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August 20 2012

10:00

See No Evil, Speak Little Truth, Break Rules, Blame Others

The "Wegman Report", led by Edward Wegman of George Mason University (GMU) got criticized in 2010's Experts claim 2006 climate report plagiarized.  Experts called it "obvious" even "shocking" plagiarism.  GMU's incompetent handling, mistreatment of complainants and flawed rulings were mostly documented in March, but recent FOIAs expose more untruths.

Is the harsh title fair?  Read on, then study the 69-page attachment.

GMU Provost Peter Stearns' February letter to GMU faculty made claims of non-plagiarism that contradicted not only experts, but themselves.  The process consumed almost two years to assess four (4) pages of text.  

Stearns' letter was even more untruthful than previously known.  It  fabricated an imaginary second investigation committee, seemingly to somehow excuse crucial contradictions.   This seemed an attempt to defend the Wegman Report at all costs, even with potential problems from Federal agencies who expect schools to handle misconduct properly.  They fund much of GMU's actual research, done by faculty that to the best of my knowledge are normal, credible researchers.

However, a few groups in GMU are closely, even uniquely enmeshed with people behind the machinery of anti-science, such as Charles Koch, Ken Cuccinelli, David Schnare, Fred Singer, and Pat Michaels, plus the Heartland Institute and key Washington think tanks.  GMU even has a long history of tobacco connections, oddly relevant.

Following are a few brief summaries to motivate the title's phrases:

See No Evil: Via FOIA, the only investigation committee took 200 days to produce a 9-page report.  It ruled on Ray Bradley's three complaints based on Canadian blogger Deep Climate's early discoveries:

  • 2.5 pages of text mostly from Ray Bradley's book: paraphrasing, not plagiarism although serious plagiarism experts said otherwise long ago.
  • 5.5 pages of near-verbatim plagiarism of social networks text: never mentioned.
  • 1.5 page subset re-used in later paper: plagiarism, likely unavoidable, since the publisher had forced retraction in May 2011. This is an obvious contradiction.

But there was more, found by Deep Climate and others:

  • Another 70 pages of formally-reported plagiarism, 27 in WR alone, in 6 more articles, half Federally-funded, and four PhD dissertations: never mentioned.
  • Alleged falsification in the Wegman Report: never mentioned.

Speak Little truth: GMU VP Roger Stough rarely told complainants much and when he did, he was often wrong or misleading, now seen more clearly by FOIA replies.  Stearns' letter   fabricated committee(s) and processes that never happened, casting doubt on the credibility of anything thereGMU never informed Ray Bradley of any result.  GMU acknowledged receipt of other complaints, which then seemed to vanish into limbo. Complainants got no status reports.

Break Rules: FOIA replies exposed large policy-breaking schedule slips, at best poorly explained, at worst misleading.  GMU ignored its policy of pursuing all significant issues -  Stearns said there were no more investigations.   GMU's seemed to maximize discouragement and stonewalling of external complaints, even from distinguished academics like Ray Bradley or Ohio State's Rob Coleman, an experienced misconduct expert.  One can imagine GMU's handling of internal complaints, especially from junior faculty of students.

Blame Others:   GMU violated its "retaliation" policies by making false or misleading claims about Bradley, impugning his reputation and helping incite vitriolic blog attacks against him.   Universities are supposed to guard complainants from retaliation, repair it if need be, not do it themselves.  GMU owes Bradley many apologies.

Why would they do this? FOIAs have revealed actions far outside GMU's own policies, the norms of academe and possibly Federal rules.  Big universities are expected to know how to follow misconduct policies, so mere incompetence seems an insufficient explanation, especially with experienced administrators who should know better.

We cannot know exactly what happened, but GMU has some unusual connections that might help explain this.  No explicit pressure need be assumed, but a few parts of GMU are deeply involved in climate anti-science activities, so it is no surprise that something like the Wegman Report was written almost entirely by GMU faculty and students.

Funding. Charles Koch is by far the largest single foundation funder for each of GMU Foundation, its Mercatus Center and Institute for Humane Studies (IHS).   His donations to these usually exceeded the research grants of most government agencies. His lieutenant Richard Fink cofounded Mercatus and is a  Director of it and IHS. Koch is a Director of Mercatus and Chairman of IHS

Money comes from other Koch allies, such as Richard Mellon Scaife, Searle Freedom Trust, Earhart Foundation, L&H Bradley and  DONORS Trust+Capital, the second largest foundation giver, which anonymizes the real givers' identities.  The recently-discovered Knowledge and Progress Fund seems to send Koch money only to DONORS.  It is a real money maze.

Governance. Nancy Mitchell Pfotenhauer is the Vice-Rector of the GMU Board of Visitors. She was a Koch Industries lobbyist and an executive of Americans For Prosperity.  The Board also includes Kimberly Dennis (Searle Freedom Trust, DONORS) and Mark McGettrick, Executive VP at Dominion Resources, a large utility that has donated well to the campaign of Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, as has Koch Industries.

Lawyers. Ken Cuccinelli, his Deputy Wesley Russell and his ex-partner Milton Johns (Wegman's lawyer) all got their JD degrees at GMU in the 1990s.  So did David Schnare, of the American Tradition Institute (ATI), well-known for FOIA harassment of UVA, Michael Mann, James Hansen, Andrew Dessler and Katharine HayhoeFOIA has legitimate uses, but can also be employed for harassment.  The reader can decide which these are.

Schnare is also an Adjunct Professor who recently taught a GMU course on how to do FOIAs, use the Data Quality Act, using this outline.  it starts:

'This course is an introduction on how to sue the government when it does what it should not do. Citizens, advocates of small government and Tenth Amendment proponents engage in this kind of litigation practice to address the imbalance between federal authorities and state and individual sovereignties.'

He also offers "externships" to give students practice, via a new 501(c)(3) "public charity," originally (and legally still) the George Mason Environmental Law Clinic.  it is now called the Free Market ELC, consisting of him and Chris Horner, as at ATI.  He was looking for students to file FOIAs against some Virginia university, likely not GMU.

Conclusion. We cannot know whether the strange process and absurd rulings came from overt pressure or implicit GMU culture.  A few parts of GMU form a very large gear in the machinery of anti-science and they defended Wegman at all costs.

Public funding of research depends on credibility, of which little is found in GMU's handling of this case.  Maybe it is time for a first-ever institutional debarment from Federal funding until they rebuiild a track record of normal behavior.  Given the credibility problems of key people, this may require outside teams.

Finally, people might recall the potential felony issues raised here  and wonder if this process might add more obstruction of justice to the mix.  The old saying may apply: "It's not the crime - it's the cover-up."

Image Credit: andere andrea petrlik  / Shutterstock .

AttachmentSize see.no_.evil_.speak_.little.truth_.pdf3.05 MB

August 09 2012

22:37

Was Scott Walker Chosen to Headline Heartland Institute Gala Due to His Bradley Foundation Ties?

Wisconsin Republican Governor Scott Walker will keynote the Heartland Institute's 28th Anniversary Benefit Dinner this evening at Navy Pier in Chicago, IL

Walker recently won the Kochtopus-funded Americans for Prosperity George Washington Award. Now, two months after his recall election steamrolling of Democrat Tom Barrett, the climate change denying group famous for its Unabomber billboard will embrace Walker with much fanfare

Heartland, whose internal documents were published this past spring by DeSmogBlog, sings praises for Walker's union-busting agenda and his recent recall victory in promoting the event

This year’s keynote speaker, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, is the nation’s most influential and successful governor. Elected in 2010 to balance a budget that was billions of dollars in deficit without raising taxes, he did exactly that, winning the passionate support of taxpayers, business owners, and consumers across the state. After years of economic stagnation caused by high taxes and excessive regulation, Wisconsin is growing again.

To balance the state’s budget, Gov. Walker took on powerful public sector unions, reining in their collective bargaining privileges and requiring that public-sector workers start to contribute toward their retirement and health care benefits. Unions fought back, and after they failed to block legislation implementing Walker’s plan, they tried to recall him in a special election. On June 5, 2012, they failed, as Walker won reelection and a solid mandate to stay his course.

The trove of leaked Heartland documents exposed the Institute's current climate change denying agenda and revealed whose money supports this reality-denying agenda. But DeSmogBlog neglected to talk about the details of "Operation Angry Badger" in the documents, as at the time, we thought it was outside the scope of our mission.

Turns out, we were wrong.

The WI-Bradley Foundation-Heartland Institute Nexus

A significant chunk of the Heartland Exposed documents discussed the Heartland Institute's "Operation Angry Badger." These documents laid out the role Heartland would play in serving as a messaging machine for the forthcoming Wisconsin gubernatorial recall election. 

The Center for Media and Democracy's Brendan Fischer broke down the "Angry Badger" details (emphasis mine):

Leaked documents show that the Chicago-based Heartland Institute is planning to spend $612,000 supporting Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker.

(Snip)

The leaked documents propose a $612,000 campaign to include print ads, mailers, web ads, and blog posts that would promote the "successes" of Wisconsin Act 10 and portray Wisconsin teachers as overpaid and schools as underperforming. Act 10 — also known as the "budget repair bill" — included Governor Walker's plan to curtail collective bargaining for public employees, which its proponents said would result in cost-savings for school districts and make it easier to fire bad teachers. 

Why was Heartland - a 'free-market' think tank most well-known for its role in peddling climate change denial - so invested in supporting Walker in the recall election? And given the controversy surrounding Heartland's Unabomber billboard failure, why is Walker - who is also set to keynote the Republican National Convention later this month - interested in associating with such an extreme group by serving as the keynote speaker at Heartland's Annual Dinner?

Just follow the money and the personnel for some indications. 

Milwaukee, WI-Based Bradley Foundation Gives Big Bucks to Heartland

The Milwaukee, WI-based conservative Bradley Foundation gave $648,000 to Heartland between 1986-2009, according to Media Matters.

The Foundation's President and CEO, Michael Grebe, served as Chairman for Walker's 2010 gubernatorial race, in which Walker handily dispatched his challenger, Milwaukee mayor Tom Barrett.

Grebe is also the Chairman of the Board of Philanthropy Roundtable, which, according to the Center for Media and Democracy's Sourcewatch, "was established by the Bradley Foundation to help facilitate conservative grantmaking." 

Bradley gave Philanthropy Roundable $2,585,000 between 1993-2009, according to Media Matters.

Compared to its close allies, the Koch Family Foundations - the funding epicenter of the Kochtopus empire and another Heartland funder - the Bradley Foundation has largely operated beneath the public's radar, particularly in the national media. The veil of secrecy Bradley enjoys was lifted when Wisconsin's biggest daily newspaper, the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, published a lengthy investigation in November 2011, "From local roots, Bradley Foundation builds conservative empire." 

Walker's first meeting as Governor-Elect was not with the Koch Brothers, but with upper-level management of Bradley, explained the Sentinel:

Less than a week after being elected governor, Scott Walker and his wife met privately with one of the most powerful philanthropic forces behind America's conservative movement.

It wasn't the Koch brothers - the bogeymen for the American left.

On Nov. 8, 2010, the Walkers broke bread at the upscale Bacchus restaurant in the Cudahy Tower with the board and senior staff of the Milwaukee-based Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation.

The Bradley Empire has actually doled out far more money to conservative causes (not including electoral efforts) in the past decade than has the Koch Empire.

"It receives a fraction of the attention given the billionaire brothers David and Charles Koch and the Scaife family," wrote the Sentinel. "But the Bradley Foundation is in a different league: From 2001 to 2009, it doled out nearly as much money as the seven Koch and Scaife foundations combined."

The Bradley Empire Uses Walker to Push Post-Recall Agenda

Foundation money doesn't grow on trees. It comes from various donors who share mutual ideological and fiduciary interests. In the case of the Bradley Empire, these interests are multi-tentacled, but the thread that ties the interests together is that they're always in the interest of corporations.

The $612,000 funneled to Heartland to work the "Operation Angry Badger" Walker recall effort could be looked at as a small down payment investment. Walker's victory now gives him the mandate to push the corporate agenda full-steam ahead - and push this agenda he has.

With the recall complete, and the national spotlight shifting away from Walker, he got to work creating numerous committees and working groups to service private interests ahead of the public interest, both now and long into the future. This is best highlighted in an ongoing investigative series by The Progressive magazine's Rebecca Kemble.

Two of the key working groups, The Council on Workforce Investment and the College and Workforce Readiness Council, "are working closely with Competitive Wisconsin, an alliance of politically connected businesses organized by Jim Wood, president of their family PR firm Wood Communications," according to Kemble's reporting.

Competitive Wisconsin, Kemble went onto to explain, launched something called the "Be Bold Campaign" in 2010. This campaign called for the creation of the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC), a public-private partnership that eventually was turned into reality as WI Act 7 (also known as Special Session SB 6 and Special Session AB 6) on February 9, 2011. This was merely two days before Walker announced he would be pushing the union-busting "Budget Repair Bill." 

Competitive Wisconsin spent 95% of its lobbying time in the first half of 2011 making the case for Act 7, according to the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board. This ran at a cost of $3,750 - or roughly three-fifths of the money ($4,875) it spent on lobbying for the half-year period. 

The WEDC, in turn, is currently putting together an influential study set to be released after Labor Day, according to a press release. "The $300,000 study is being funded by grants from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp., the Bradley Foundation, and corporate donations," wrote The Wisconsin State Journal

The study is titled "Be Bold 2," a sequel to the study that created the WEDC to begin with.

A "Bold" Push For Jobs in Wisconsin's Growing Oil and Gas Industry?

"Be Bold 2" will be released under the auspices of Competitive Wisconsin, though it is co-funded by the WEDC and the Bradley Foundation. Competitive Wisconsin's "strategic counsel" is Jim Wood, President of Wood Communications Group

Wood Communications Group is a self-described "full-service public relations firm, providing problem solving and communication tools that work in the real world." Importantly, one of its clients is Murphy Oil Corporation

Murphy has a refinery in Superior, WI, which is refining tar sands crude that makes its way into the state via the Enbridge Alberta Clipper Pipeline, approved by the Obama Administration in August 2009.

In late July, the Alberta Clipper Pipeline spilled 1,200 barrels of oil near Grand Marsh, WI, according to Enbridge. Not even two weeks after the spill, Enbridge was given the go-ahead to restart pipeline operations

Wisconsin is also home to four Koch Industries tar sands refineries, owned by its subsidiary, Flint Hills Resources. Koch PAC donated $43,000 to the Walker campaign in 2010, while James Kowitz, Manager of the Murphy Oil Superior refinery gave Walker $800 prior to his 2010 victory.   

"Operation Angry Badger" A Wild Success

Of course the fossil fuel industry-funded Heartland Institute doesn't want Wisconsin citizens to think about how the tar sands crude that flows through the pipelines and refineries in their state causes climate change. 

After a close look at the tight ties that bind Walker to the Bradley Empire, its anti-union initiatives in Wisconsin, and Bradley's ties to the Heartland Institute, one can see that Walker's speaking gig at Heartland's 28th Annual Dinner actually makes perfect sense. 

And coming full circle, by the looks of it, "Operation Angry Badger" has been nothing short of a wild success for its special interest backers.

Photo CreditMegan McCormick | WikiMedia

March 07 2012

17:59

Kochtopus Cato Institute Power Grab: A Historical Perspective

A new chapter is being added to the ongoing Kochtopus saga. On March 1 the Washington Post, in a story sure to fill the airwaves for the weeks and months to come, revealed the Kochtopus is suing the Cato Institute for control of the recently deceased and former Cato Chairman William Niskanen's ownership share in the think-tank.

The Koch Empire was recently outed by DeSmogBlog as a key seed funder of the climate change denier think-tank, the Heartland Institute. Heartland's internal documents were recently leaked to DeSmogBlog (see "Heartland Exposed"). 

Billionaire oil baron Charles Koch is now waging war against another entity that was created with Koch seed money decades ago: the Cato Institute.

The Post explained succinctly:

At the heart of the dispute is the fate of the shares owned by Niskanen, who died in October at age 78 of complications from a stroke. The Koch brothers believe that they have the option to buy Niskanen’s shares, while Cato officials believe that the shares belong to Niskanen’s widow, Kathryn Washburn, according to the complaint.

Cato's Pat Michaels is a key player in the world of climate change denial, "sowing the seeds of doubt" on human-caused climate change.

That said, Cato has also stood up for key libertarian principles in the past that do not fit a partisan framework. Among them: protection of civil liberties, opposition to imperialism, opposition to the war on drugs, opposition to the militarization of domestic law enforcement agencies, and support for gay rights, to name several.

A brief overview of the key movers and shakers behind Cato's ascendancy is important to understand the rise of the Koch Empire and the split between the faux-libertarians and the true libertarians.

read more

March 01 2012

19:36

Heartland Institute: A Manifestation of the Kochtopus Empire

It is nearly impossible to discuss the vast climate change denial echo chamber and not mention the Koch BrothersKoch Industries, and what some have called the Koch Empire.

Perhaps unsurpisingly then, the origins of the Heartland Institute — whose internal documents were recently leaked to DeSmogBlog — have a direct historical link to the rise of the Kochtopus's wide-reaching climate change denial machine.

It all began in 1977 in Wichita, Kansas, with the creation of the Cato Institute.

David Padden, Cato Institute, and the Rise of Heartland

The Cato Institute was founded in 1977 and originally funded by Charles Koch, of Koch Industries fame and fortune.

It is known today for its libertarian policy stances on issues like the War on Drugsanti-interventionist foreign policy, and support for civil liberties, and perhaps most notoriously for its climate change denial and pro-polluter stance in energy policy debates. Cato's most infamous talking head today is Pat Michaels, who serves as its "Senior Fellow in Environmental Studies."

One of the key original members of Cato's Board of Directors was David Padden, a Chicago, IL-based investment banker and then owner of Padden & Company, which now also has a spinoff called Padco Lease Corporation. Padden passed away in October 2011.

In 1984, piggybacking off of his role at Cato, Padden founded the Heartland Institute, also serving on its original Board of Directors.

read more

Reposted by02mydafsoup-01 02mydafsoup-01

January 19 2012

23:46

Citizens United Protesters Rename Supreme Court the "U.S. Supreme Koch"

Protesters marked the second anniversary of the Supreme Court's Citizens United ruling by unfurling a banner reading “U.S. Supreme Koch” on the court house steps. The action is part of a week-long effort to raise awareness of the unjust power that the Citizens United decision has gifted to corporate special interests and billionaires like the Koch brothers over U.S. politics.

The Supreme Court's astonishing ruling in Citizens United v. FEC enables unlimited corporate expenditures on political campaigns and allows donors to influence elections without being identified.  It's exactly the weapon that corporations like Koch Industries, run by billionaire brothers David and Charles Koch, are using to turn the U.S. into an oligarchy that serves the 'needs' of the 1% and endangers the rest of Americans.

The protesters represented a host of citizens groups, including The Other 98%, Health Care for America Now, Backbone Campaign, Greenpeace, Velvet Revolution and AFSCME.

The Kochs and their kind are engaged in a hostile corporate takeover of our nation’s political system,” said John Sellers, co-founder of The Other 98%. "We've come to the scene of the crime today – the U.S. Supreme Court – to tell the justices exactly what we think of the infamous Citizens United ruling that made that takeover possible.”

The Supreme Court has undermined government of, by and for the actual people by defining corporations as people and money as speech,” said Ethan Rome, executive director of Health Care for America Now.

Here are a few pictures and a video of the action:

 

Video from VelvetRevolution. More pictures and video clips will be posted later today at The Other 98 Percent.

H/T Health Care For America Now

December 27 2011

19:08

The Year In Dirty Energy: The Koch Brothers

Over the last 12 months, DeSmogBlog contributors have helped spread the word about some of the most dastardly deeds of Charles and David Koch. Here are some of the biggest stories we covered this year on the issue of corruption and dirty energy money.

It is impossible to talk about dirty energy money and corruption without mentioning the Koch brothers. Before 2011, two of the wealthiest men in America were able to operate in almost complete secrecy while they spread misinformation about climate change and attempted to dismantle environmental protections:

The money in politics database Open Secrets, run by the Center for Responsive Politics, has a lengthy list of specific legislation that Koch Industries has lobbied for and against. On the "against" list, you’ll find legislation such as the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009 – a bill that would have put Americans to work building a green energy infrastructure; the Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act – again, a bill that would have created green energy jobs and infrastructure; and the Clean Air Protection Act – a bill that would limit the amount of acceptable emissions into our atmosphere.

The Koch brothers, through their PACs and other organizations, have funded numerous efforts to defeat legislation aimed at reducing pollution or protecting the environment. After all, their companies don't pay the real cost for the pollution they release.

And then there was their misinformation bus tour:

The Koch-funded Americans for Prosperity (AFP) is taking their misinformation machine on the road in an attempt to convince American consumers that President Obama is causing the spike in gasoline prices. AFP is claiming that the president is intentionally keeping gas prices high because he refuses to allow oil companies to drill for oil in protected areas of the United States.

AFP conveniently ignores the fact that gas prices were north of $4 a gallon during the Bush administration, when they peaked at $4.12, as pointed out by protesters who showed up at one of AFP’s early gas tour events in Nebraska. But in the alternate reality that AFP is creating to enable Koch’s further oil profits, it’s somehow all Obama’s fault.

The Koch brothers were also behind the efforts to dismantle the multi-state Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), by way of their astroturf organizations and ties to prominent politicians:

Governor Chris Christie pulled New Jersey out of RGGI, stripping the ten state agreement of one of its key cornerstone partners. Next door in New York, Americans for Prosperity, a group whose ties to the Koch brothers are well established, sued the state for its continued commitment to RGGI.

Americans for Prosperity celebrated Christie’s decision, even taking direct credit for it in a public press release: Americans for Prosperity Declares Victory over RGGI Cap & Trade!

And you can’t forget about now-disgraced GOP presidential candidate Herman Cain sucking up to the Koch brothers this year:

At the Koch-funded Americans For Prosperity event today, Republican presidential contender Herman Cain told it like it is. “I am the Koch brothers’ brother from another mother.” He added, “And proud of it.”

The Koch brothers were hoping that Herman Cain would be their mouthpiece in the 2012 election. But even with Cain now out of the race, they still have a backup plan: teaching their employees how to vote for environment-destroying candidates:

The Nation magazine has revealed that Koch Industries sent a letter to most of its 50,000 employees before the U.S. midterm elections in November 2010 advising them on whom to vote for. In “Big Brothers: Thought Control at Koch,” Mark Ames and Mike Elk expose the urgent “election packet” [PDF] sent to tens of thousands of Koch employees complete with ample libertarian reading materials instructions and a list of eligible vote-worthy (conservative) candidates.

As if this isn’t disturbing enough, the letter warns employees them of the dire consequences to their families, their jobs and their country should they choose to vote otherwise.

Most of this information could have remained a secret from the public, had it not been for the hard work of organizations like The Center for Public Integrity and Greenpeace:

The Center for Public Integrity has an in-depth look at Koch Industries’ “Web of Influence” in Washington, revealing the immense growth in Koch’s spending on lobbyists and influence peddling over the last few years. As the CPI investigation notes, the Kochtopus’s lobbying army has its tentacles wrapped around all kinds of issues, not just its core oil business, but its wide-ranging stakes in everything from Canadian tar sands to ethanol to toxic chemicals to financial regulation (or preserving the lack thereof).

The CPI report lifts the veil on a few individual Koch lobbyists, notably Gregory Zerzan, a name that nobody outside Washington would recognize, yet who has had tremendous impact on the Hill as a Koch toady.

Greenpeace took to the air to raise awareness about the Koch’s deeds:

A Greenpeace airship flew over the secretive Rancho Mirage polluter strategy meeting hosted by billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch of Koch Industries. Wealthy elite interests and oil tycoons arriving at the posh resort to plot their anti-democracy agenda were greeted with the aerial message “Koch Brothers: Dirty Money.”

Greenpeace also released information collected from tax records confirming that the Koch Family Foundations continue to fund climate denial organizations. The most recent records available document that the Kochtopus dished out $6.4 million in 2009 to front groups and think tanks that spread inaccurate and misleading information about climate science and clean energy policies. That brings the Kochtopus’s confirmed Dirty Money total to $54.9 million since 1997, with the majority, $31.3 million, spent since 2005.

Greenpeace also helped spread the word about the Koch’s dealings with Iran:

Greenpeace USA has called for a full Congressional investigation of Koch Industries and the illegal practices detailed in the Bloomberg Markets Magazine piece, "Koch Brothers Flout Law Getting Richer With Secret Iran Sales."

The Bloomberg coverage reveals multiple allegations of Koch Industries bribing government officials around the world and doing business with Iran. In a Huffington Post blog announcing the call for Congress to investigate Koch, Greenpeace USA Executive Director Phil Radford writes, "this new [Bloomberg] investigation reveals a blatant disregard for our laws, so today Greenpeace has called for a full Congressional investigation of Koch Industries and the illegal practices detailed in the Bloomberg report."

Greenpeace has extensively documented the Koch brothers' key role in backing the climate denial machine and other nefarious Koch Industries behavior. Now the Bloomberg revelations raise the heat even further on the $50-billionaire-brothers David and Charles Koch.

There’s no question that the Kochs will put their money to work during next year's presidential election. At least now, with their operations exposed, you can rest assured that their every move will be detailed by the independent media.

May 23 2011

21:22

Koch Brothers Exposed: Brave New Films Explains How Billionaires Could Profit From Keystone XL Pipeline

In the latest installment of its video series "Koch Brothers Exposed," the Brave New Films team interviews concerned property owners and farmers whose land and water quality is threatened by the proposed Keystone XL pipeline, which would carry filthy tar sands crude from Alberta to Gulf Coast refineries. 

The short video outlines the various ways that the billionaire Koch brothers may stand to benefit from the Keystone XL pipeline - that is, if it is ever built. 

A diverse and fast-growing coalition of property owners, farmers, water quality advocates, ethics watchdogs and environmentalists is rising up against the proposed pipeline, citing the threat of devestating impacts on critical public resources, including water supplies such as the Ogallala aquifer, which sits directly in the path of the currently anticipated pipeline route. Then there are the property rights, economics, and climate change-related reasons why this pipeline is so controversial.

As the video makes clear, the decision whether to grant a thumbs up or down to TransCanada’s request for a presidential permit to build the 1,959-mile tar sands pipeline rests sqaurely with Secretary Clinton and the State Department. The video asks viewers to "Tell Secretary Clinton To Say No To The Kochs" and the Keystone XL pipeline.<!--break-->

I wrote last week about a lawsuit filed by ethics and environmental watchdogs against Clinton and the State Department over allegations that a former Clinton campaign staffer may enjoy undue influence over the pipeline decision in his role as the chief lobbyist for TransCanada. 

Now Brave New Films is shining a spotlight on how the Koch brothers might benefit from the tar sands pipeline too.

Watch Brave New Films' latest video:


Also read Brave New Films' director Robert Greenwald's blog at Huffington Post on this matter.

Reposted by02mydafsoup-01 02mydafsoup-01

March 27 2011

19:55

Koch Brothers Continue Their Canadian Takeover

On Friday, the Canadian government fell to a vote of non-confidence.  As Canadians prepare to head to the polls for an early May election, the oily architects of the Tea Party, mega-funders of climate change denial and bankrollers of major right wing think tanks including FreedomWorks and Americans for Prosperity have made a timely infiltration into Canadian politics. 

Last week, we reported that the oily brothers had set up shop to lobby in Alberta.  But perhaps more disquieting than that is that, according to Environmental Defence, Alberta isn't the only province being strangled by the Kochtopus.  The Koch brothers have officially registered to lobby in Ontario too.<!--break-->

Koch Companies spokeswoman Melissa Cohlmia insisted that, "Koch companies want to add value by providing quality services and products our customers desire and value in a way that is compliant with all laws and regulations".  Despite their claims, we uncovered some pretty questionable activities by the Koch lobbyists in Alberta. 

These questionable activities were undertaken by lobbyists with Global Public Affairs, the firm hired to lobby on behalf of the Kochs in both Alberta and Ontario. The lobbyist listed on the lobbying record is Andrew Bowles, who served as a Legislative Assistant to MPP Peter Shurman at the Legislative Assembly of Ontario, and a Regional Organizer with the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario.

Back in January, we reported that Ontario PC Party Leader Tim Hudak was using discredited Koch-funded studies to suggest that the Ontario Green Energy Act should be scrapped.  The 2009 "Spanish study on renewable energy jobs" study was funded by the American Energy Alliance, a "free-market think tank" funded by the Kochtopus and ExxonMobil.

Back then, we were concerned that Hudak was promoting energy policies that were moving Ontario away from a clean energy future, using an industry-funded study to scare voters into believing that proven green job creation efforts are somehow killing jobs.   

But now it looks like there's even more cause for concern with Koch lobbyists actually setting up shop in Ontario in late February.  Most worrisome is that with a federal election on the horizon, Koch's lobbying dollars may be hard at work to keep Canada beholden to dirty energy rather than the clean energy future we need to sustain job creation and protect the planet.  The parallels between the U.S. midterm elections and the Canadian elections are stacking up. 

March 24 2011

17:56

Koch Brothers Set Up Shop in Tar Sands Territory

The Koch Brothers, architects of the Tea Party and bankrollers of climate-change denial, have recently set up shop to lobby the Alberta government, according to the Edmonton Journal.

Alberta's lobbyist registry shows that on March 15, 2011, Koch Industries signed up to lobby the province on energy and resource development policy issues, as well as taxation and economic development.  The registry shows the company's lobbying activities started March 3, with no fixed end date.

Koch Industries spokeswoman Melissa Cohlmia did not say what the company's objectives are in lobbying the Alberta government, but her one-sentence statement noted that, "Koch companies want to add value by providing quality services and products our customers desire and value in a way that is compliant with all laws and regulations".

"Compliant with all laws and regulations" seems a bit dubious given the pro-industry and anti-environment lobbying connections to Koch's Albeta activities we uncovered. <!--break-->

Calgary-based lobbying group Global Public Affairs was recently hired to head up Koch's activities.  GPA has clients listed in the petrochemical and tar sands already.  According to the record, Calgary-based David Keto has been hired to arrange meetings and conduct grassroots and informal communications on behalf of the company.  Keto was executive assistant to cabinet minister David Coutts for two years ending in 2003. 

The filer on the lobbying record is former Chief of Staff for former Minister of the Environment David Anderson, who was minister from 2003 through 2004 under Prime Minister Paul Martin.  Randy Pettipas left government to take the position of CEO of Global Public Affairs

A bit of digging reveals that Pettipas worked for the now-defunct Astroturf group the Canadian Coalition for Responsible Environmental Solutions from October 2002 through April 2004 (exactly when his former boss, David Anderson, was environment minister).  The short-lived CCRES claimed to be a grassroots group of business, industry and consumer advocacy groups.  An October 2002 list of its members showed its members were exclusively industry groups including major petroleum, industrial, chemical and transportation associations, and in particular the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, Canadian Chemical Producers’ Association, Petroleum Services Association of Canada, Propane Gas Association of Canada and Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters.  

The Astroturf group appears to have been created entirely on behalf of dirty energy industry interests to defeat the Kyoto Protocol. 

According to Sourcewatch, the domain name for CCRES was registered in September 2002, just a week before its first media events by National Public Relations, Canada's largest PR agency and an affiliate of Burson-Marsteller.  Grassroots indeed.  The group worked hard to persuade Canadians that Kyoto was a bad idea and instead promoted a "made in Canada" solution. 

CCRES made the spurious claim that if Canada ratified the Kyoto Protocol, Canadians would suffer as businesses and individuals were forced to pay out of pocket for exceeding Kyoto's aggressive targets. CCRES argued that, "This transfer of wealth could instead by spent in Canada, developing technologies that fight greenhouse gases and that can be sold around the world."

Their tired argument that investing in a clean energy future would be costly, burdensome, and would drive up the cost of energy prices and manufactured goods was plain wrong.  They were not looking for "made in Canada" solutions: they were looking to delay action towards real solutions in order to prolong their dirty energy profits on the backs of Canadians. 

More recently, Pettipas has worked on behalf of anti-environment organizations including Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, the Alliance Pipeline Limited Partnership, and the Canadian Energy Infrastructure Group.  It also lobbied on behalf of mining big wig Teck Resources Limited, a major player in Alberta's tar sands.  Teck Resources has been repeatedly criticized and sued for violating environmental laws and standards including in both 2003 and 2008 for heavily contaminating the Columbia River, and causing a lead spill.  The company's Red Dog mine operation in north-western Alaska was ranked by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as one of the most polluting facilities in the United States.

If the CCRES and Pettipas' activities give any indication, the Kochtopus has more than a few tricks up its sleeves for its lobbying efforts in Alberta. Keep an eye out for new developments on this front. 

Image Credit: Zina Saunders at Mother Jones

January 28 2011

22:16

Greenpeace Airship Hovers Over Secretive Koch Summit with Message "Koch Brothers: Dirty Money"

UPDATE: Video footage of the Greenpeace airship flight below this post.

A Greenpeace airship today flew over the secretive Rancho Mirage polluter strategy meeting hosted by billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch of Koch Industries. Wealthy elite interests and oil tycoons arriving at the posh resort to plot their anti-democracy agenda were greeted with the aerial message "Koch Brothers: Dirty Money."

Greenpeace also released information collected from tax records confirming that the Koch Family Foundations continue to fund climate denial organizations.  The most recent records available document that the Kochtopus dished out $6.4 million in 2009 to front groups and think tanks that spread inaccurate and misleading information about climate science and clean energy policies. That brings the Kochtopus's confirmed Dirty Money total to $54.9 million since 1997, with the majority, $31.3 million, spent since 2005.
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Kert Davies, Research Director for Greenpeace USA, commented:

“David and Charles Koch used their dirty money to block progress on clean energy and climate change policies, and now they’re scheming to roll back the Clean Air Act and other critical health and environmental protections with their partners in Congress. Their agenda of increased polluter profits at the expense of people, our health, and environment must be exposed and stopped.”


According to the tax records reviewed by Greenpeace from David H. Koch Charitable Foundation, Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation and the Claude R. Lambe Charitable Foundation:

  • Top recipients in 2009 included The Institute for Humane Studies, the Mercatus Center, Americans for Prosperity, the Heritage Foundation and the Cato Institute. 
  •  Americans for Prosperity has now received over $5.6 million in documented donations from the Koch foundations.

This new information updates Greenpeace's previous findings from the March 2010 report, "Koch Industries, Secretly Funding the Climate Denial Machine," which detailed Kochtopus funding of climate denial organizations, as well as lobbying and political contributions to block progress on climate and clean energy policies.

2010 marked the first widespread recognition of the secretive Koch brothers' efforts to elevate their polluter agenda above public health and environmental protection. Jane Mayer's blockbuster New Yorker magazine  investigation of the Koch Brothers' anti-democratic efforts put David and Charles Koch under the spotlight last summer, documenting the oil billionaires’ central role in founding and financing astroturf campaigns and think tanks to promote their oily agenda. 

Ever since, the Koch Brothers have had nowhere to hide from that spotlight, with college senior and Marine Corps veteran Joel Francis knocking on the front door at Koch Industries' Wichita headquarters with an invitation to debate Charles Koch on his hefty support for Prop 23, and David Koch being booed at the Nutcracker ballet in New York just before Christmas.

This Sunday, the Koch brothers will face protests by a diverse array of labor, environmental, consumer, and other groups gathering near the site of the secret Koch retreat at Rancho Las Palmas resort in Rancho Mirage, California.

Check out photos of the Greenpeace airship delivering the "Koch Brothers: Dirty Money" message today.

Update: Here is a video of the Greenpeace flight:

January 27 2011

13:00

Hide Your Kids, Hide Your Wife: Not Even Canadians are Safe from the Kochs Anymore

From Koch Industries' roots as "the biggest company you've never heard of", David and Charles Koch have become household names for funding climate change denial and efforts to steer the United States away from a clean energy future.  They suffered a little hiccup when California voters failed to buy the arguments of the dirty oil interests bankrolling Prop 23.  Then, when David Koch was booed at the Nutcracker ballet just before Christmas, it started to look like the tides were shifting on public opinion around the billionaire brothers. 

Despite the headway made in holding the Koch Brothers to account, they've creeped their way into Canada. 

Well, let me be clear.  Its not as though Koch Industries is a totally foreign force in Canada. Koch and its subsidiaries currently operate in seven Canadian provinces, and according to a Greenpeace report, Koch has held multiple leases in Alberta's tar sands, and since the 1990s the Koch Pipeline Company has operated the pipelines that carry tar sands crude from Canada into Minnesota and Wisconsin where Koch’s Flint Hill Resources owns oil refineries.

On the policy development front, they've busily bankrolled Canada's Fraser Institute to the tune of $175,000 between 2005 and 2008 to ensure Canada remains in the Stone Ages when it comes to environmental policy.  

This time though, it's gotten political.  According to Chris Genovali's piece in the Huffington Postrenewable energy in Ontario is under attack by the Kochtopus. <!--break-->

The Ontario Green Energy Act has been heralded by Al Gore himself as the "single best green energy program on the North American continent."  Environmental Defence touts it as a monumental success, demonstrating that one year in, the law is steering the province into a prominent position as a global leader of economic and environmental renewal, on par with European standards.  

After all the jobs the Green Energy Act has created and accolades it has received, it is curious that Tim Hudak, leader of Ontario's Conservative party, would try to scuttle it. 

To make matters even worse, Hudak is confusing the public by using phoney astroturf research.  His fake green turf of choice is the now well-debunked "Spanish study on renewable energy jobs".  The 2009 study, the "Study of the effects on employment of public aid to renewable energy sources," by Gabriel Calzada Alvarez, an economics professor at King Juan Carlos University in Madrid, was funded by the American Energy Alliance, a "free-market think tank" funded by the Kochtopus and ExxonMobil. 

According to Dr. Alvarez’s ginned-up study, Spain's policy on renewable energy caused the country to lose jobs.  It erroneously implies that the cost of creating a renewable energy job is higher than the average cost of creating a job in Spain, and outrageously claims that Spain’s policy commitments to renewable energy development actually cost Spain 2.2 jobs lost for each clean energy job created.  The study has made its rounds through the echo chamber, and was used to fight the Obama Administration's 2010 budget proposal to create tax incentives for clean energy programs, and to oppose efforts to promote growth in the renewable energy industry.

Though a favourite of renewable energy detractors, the study has been thoroughly debunked by the Spanish governmentU.S. Department of Energy, and numerous others (though apparently the Toronto Sun didn't get the memo).  And the American Wind Energy Association notes that "The Spanish Ministry of Labor has found that... renewable energy industries have created 175,000 jobs and the European Commission found that aggressive renewable policy would create a net increase of over 400,000 in the European Union by 2020, giving a 'significant boost to the economy and the number of jobs in the EU.'" 

While many Americans have by now heard of the misleading study, many Canadians probably have not, and Hudak has taken full advantage of that.

Knowing Hudak's stance on other clean energy issues, his stance on renewable energy is perhaps not a stretch.  He is already an outspoken opponent to a plan to create 17,000 renewable energy jobs in the province, and remains a vocal proponent of nuclear energy, despite the Liberals' commitments to eliminate coal as a fuel by 2014. 

Now Hudak is promoting energy policies that are moving Ontario backwards instead of forwards on energy, using a dirty industry-funded study to scare voters into believing that proven green job creation efforts are somehow killing jobs.   That has no basis in fact, and is totally inexcusable. 

Hide your kids, hide your wife, the Kochtopus and Tim Hudak are working in concert to kill Canada and Ontario's clean energy future. 

Nip on over to Chris Genovali's blog to read more on this story. 

January 25 2011

20:54

Right Wing Billionaire Koch Brothers Summit To Be Met With Protests

This weekend the Koch brothers will host a gaggle of extreme right wing billionaires and millionaires at a posh summit in Rancho Mirage, California. This Palm Springs meeting is not open to the public, it's a private invitation-only gathering of the wealthy elite who share the Koch’s democracy-destroying goals for America. But on Sunday, January 30th, the final day of the secret summit, a coalition of consumer and labor groups, environmentalists, civil liberties and faith groups will assemble in Rancho Mirage to protest the Kochtopus's stranglehold on American progress. 

The New York Times first reported on the gathering back in October, before these high-power industry leaders bought the midterm elections for the Republicans. As reported by Peter Dreier on The Huffington Post, those in attendance at the upcoming 3-day summit are responsible for the creation of the Tea Party, financially supporting climate change-denying organizations like the Cato Institute, and pouring millions of dollars into the campaign coffers of Republican lawmakers.

The Koch brothers have returned to a more high profile political life after remaining mostly in the shadows during the Bush administration. They resurfaced earlier this year when they dumped more than a million dollars into a failed effort to pass Proposition 23 in California, which would have scaled back the state’s progressive action on climate change in the name of “creating jobs.” In reality, there was no evidence to prove that California’s environmental laws had ever caused businesses to cut jobs, but there is ample evidence that these initiatives are on track to create lots of clean energy jobs. Charles Koch was even challenged to a debate by a former Marine named Joel Francis asking the billionaire to explain why he supported Prop 23, but he refused to participate.

Common Cause, who last week filed a complaint with the Department of Justice claiming that Supreme Court Justices Scalia and Thomas should have recused themselves from the Citizens’ United case, will be organizing most of the protesters for the event. Bus loads of folks from all over California will be carrying passengers to the protest, and a full schedule can be found at Common Cause's "Uncloaking the Kochs" page.<!--break-->

January 22 2011

21:26

Common Cause Asks DOJ to Investigate Possible Conflict of Interest With Scalia and Thomas

The public advocacy group Common Cause sent a letter to the Justice Department today to investigate whether or not Supreme Court Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas should have recused themselves from the infamous Citizens’ United ruling last year. This week marks the one year anniversary of the landmark 5-4 court ruling that gave corporations the green light to flood political campaigns with as much cash as they choose.

But could the case be overturned due to impartiality on behalf of a few Justices? Common Cause hopes so. President and CEO of Common Cause, Bob Edgar, released the following statement today on the possible conflict of interest:

“Common Cause, which I'm privileged to lead, has asked the Justice Department to investigate whether Supreme Court Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas should have recused themselves from the landmark Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commission case last year because they may have attended secret retreats where lobbying and political strategies were developed by some of the biggest players in the 2010 elections.

A year ago this week, Scalia and Thomas supplied critical votes in the 5-4 Citizens United decision that was of particular importance to two politically active billionaire brothers, Charles and David Koch. Charles Koch, president of Koch Industries, the nation's second largest privately-held firm, and brother David have spent tens and perhaps hundreds of millions of dollars over the years on conservative political activism. The Koch-sponsored group Americans for Prosperity has been critical to development of the Tea Party; it promised last year to spend $45 million on the Congressional midterm elections.”

<!--break-->
As Lee Fang from Think Progress has extensively covered, Scalia and Thomas have been featured speakers at Koch-sponsored events over the last few years. At these meetings, the attendees and speakers discussed ideas to fund conservative front groups, political campaigns, and conservative media. Also in attendance were captains of industry from across America, as well as numerous folks from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Fang had the rare opportunity to perform an on the spot interview with David Koch recently, where he was unable to answer a question about the Citizens’ United ruling.

The Koch-Scalia-Thomas connection is what Common Cause says is the biggest conflict of interest in the case. Edgar’s release continues:

“The ruling prompted a flood of corporate spending on the 2010 midterms, the "unprecedented level of support" celebrated in Charles Koch's letter. The non-partisan Center for Responsive Politics reports that corporations and other "independent" donors put nearly $300 million into contests for the House and Senate; tens, perhaps hundreds of millions more went into races for governor and state legislatures.

More than $135 million of this money came from organizations like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce that aren't required to disclose their donors. And the lion's share went to candidates who share the Kochs' distaste for government regulation of businesses.”

The conservative connections of the Supreme Court go even deeper, as Fang has reported that even Justice Samuel Alito has attended a right wing gathering put on by The American Spectator.

If there is one thing that the Republicans are very good at, its packing the courts. For example, the first judge in the country to strike down part of the healthcare reform law - Judge Henry Hudson - has worked directly with every Republican administration in the last 3 decades. While the Citizens’ United challenge from Common Cause is definitely a great start, it highlights the overall problem with the conservative judiciary in America - A problem that, if left unchecked, will give corporations and GOP insiders like the Kochs a safe haven from legal responsibility.

January 19 2011

19:06

Is Climate Denial Corporate Driven, or Ideological?

Recently, I’ve been reading some research by Riley Dunlap, a sociologist at Oklahoma State University who collaborates frequently with Aaron McCright, another sociologist at Michigan State. Together, they’ve done penetrating work on the right wing resistance to climate change science in the US, and in particular, on the role of conservative think tanks in driving this resistance.

In a series of 2010 papers, however, I’m detecting a theme that runs contrary to what many often assume about the driving forces of climate denial. It is this: McCright & Dunlap argue that while corporate interests may once have seemed front-and-center in spurring resistance to climate science, at this point it's becoming increasingly apparent that ideological motivations are actually the primary motivator. Or as they put it: “conservative movement opposition to climate science and policy has a firm ideological base that supersedes the obvious desire for corporate funding.”<!--break-->

Time was when defending climate research was all about finding out which conservative think tanks were being funded by Exxon Mobil. Or more recently, by the Koch brothers. And there's certainly a lot of special interest influence out there. But McCright and Dunlap argue that we should focus on the power of conservative, free market and anti-regulatory ideology first and foremost. In other words, the corporate funding, when it occurs, may be more a symptom of what's going on than the root cause.

Why? Well, first, Dunlap and McCright note that “conservative think tanks increased their opposition to climate science and the IPCC, even as major portions of industry were reducing theirs.” And I don’t think there’s any denying it: Corporate views on climate change have grown considerably more diverse, with many leading companies, like General Electric, now calling for cutting greenhouse gas emissions. Just look at what happened yesterday: The CEO of Royal Dutch Shell called for climate action because the “clock is ticking.” 

Meanwhile, right wing resistance has gotten increasingly shrill, especially after “ClimateGate,” and attacks on climate scientists have only grown more vicious.

A second leg of the argument takes an international focus: Climate denial, say McCright and Dunlap, seems to thrive in nations that “have or have had conservative governments and in which conservative think tanks are firmly planted.” That would include the U.S., UK, Canada, Australia, and Denmark. And then their third argument is to look at “skeptic” scientists: While this isn't uniformly true, they tend to be political conservatives. Indeed, Naomi Oreskes and Eric Conway have written that “market fundamentalism” underlies the ideology of the scientists they discuss in their book Merchants of Doubt, like Frederick Seitz.

If McCright and Dunlap are right, there are some important implications. One would be that the continuing growth in the clean energy industry may drive a wedge between business interests on the one hand, and political conservatives on the other.

And the other is that no matter how pragmatically corporate leaders behave on this issue, free market ideologues may nevertheless continue to block action—whether or not it’s good for the economy, or for business.

References:

Dunlap, Riley E. and Aaron M. McCright.  2010. "Climate Change Denial:  Sources, Actors and Strategies."  Pp. 240-259 in Constance Lever-Tracy (ed.), Routledge Handbook of Climate Change and Society.  London:  Routledge.

McCright, Aaron M. and Riley E. Dunlap.  2010.  "Anti-Reflexivity:  The American Conservative Movement‘s Success in Undermining Climate Science and Policy." Theory, Culture and Society 26:100-133.

January 07 2011

04:14

David Koch: "There's Some Extremists" in the Tea Party, But Others "Normal People Like Us"

Lee Fang from ThinkProgress was able to interview David Koch briefly today during Koch's visit to Washington to congratulate his freshly purchased Congress. Fang persistently sought Koch's opinion of the Tea Party, which his company Koch Industries helped to spawn through its Kochtopus network.  When asked whether he is proud of the Tea Party movement his largesse built, David Koch replied:

"There's some extremists there, but the rank and file are just normal people like us."

Yes folks, David Koch is just a normal person, like us. In fact he's exactly like all the other "normal people" with an estimated worth of $21.5 billion, including his brother Charles for instance, and about four other folks in America.  They're a rather 'extremist' version of normal, but hey, who defines 'normal' these days anyway?  Apparently the billionaire birthers of the astroturf Tea Party, that's who.

Feast your eyes on this normal person, appearing relaxed and confident after being booed at The Nutcracker in Brooklyn before Christmas

(That other normal guy who keeps trying to block Lee Fang's interview is Tim Phillips, president of Americans For Prosperity, which has received over $1 million from the Koch Family Foundations).

Hats off to Lee Fang for capturing this footage of what normal people think about the new Koch Congress.<!--break-->

November 12 2010

18:42

Koch Industries: 2010's Dirtiest Opponent of Clean Energy

This is a guest post by Josh Nelson, the New Media Director at the Alliance for Climate Protection and its Repower America campaign.

Three weeks ago, we asked our members to nominate the worst corporate polluters of 2010. Our goal was to identify organizations that have hijacked our democracy, devastated our environment and denied the science of climate change — all while reaping massive profits. The response was overwhelming. In just a few days, more than 4,000 people submitted their nominations, many of which were passionate and articulate. The next week, we introduced the top four nominees: Koch Industries, the American Petroleum Institute, BP and Massey Energy. A few days and 13,000 votes later we had our winner: Koch Industries.

Now, you may have heard a thing or two about Koch Industries. Their role in funding climate change deniers is well documented. What you may not realize is that Koch intentionally flies beneath the radar. David Koch likes to joke that Koch Industries is the biggest company you’ve never heard of. They’re able to remain unknown because they hide behind shadowy front groups like Americans for Prosperity. Co-founded by David Koch, Americans for Prosperity funds advertising and public events designed to mislead Americans about climate change and energy policy. <!--break-->

Koch Industries knows that if Americans realized that a massive oil pipeline and refinery company was behind harmless-sounding groups that work to mislead us about climate change, no one would listen to them. They want you to think that what is good for the oil industry is good for the American people, but you and I both know what they actually care about: their bottom line.

To spread the word about Koch Industries and its long history of working to deceive the American people about climate change, we've launched a new website: www.KochIndustriesFacts.com.



The site serves as a catalog of facts about Koch Industries and its owners, the brothers Charles and David Koch. What we’ve listed on the site is just the beginning. Click around for a bit, and if you see something that’s missing, make sure to let us know. I hope you'll join us in highlighting Koch Industries' worst transgressions by submitting a Koch fact of your own and passing the site along to a friend.

November 02 2010

01:28

Koch Brothers Are Kings of Alberta Oil Sands Too

The Tyee notes today that billionaire brothers David and Charles Koch and their company Koch Industries are a major player in Alberta's dirty oil sands, a fuel source far more polluting than even regular oil.  Leave it to the Koch brothers to gravitate towards (and profit from) the dirtiest sources of energy on the planet - while ignoring investments in cleaner alternatives that could help rescue and stabilize the U.S. economy - and collect love letters from the Tea Party's "patriots" for their efforts. 

Tyee reporter Geoff Dembicki notes the Kochtopus's role in spawning the fake 'grassroots' Tea Party movement, especially through the Koch-filled coffers of Americans For Prosperity, and points to the Kochs' role in funding the climate denial machine as a key indicator of why the TeaOP is overrun with anti-science sentiment

The looming threat of a TeaOP takeover in Washington - even if exaggerated in its scope - is bad news for science-based policy, particularly in the arena of climate change policy.  With a fresh crop of climate deniers set to assume seats formerly held by moderate Republicans and Democrats, the silly season antics that typically crop up during election time appear to be stuck on auto-repeat for the foreseeable future.

Dembicki details Koch Industries' role in sponsoring the Tea Party rise, but also probes Koch's extensive control over Alberta's filthy oil sands, including this excerpt:
<!--break-->

Flint Hills Resources, a wholly-owned Koch subsidiary, operates a Rosemount, Minnesota, refinery dependent on Albertan energy. The Pine Bend Refinery, says the company website, "is among the top processors of Canadian crude in the United States."

"It was specifically designed to process heavy, sour crude piped in from Canada," reads a Koch-produced newsletter from last January.

The crude oil Koch refers to comes from northern Alberta, where a substance called bitumen is clawed and steamed from the ground, then cooked at high temperatures or diluted with chemicals. The process creates 82 per cent more carbon emissions than that for conventional oil, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimated.

Koch's Pine Bend Refinery can process 325,000 barrels of crude oil a day. About four-fifths of that comes from Alberta. The refinery, which is connected to Wisconsin by a Koch-owned pipeline, produces up to 40 per cent of that state's road fuel supply.

Koch Industries worries American climate change legislation will harm its refining operations.

 

Head over to the Tyee for the rest of Dembicki's article.

October 26 2010

22:09

Elusive Charles Koch Deploys Security To Block Joel Francis’ Visit to Koch Industries HQ to Invite Debate on Prop 23

Joel Francis, the Cal State-Los Angeles senior and Marine Corps veteran, today followed through on his promise to visit Koch Industries headquarters in Wichita, Kansas to formally deliver his letter challenging CEO Charles Koch to a public debate about his funding of Prop 23, an attack on California’s clean energy investments and job creation efforts.  

After receiving no response from Koch following the video posting of his challenge last week, Joel traveled all the way from Los Angeles with a group of fellow college students and Gabe Elsner, campaign director of Powervote CA and the California Student Sustainability Coalition.  

The goal was simple and the approach polite – Joel simply hoped to meet with Charles Koch to invite him to a public debate “anytime, anywhere in the state of California” between now and election day about why Koch would attack the fastest growing sector in California’s struggling economy – clean energy jobs, which are growing 10 times faster than other sectors.

But as the students arrived, it was clear that Koch wasn’t rolling out the red carpet for Joel.  Pairs of security guards were stationed prominently outside each entrance to the Koch corporate campus.  Marked and unmarked Koch security vehicles trailed several cars after they dropped the students off on the front lawn of Koch HQ. (The vehicle I arrived in along with PowerVote’s Gabe Elsner was also trailed as it left the scene).

Larry Moorman, Koch’s Director of Corporate Security, immediately approached Elsner and wrongly claimed that we were on private property.  Elsner responded that county records indicated the first 18 feet of lawn adjacent to the curb was public property, which sent Mr. Moorman on his way back to guard the front door from the apparent ‘threat’ of an articulate college senior challenging the company’s secretive CEO to talk to him.  <!--break-->

Huddled closely together on the narrow strip of public lawn in front of Koch Industries’ infamous corporate logo, Joel delivered a statement re-iterating his modest challenge, flanked by several California students holding signs saying “Mr. Koch: Got Courage?” and “Hands Off Our Clean Energy Jobs!”

Joel and Gabe then approached the front door of Kochtopus HQ to try to get inside to meet the elusive CEO, but were met again by the trenchcoat-wearing Mr. Moorman (whose appearance recalled to memory the Cigarette Smoking Man from X-Files).  

Moorman refused them entry, but agreed to personally deliver Joel’s letter to Charles Koch.  However, when pressed by the pair on whether Koch had any statement in response to Joel’s challenge, Moorman quickly made it clear that they were on private property and said “you know where the easement is,” a barely concealed way of saying ‘get back on public property or else.’

Retreating 20 steps back to the safety of the public strip of lawn, Joel placed a phone call to Koch’s main line and was transferred to Charles’ secretary, who again said Mr. Koch was not available, but took Joel’s cell number and promised to deliver the message.  

Thwarted in his attempts to shake the hand of the billionaire bankrolling Prop 23, Joel is headed back to California to rally students across the state to vote no on the dangerous proposal.  Whether Charles Koch will answer his polite request to a public debate remains to be seen.  

Will the billionaire stay locked inside his Kochtopus fortress, cowering at the prospect of a college student’s outrageously reasonable challenge to a civil debate on Koch’s own terms?  Or will he finally explain to California voters why he’s bankrolling an effort to wreck the clean energy job prospects of Joel Francis and millions of other young Californians?

 

October 21 2010

16:59

Charles Koch Challenged To Debate Prop 23 By California Student Leader Joel Francis

Joel Francis, a Marine Corps veteran and senior at Cal State Los Angeles, has issued a debate challenge to Koch Industries' billionaire CEO Charles Koch on his support for the disastrous Prop 23 attack on California's climate and clean energy progress.

Bankrolled with at least $1 million of Kochtopus funding, along with even larger amounts from Texas oil companies Valero Energy and Tesoro Corp. and Ohio-based Marathon Energy, Proposition 23 is on the ballot in California this November, and would set back California's ambitious efforts to fight climate change and create clean energy jobs.

Student leader Joel Francis challenges Charles Koch to meet him "anytime, anywhere in the state before election day" to explain why Koch is meddling with democracy in a state he doesn't even live in. 

Watch Francis' debate challenge to Charles Koch:

<!--break-->Francis vows to travel to Koch headquarters in Wichita, Kansas to re-issue the debate challenge in person to Charles Koch if he fails to respond by next Tuesday.  

Student climate activists at POWER VOTE CA, a project of the California Student Sustainability Coalition, have issued a "No on 23" pledge for Californians to voice their opposition to this attack on California democracy by out of state oil interests.

Stay tuned for updates on whether Charles Koch accepts the challenge.  As Francis says at the close of his video challenge, "you can't possibly be afraid of just one college student."  

Or can he? 

13:49
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