Charles Koch

5 Facts About Mike Pence's Close Ties to the Koch Brothers Not Included in Jane Mayer’s New Yorker Article

This is a guest post by Scott Peterson from Checks and Balances Project.

If you’ve read Jane Mayer’s deep dive into the ties between the Koch Bros. and the Vice President, “The Danger of President Pence,” you’ll understand why it’s the high-water mark of reporting about their relationship. 

Yet there are several facts that aren’t included in the New Yorker article. Here are five facts worth knowing in addition to her excellent work.

Future Historians Will Look Back in Horror at Koch Network's Attacks on Climate Policy, says Author Nancy MacLean

Nancy MacLean

For the first few weeks after publishing, all was going pretty well.

Nancy MacLean’s book, Democracy in Chains: The Deep History of the Radical Right’s Stealth Plan for America, was “deeply important” and a “feat of American intellectual and political history,” said a review in Publishers Weekly.

The New York Times said the book joined an emerging corpus of important work of scholars and journalists that was “documenting the systematic, organized effort to undermine democracy and change the rules.”

But it didn’t take long for the apparatus of the “radical right” to swing into action, with attacks coming from many of the same individuals and institutions that the Duke University history professor documents in her book.

Koch-funded 'Expert' Attacks Electric Cars in PragerU’s 'War on Cars' Video

War on Cars video screen shot of stick figure holding a stop sign for people in cars

According to a recent video hosted by automotive expert and media personality Lauren Fix, there’s a “war on cars” raging in this country that is threatening the chief of all American values — our very freedom. No, this isn’t the war on electric vehicles that the fossil fuel billionaire Koch brothers have been waging (and which we’ve been tracking on Koch vs. Clean). Rather, says Fix, “there’s been a concerted push by government bureaucrats and environmentalists to transform car ownership from a source of pride to a source of guilt.”

What Fix doesn't mention in this video is her ties to funding from the Koch brothers. In addition, the organization behind the video she hosted, Prager University (PragerU), is a not a university but rather a non-profit founded by conservative talk show host Dennis Prager, with a stated mission to spread “Americanism” through five minute internet videos. Videos, which include such titles as “Fossil Fuels: The Greenest Energy” and “Why You Should Love Fossil Fuel.”

Conservative Groups Pushing Trump To Exit Paris Climate Deal Have Taken Millions From Koch Brothers, Exxon

The “conservative groups” urging President Donald Trump to withdraw from the Paris climate change agreement have accepted tens of millions of dollars from groups linked to the billionaire petrochemical brothers Charles and David Koch, ExxonMobil, and the Mercer family.

More than 40 groups have co-signed an open letter urging Trump to keep his campaign promise and “withdraw fully from the Paris Climate Treaty.”

The groups, including the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI), The Heartland Institute, and the Heritage Foundation, claim failing to withdraw from the treaty could put Trump’s policy agenda of promoting fossil fuels at risk.

New York Times Examines Fueling U.S. Forward, the Koch-Funded "Exploitative, Sad and Borderline Racist" Campaign

Back in August at the Red State Gathering in Denver, Fueling U.S. Forward President Charles Drevna revealed that one of the campaign's major strategies would involve targeting minority communities. A remarkable article just published by The New York Times reveals how the group is enacting this strategy, hosting and supporting events in minority communities while promoting the “importance of domestic oil and natural gas to making people’s lives better,” as Drevna put it.

Eddie Bautista, executive director of the NYC Environmental Justice Alliance, called the Fueling U.S. Forward campaign “an exploitative, sad and borderline racist strategy.”

Pass a Regulation, Repeal Another: House Approves Provision Tied to Koch Industries

B.C. Minister of Finance Colin Hansen and Laura Jones cut ceremonial red tape

On January 5, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the REINS (Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny) Act of 2017 in a 237-187 vote, a bill pushed for years by Koch Industries-funded entities, which will make it harder for federal agencies to enact regulations. 

Passing mostly along party lines, the bill also included an amendment introduced by U.S. Rep. Luke Messer (R-IN) and passed by the House, which states that for every federal regulation created, another must be amended or retired. In announcing the amendment on the House floor, Messer said Canada has a similar law on the books.

GOP Congress, Trump Already Pushing Koch Industries' Bill to Hobble Regulatory Agencies

Kochtopus

One of the first orders of business for the freshly convened 115th Congress — now that it's no longer attempting to gut an independent ethics office  — is to pass a bill which could weaken the ability of federal regulatory agencies to do their jobs. 

That law, the REINS (Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny) Act of 2017, has long been a legislative priority for Koch Industries, Koch-funded advocacy groups such as Americans for Prosperity, and the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). Its latest iteration, H.R. 26*, has the backing of Republican Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-WI) and 159 co-sponsors (five Democrats and 154 Republicans) and has reached full debate on the House floor.***

REINS dictates that a “major rule shall not take effect unless the Congress enacts a joint resolution of approval” and won't become law if Congress does not pass that resolution by “70 session days or legislative days, as applicable.”

The Trump Administration Is Filling Up With Koch Allies

Koch Ties Trump Administration

On the campaign trail, President-elect Donald Trump boasted that he had no need for the Koch brothers, claiming to have rejected meetings with them and calling his Republican primary opponents “puppets” for meeting with the Kochs.

Yet, today, Trump's transition team and Cabinet are quickly filling with a number of Koch affiliates, confidantes, and business associates.

Politico has called it Trump's Koch administration. Talking Points Memo noted that “Behind Make America Great, the Koch agenda has returned with a vengeance.” Others have called Trump an unwitting “puppet” of the Koch brothers.

Drain the Swamp? Mike McKenna, Head of Trump Energy Team, Began Lobbying Career with Ethics Scandal

Mike McKenna, named to head the U.S. Department of Energy transition team for President-Elect Donald Trump, began his lobbying career in the aftermath of an ethics scandal in Virginia.

Before resigning from the administration of Virginia's then-Governor George Allen in 1997, McKenna was implicated in the authorship and distribution of what the Associated Press called a “dirty tricks” memo written in response to a report published by the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission (JLARC), which had critiqued the Department of Environmental Quality for which McKenna had then served as policy director and spokesman.

McKenna now works as a lobbyist for a firm he founded named MWR Strategies

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