Public Campaign Action Fund and Common Cause have released a new report, "Uncloaking the Kochs: A Closer Look at the Chairmen of the Billionaire's Caucus."
Charles and David Koch, billionaire twin brothers, together run Koch Industries, which David Koch has called “the largest company that you’ve never heard of.” They are best known for philanthropic efforts that have advanced the arts and underwritten millions of dollars in cancer research. But they also are at the center of a hard-core conservative political network that has financed the rise of the Tea Party and is dedicated to dismantling sensible campaign finance laws, undermining environmental regulations and electing business-friendly candidates, mostly Republicans.
Koch Industries, the family business, boasts annual revenues estimated at $100 billion and is America’s second-largest privately-held firm. It owns oil refineries in three states, 4,000 miles of pipeline and such consumer brands as Brawny paper towels, Dixie Cups, Georgia-Pacific lumber, Stainmaster carpet and Lycra.
Koch Industries affiliates have been fined or been found liable in dozens of cases involving pollution and illegal business activity. Koch Industries was fined $30 million in 2000 for illegally discharging petroleum products across six states. In May, 2001, Koch Industries paid the U.S. government $25 million in penalties for taking oil it had not fully paid for from federal and Indian lands.
Active in libertarian and conservative politics since the 1970s, the Kochs have invested millions of dollars to start or support a network of groups that work to advance a political agenda that would ease the environmental, health, public safety and worker safety rules which currently govern their businesses. They are benefactors of the Cato Institute, the Heritage Foundation, the Federalist Society, the Manhattan Institute, FreedomWorks, the American Legislative Exchange Council, the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, the Institute for Justice, Americans for Prosperity, the Reason Foundation and the Washington Legal Foundation, among others.
These and other Koch-backed groups have put their financial muscle behind efforts to undermine the scientific community’s consensus that man-made pollutants like those emitted by Koch affiliates are contributing to climate change. They’ve underwritten efforts to derail health care reform, stop regulations on tobacco products and deny the dangers of acid rain. Koch companies and groups also have funneled millions of dollars into political campaigns, bankrolled the growth of the Tea Party and financed court challenges to laws aimed at controlling corporate political spending and increasing the clout of small donors.