club, Charlie Munger, Jr. and a few other billionaires to buy passage of Prop. 32 in California this November.  If Prop. 32 passes, 3 million members of labor unions will no longer have the ability to participate in politics.  Why? Because Prop. 32 tells the lie that it would get money out of politics in California when what it really does is get worker money out of politics and double down on the ability for corporations and the wealthy to buy their own private legislation.

The Kochs, Mr. Rove and Mr. Munger understand that in this Citizens United world, the only bulwark against a complete takeover by big companies and the uber rich is organized labor (you know the folks that brought you the 40 hour work week and a little thing called the weekend). And the only way members of unions can participate in politics is by signing up for payroll deduction so that their union has the money to fight for or against candidates and ballot measures who seek progress, not an exaggeration of the wealth gap.  Individual union members simply cannot express their voice if they cannot pool their money.  Can you imagine a $12 an hour janitor hiring a lobbyist in Sacramento to fight the Kochs?  Of course not. But 100,000 janitors can pool their money and keep the Kochs and Bain and Mitt Romney from firing them if they get sick or have a baby.

The Kochs and Rove understand that if they can keep union money out of politics, they win hands down. If Prop32 passes in California, one-third of SEIUs political budget is gone, with sizeable chunks taken from the AFL-CIO and just about any other big national union you can think of.  

You may or may not “like unions.” Like any other institution, they are not monolithic, are run by fallible human beings and don’t always move a perfect progressive agenda. But if you care even one whit about the successes we’ve had on maternity and paternity leaves, freedom of speech at the work place, increasing the minimum wage, basic decency between the boss and the worker, then you’d better care a lot about Prop. 32.  

If you cared about Howard Dean having a voice and reshaping politics when he ran for president, you’d better care about this because unions backed him at a crucial time.  If you care about Democrats winning the White House or key congressional elections, you’d better care about this. If you care about building progressive power on the ground, you’d better care about this.

And if you care about taking back our democracy from the super rich and corporations, you better fight against this.  

The Kochs, Mr. Rove, the Lincoln Club (which brought us Citizens United in the first place) and their merry band of billionaires have one goal:  make as much money for as few people for as long as possible. Nothing else matters to them. They don’t really care if their rapacity brings down the nation; they’ll have enough money to live happily ever after behind armed walls, in private jets and on any islands they choose to buy.

We saw what happened in Wisconsin. We see what they are trying to do in state legislatures across this country. The Tea Party, Karl Rove, the Koch’s, ALEC are all trying to beat back democracy, tear down the middle class and destroy unions all in favor of advancing a far right agenda meant to put profits over people.

We in California can put a stop to this. We can say no to the Koch brothers/Karl Rove/RomneyBain and show them that people power can still beat corporate money. We can also tell them that the eighth largest economy in the world is not up to bid to the highest bidder.

For more on the campaign to defeat Prop 32, and for information about how you can join the fight, please click here.

This was crossposted from The Huffington Post.

The Koch Brothers and Darrell Issa

This weekend, Rancho Mirage will play host to what's often called the “Billionaire's Caucus,” a regular top secret meeting hosted by the Koch Brothers, at which the wealthiest of the wealthy — together with right wing media personalities, lawmakers, and even judges — gather to plot their national political agenda. The meeting has taken on even greater importance in the wake of the Supreme Court’s 2009 Citizens United decision, which effectively opened the door to unlimited corporate influence on U.S. elections.

Trying to list all the beneficiaries of the Kochs and their rich friends would be a daunting task. Suffice it to say, they are the wallet for just about every right wing cause you can think of — from tea party candidates and ballot measures like California’s pro-pollution Prop 23, to right wing think tanks like the Cato Institute and astro-turf front groups like Freedomworks and Americans for Prosperity.
One of the country’s worst polluters — with business interests in everything from healthcare to the derivatives trading that helped push our economy off a cliff, the Koch brothers have spread hundreds of millions of dollars to protect their narrow ideological and financial interests over the years — ensuring that the agenda of billionaires is inserted at every level of our government and political discourse, and often at the expense of the middle class. No one has worked harder to kill Wall Street Reform, Healthcare Reform, or Energy Reform than the Kochs.
This is the meeting where the Kochs and their allies come together to refine their strategy; The billionaires prepare the agenda, which is packaged by the right-wing media echo chamber to sow fear and anxiety amongst unwitting foot soldiers who provide “grassroots cover” for right wing lawmakers as they push policies that undermine the middle class in DC.
It’s a sophisticated shell game that the Kochs and their allies are playing — steeped in secrecy, profit motive and ideological extremism — as described in a profile written by Jane Mayer of New Yorker MagazinePast attendees at Koch sponsored events include Glenn Beck, and Supreme Court Justices Thomas and Scalia. This weekend’s junket will also be attended by newly minted House Majority Leader Eric Cantor. Ultimately, the tentacles of the 'Kochtopus' stretch out in all directions from this meeting.
And its hardly a stretch to think that Darrell Issa will be an important part of their future plans.
In just the past five years, the Koch network has spent nearly $44 million lobbying Congress on oil & gas issues. High-polluting industry is their primary business, and it's obviously proven to be exceptionally profitable. Unsurprisingly, they're in no hurry to give up that profitability or the influence it's afforded them. This week we've also learned that concern over stronger EPA regulations on pollution have dominated feedback from industry representatives to Darrell Issa's letter requesting suggestions of regulations to repeal.
And according to the Center on Responsive Politics, the Koch network has sunk at least $200,000 into the Oversight Committee. More than 87% has gone to committee Republicans, including more than $100,000 in support of Republicans currently on the committee. The list includes Chairman Issa and five subcommittee chairs (starred):
Rep. Darrell E. Issa (CA-49) – $12,500
Rep. John L. Mica (FL-07) – $7,500
Rep. Patrick T. McHenry* (NC-10) – $2,500
Rep. Jason Chaffetz* (UT-03) – $2,500
Rep. Connie Mack (FL-14) – $15,000
Rep. Tim Walberg (MI-7) – $20,000
Rep. James Lankford* (OK-5) – $10,000
Rep. Ann Marie Buerkle (NY-25) – $250
Rep. Pat Meehan (PA-7) – $7,500
Rep. Trey Gowdy* (SC-4) – $7,500
Rep. Frank Guinta (NH-1) – $5,000
Rep. Dennis Ross* (FL-12) – $10,000
Rep. Mike Kelly (PA-3) – $2,500
Issa's personally amassed a fortune of hundreds of millions of dollars, so he fits right in with the Kochs and the other big-money heavy hitters in the same orbit. His connections to these industries are nothing new, just like he's no stranger to the vast influence of the Koch brothers. Nor is his antipathy towards the EPA and climate science a recent development.
The web of financial support from the Right's heaviest hitters weaves all through Issa's personal career and the key members of his committee. All those heavy hitters are gathering this weekend to plan their strategy, and we can reasonably expect that Issa will be an important piece. Where an independent watchdog might be focused on investigating the deep influence of this unlimited money on our government and the policies that have created an ever shrinking middle class, Issa has taken the opposite tack. He's already thrown open the doors of the committee to allow many of the folks heading to Rancho Mirage the chance to rewrite their own rules. This weekend, they'll be working out what to do with the access.
Unlike past years however, this weekend a counter-protest is planned for the Kochs' event, as is a national campaign to expose their broad reach, nefarious tactics, and destructive impact on the middle class. You can read more about that here.
(I work on the IssaWatch project at the Courage Campaign) 

Follow The Money — It’s All About The Self-Interest

This post originally appeared at Speak Out California

Much is finally being written about the money behind the candidates as well as the initiatives these days. Finally I say because money buys word-smithing and that buys people’s hearts and minds. Not that the ideas propelling the candidates and ballot measures couldn’t do that on their merits, but it’s the money that motivates these self-serving people/corporations. Money pays for the glib sound-bites that become the message and the PR firms that then shape the opinions and alas, the votes of an often unsuspecting electorate.

With all the money being poured into our elections this year, and the misdirection of the voters, it is not hard to understand that the Republicans are poised to recoup most, if not all of their lost gains from the 2008 election that catapulted Barack Obama and the Democrats into power. What IS hard to understand, is how the American people are looking to these very same people, with the very same ideas that put our communities, our state, our nation and even the world on the brink of economic disaster.

I was confounded again today, listening to Mitt Romney, of all people, disparaging the Democrats view of economics; if Romney and his buddies had had their way, the world would have collapsed into depression after the Bush policies of less oversight, greater private enterprise without accountability and all the other disastrous approaches to prosperity and opportunity that accompanied the Gingrich, Bush and Cheney years. One disaster after another:

  • Iraq
  • Wall Street
  • Housing collapse
  • High unemployment
  • Out-sourcing jobs to China and Asia
  • Huge deficits
  • Afghanistan
  • Guantanemo and the loss of civil liberties.

The list truly goes on and on, yet with the incredible chutzpah of arrogant, wealthy, deceitful, expediency-driven people like Mitt and the Koch brothers, we’re seeing the resurrection of the failed policies that President Obama so aptly expressed as the “guys who drove the car into the ditch”. As he pointed out, now they’re asking for the keys back. What the President was slow in realizing (or maybe does now), is that there may be enough Americans willing to do just that!

Back to the Koch Boys ……. these multi-gazillionaires born into extraordinary privilege, with no moral compass, have dumped millions into California for purposes of realizing their libertarian, polluting, anti-worker dispositions to assure that their climate threatening, dirty air creating industries continue to pollute our air and risk the future of our health and our planet. They’ve found a willing ally, it seems, in Carly Fiorina—who probably wishes she could be them—if only she knew how.  (See Fiorina’s billionaire backers in today’s LA Times.)

While a recent study named Koch Industries one of the top 10 air polluters in the United States, and they have been cited by organizations that monitor employment practices as “m>one of the most ruthless exporters of American manufacturing jobs to foreign countries”, Carly earned the distinction of being one of the country’s top twenty WORST CEO’s of all time. So they do have a lot in common–and are in sync on both opposing our critically important model air-quality legislation which also creates hundreds of thousands of green jobs for Californians (many of which have already begun) and in off-shoring American jobs.

It is important in politics to go beyond the rhetoric to who is funding what and why. Once the fluff and hype is dissected, the real story of a ballot measure or candidate’s expected behavior can be identified. With all the polling, focus-groups and testing of “messages”, the public tends to be inundated with language designed to bamboozle, not educate. This makes following the money trail all the more important.

In the case of the Koch Brothers, their millions have been funding the “tea party” and major Republican candidates nationwide. They’ve also put millions into Yes on Prop 23, along with two Texas oil companies that believe they should be able to force us to breathe dirty air.

While truth has never been of concern to the Libertarian, filthy air producing Koch boys (I will not make any comment about any possible racism or bigotry they may have inherited from their father who was one of the original members of the John Birch Society), they have gotten solidly behind Carly and Prop 23. Those facts, alone, should be enough to make sure we say NO to both Fiorina and Prop. 23. While they may have tons of money, once you follow it, you see that it leads straight into a self-serving stew of pollution and greed.

We can do better— a lot better!

Fiorina Joins the Koch-heads. Ka-Ching!

There’s a name that’s becoming as ubiquitous in dirty oil politics  as Coke cans are in greasy spoons. And it’s pronounced like the soft drink, but spelled Koch. Koch-heads now on the radar include Carly Fiorina, the Tea Party and Proposition 23.

There’s a name  that’s becoming as ubiquitous in dirty oil politics as Coke cans are in greasy spoons. And it’s pronounced like the soft drink, but spelled Koch.

The New Yorker definitively exposed the gas and oil tycoons known as the Koch brothers. But who are the latest Koch-heads to wear the brand with pride?

•   Carly Fiorina

•   The Tea Party

•   The Proposition 23 campaign

Fiorina: The California Senate candidate recently aligned herself with the dirty-energy brothers by ramping up her courtship of the Tea Party in Northern California and the Central Valley. She also just gave a  mealymouthed endorsement of Proposition 23, the California ballot initiative aimed at killing the state’s climate-change law, known as AB32.

In return, Fiorina is getting some ka-ching from Koch Industries. The company is listed as a host of a  fund-raiser for her at Republican senatorial campaign headquarters in D.C. tomorrow.

Tea Party: The recent New Yorker exposé by Jane Mayer put David and Charles Koch on the political map by uncovering their early and continued funding of Tea Party organizations. In fact, the piece makes a good case that the Kochs invented the Tea Party movement.

Proposition 23: The Kochs’ $1 million contribution to the Prop 23 campaign aligns with their oil interests, and their ferocious denial of global warming. They’re longtime and usually unnamed funders of the climate-change denial industry, according to a Greenpeace report a few months ago.

All of this helps explain why Tea Partiers were out the other day supporting poor little Valero, the Texas company (and owner of two of California’s dirtiest oil refineries) that’s the top funder of Proposition 23.

So the Koch-heads among us are now visible, even if it isn’t always stamped on their foreheads.


Posted by Judy Dugan, research director for Consumer Watchdog, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to providing an effective voice for taxpayers and consumers in an era when special interests dominate public discourse, government and politics. Visit us on Facebook and Twitter.

A Match Made in Smoggy Toxic Hell: Koch and Prop 23

The secretive, many-tentacled Koch Industries has just donated a million dollars to the Yes on 23 campaign.  Tesoro Industries, another Texas oil business, has matched that amount.  Scorecard:

Total Contributions to date:                    $8,221,096

Contributions from oil interests:              $7,987,995 (97% of the total)

Contributions from out of state:              $7,307,995 (89% of the total)

Valero, Tesoro & Koch Industries:           $6,575,000 (80% of the total)

Were you ever on the fence?  Did you really think that a measure to “suspend” California's landmark global warming law, bankrolled by out of state dirty energy interests and opposed by Californians from Silicon Valley tycoons to Small Business California to Latino families deserves a yes vote? The oil companies who've given 97% of the money to Proposition 23 don't give a rat's a$$ about California jobs.  They certainly don't care about the existing 500,000 clean energy jobs that Proposition 23 would kill.  For them, it's their out-of-state bottom line.  

Koch has been operating in the shadows, bankrolling tea party activists, denying the existence of climate change, for too long.  Only now, with a lengthy New Yorker piece entitled Covert Operations: the Billionaire Brothers who are Waging a War Against Obama, have they been exposed to sunshine.  “From 2005 to 2008, the Kochs vastly outdid ExxonMobil in giving money to organizations fighting legislation related to climate change, underwriting a huge network of foundations, think tanks, and political front groups. Indeed, 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.” Shorter, from the LA Times

“If you combined BP’s approach to safety with Enron’s greed, you would have Koch.”

Koch operates refineries in Alaska, Minnesota, and Texas.  Why are its long, slimy tentacles reaching into California?  Now that a climate bill appears dead in the Senate, the battle over the future moves to California.  Proposition 23 presents California voters with the stark choices of building the future or burning the planet.  It's also now a battleground in the war for the soul of America: Koch and its fellow polluters vs the future.

If you're in California, speak up.  Tell your neighbors.  Write a letter to the editor.  Even if you're not in California, please get involved.

Join the No on Prop 23 Campaign

Add your name as a citizen endorser to Stop Texas Oil — Hell No on Prop 23

If on Twitter, be among the first to follow @StopKoch campaign, run by @StopBeck.