Error: Twitter did not respond. Please wait a few minutes and refresh this page.
Category Archives: David Koch
September 4, 2012
September 9th 2012
3543 18th Street, Auditorium
San Francisco, CA 94110
(BART: 16th street station)
IFG presents a panel of five activists fighting Koch Cash and committed to ending rule by the super rich.
Lisa Graves, ALEC Exposed
Jotaka Eaddy, NAACP
Maura Cowley, Energy Action Coalition
Lisa Hoyos, Blue Green Alliance
Justin Wedes and Aaron Black, Occupy Wall Street
IFG’s Plutonomy Program presents this public event as part of its broader effort to expose “individuals of undue influence.”This event follows an IFG Convening of frontline activists and analysts, “Calling Out the Koch Cash Corrupting Democracy”Globalization’s extreme concentration of financial wealth is enabling the political power of super-rich individuals to play an unprecedented role in driving policy decisions. By far the biggest force financing today’s attacks against progressive policies is Charles and David Koch. The Kochsquintupled their combined net worth from $10B in 2005 to $50B in 2011, mainly by investing their fossil fuels fortune into oil derivatives, now making them the third wealthiest in the world after Carlos Slim and Bill Gates.
“Koch Cash” has since become the single biggest source of funding for attacks against collective bargaining, clean air, voters’ rights, and strong social safety nets, in almost all regulatory arenas. After radicalizing the House of Representatives via their Tea Party’s takeover of one third of available seats in 2010 elections, the Kochs are now leading a $1B blitz in 2012 to replace the President, seat several more Tea Party activists in the Senate, and seize swing states to gerrymander permanent hardliners. Further, the Kochs’ ideological focus on “shrinking government” has become Romney-Ryan’s main message, while their “economic freedom” narrative has captured many conservatives, encountering no cohesive intellectual counterforce from progressive constituencies.
Click here for flyer.
August 31, 2012
August 30, 2012
As David Koch is feted in Tampa as an “Entrepreneur Building America” by Americans for Prosperity (or AFP, the fake grassroots group he funds to advance his hardline agenda for “economic freedom”), IFG’s Plutonomy Program asks, who actually “built” Koch Industries’?
The answers emanating from AFP are about as clear as the air we breathe thanks to the Kochs’ family fortune of fossil fuels polluting of our atmosphere, and the “Koch Cash” corrupting our democracy.
Yet it will only get worse if the Kochs get their way: the thrust of Romney-Ryan economic plan is to exclude carbon from the Clean Air Act, a policy proposed precisely to defend the Kochs’ wealth.
The truth is that every living being that breathes air and exists in our rapidly destabilizing atmosphere has sacrificed to “build” the Kochs’ business by allowing them to take our planet over the edge: two thirds of America is covered in drought, Arctic ice is receding to record lows, and the Kochs’ own scientists are now undoubtedly convinced that our earth is warming. Poor people and future generations will pay the highest human price, even as entire ecosystems face extinction.
Others who helped to build the Kochs’ business include:
- Countless workers, who have made the billionaire brothers, together, the world’s third wealthiest individuals after Carlos Slim and Bill Gates.
- Communities with cancer clusters could be a legacy at some of the Kochs’ industrial sites, and a forthcoming report from IFG will explain more of this unexplored topic. Corpus Christie, Texas, is one place where Koch Industries brazenly leaked benezefrom its facility, only to award itself for environmental achievement when it eventually complied with the law.
- Crops crashing due to drought: The Kochs’ cheerleading for carbon emissions are leaving farmers in the lurch and countless people hungry as food prices rise globally. US taxpayers are now on the hook for another $14B in payouts for crop insurance due to this summer’s damage.
- Veterans of oil wars who went to serve their country but found themselves fighting for access to oil to feed the refineries that the Kochs and others built to support the fossil fuels infrastructure. Too much blood and treasure has been spent to secure supplies that keep oil flowing and the Kochs cashing in.
- US Taxpayers: who paid for the roads, bridges, tunnels, highways and other public infrastructure from which the Kochs’ oil refineries and other products make their money.
How wealthy are they? The Kochs quintupled their combined net worth in the last six years by investing their industrial earnings into oil derivatives speculation, in which an unregulated market with no ban on insider trading allows investors to influence energy supplies via manipulating their refineries, pipelines, storage, etc.
The Kochs’ economic freedom agenda poses that government has no role in regulating how things are produced, unless it harms others. Tobacco companies “willful negligence” led them to ignore their own scientific findings of the cancer-causing agents they produced.
Building a business shouldn’t be on the backs of people and the planet.
Stay tuned for original IFG podcasts and corresponding reports that will explore the Kochs and their political influence. They will be available HERE and via our emails next month.
By Kourosh Behnam
March 28, 2012
Using the Koch Brothers as a symbol of oligarchic power.
Astroturf Organizations: Bankrolling the radical rights economic agenda has been a tradition in the Koch family for decades. In 1958 Fred Koch was one of the founders of the John Birch Society, an American political advocacy organization that “supports anti-communism, limited government, a Constitutional Republic, and personal freedom.” In 1984 David Koch established Citizens for a Sound Economy, whose sole mission is to fight for less government, lower taxes, and less regulation. However, in 2004 Citizens for a Sound Economy split into two entities: Freedom Works and Americans for Prosperity. The Koch’s remain active in Americans for Prosperity and the individual in charge of FreedomWorks is Dick Armey (Republican Party GOP House majority Leader from 2003 to 2005). The Koch brothers use Americans for Prosperity to stimulate the Tea Party, and AFP organized the first national Tea Party movements in 2009. These organizations have the ability to mobilize, educate, and train people. From Koch donations, American for Prosperity was able to create a $5 million anti-healthcare campaign.
Wealth Defense Industry: A political action committee of Koch Industries, KochPAC (Koch Political Action Committee), has played a tremendous role lobbying in Washington D.C. Lobbyists of Koch Industries have spent much of their time shaping new policy for financial regulation. The Dodd-Frank Act was passed by Congress under the Obama Administration “to craft new rules to subject traders in the energy industry to increased regulation and transparency” according to the Koch Web of Influence by John Farrell. Congress and regulators are still detailing the necessary changes to implement this new law and Koch lobbyists have spent a considerable amount of time shaping the bill. A few weeks, after the bill was passed, Koch lobbyist Gregory Zerzan held a covert meeting with SEC Commissioner Troy Paredes and his counsel, Gena Lai to see how the government would apply the law. According to Greenpeace’s 2011 update report of Koch Industries, the KochPAC spent $2,645,589 in 2009-2010. KochPAC is also the number one oil and gas contributor in the U.S., out spending Exxon Mobil. American oligarchs use many specialized professionals to prevent wealth from being taken, and their wealth defense industry is comprised of lawyers, accountants, wealth management consultants, tax avoidance consultants, and lobbyist. When oligarchs hire them, their main purpose is to defend as much wealth as possible, and only oligarchs would have enough wealth to purchase these services. The industry is global, some of the key players are Whithers, Clifford Chance, Linklaters, White & Case, Milbank Tweed Hadly and McCloy, Weil Gotshal and Manges, and Freeman Freeman and Smiley are known as the “magic circle” firms.
Legislatures and Elected Officials: Mike Morgan, the previous Director of Public and Governmental Affairs of Koch Industries, played a significant role in promoting legislation for the Koch brothers. As of December 2011, Mike Morgan still sits on the Private Enterprise Board of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). ALEC is an organization that promotes limited government, free markets, and federalism. According to the American Association for Justice “ALEC campaigns have covered many issues, but all have either protected or promoted a corporate revenue stream.” ALEC has proposed legislation that benefits Koch Industries and is undermining climate change proponents. Major campaign contributions from the billionaire brothers can be seen in the makeup of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. Koch Industries is the largest oil and gas donor, giving $279,500 to 22 Republicans on the committee and $32,000 to five of its Democrats, according to the Los Angeles Times. In 2010 KochPAC gave political donations to freshman members of Congress, such as Gardner Cory (R-CO) $10,000, Griffith Morgan (R-VA) $5,000, and Pompeo Mike (R-KS) $10,000.
Courts and Judges: Citizens United v Federal Elections Commission is a landmark case that will go down in history for poisoning our electoral process. This case has allowed corporations to flood our political marketplace and corrupt our democracy and the Koch Brothers themselves played a significant role in enabling this case to advance. Three years ago, Supreme Court Justices Thomas and Scalia attended a political retreat organized by Charles and David Koch in Palm Spring California for wealthy conservatives. There is more speculation that Justice Thomas stayed on a four-day retreat which was paid by the Federalist Society. The Citizens United case that was supported by Justice Scalia allowed corporations to spend limitless amounts of money on elections with little public disclosure.
March 21, 2012
Some say higher oil prices are essential to ending our addiction to fossil fuels.
While true in principle, the reality of recent rising costs to consumers has so far been the exact opposite, with political barriers bigger then ever. IFG research shows it can only get worse if current trends continue.
That’s because a major force driving gas prices upward is rampant speculation in unregulated oil derivatives. Charles and David Koch are dominant players who in turn plow their profits back in to preventing the phase out of fossil fuels having outspent Exxon and the American Petroleum Institute to kill climate legislation.
While the Koch’s family fortune has steadily expanded with the use of fossil fuels, not until recently did their net worth grow exponentially. That’s due in large part to their inventing oil derivatives, and then deregulating their trade on Wall Street, and the worldwide.
IFG charts (below) the Kochs’ combined net worth over the past 25 years. It shows how their wealth skyrocketed as speculation on oil markets went wild, with the Kochs making money even when the price of oil goes down.
With no rules against insider trading, it’s no wonder that the guys who own so much oil infrastructure through which the commodity moves, and also invented the instrument by which traders gamble, can game the system to cash in on such a grand scale. The Kochs’ combined wealth now ranks them third richest in the world, according to Forbes.
Goldman Sachs recently reported that oil speculation imposes an extra cost of as much as $.56 per gallon of gasoline in the US, an incredible irony when one thinks that this money is then spent to stop the costs of climate change from being included in the price at the pump paid by consumers.
The true price of oil must ultimately reflect its full ecological and social costs, and achieving that requires reducing, if not removing, the role of money in politics. Climate campaigners are currently unable to do that alone, and therefore must work with other movements whose interests are also being bulldozed by these billionaire brothers.
The trajectory of their profits today implies that the undue influence of the Koch brothers is set to soar even higher. Assuming that koch wealth continues in its exponential path their combined wealth will be $82.4 billion in 2015. Their “shrink government” agenda—which comes amidst calls for massive market interventions to address today’s converging economic and ecological crises—is attacking the very right to clean air, the right to fair wages, and even the right to vote.
Unless key constituencies can come together to counter Koch cash, the implications for people and the planet could be devastating given the Kochs’ control over the current Congress has radically shifted US politics to the right and upcoming elections or ever more driven by cold hard cash. The Citizens United ruling has spun open the spigot so Koch cash can flow even more freely.
The premise of IFG’s Plutonomy Program is that globalization has, as predicted, upwardly redistributed wealth, where Ultra High Net Worth Individuals are increasingly enabled to exert their own political power and economic ideologies on democratic decision-making everywhere. Nowhere are the results more clearly expressed than in the rise of the Koch’s wealth and their increasing power over our lives.