The AP interviewed one of the lesser known Koch brothers, William, in what seems to be an attempt to soften the public image of the family whom the AP tells us in their image description are “demonized” by Democrats. “FILE – This March 4, 2014 file photo shows William Koch, brother of Charles Koch and David Koch interviewed in New York. The Kochs are demonized by Democrats, who lack a liberal equal to counter their weight, and not entirely understood by Republicans, who benefit from their seemingly limitless donations.”
To wit, the AP reported that brother William is a little confused by his brothers’ political involvement, “I wonder a little bit about the high profile they’ve (David and Charles ) taken but admire them for their passionate beliefs and their putting their money where their mouths are.”
William called his brother Charles a born-again Libertarian, “He’s a born-again libertarian or a born-again conservative and sometimes born-agains take positions that are a bit extreme.”
Also, not everyone in the Koch family is a meanie. The are not all crazy right wingers who hate everyone! Please don’t hate Koch Industries.
William told the AP, “We’re all branded as right-wing extremists or right-wing conservatives and I know my brother David and particularly I don’t care if two guys want to get married or two women want to get married. So what? And so I don’t think we have what you’d call the Bible-belt attitudes that are thrown onto conservatives. … Some of my brothers are socially liberal and economically conservative.”
That’s a super nice story and it sorta makes you feel guilty for wanting to boycott Koch industries because not everyone in their family hates everyone in America. But here’s the thing.
Anecdote is not the plural of data, as my university professors liked to remind us.
So, these are lovely, heart-warming stories about a diverse family, but what does Koch Industries spend its money on? Why do Democrats “demonize” the Koch brothers? What are the actual facts, aside from heart-warming stories?
To demonize means to “portray as wicked and threatening”. Portray implies it’s not accurate. And yet, the Koch brothers have been funneling untold numbers of dark dollars in politics with the express desire to help big industry make more money at the expense and health of real Americans.
Democrats aren’t “demonizing” the Koch brothers. They did that themselves. And William might be a super nice guy. I bet he even has some gay friends! But this does not change the fact that Koch brothers are harming people in Texas. Or that Koch Industries won the dubious award of being the 10th top polluter in 2010.
And that doesn’t include their oil deregulation pushes or the fact that they admitted to covering up environmental violations at their refinery in Corpus Christi, Texas. Want to know why the Kochs hate regulation so much and thus pour millions into buying politicians via a phony grassroots movement called the Tea Party?
Koch will pay a total of $20 million dollars: $10 million in criminal fines and $10 million for special projects to improve the environment in Corpus Christi – a record amount imposed in an environmental prosecution. The plea agreement, filed today in U.S. District Court in Corpus Christi, also requires that Koch successfully complete a five-year term of probation and adhere to a strict new environmental compliance program.
Federal grand juries returned an indictment against the company in September 2000 and a superceding indictment in January 2001, and a jury trial on the federal charges was scheduled to begin today in Corpus Christi. The company was charged with criminal violations of the Clean Air Act as well as conspiracy and making false statements to the Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission.
In 2011, as the Koch brothers were carefully repairing their recently outed political interference and thus damaged reputation, Bloomberg blew their efforts to pieces:
Bloomberg revealed the deaths, bribes, felony charges, envelopes stuffed with cash, criminal violations, deliberate poisoning of the air with cancerous smoke, and hundreds of millions of fines behind the Koch Brothers. They revealed that employees are taught to cheat and steal under “The Koch Method.” Oh, and the Kochs sold millions of dollars in petrochemical equipment to Iran, a country recognized for sponsoring terrorism but also one of three countries in the George W Bush identified “Axis of Evil.”
Then Politico took a stab at explaining the way the Koch money trickled down, “POLITICO’s analysis of disclosures filed with the Internal Revenue Service and Federal Election Commission found that the large groups spend big bucks on salaries, like the $500,000 that FreedomWorks paid its chairman, Dick Armey, endorsements from radio hosts like Glenn Beck and Mark Levin, and speaking fees to movement heroes like Sarah Palin and Samuel “Joe the Plumber” Wurzelbacher, not to mention millions more on consultants and ad buys.”
Demonizing them? No. The Koch money spent and spends big to demonize anyone who tries to stand up for their cancer victims, their unmitigated greed, and their dark, dirty political influence over the puppets they buy in Congress and in Governors’ mansions around the country (here’s looking at you, Scott Walker). But the Kochs won’t come out and own their ugly demonizing of citizens. No, they pay willing propaganda pushers like Glenn Beck to do it for them.
The Kochs hire people to demonize Americans who need affordable healthcare while they knowingly pump poisonous gas into the lungs of children.
William Koch may be a very nice man. But the way Koch Industries and his brothers spend their money is not nice at all. And sorry, but they don’t get to play the victims. What is really sad is that they and the AP see “Democrats” as the demonizers, when in fact any politician worth an ounce of integrity should not be pushing a Koch agenda. Allegedly, they work for the people. It is now “demonizing” to call out a failure to work for the people, and only Democrats have the courage and the integrity to do so? Oh, okay then. I’m sure the Democratic Party will be pleased to accept that honor.
Money buys almost anything in politics. Cynical folks say the Democrats and the Republicans are the same. But only Republicans work actively against things that disclose dirty money in politics, and they do that for a reason.
Ms. Jones is the co-founder/ editor-in-chief of PoliticusUSA and a member of the White House press pool.
Sarah hosts Politicus News and co-hosts Politicus Radio. Her analysis has been featured on several national radio, television news programs and talk shows, and print outlets including Stateside with David Shuster, as well as The Washington Post, The Atlantic Wire, CNN, MSNBC, The Week, The Hollywood Reporter, and more.
Sarah is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists.