Posted on the Provocation, October 10, 2011-
THE NEWS: Bloomberg News recently published a scathing indictment of the Koch brothers, two modern-day tycoons who have used their considerable financial clout to finance tea party activities and corporate lobbying campaigns, while engaging in business practices that can best be described as questionable.
THE PROVOCATION: The following is a compendium of pertinent facts about the Koch (pronounced "coke") brothers, who have fought against efforts to curb global warming while promoting corporate interests, undermining labor unions and funding ultra-conservative groups. The material gathered here is condensed from information provided in the Bloomberg piece, as well as in articles by The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, ThinkProgress and other sources.
What emerges is a picture of a 21st century Andrew Carnegie in David Koch – a philanthropist who has spent millions to fund charitable enterprises but has put even more money on far less noble endeavors: 1) Paying fines for his company's illegal business practices and 2) Funding political efforts that will ultimately undermine the welfare of corporate employees and the public at large.
The list that follows is designed to serve as an easy reference source of material on the Koch brothers and their activities.
David Koch, born May 3, 1940
Charles Koch, born Nov. 1, 1935
Political philosophy: Libertarian
Net worth: $22 billion each (their combined wealth is surpassed only by Bill Gates and Warren Buffett among Americans).
Position: Co-owners, Koch Industries.
The Koch brothers' father, Fred Koch, once served on the top board of the John Birch Society.
David Koch ran for vice president on the Libertarian ticket with Ed Clark in 1980. The ticket promised to abolish:
Regulatory agencies including the SEC, FTC, EPA, OSHA and Interstate Commerce Commission.
According to Bloomberg, "virtually every Republican candidate for president – including Texas Governor Rick Perry and Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann – has solicited the group's support."
Bloomberg: "The brothers have backed a foundation that has trained thousands of tea party activists."
The Koch political action committee, KochPAC, donated $50,000 to Perry's gubernatorial campaign last year.
Oil and gas lobbying expenditures for Koch Industries from January 2006 to December 2009 totaled $37.9 million.
————————————————————————————————————————Koch Industries is closely tied to tea party favorite Herman Cain, ThinkProgress reports. Cain once held an official position in the Koch-funded organization Americans for Prosperity. His chief of staff, Mark Block, also served as president of that same group's Wisconsin chapter.
The Koch brothers have hosted lavish conferences at places like the Rancho Las Palmas Resort & Spa in Palm Springs to talk strategy with conservative stalwarts such as commentators Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh; Supreme Court Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas; and Republican Sens. Jim DeMint, Bobby Jindal, Tom Coburn, Paul Ryan, Haley Barbour and Mike Pence.
Dick Armey's FreedomWorks, a major sponsor of the tea party movement, received $12 million from Koch family foundations.