Wednesday, March 11, 2015

"My Senators Wrote Iran A Letter" #47Traitors @jamesrustadsong



Published on Mar 10, 2015
The President's tryin' to broker a deal
But Republicans do whatever they feel
Peaceful days are gone, they're tryin' to start a war
My Senators wrote Iran a letter

They don't care how much money they got to spend
Don't care how many lives have got to end
Peaceful days are gone, they're tryin' to start a war
My Senators wrote Iran a letter

They wrote Iran a letter
Said they couldn't trust the agreement no more
Listen people 47 Traitors in the Senate
Should be shown the door
Anyway, yeah

Roadblocks to diplomacy
Sabotaging our country
Peaceful days are gone, they're tryin' to start a war
My Senators wrote Iran a letter

They wrote Iran a letter
Said they couldn't trust the agreement no more
Listen people 47 Traitors in the Senate
Should be shown the door
Anyway, yeah

Tom Cotton's leading the Hawks to war
But it's defense contractors he's fighting for
Peaceful days are gone, they're tryin' to start a war
My Senators wrote Iran a letter

"My Senators Wrote Iran A Letter"
Lyrics by James Rustad, Copyright 2015. All Rights Reserved.

Clinton Email Hacks: Zero; Federal Government Email Hacks: 61,000

Clinton Email Hacks: Zero; Federal Government Email Hacks: 61,000; Congressional Email Hacks: Who the Hell Knows

It seems the GOP overreaching has gotten farcical.
Hillary ClintonThis morning the chair of the so-called “Benghazi” committee, Congressman Trey Gowdy (R-SC), demanded former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton turn over all her personal emails as well as her server. In his words, “we don’t get to grade our own papers in life.” Let me translate my fellow South Carolinian’s folksy colloquialism: he’s saying that Clinton doesn’t get to decide which emails she turns over and which ones she doesn’t.
Actually yes she does. That’s the rule for every single federal employee except, you guessed it, the members and staff of the legislative branch aka the Congress. Rules governing the president and his immediate staff are far stricter, but no one here is talking about that. HRCYet.
I was a Senate staffer for years, and the one thing we always knew about our emails was this: no one, and I mean no one, could ever get their hands on them. Congressional email is exempt from Freedom of Information Act requests.
Fast forward to Gowdy demanding Clinton turn over her personal emails. As I wrote yesterday, her personal emails are none of his damn business. Period. And yet, he’s demanding she turn over those emails. Correct the Record’s David Brock asked the right question this morning in a letter to Congressman Gowdy:
CTR logo
March 11, 2015
Chairman Trey Gowdy
Select Committee on Benghazi
United States House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515
Dear Chairman Gowdy:
I noted with interest your public demand that Secretary Clinton turn over her personal email server, presumably so that the committee can access some 30,000 Clinton emails deemed to be strictly private and beyond the reach of the government.
This Orwellian demand has no basis in law or precedent.  Every government employee decides for themselves what email is work-related and what is strictly private.  There is no reason to hold Secretary Clinton to a different standard— except partisan politics.
But since you insist that Clinton’s private email be accessed, I’m writing today to ask you and your staff to abide by the same standard you seek to hold the Secretary to by releasing your own work-related and private email and that of your staff to the public.
While I realize that Congress regularly exempts itself from laws that apply to the executive branch, I believe this action is necessary to ensure public confidence in the fairness and impartiality of your investigation. 
Thank you for your consideration.
Sincerely,
David Brock
Correct The Record
The good news here is Brock has called Gowdy on his complete and sheer hypocrisy. The bad news? Gowdy and the rest of his cronies are completely exempt and will never have to turn over a single email to the taxpayer. Once again, the double standard is staggering.
I asked the folks over at CTR about this and Adrienne Elrod told me:
“Hillary Clinton’s email was secure – in fact, she said there were zero security breaches to the system.  That’s more than we can say of the federal government, whose various departments have been hacked numerous times, resulting in the exposure of sensitive data and personal information.  If Trey Gowdy feels so strongly about the security of her personal email, he should apply the same standard to himself and his own staff, and release all their public and private emails.”
Finally, let me address this BS surrounding the “security” of the Clinton server. The U.S. Secret Service has watched over that server since it was plugged into the walls of the Clinton’s Chappaqua home. Furthermore, at no point has anyone hacked into the Clinton server, something the Department of State has confirmed.
In 2013, the federal government incurred almost 61,000 cyber attacks and security breaches. In fact, Reuter’s reported the State Department’s own servers were hacked into in the fall of 2014.
Hillary ClintonThe Clinton’s server? Nada. The federal government? Over 61,000 breaches.
Our friends on the right will ask: “Well how do we know!??! How can we trust anything Clinton tells us?!?”
And the answer is actually quite simple: they never will trust her or her husband. Ever. Period. No matter what. She could take a lie detector test, and they’d say she rigged it. She could swear on the Holy Bible, and they’d say she’s not a Christian so it doesn’t matter. (Heard that line lately?)
We know that hundreds of thousands of state secrets were leaked when Bradley Manning, a Defense Department employee, downloaded State Department cables. We also know not a single email from Secretary Clinton was included in any of those documents and cables.
Not one.
So if we’re going to have a conversation about the security of the Clinton server, let’s have that. Compared to the federal government’s track record with secured emails, I’d say the Clinton emails did just fine.
Whoever thought the GOP would love government email so much.
Jimmy Williams
Jimmy Williams is the Executive Editor of BlueNationReview, MSNBC contributor, and can be found regularly calling out hypocritical Republicans on twitter.

Fox News is worse than Bill O’Reilly: Why the pundit’s fabrications are almost beside the point


Fox News is worse than Bill O’Reilly: Why the pundit’s fabrications are almost beside the point

The right's star pundit is a serial liar, yes. But the damage he inflicts is nothing compared to the network itself



This article originally appeared on AlterNet.
AlterNetMuch has been made in the last few weeks of the factual nature of the news. Amidst allegations that NBC News anchor Brian Williams was less than accurate in claims about his experiences in Iraq, we now have an emerging controversy over the repeated lies of Bill O’Reilly. But the real story here is not just the decline of truth telling in television news, it’s the way that the truth has been replaced by fear.
Rather than offer viewers accurate information, TV news increasingly depends on developing a fearful audience. As Psychology Today notes, “Fear-based news stories prey on the anxieties we all have and then hold us hostage.” O’Reilly, for instance, tells viewers that they have much to fear, that the world is filled with evil, and then offers personal stories that suggest he has unique insights into the way that violence operates in the world. Again, to quote Psychology Today, “[t]he success of fear-based news relies on presenting dramatic anecdotes in place of scientific evidence, promoting isolated events as trends, depicting categories of people as dangerous and replacing optimism with fatalistic thinking.”
Most of us have heard the phrase “if it bleeds, it leads,” but it’s worth asking when we simply started to take it for granted. In fact, the phrase was originally a reference to local TV news – a tacit criticism of the way local news programs used hype and sensationalism to attract viewers since they lacked the serious reporting of network news. In the early 1980s, just as media critics began noting that local news was turning toward even greater fear-based reporting, CNN was founded. The advent of the 24/7 news channel radically altered the kind of information offered to television news.
Put simply, there wasn’t enough “real” news to sustain a 24-hour cycle. So cable news relied on two things to fill the hours: time spent hyping future stories and pundit reviews of news items. Both of these changes depended more on fear than facts to keep viewers tuned in. Anchors babbled on about worrying news stories, then pundits hyped them up with hysteria.
But that was just the beginning. The fear era of news was about to get much worse. In 1996, Roger Ailes founded the Fox News Channel. The station was the first explicitly conservative TV news network and its mission was to offer a partisan spin on the news. The Fox News angle was more than just a conservative take on the news. It was fear-based programming that far outpaced anything, in terms of scaremongering, that had been on television prior. Fox didn’t just shun the facts as liberal bias, it also taught viewers to be afraid. Particularly of anyone who disagreed with their extreme right views.
This is why Eric Burns, who hosted Fox’s media critic show Fox News Watch for a decade, recently explained in an interview with CNN’s Brian Stelter that Fox News is more like a cult than an actual news channel. He pointed out that O’Reilly’s lies had been well documented since Keith Olbermann went after him when he hosted a show for MSNBC. But no one cared, Burns said, because for Fox News viewers consider anything that contradicts the fear and hype they consume as liberals propaganda. There simply are not enough facts to change their minds since the only thing they trust is Fox News. “To the Fox News cult, this kind of thing doesn’t matter,” said Burns. “It’s a lie from the liberal media.”
This leads to another key piece of the story. During the 2000 U.S. presidential election, Tim Russert introduced the concept of “red states and blue states” on the Today show. While colors had been used to code states in election reporting before, this new scheme took hold and began to depict a nation that was deeply divided and fundamentally at odds. Color-coding created a sense of opposition where news media depended on pitting citizens of different political perspectives against each other in battle.
This might all have seemed like a standard pattern for reporting on elections if it hadn’t soon been followed by 9/11. The news coverage of the World Trade Center attacks again relied on fear, but a new and highly specific form of fear. One that encouraged viewers to feel their beliefs were at risk, and that they were under constant attack from an enemy hell-bent on destroying us.
This reporting led to repeated cries of “Why do they hate us?” – certainly not a line of questioning designed to advance our critical perspectives of the situation. After 9/11, the emotional hype that had begun to gain traction in news hit all-new peaks as the Bush administration also began trading in fear to advance its political agenda. It would take satirical comedian Stephen Colbert (more on him later) to call out the weaknesses of this line of thinking when, on his first show, he coined the term “truthiness“ to describe replacing reality with hyperbolic sentiment.
Thus, in the period following 9/11, detail, information, and nuance gave way to ever-increasing amounts of news sensationalism. While all TV news sometimes falls prey to this line of reporting, there is little doubt that Fox News is #1. Recall, for example, recent Fox and Friends reporting on Muslim “no-go” zones in France following the Charlie Hebdo attacks. When a French TV host sent his own reporters out to “these supposedly dangerous areas, [they found]…well…nothing terribly threatening.”
The trouble with this kind of fear-based reporting – other than its aversion to facts – is that it shuts down reason and replaces it with anxiety. As we read in the piece that launched this series, “fear is the enemy of reason.” Citizens simply can’t make reasoned judgments if all the news they consume is hysterical hyperbole.
This brings us back to the connection between O’Reilly and Williams and their respective lies. It seems clear that both hyped up their personal experiences to advance their careers. But O’Reilly had additional motive: building up his cult of fear. He is the Papa Bear, to use Colbert’s nickname for him, who will protect his viewers and attack his critics. According to NPR’s David Folkenflik, “O’Reilly wants to be respected and feared, while Williams wants to be respected and loved.” He explains that O’Reilly is a “human invective machine” and that his “defense of his journalism consists of going on the offensive.”
What makes O’Reilly’s particular brand of fear mongering especially dangerous is that it combines fear with intense aggression. It is not a fear meant to unite our nation under a common cause, it is a fear meant to create factions at war. The motto seems to be: “Forget the facts, but always remember your enemies.”
One of the few sources of a corrective to this fear mongering has been satirical news such as that offered by shows like the recently ended Colbert Report, where the aforementioned Stephen Colbert played a parody of a pundit based on O’Reilly. In fact, we can thank satirists like Colbert and Jon Stewart for offering Americans a healthy alternative to Fox News hype. Somewhere along the way, satirical news became more trustworthy than news calling itself “fair and balanced”.
On the last week of his show, Colbert discussed how O’Reilly was dismissing the findings of “The Torture Report,” since the facts in the report didn’t support his worldview. In a final segment of “Formidable Opponent,” in which the “real” Stephen Colbert debates the parody Colbert, the two Colberts watched a clip of the Fox News host defending the use of torture as a way to protect Americans.
It was in the midst of this segment that Colbert dropped a real zinger:
“Oh, I am going to miss that good man,” Colbert says after watching the clip.
“Stephen, he’s not going off the air,” the other Colbert replies. “You are!”
“Yeah,” says Colbert. “But no one’s going to pay me to watch him anymore, so fuck that noise!”
Colbert may not be being paid to watch O’Reilly anymore, but it seems clear that we all need to pay attention to his show and the impact it has on public perceptions. It all makes the original use of “if it bleeds, it leads” seem really quite quaint. Today’s TV news media has amped up the fear factor of news to a whole new level. One where fear is taken for granted, and reason is ridiculed.
Sophia A. McClennen is Professor of International Affairs and Comparative Literature at the Pennsylvania State University. She writes on the intersections between culture, politics, and society. Her latest book, co-authored with Remy M. Maisel, is, Is Satire Saving Our Nation? Mockery and American Politics.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Petition against the 47 traitors

WE PETITION THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION TO:

File charges against the 47 U.S. Senators in violation of The Logan Act in attempting to undermine a nuclear agreement.

On March 9th, 2015, forty-seven United States Senators committed a treasonous offense when they decided to violate the Logan Act, a 1799 law which forbids unauthorized citizens from negotiating with foreign governments. Violation of the Logan Act is a felony, punishable under federal law with imprisonment of up to three years.
At a time when the United States government is attempting to reach a potential nuclear agreement with the Iranian government, 47 Senators saw fit to instead issue a condescending letter to the Iranian government stating that any agreement brokered by our President would not be upheld once the president leaves office.
This is a clear violation of federal law. In attempting to undermine our own nation, these 47 senators have committed treason.Click Here To Sign
Published Date: Mar 09, 2015

Major General Smedley Butler and The Fascist Takeover Of The USA

Major General Smedley Butler and The Fascist Takeover Of The USA

1934 U.S. corporate elitists calling Roosevelt a traitor to his class for having implemented his New Deal policies, tried to involve Marine Corps Major General Smedley Butler in a treasonous plan to foment an armed coup against Roosevelt. Instead, Butler turned on the Banana Republic Capitalist’s, stating that he was fed up sending men abroad to get slaughtered defending Standard Oil interests, and that he’d had enough of what he called, “being a gangster for capitalism.”


The Fascist Plot to Overthrow FDR


In 1933, Retired Marine Corps Major General Smedley Butler was approached by wealthy industrialists and bankers who were plotting to create a fascist veterans’ organization called the “American Liberty League” and use it in a coup d’├ętat to overthrow United States President Franklin D. Roosevelt, with Butler as leader of that organization.
Marine Corps Maj.-Gen. Smedley Butler was approached by a wealthy and secretive group of industrialists and bankers, including Prescott Bush, who asked him to command a 500,000 strong rogue army of veterans that would help stage a coup to topple then President Franklin Delano Roosevelt.
The proven record of Prescott Bush’s involvement in financing the Nazi war machine dovetails with the fact that he was part of a criminal cabal that actively sought to impose a fascist coup in America.
President George Walker Bush’s grandfather (Prescott Bush) and great grandfather (George Herbert Walker) were among Wall Street’s ultra-right wing elite.

Jesse Ventura on Sarah Palin: 'I have no respect for you,' you're a 'quitter'

Jesse Ventura on Sarah Palin: 'I have no respect for you,' you're a 'quitter' 

Jesse Ventura on Ora.tv
Jesse Ventura on Ora.tv
www.ora.tv
Former Governor of Minnesota Jesse Ventura recently won his court case against the estate of Chris Kyle after the jury found that Kyle had fabricated a story in his book that said he had attacked Ventura in a bar. Following the court case, former Alaska governor Sarah Palinlashed out against Ventura.
In his book "American Sniper," Chris Kyle had alleged that he overheard Jesse Ventura making disparaging remarks about the U.S. Navy SEALS, and he knocked Ventura out at a bar. Ventura, himself a former SEAL, went to court and after nearly 2 years, was awarded the sum of $1.8 million after the jury ruled in his favor. Kyle was killed on February 2, 2013 by a fellow SEAL at a gun range. While Ventura went to court and won against the estate of Kyle, many in the media spun the story as Ventura going after a widow of a fallen solider. Despite the evidence proving the contrary, Sarah Palin took to her new internet channel to give her two cents on the story.
“Hey tough guy, Jesse Ventura, your feelings were hurt because you perceived your reputation was besmirched by words in a book?...So you turn around and sue, expecting $2 million from a military widow and her fatherless children? Yeah, like that is going to help your reputation, jackass.”
Many pundits and politicians often let what Sarah Palin say slide, not even attempting to put her in her place. Enter Jesse Ventura and his new podcast, "We the People with Jesse Ventura." Never one to hold back, the former governor of Minnesota let his opinions be known about Sarah Palin.
"Well you know what I've got to say to Sarah "the quitter" Palin? At least I finished my term, Sarah, and didn't lie to the people. You lied to the people. You told the people of Alaska that you wanted to be their governor. Then all of a sudden fame and fortune came your way, and being governor wasn't that important was it, to the money. So you dropped out early. You quit your job as governor. You didn't fulfill your obligation and promise to the very people who elected you. You chose fame and fortune, Sarah. I have no respect for you because you made a choice. You took the money over your obligation. So who are you to criticize me?"
The court case between Jesse Ventura and the estate of Chris Kyle has been spun to favor the person who the jury decided was in the wrong. For Sarah Palin and other talking heads to smear the name of Jesse Ventura all because he wanted to restore his reputation with the truth, just shows how far journalism has fallen in the media.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Law Professor: GOP’s Letter To Iran Explaining How Constitution Works Gets Constitution Wrong

Law Professor: GOP’s Letter To Iran Explaining How Constitution Works Gets Constitution Wrong

AUTHOR MARCH 9, 2015 12:58 PM

Yesterday, a group of 47 Republican senators became an international embarrassment when they published a letter to Iran telling its leaders to ignore Obama. Today, they become a national one.
The group of Republicans had hoped that by sending a letter to Iran highlighting the way America’s “constitutional system” works, it would become clear to the Iranians that while the president has been working tirelessly with them on an historic nuclear deal, the Republican controlled Congress was planning on derailing any negotiations they could.
In a page oozing with condescension, they wrote in part:
While the president negotiates international agreements, Congress plays the significant role of ratifying them. In the case of a treaty, the Senate must ratify it by two-thirds vote. A so-called congressional-executive agreement requires a majority vote in both the House and the Senate… Anything not approved by Congress is a mere executive agreement.
However, despite the confident tone, it seems the lawmakers don’t really have a firm grasp on what their role in the treaty-process is exactly. According to a detailed analysis of the letter’s contents by a Harvard law professor named Jack Goldsmith, who teachers and writes about presidential power and international law, the members of Congress got huge portions of this wrong:
The letter states that “the Senate must ratify [a treaty] by a two-thirds vote.”  But as the Senate’s own web page makes clear: “The Senate does not ratify treaties. Instead, the Senate takes up a resolution of ratification, by which the Senate formally gives its advice and consent, empowering the president to proceed with ratification” (my emphasis).  Or, as this outstanding  2001 CRS Report on the Senate’s role in treaty-making states (at 117):  “It is the President who negotiates and ultimately ratifies treaties for the United States, but only if the Senate in the intervening period gives its advice and consent.”  Ratification is the formal act of the nation’s consent to be bound by the treaty on the international plane.  Senate consent is a necessary but not sufficient condition of treaty ratification for the United States.
In other words, it’s a two-sided process that involves the president just as much as it involves Congress. The group probably wanted to de-emphasize the sharing of power with the Obama administration because: One, they hate Obama and petty insults are not beneath them. And two, they want to feel more important than they actually are.
As Goldsmith points out, the error in their letter is certainly technical, however that doesn’t mean it is any less embarrassing. The people who, one would think, have the best grasp on constitutional law, seem to have a few blindspots regarding their own limitations in it.
Making matters even more cringeworthy for the Republicans who had hoped this letter would be their shining moment of “screw you” politics to Obama: One of the letter’s chief architects, Sen. Tom Cotton actually graduated from Harvard Law. Apparently, he didn’t get his money’s worth – or at least slept through Goldsmith’s classes.

Koch Industries: Corporate Rap Sheet

Koch Industries: Corporate Rap Sheet

Koch Industries

By Philip Mattera
Koch Industries is best known as the source of the fortunes of Charles and David Koch, billionaires who are major funders of right-wing activist groups such as Americans for Prosperity. The company itself—which began as an oil services business created by the Kochs’ father in the 1940s—was built by the Koch brothers into a privately-held conglomerate with more than $100 billion in annual revenue. Among its holdings are the paper products giant Georgia-Pacific (Dixie Cups, Brawny paper towels, etc.) and Invista, the synthetic fibers business (Lycra, Stainmaster, etc.) spun off by DuPont.
The Kochs claim to run their businesses in accordance with their laissez-faire beliefs—their term for it is Market-Based Management—which means that they have frequently come into conflict with government regulators and prosecutors. They are currently the target of protests over reports that they will try to purchase the Los Angeles Times and other newspapers being sold by the Tribune Co.
Company History
The Koch empire dates back to the late 1920s, when engineer Fred Koch invented a more efficient method for the thermal cracking of crude oil, which yielded higher proportions of usable products, especially gasoline. His innovation threatened the existing oil industry, which tied Koch up in patent infringement lawsuits. He responded by signing a contract with the Stalin regime to construct refineries in the Soviet Union. During the 1940s he built a domestic oil service business called Wood River Oil & Refining based in Wichita, Kansas. It was later renamed Rock Island Oil & Refining.
Koch maintained a low-profile for his company while getting involved in right-wing politics. He helped found the John Birch Society in 1958. After Koch died in 1967, the company was taken over by his 32-year-old son Charles. Another son, David, also joined the firm. The brothers initiated a period of rapid growth that would turn the family’s business, renamed Koch Industries, into one of the country’s largest privately held companies.
William, David’s twin, joined the company in 1971, but he reportedly never fit in. He clashed with Charles over issues such as the large sums the latter was contributing to the Libertarian Party and the limited sums that were being paid in dividends to family shareholders. In 1980 Bill tried to seize control of the company. The effort failed, and William was ousted. He sued Charles and David for corporate mismanagement; they countersued with a $167 million libel action. The situation became ugly as the brothers traded endless accusations. The case was settled in 1983; as part of the deal, William (and a fourth brother, Fred, who took his side) sold their interests back to the company. Two years later, however, William and Fred sued Charles and the company, claiming that the value of their holdings had been misrepresented to them. That charge was rejected in court.
The family squabbles did not slow the growth of Koch Industries, which benefitted from shrewd acquisitions of properties shunned by larger oil producers and by the run-up in oil prices in the 1970s. The company also moved into businesses such as oil pipelines, chemicals, cattle ranching, coal mining and commercial real estate, the latter through the acquisition of Chrysler Realty Corporation.
In 1998 Koch purchased Invista, the synthetic fibers business of DuPont, for $4.4 billion. In 2005 it made its largest deal ever: the $21 billion acquisition of paper products giant Georgia-Pacific. In 2012 Koch acquired a large stake in glass, automotive and building products producer Guardian Industries.

Political Controversies
After the Obama Administration took office, the Kochs became known more for their ideological activities than their business operations. The Kochs were backers of Americans for Prosperity, which starting in 2008  waged an intense campaign against the climate bill being considered by Congress. Even after the bill was dead, it went on getting lawmakers to sign a pledge against such legislation.
In 2009 Greenpeace issued a report identifying the Kochs as leading funders of climate science denial groups. In a widely read 2010 article by Jane Mayer in The New Yorker, David Koch was described as “best known as part of a family that has repeatedly funded stealth attacks on the federal government, and on the Obama Administration in particular.“
Many of these political initiatives served the Kochs’ business interests. Their industrial operations stood to gain if regulation of greenhouse gases and other pollutants remained weak. The Mayer article pointed out that Koch Industries was lobbying vigorously against tougher federal regulation of formaldehyde—widely viewed as a carcinogen though heavily used by the company’s Georgia-Pacific unit in its wood products—at the same time that David Koch was making large contributions to cancer research centers.
In 2010 the Kochs spent heavily to get conservatives elected governor in various states. One of the successful candidates, Wisconsin’s Scott Walker, ended up in an embarrassing situation in 2011 after he had a phone call with someone who identified himself as David Koch and encouraged Walker in his effort to strip public employees of collective bargaining rights. The caller turned out to be an imposter who made a recording of the conversation public. Koch Industries was the target of activists who posted a fake news release in its name purporting to announced that it was ending its funding of climate denial groups. Koch’s consumer brands were a target of a boycott by groups protesting Walker’s policies.
In 2011 and 2012 the Kochs were at the center of a new controversy over their role in funding the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), an organization that disseminates corporate-written model legislation on a wide range of issues (such as paid sick leave) to state legislators. An article that year in Politico reported that, in addition to using their own money, the Kochs were mobilizing other conservative donors to contribute more to groups such as Americans for Limited Government and the American Future Fund.
A December 2012 report by the International Forum on Globalization accused the Kochs of paralyzing U.S. climate policy and thus helping to undermine UN talks on addressing the climate crisis.
A new controversy emerged in 2013 in response to reports that Koch Industries was considering a bid to purchase the Tribune Co.’ s eight regional newspapers, including the Los Angeles Times and the Chicago Tribune. The reaction was most intense in Los Angeles, where labor unions and others launched a campaign to mobilize both newspaper subscribers and holders of Tribune stock to oppose such a deal.
The Tribune Co. issue spilled over into a controversy over David Koch's relationship to public television. A new article by Jane Mayer in The New Yorker questioned whether the fact that Koch sat on the boards of two PBS stations played a role in the decision by PBS to cancel plans to broadcast a film called Citizen Koch about the Koch empire. (Koch was was apparently not happy about the airing on PBS of a previous film about him called Park Avenue).
In September 2013 Politico reported that Freedom Partners, a low-profile political funding vehicle linked to the Koch Brothers, had been responsible for some $236 million in grants to conservative groups.

Fraud,  False Claims, Bribery, Price-Fixing  and Other Corrupt Practices
In 1974 Koch was one of four oil companies accused by the Federal Energy Administration of overcharging customers by some $58 million. In 1980 Koch Industries was fined $50,000 by a federal court for manipulating a Bureau of Land Management lottery of oil and gas leases. That same year, the Carter Administration’s Council on Wage and Price Stability chastised Koch for refusing to cooperate with a price survey designed to assist a program to combat inflation (AP, March 7, 1980).
As part of his feud with his brothers, William Koch hired private investigators to document claims that Koch Industries had engaged in fraud while purchasing oil from Indian reservations. A Senate committee looked into the matter and in 1989 found some validity to the charges. Itsubmitted its findings to the Department of Justice, but a grand jury declined to issue indictments. In 1999 a federal jury, acting in a whistleblower case that had been initiated by William Koch, found that Koch Industries had underreported the amount of oil it obtained from federal and Indian leases. In 2001 the company agreed to pay $25 million to settle the case.
In 2002 KoSa, a Luxembourg-based producer of synthetic fibers controlled by Koch, pleaded guilty to U.S. Justice Department charges of participating in a price-fixing cartel involving polyester staple and paid a $28.5 million criminal fine.
In 2006 Koch paid a fine of $75,000 and signed a consent decree with the Federal Communications to resolve charges that the company’s applications for private radio licenses failed to mention that it had been convicted of felonies on three occasions in federal and state courts. The consent decree did not provide details of the cases, but they presumably involved the environmental violations below.
In November 2011 the magazine Bloomberg Markets published a lengthy article entitled “The Secret Sins of Koch Industries” that made some explosive accusations against the company: “For six decades around the world, Koch Industries has blazed a path to riches—in part, by making illicit payments to win contracts, trading with a terrorist state, fixing prices, neglecting safety and ignoring environmental regulations. At the same time, Charles and David Koch have promoted a form of government that interferes less with company actions.”
The environmental cases had been previously reported and are summarized below. What Bloomberg revealed for the first time were the allegations involving bribery and dealing with Iran. The article reported that the company’s subsidiary Koch-Glitsch paid bribes to secure contracts in six countries (Algeria, Egypt, India, Morocco, Nigeria and Saudi Arabia) and that it violated U.S. sanctions by doing business with Iran, including the sale of materials that helped the country build the world’s largest plant to convert natural gas to methanol used in plastics, paints and chemicals.

Environmental and Safety Record
In 1994 an ammonia leak at a pipeline-to-barge fertilizer facility near St. Louis owned by a Koch subsidiary killed one worker and sent another to the hospital (Journal of Commerce, February 23, 1994). The Coast Guard ordered the operation to be shut down for several weeks while conditions were examined.
In 1995 the U.S Justice Department, the Environmental Protection Agency and the United Stated Coast Guard filed a civil suit against Koch Industries and several of its affiliates for unlawfully discharging millions of gallons of oil into the waters of six states. In one of the largest Clean Water Act cased ever brought up to that time, the agencies accused Koch of being responsible for more than 300 separate spills in Alabama, Kansas, Louisiana, Missouri, Oklahoma and Texas. The largest incident occurred in Nueces Bay and Corpus Christi Bay in 1994 along the eastern coast of Texas.
In 1997 Tosco Corporation (now part of ConocoPhillips) sued Koch in a dispute over costs related to the clean-up of toxic waste at an oil refinery in Duncan, Oklahoma that used to be owned and operated by Koch. In 1998 a federal judge ordered Koch to contribute to those costs, and that ruling was upheld by an appeals court in 2000. The companies later settled the matter out of court.
 In 1998 Koch agreed to pay $6.9 million to settle charges brought by state environmental regulators relating to large oil spills at the company’s Rosemount refinery in Minnesota. The following year it agreed to plead guilty to related federal criminal charges and pay $8 million in fines.
Also in 1998, the National Transportation Safety Board found that the failure of a Koch subsidiary to protect a liquid butane pipeline from corrosion was responsible for a 1996 rupture that released a butane vapor. When a pickup truck drove into the vapor it ignited an explosion that killed the driver and a passenger. In a wrongful death lawsuit a Texas jury awarded the father of one of the victims $296 million in damages.
In 2000 the U.S. Justice Department and the EPA announced that Koch Industries would pay what was then a record civil environmental fine of $30 million to settle the 1995 charges relating to more than 300 oil spills plus additional charges filed in 1997. Along with the penalty, Koch agreed to spend $5 million on environmental projects in Texas, Kansas and Oklahoma, the states where most of its spills had occurred. In announcing the settlement, EPA head Carol Browner said that Koch had quit inspecting its pipelines and instead found flaws by waiting for ruptures to happen.
Later in 2000, DOJ and the EPA announced that Koch Industries would pay a penalty of $4.5 million in connection with Clean Air Act violations at its refineries in Minnesota and Texas. The company also agreed to spend up to $80 million to install improved pollution-control equipment at the facilities.
In a third major environmental case against Koch that year, a federal grand jury in Texasreturned a 97-count indictment against the company and four of its employees for violating federal air pollution and hazardous waste laws in connection with benzene emissions at the Koch refinery near Corpus Christi. The Bloomberg Markets article cited above reported that a former Koch employee said she was told to falsify data in a report to the state on the emissions. 
The company was reportedly facing potential penalties of some $350 million, but in early 2001 the newly installed Bush Administration’s Justice Department negotiated a settlement in which many of the charges were dropped and the company pled guilty to concealing violations of air quality laws and paid just $10 million in criminal fines and $10 million for environmental projects in the Corpus Christi area. In 2010 the EPA stripped Texas of its jurisdiction over the air-quality permits held by the Corpus Christi refinery.
In 2002 Koch Petroleum Group, the Koch Industries entity involved in most of these environment problems, was renamed Flint Hills Resources.
With the purchase of Georgia-Pacific, Koch acquired a company with its own environmental and safety problems, some of which remained unresolved. For example, in 1984 a G-P plant in Columbus, Ohio had spilled 2,000 pounds of phenol and formaldehyde that reached a nearby community. Residents complained of health problems from that incident and from a hugeindustrial waste pond that the company continued to maintain at the plant.
In 2006 the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration cited Georgia-Pacific for safety violations linked to the death of a worker in an accident at a Georgia paper mill and proposed a fine of $63,000.
In 2009 the U.S. Justice Department and the EPA announced that G-P would spend $13 million to perform clean-up activities at a Michigan Superfund site where it previously had a paper mill. In 2010 G-P was one of ten companies sued by the Justice Department over PCB contamination of the Fox River in Wisconsin. Unlike the other defendants, G-P had already settled with DOJ by agreeing to a $7 million penalty and to pay for the costs of a portion of the clean-up. One of the other defendants, Appleton Papers, called the settlement a “sweetheart deal.”
In 2009 Invista agreed to pay a $1.7 million civil penalty after disclosing more than 680 violations of various environmental regulations at its plants in seven states that it said dated back to when those facilities were operated by DuPont.
More recently, Koch Industries has been caught up in the controversy over the Keystone XL pipeline. In 2011 Inside Climate News reported that Koch already responsible for 25 percent of the tar sands oil being imported from Canada into the United States and stood to benefit greatly from the new pipeline. Koch denied its involvement, but Inside Climate News founddocuments filed with Canada’s Energy Board contradicting that statement.
An August 2012 report by the Political Economy Research Institute at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst identified Koch as being among the top five corporate air polluters in the United States.
A November 2012 article in the Texas Observer reported on the high level of illnesses among people living near the Corpus Christi refinery owned by Koch subsidiary Flint Hills Resources.

Subsidies
The Kochs’ free-market ideology has not prevented their companies from taking economic development subsidies from state and local governments. In 2013 it was reported that Koch Industries was the largest investor in the Big River Steel project in Arkansas that was slated to receive some $139 million in state and local financial assistance.

Watchdog Groups and Campaigns

Key Books and Reports
Axis of Ideology: Conservative Foundations and Public Policy (National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy, March 2004).
Faces Behind a Global Crisis: US Carbon Billionaires and the UN Climate Deadlock(International Forum on Globalization, December 2012).
Koch’s Web of Influence by John Farrell (Center for Public Integrity, April 2011).
The Koch Brothers: What You Need to Know About the Financiers of the Radical Right (Center for American Progress Action Fund, April 2011).
Uncloaking the Kochs: A Closer Look at the Chairmen of the Billionaires' Caucus (Public Campaign Action Fund and Common Cause, 2011).

Last updated September 23, 2013