Koch Industries' Lobbying Curtain Lifted By Center For Public Integrity

Wed, 2011-04-06 17:38Brendan DeMelle
Brendan DeMelle's picture

Koch Industries' Lobbying Curtain Lifted By Center For Public Integrity

The Center for Public Integrity has an in-depth look today 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.

As the report notes:

“The money that Koch (pronounced “coke”) has spent on lobbying in Washington has soared in recent years, from $857,000 in 2004 to $20 million in 2008. The Kochs then spent another $20.5 million over the next two years to influence federal policy, as the company’s lobbyists and officials sought to mold, gut or kill more than 100 prospective bills or regulations.”

Check out the rest of the report over at the CPI website. It’s a great display of the kind of transparency needed in Washington, which remains overrun with lobbyists despite President Obama’s campaign pledge to limit their influence over federal policymaking. 

With the huge influx of Koch money into lobbying and campaign contributions - thanks to the democracy-destroying Citizens United decision - it will be hard to have an honest debate about much of anything in Congress. Polluter money prevails, for the time being, so it’s important to know which dirty money purveyors to pin the blame on for the deterioration of our democracy, public health and the environment. These days, the Koch brothers are Exhibit A.

Previous Comments

Lobbying is a good thing as companies, which can not vote, must have a way of presenting their concerns to government. Lobbying accomplishs this.

I am not convinced that Citizens United is a “democracy-destroying” decision; many states have had unlimited spending allowed by companies on their elections and democracy has done fine.

Voters are pretty smart, we can’t be easily bamboozled by any group, even a big company spending large amounts of money.

wow–didn’t take long for the fist Koch-bot to show up. Gee Paul S, how much of their dirty money do you get?

Paul, your attempt at appealing to voters intelligence is a very deceptive maneuver.

” we can’t be easily bamboozled by any group” ? Yes, if these companies were directly advertising,lobbying or appealing to the public to consider their point of view then yes, you would have a case.

But companies or groups surreptitiously bypassing the public & going straight for polticians, means they can avoid the publics scrutiny & rely on the appeal of the politicians in power amongst the people that put them there & the wider public to hear a sanitised politicised viewpoint on why or why not a particular bill should be passed or not.

The public are none the wiser. So how can they not be bamboozled when they hear viewpoints from the political party they backed? It’s confirmation bias.

Phil, if we didn’t believe our politicians weren’t representing our interests, we would vote for someone else.

Corporations have skin in the game in the form of employees hired, products provided and investments made. Of course they should be able to lobby govt. We require them to register so that the process is transparent.

Well in that case maybe Koch subsidiary consultants should be open to more transparency, Case in point comes from a statement in that CPI article at para 7 in the Toxic section:

‘But in the EPA hearing at the Washington Hilton last July, toxicologist John M. DeSesso, a consultant speaking on behalf of Georgia-Pacific, told the agency that the scientific studies on common levels of exposure are still inconclusive. He urged further study.’

Hum! Urging further study. Now where have we seen that before?

John DeSesso is a true expert in the area of toxins. What is your point?

Paul, I think his point is, tobacco scientists & fossil fuel lobbyists used/use the same tactic.

There is 1% doubt, so let’s delay for years.

In the case of big tobacco, they managed to do it for 40 years. That was only a couple of companies that managed to hold up legislation for decades & had thousands of doctors & scientists telling us it was healthy or not bad for you. With AGW there are literally hundreds of companies fighting & lobbying against the AGW viewpoint.

http://lightbucket.files.wordpress.com/2008/11/morescientistseducatorssmokekent663.jpg

http://lane.stanford.edu/tobacco/index.html

No doubt those 20,679 physicians were all experts on the effects of tobacco also eh Paul? It’s amazing what money can do to opinions.

Spot on, as any knowledgeable and/or honest commentator would have picked up on.

If you don’t know where I am coming from Paul_s. then check out Naomi Oreskes ‘Merchants of Doubt’ or this blog’s own ‘Climate Cover-Up’. Also watch out for John Mashey’s new lecture tour of which details can be found through here: http://deepclimate.org/2011/04/07/john-mashey-lecture-tour/

John Mashey’s tour peddles the same old tired canards we’ve been hearing for years from those who think there is some type of conspiracy to confuse the public.

Your’e right paul. I don’t think anyone who comprehends the science of AGW & understands the potential implications to our food, water & economies etc think there is some type of conspiracy to confuse the public……they know it’s a fact.

You just got through saying companies have a right to lobby governments. Do you expect us to believe that the Koch brothers or Exxon are lobbying for better sandwich bars in their towns?

The Koch brothers and Exxon provide hundreds of thousands of high paying job, pay billions in taxes, and provide a product that we all use. It’s normal they would want to lobby government.

Conspiracy? None at all.

“The Koch brothers and Exxon provide hundreds of thousands of high paying job, pay billions in taxes, and provide a product that we all use”

So does Google & Microsoft, but that is besides the point & a distraction you employ. Fossil fuels like coal & oil has performed a great service the past 100 years or so & helped us to have the lifestyles we enjoy today. We will still need oil for many products like bitumen & plastics etc. However, science, education, etc progresses constantly & we learn new things & learn from our mistakes. One of those mistakes is the effects of adding so much CO2 into the atmosphere artificially & at the same time taking away one of the key absorbers of carbon, trees through increasing deforestation. On top of that we have an overpopulation problem. There are many things to deal with & CO2 is one of them.

I think we have reached a point in time where we can move on from our neanderthal ancestry & stop burning things to produce energy.

Science has shown & warned us what too much CO2 will do & it’s not an inferno planet that deniers would have people think the pro AGW agenda is. The slight change to our planet will have massive economic & demographic implications.

” It’s normal they would want to lobby government.”

Of course it is. Just like Green peace lobbies. But what I am arguing for is transparency. Many of the public are not aware of slick marketing & sales tactics that only hurts them much more in the end. If they were, millions of people would not be duped per year by ponzi schemes, nigerian lotteries, con men & slick salesman.

“Conspiracy? None at all.”

Like I said, it’s not a conspiracy, it’s a verifiable fact.

Google and Microsoft are great companies, but neither of them provide the electricity or oil I require.

In a democracy, we can advocate and lobby as we please. That applies not only to Greenpeace, but to the Koch brothers. Besides, the amount they spend on lobbyingis mere pennies in the scheme of things.

Paul writes:

“The Koch brothers and Exxon provide hundreds of thousands of high paying job, pay billions in taxes, and provide a product that we all use.”

Actually, I read that Exxon didn’t pay federal corporate taxes in 2009. http://thinkprogress.org/2011/03/31/woodall-google-tax-rate/#

Don’t believe everything you read, especially from the internet and dubious sources such as the link you have providec.

Exxon paid billions in taxes, and continues to pay billions in taxes.

‘Same tired old canards…’ eh!

Well that tells me that you have not a clue about the content and context of John Mashey’s subject.

Shooting from the hip as you clearly have, you have just not had time to evaluate Mashey’s content.

The shenanigans WRT Wegman - GMU and MacIntyre is enough to demonstrate the poverty of the denier position let alone the links between oligarchs such as the Koch’s (which I do not pronounce as Coke) and those Foundations and think tanks that encourage the delayers, deniers and disunderstanders

http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Disunderstand

in general (such as yourself) are clear enough for all but the ideologically blind to see.

There are two main prongs to understanding this debate and that is the science of climate on one hand, a science with a long history as is evident to anyone who peruses the recently published ‘The Warming Papers’ and on the other hand the disinformation campaign propagated by the likes of those under immediate discussion who have managed to roadblock action on a developing issue of the utmost importance for humanities future (and that of all of the organisms with which we share this planet and upon whose continued existence we also depend). An issue that was recognised as such going back as far as the late 1960s.

Look at the time that has been wasted and the wars fought, and being fought (WTF do you think Libya is all about? Note Magabe in Zimbabwe was more or less left to get on with it - not much oil there.) and odious regimes proped up to secure oil supply. The time wasting over the last twenty years in particular is inexcusable and even more so at the present now the signs of impending catastrophe (cryosphere and hydrological cycle) are becoming ever more clear.

It takes severe cognitive dissonance to explain how you and your ilke can continue to spout the nonsense that you do.

Now, do yourself a favour and consider my points coolly and rationally and resist the temptation to shoot straight back without giving yourself time to thoroughly study the areas that I have indicated.

Not the canard about tobacco again. Most everyone knew tobacco was bad for them back then.

That’s just patently wrong Paul. It’s easy to look back in retrospect with our present day knowledge & powers of hindsight & say how could anyone not put two & two together?

Yet tobacco use permeated much of our culture through TV, movies, advertising in papers, billboards, magazines & through sports sponsorship. Baby boomers & their parents rarely saw an issue until probably the 80’s. I’m sure you can still cite people you have heard say “My grandfather smoked until he was 85 & he didn’t die from it!!”.

The few exceptions still seem to have the power even today to outweigh the evidence of many more thousands that don’t make it past their 30’s due to tobbaco.

People put two and two together and knew tobacco was bad over 100 years ago. It’s hardly a new thing. Talking to my older relatives, I’ve never met one who said tobacco was good for people.

Paul, it is clear you tow a very blind right wing ideology to say the least. Either that, or you are a corporate lobbyist yourself. Strike that, they would say intelligent things I imagine.

People did not put two & two together, if they did, there wouldn’t be a 56.7% male smoking population in the U.S in 1955. Which only reduced by 20 by the 1980’s.

http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0762370.html

It wasn’t until 2007 that the % was down to 23.9%. I didn’t say that people said it was good for them, that was industry that said that. What I said was, I bet even today you hear people that say “My grandfather smoked until he was 85 & didn’t die from smoking”. They are two different things Paul.

Irregardless, people knew smoking was bad for themselves back then.

It is mostly because of stigmatization and social pressure that smoking has declined so much nowadays. And that is not a bad thing.

1% doubt doesn’t delay action. Every decision we make as an individual or as a society involves a level of doubt, usually much more significant then 1%.

Paul, it’s not like the public gets access to the minutes of every meeting, email or phone calls between politicians, lobbyists, corporations or interest groups is it?

They merely hear the policies that particular politicians put forth for consideration.

No one provides access for the public before an election & says here you go, here are the policies they are presenting to you & here are the political donations received & policies private enterprise are hoping are created or removed to help them make more money, now join the dots & read between the lines.

“Phil, if we didn’t believe our politicians weren’t representing our interests, we would vote for someone else.”

That’s a very generalised statement Paul. Most people who watch the game know that there are demographics that nearly always vote in blocks because they are born into that ideology. Christians & Catholics, military personnel,business owners, American southern states (country people) predominantly vote conservative.Whereas non caucasians, city dwellers, teachers, academics etc typically vote progressives. For many in these groups, it wouldn’t matter what their politician said, they will back them or forgive them.

Then there are swinging voters. The people who don’t care about politics, don’t subscribe to a particular ideology, or who’s parents or culture haven’t indoctrinated them into a viewpoint. They are the only ones that fit your “if we didn’t believe our politicians weren’t representing our interests, we would vote for someone else.” belief & they usually represent only 10% of any western populous.

“Of course they should be able to lobby govt.”

I’m not arguing against that. I agree they should. I just wish it was a more transparent process & the public were more aware of backroom deals that often benefit the politician, corporation or group, but rarely benefits the wider public.

Phil, I just believe that if as citizens we really wanted reductions in CO2 we would get them, regardless of any backroom deals.

And of course, corporations, which provide most jobs in Canada and most products and services Canadians use, must have the ear of government at some level.

“Phil, I just believe that if as citizens we really wanted reductions in CO2 we would get them, regardless of any backroom deals.”

But that’s just the same argument as the smoking debate. The public cannot be expected to make rational decisions when their political representatives are guiding their beliefs according to the size of their political donations, or the opinions of talk back radio hosts or newspapers or T.V that are constantly seeding the doubt on behalf of corporations & political ideologies.

“And of course, corporations, which provide most jobs in Canada and most products and services Canadians use, must have the ear of government at some level.”

I think you will find that it is small businesses that employ the bulk of any western populous, not corporations.

But politicians are not making their decisions according to the size of political donations. Their decisions are guided by how many votes they receive. Any politician or party that attempts drastic action on AGW will get thrown out, by the voters.

Small businesses are almost always corporations too, and no less polluting then large corporations.

“But politicians are not making their decisions according to the size of political donations. Their decisions are guided by how many votes they receive”

Ok, so where do you think they get the money to travel around the country, place hundreds of tv, radio & print ads come campaign time? A typical 30 second tv commercial in non peak slots during unpopular programs can cost more than $100k. You think the companies that donate hundreds of thousands or millons for this expect nothing in return?

Politicians & political parties are torn constantly between the voters who get them in office & the companies or groups that fund them. Are you going to tell me you don’t believe unions donate to progressives or use lobbying influence to get better deals for their members?

If you can see the possibility of that, you can also see that fossil fuel, tobacco & mining companies donate to the conservatives & want better deals for their members also. This means blocking a carbon price due to profit, not science or human welfare. The voting members simply play follow the leader without question.

” Any politician or party that attempts drastic action on AGW will get thrown out, by the voters.”

Don’t look now, but most of Western Europe is on their way there. China’s pace means they will leave the U.S etc in the dust, all while becoming the new reserve currency & N.Z a conservative government introduced an ETS.

Politicians in Canada don’t suffer a lot of conflict between what businesses and voters want as they are very similar. And to date in Canada, that is no drastic actions on AGW.

Canadians are going to elect one of two business-friendly parties to govern themselves: the Liberals or the Conservatives. Most voters like businesses and Canada’s current policies.

If Canadians were truly outraged by government environmental policy, we would see the Greens winning large numbers of seats across the country. That they aren’t winning any seats is because not terribly many Canadians really want radical environmental regulations at this time.

Paul s said:

“Politicians in Canada don’t suffer a lot of conflict between what businesses and voters want as they are very similar. And to date in Canada, that is no drastic actions on AGW.”

This is complete hogwash. I happened to be at a social gathering where two Alberta politicians, both cabinet ministers, were present. I got talking to them and since this was the time period when the Alberta Government was re-reviewing the regulations regarding Royalty rates for the Oil and Gas Industry, I asked them what their views were.

The responses from these two senior politicians were completely opposed to each-other. One said that if Royalty rates went up they would loose political donations and that should be avoided so the rates should be lowered. The other said that he wanted Royalty rates to go up since that is what the average voter wanted.

Anyone care to venture a guess as to which view was adopted?

[x]

In Texas and North Dakota, where an oil rush triggered by the development of new fracking methods has taken many towns by storm, drillers have run into a major problem.

While their shale wells extract valuable oil, natural gas also rises from the wells alongside that oil. That gas could be sold for use for electrical power plants or to heat homes, but it is harder to transport from the well to customers than oil. Oil can be shipped via truck, rail or pipe, but the only practical way to ship gas is by pipeline, and new pipelines are expensive, often costing more to construct than the...

read more