koch industries

The Clergy of Climate Change Denial: Art Pope and the North Carolina Denial Machine

With the U.S. midterm elections days away, there is no shortage of last-minute efforts and big advertising dollars being spent on the campaign trail.  Prominent among those ‘campaigning’ are Big Oil and corporate interests, who are spending with reckless abandon after the recent Citizens United decision enabled unlimited spending to influence election results.  As the Center for American Progress Action Fund reported, nearly $70 million of that funding was directed towards efforts to halt clean energy legislation. 

Among the various polluting industries doling out big bucks is Big Oil who is bankrolling major efforts, along with their dubious sounding front groups, including Kochtopus funded groups. But the Kochs aren’t the only ones attacking prevailing climate science through shady front groups.  

According to an excellent investigation by the Institute for Southern Studies, there’s a denier in town that is giving the Kochs a run for their money.  Art Pope has finessed the art of bankrolling climate change denial in North Carolina.  Facing South’s research demonstrates that Pope has close ties to the Kochs as one of four national directors of the Koch-founded political advocacy group Americans for Prosperity.  He is also the second-largest institutional funder of the Americans for Prosperity Foundation.

Pope is a director and board chair of the William Pope Foundation, which has steered millions to conservative thinks tanks in North Carolina and nationally, a network working closely with the Kochtopus to manufacture doubt about global warming.

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.  

Money Talks: Big Oil & Special Interests Bankroll Anti-Clean Energy Efforts on the Campaign Trail

With a week to go before the U.S. midterm elections, the Center for American Progress Action Fund has released a great interactive map that shows who’s been bankrolling efforts to halt clean energy efforts and back the anti-clean energy reform agenda.  After the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision permitted corporations to spend unlimited money influencing elections, the election terrain has become a dizzying display of corporate muscle and dollars.  Perhaps most dizzying is how easy it is for Big Oil and special interests to hide behind benevolent-sounding front groups, and how difficult it now is for us to know whose interests are shaping the elections.

In this midterm election, Democratic-aligned groups have been outspent by an astounding 7 to 1 margin, and Republican-aligned groups have flooded the nation’s airwaves with a flurry of ads.  According to CorpWatch, they have spent over $300 million, five times as much as they did in 2006.

CAP’s stats come from a Repower America report that shows the companies and organizations spreading misinformation about clean energy and climate change.  13 organizations have injected $68.5 million in 2010 alone into fictitious TV ads designed to spin clean energy legislation.  Since August alone, they’ve pumped over $17 million into their efforts. 

CAP’s report offers a state-by-state breakdown of the top donors, and follows the money to the source. And it’s not pretty.  The stakes for a clean energy future are high as oil and coal groups spend more and more helping climate-denying candidates run in tight races.

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:

David Koch Has Direct Contact With Tea Party Astroturf Organizers At Americans For Prosperity Event

The billionaire Koch brothers have long claimed that they have no direct connection to the Tea Party, denying that their vast oil wealth is directly funding corporate front groups like Americans For Prosperity, the key organizers of the fake grassroots Tea Party movement. 

David Koch told New York magazine earlier this year, “I’ve never been to a tea-party event. No one representing the tea party has ever even approached me.” 

But the Guardian’s Suzanne Goldenberg reports today that footage has emerged showing David Koch at the podium during an Americans For Prosperity gala receiving direct and detailed reports from his astroturf AFP army on their efforts to organize tea parties around the nation.  

Watch the clip from the new documentary (Astro)Turf Wars: How Corporate America Faked a Grassroots Revolution:

  

Koch-funded Prop 23 Campaign Manufacturing Science

In the latest example of polluter attempts to exert influence over science, the Koch-funded Pacific Research Institute was paid to manufacture another junk science “study” designed to lend credibility to California’s disastrous Proposition 23 ballot measure, an oil industry-backed effort to derail the state’s landmark AB 32 law to fight global warming.

The Yes on 23 campaign, a group launched and funded primarily by three oil companies – Valero Energy, Tesoro Corporation and Koch Industries’ subsidiary Flint Hills Resources - has been meddling in science, much to the liking of its oil industry bankrollers.  Recent financial reports reveal the Yes on 23 campaign has raised more than $5.2 million in the past three months, mostly from the oil companies.

The funding reports reveal payments of tens of thousands of dollars going to researchers at an industry front group well known for ginning up misleading research suggesting that California’s clean energy efforts would kill jobs. 

According to the financial disclosures, the oil-backed campaign paid Pacific Research Institute $40,000, no doubt intended to bolster its efforts to attack California’s AB 32 law. 

Koch Industries Funds Attack on Science Linking Formaldehyde and Cancer

Further revelations have come to light since the recent controversial expose in the New Yorker about Koch Industries, surrounding New York billionaire David Koch and his company’s involvement in the industry-led effort to downplay the links between formaldehyde and cancer.

In 2008, the president of one of Koch Industry’s subsidiaries sat as the Chair of a pro-Formaldehyde lobby group called the Formaldehyde Council. The subsidiary, Georgia-Pacific, is also a long-time funder of the Formaldehyde Council.

Among other things, the Formaldehyde Council tried to downplay the negative health impacts of formaldehyde in trailers set up for victims of the Katrina disaster.

Prior to the recent media attention, the New York social elite knew David Koch mostly for his commendable charitable donations to groups like the American Ballet Theater and the American Museum of Natural History.

Learning that he, through his role as senior executive and Chairman of Koch Industries, also bankrolls far-right groups and causes that regularly question President Obama’s U.S. citizenship and deny climate science surely piqued their interest in Koch’s other side.

One baffling conflict mentioned by journalist Jane Mayer in her New Yorker article is David Koch’s generous funding of cancer research, while simultaneously his companies and their lobbying groups fight against federal efforts to regulate the known human carcinogen formaldehyde.

David Koch was diagnosed with prostate cancer in the early 1990s, and since then has become a major financier of cancer research, donating hundreds of millions of dollars to respected cancer research centers such as Sloan-Kettering, M. D. Anderson Cancer Center, New York-Presbyterian Hospital, M.I.T. and Johns Hopkins University, as Mayer notes.

For his commendable charitable work, David Koch was appointed to the National Cancer Advisory Board,a committee of the US National Cancer Institute, in 2004 by President George W. Bush and remains a member today [pdf].

Our research has uncovered very strong ties between Georgia-Pacific, a company co-owned by David Koch through Koch Industries, and a political lobby group called the Formaldehyde Council that is involved in efforts to downplay the dangers posed by formaldehyde to human health.

Formaldehyde is classified as a “Group 1 Carcinogen” which is defined as an agent that “is definitely carcinogenic to humans” by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), and “a complete carcinogen” in the words of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). The National Toxicology Program also recently revised its characterization of formaldehyde to that of “known human carcinogen.”

Koch Industries Donates $1 Million To Prop 23 Effort To Kill California Climate Law

David and Charles Koch, the billionaire brothers bankrolling the front groups behind the Tea Party and climate denial movement, have added another ‘cause’ to their philanthropic endeavors, donating $1 million to the Proposition 23 fight to kill California’s landmark 2006 climate change legislation.

Koch subsidiary Flint Hills Resources LP handled the laundry duties on this one, but the directive surely came from the heads of the Kochtopus empire - billionaires David and Charles Koch.

The Kochs have found themselves under an uncomfortable spotlight lately after a thorough investigation by The New Yorker revealed the brothers’ extensive funding of a network of groups that catapulted the ‘grassroots’ Tea Party into play, as well as their financial backing of a sprawling network of climate denier groups that makes even ExxonMobil blush.

The Los Angeles Times blog ‘Greenspace’ first reported Flint Hills Resources donation towards the Proposition 23 bill last night, noting that the effort was launched by two other oil industry players, Texas-based refinery companies Valero Energy and Tesoro Corp.

The Koch Industry and Americans for Prosperity Machine Exposed

The fallout continues from a very comprehensive New Yorker report exposing Koch Industries massive ideological machine with an opinion piece in the Sunday New York Times by columnist Frank Rich called: The Billionaires Bankrolling the Tea Party.

Out in front of this controversy is a group called the Americans for Prosperity that has recieved millions from Koch Industries and has been touring the United States spreading misinformation about the realities of climate change and organizing local tea party protests.

Here is the background research we have put together over the years on the Americans for Prosperity and Koch Industries:

Background on Americans for Prosperity (AFP)

Background on Tim Phillips, president of Americans for Prosperity

Comprehensive background and history of Koch Industries

Background on Koch Industries - company holdings and investments

Background on Koch Industries and lobbying in Washington, DC

Background on Koch Industries and George Mason University

The New Yorker Exposes Koch Industries "Kochtopus" Behind Tea Party and Climate Denial Machine

The New Yorker has published a must-read article exposing the long reach of the “Kochtopus” network set up by Koch Industries to fuel the Tea Party and fund the climate denial machine.  

Written by investigative journalist Jane Mayer, the piece titled “Covert Operations: The billionaire brothers who are waging war against Obama” explores the decades-long efforts of brothers David and Charles Koch to manipulate and deceive the public on issues ranging from climate change to cancer-causing chemicals. 

Koch Industries has done far more than even ExxonMobil to fund the climate denial machine in recent years, and media coverage about numerous Tea Party and GOP candidates who deny the science of climate change confirm that the Kochs’ reach has infected national politics in unprecedented ways.

The lengthy New Yorker article covers many interesting new angles about the Kochs’ influence-peddling empire, and adds to a growing body of research about Koch Industries’ anti-science, anti-democratic activities.

Building upon the research from Greenpeace’s excellent Koch report earlier this year, Jane Mayer expands on Koch’s role in funding climate deniers and anti-science think tanks, not to mention the Tea Party. 

Head over to The New Yorker to read the slimy details.  

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