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Posts tagged "Koch Brothers"

h/t: Peter Montgomery at RWW


At least 15 Fox News personalities recently campaigned with organizations that were either created or heavily-funded by the billionaire Koch brothers.

No wonder these same Fox figures defended and praised the Kochs on-air. 

Reid’s right. 

H/T: Michael McAuliff at HuffPost Politics

h/t: Peter Montgomery at RWW


Koch Shill Joins Fox Talkers To Slam Bernie Sanders' VA Bill

Pete Hegseth, director of Concerned Veterans for America and newly appointed Minnesota GOP finance chair, joined Fox & Friends this morning to engage in Bernie Sanders-bashing over his VA proposal.

Of course, they lied through their tiny little teeth. In particular, the claim that veterans couldn’t go to private doctors under Sanders’ proposal is an outright lie. If you look at Sanders’ official summary on his official Senate site it’s there in black and white for all to read. If reading is something Fox talkers bother with, of course. Here are the words for the benefit of those who wish to be informed:

This legislation would also standardize the process VA uses to send patients into private medical care when VA is unable to provide them the care they need in a timely manner.

Seems pretty straightforward to me. You can also catch Bernie’s interview on Face the Nation where he specifically said “the short-term needs to make sure that any veteran who is on a long waiting line will be able to get the care that he or she needs either at a private facility or a community health center, or Department of Defense.”

read more

Harry Reid has more integrity than either of the Koch Brothers would ever dream of having. 

h/t: Caitlin MacNeal at TPM


On Tuesday, Thom Tillis, the speaker of the North Carolina House of Representatives, held off a libertarian challenger backed by Rand Paul to win the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate. Tillis was widely considered the establishment candidate, though not because his politics were notably more moderate than his Tea Party rivals’. As House speaker, Tillis proudly blocked the expansion of Medicaid in North Carolina, and he oversaw a decidedly radical legislative agenda that included restrictions on abortion and voting rights.

What marked Tillis as the candidate of the establishment was the source of his financial support, which included “nearly $2.5 million in television ads and mailers paid for by groups such as American Crossroads, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Rifle Association,” the Washington Post reported. Americans for Prosperity, bankrolled by Charles and David Koch, has already sunk millions of dollars into North Carolina in the past twelve months, to soften up Tillis’s opponent, the vulnerable Democratic freshman Kay Hagan. The Democrats, for their part, have also turned to outside billionaires and “dark money” groups to defend Hagan and their thin Senate majority. Even before Tuesday’s primary, national interest in the North Carolina Senate race had made it the third costliest contest in the country.

In recent years, North Carolina has become a showcase for the unfettered flow of money into American politics. The retail magnate and mega-donor James Arthur Pope, whom Jane Mayer wrote about in the magazine three years ago, has wielded enormous influence in the state. Wealthy liberal donors have tried to catch up, but they have a long way to go. In 2010, thanks in part to the support of Pope and allies like the Kochs and Karl Rove’s American CrossroadsPAC, Republicans took control of both houses in the state legislature for the first time since 1870. In 2012, Pat McCrory became the state’s first Republican governor in nearly two decades; last year, he named Pope the state’s budget director.

After a series of Supreme Court rulings, from Citizens United, in 2010, to McCutcheon, last month, the outsized influence of big donors now enjoys robust legal protection—as long as there is no “effort to control the exercise of an officeholder’s official duties” or “quid pro quo corruption,” in the words of Chief Justice John Roberts. In North Carolina, the debate over whether unrestricted campaign spending represents the flourishing of democracy or its corrosion is not an abstract one. It is literally in the water. For many years, environmental and community activists alleged that state officials had an inappropriately close relationship with Duke Energy, the nation’s largest electric utility, which is headquartered in Charlotte. Those allegations grew louder when McCrory, who worked at Duke Energy for twenty-nine years, arrived at the governor’s mansion.

On February 2nd, an employee at a disused Duke coal plant in Eden noticed that a coal-ash pond had breached through a storm pipe into the adjacent Dan River. No one knows how long the spill had been going on, but by the time it was under control an estimated thirty-five million gallons of slurry had entered the river. The ash coated the bottom of the waterway and raced downstream toward drinking-water intakes from Danville, Virginia, to the Atlantic Ocean.

Coal ash—the stuff left over after coal is burned to generate electricity—contains significant amounts of arsenic, lead, selenium, mercury, and other heavy metals. It can cause skin irritation and respiratory problems, and is toxic if ingested; some of its chemicals can contribute to cancer. It is also damaging to fish, wildlife, and vegetation. Some of the waste, known as “fly ash,” spews out of coal-plant chimneys into the surrounding air. “Bottom ash” is left behind in the furnaces, and often gets transferred to holding pits nearby. The Eden plant closed in 2012, to make way for another Duke Energy operation that ran on hydraulically fractured natural gas. The company apparently did not have plans to move the sixty-three years of ash that had built up in the old plant.

Suddenly, people across North Carolina began wondering if coal-ash ponds next to the plants in their neighborhoods were safe. Investigators quickly found that they were not. Probable violations of clean-water statutes were found at Duke Energy sites across the state, many in plants situated near poor or majority-black communities.

After the Dan River spill, more questions arose about Governor McCrory’s relationship with his longtime employer. Later in February, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of North Carolina opened an investigation to look for evidence of outright corruption, which forced some embarrassing disclosures: Duke Energy worked with environmental regulators to keep information about potential dam breaches secret from the public, and caused deliberate failures on the part of the state’s Department of Environmental and Natural Resources (D.E.N.R.) to force Duke to clean up unlined coal ponds.

For fourteen of the twenty-nine years that he worked for Duke Energy, mainly in the human-resources and economic-development departments, McCrory simultaneously served as mayor of Charlotte, the state’s largest city. He resigned from the company when he ran for governor, but remained a shareholder. Duke Energy and its employees and subsidiaries spent three hundred thousand dollars on his bids for the governorship, according to the National Institute on Money in State Politics. (Serving as a mayor and holding a job in the private sector is “common throughout the state,” Joshua Ellis, a spokesman for McCrory, told me. “All North Carolina mayors are part-time.” He added, “This notion that Duke has been getting any favorable treatment is totally untrue.”)

The company does not seem to have suffered during McCrory’s time in office, however. One of his first moves as governor was to remake D.E.N.R., by installing John Skvarla III, a businessman who had been the C.E.O. of a company whose portfolio included cleaning up fracking sites, at the helm. D.E.N.R.’s budget was cut and federal offsetting grants were refused. Agency staff complained about a severe weakening in enforcement abilities; some were laid off and others resigned. Within months, Skvarla could brag about having turned “North Carolina’s No. 1 obstacle of resistance into a customer-friendly juggernaut.”

Before the spill in February, environmental groups had tried to bring a suit against Duke over improper coal-ash storage under the Clean Water Act, only to have D.E.N.R. intervene. The agency negotiated a settlement with Duke worth only ninety-nine thousand dollars, with no requirement for a cleanup. “Here, the normal relationship between the law enforcement and the law-abiding citizens was stood on its head,” Frank Holleman, a senior attorney for the Southern Environmental Law Center, which has been trying to sue Duke Energy over previous violations, said. “The law enforcer and the law breaker have been acting hand in glove.”

Duke—founded by the same family as the nearby university, but otherwise unrelated—makes no bones about its political involvement. Its activities range from donating millions to campaigns through its political-action committee, DUKEPAC, to encouraging employees to run for office, “generally, school boards and town councils,” a Duke spokesman, Tom Williams, said. “You know, the old mantra of a utility: citizenship and service.”

Indeed, the company has long enjoyed friendly and strategic relationships with both major parties. The chairman of Duke’s board, James Rogers, played an integral role in bringing the 2012 Democratic National Convention to Charlotte; after President Obama’s reëlection, the company passed the bulk of a ten-million-dollar line of credit to fund the event onto its shareholders. During this election cycle, the top recipient of the company’s contributions has been the National Republican Senatorial Committee, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, but its top individual candidate recipient so far has been Kay Hagan, the Democratic incumbent.

Duke officials and McCrory’s office have said that they are complying with the dozens of grand-jury subpoenas filed so far. Duke’s C.E.O., Lynn Good, told a luncheon crowd on April 2nd, the same day the McCutechon decision was handed down in Washington, that the company is “committed to a fact-based and disciplined approach to addressing the long-term policies of ash-basin management and closing our ash basins at our coal plants.” Williams, the company spokesman, added, “We don’t believe there has been any inappropriate contact with D.E.N.R.” The company says that it will pay for the cleanup on the Dan River, but has said that the cost of removing and mitigating other coal-ash ponds could be passed on to customers. This week, McCrory’s office also announced that the Governor had sold off all of his Duke Energy stock, telling the press that the sale, the value of which was not announced, “eliminates the often repeated, ridiculous and false, partisan left-wing attacks challenging the intent of our decisions and policies.”

The Governor and the company are right to be confident. Proving political corruption in American courts remains almost impossible. In Citizens United, McCutcheon, and Skilling v. U.S., the Roberts court has limited the idea of what can be considered corruption in a legal sense: the only act a court can call corruption, Roberts’s majority in McCutcheon held, is “a direct exchange of an official act for money”—a bald-faced bribe. Historically, proving that has been tricky. U.S. Attorney Thomas Walker has his work cut out for him.

Yet, as the midterm electoral cycle moves into the fall, even the mere perception that something is rotten in North Carolina could carry costs. “The ‘appearance of corruption’ can make matters worse,” Justice Stephen Breyer wrote in his dissent in McCutcheon. “It can lead the public to believe that its efforts to communicate with its representatives or to help sway public opinion have little purpose. And a cynical public can lose interest in political participation altogether.”

Source: Jonathan M. Katz for The New Yorker

h/t: Kenneth P. Vogel at Politico

“These claims may sound outlandish – and they are – but the fact is, millions of Americans are absorbing this extremist propaganda, and it’s having a very real impact,” said Heidi Beirich, director of the SPLC’s Intelligence Project. “These lies are being repeated in churches, legislative hearings and town hall meetings across the country.”

The reportPublic Schools in the Crosshairs: Far-Right Propaganda and the Common Core State Standards, was researched by the Intelligence Project and the SPLC’s Teaching Tolerance program.

Many Christian Right activists claim the Common Core will indoctrinate young children into “the homosexual lifestyle” and instill anti-American, anti-Christian values. Their fight has been joined by radical antigovernment groups like the John Birch Society, which claims the standards are part of a global conspiracy to create a totalitarian “New World Order.” Glenn Beck, meanwhile, describes the Common Core as “evil” and “communism.” U.S. Sen. Rand Paul has called it “dangerous.”

What’s more, it’s clear that some of the opponents, including national groups associated with the billionaire Koch brothers, are exploiting the Common Core in their broader fight against the public education system in an effort to promote school privatization measures.

“The 50 million children in our nation’s public schools, and the dedicated educators who serve them, deserve better than a debate that focuses on falsehoods and demonizes the very idea of public education,” said Teaching Tolerance Director Maureen Costello. “There are legitimate concerns about the Common Core, but those very real issues are being obscured and distorted by the claims of extremists.”

Despite the claims of many critics, the standards do not mandate the use of any particular book or course of study. Those decisions remain with individual teachers and school systems.

The standards were developed under the auspices of the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers. Forty-five states initially adopted the Common Core, but Indiana in March became the first state to withdraw.

h/t: Randy Turner at The Turner Report

h/t: Trevor LaFauci at PoliticusUSA

Right-wing media have been rushing to distance themselves from the Nevada rancher they’ve spent weeks championing after Cliven Bundy revealed his racist worldview, but two of Bundy’s biggest cheerleaders — Sean Hannity and Fox News — have vested corporate, financial, and political interests in the promotion of Cliven Bundy’s anti-government land ownership agenda.  

Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy became Fox News’ favorite folk hero after he refused to comply with court orders directing him to remove his trespassing cattle from public land. Hannity and many other right-wing media rallied around Bundy and his armed supporters as they threatened violence against federal law enforcement officials attempting to impound Bundy’s cattle and collect the $1 million he owes in fines and fees after decades of noncompliance with the law.

Bundy has said he doesn’t recognize the existenceof the federal government nor its authority over the land and has attacked the federal ownership of lands as subverting Nevada’s “state sovereignty.” 

Hannity has promoted Bundy’s anti-government rhetoric, arguing that the federal government owns far too much land and pushing Bundy’s claim that not only does the federal government not have land-ownership authority but that they don’t need or use the land they claim to own. On the April 23 edition of his show, Hannity attacked the government for owning too much land, agreeing with Fox News legal analyst Andrew Napolitano that they do not have the constitutional authority to own any of the land. Throughout the land battle, Hannity continuously argued that the government is irresponsibly fighting for land they have no intended use for — such as building hospitals, schools, or roads — and should focus their efforts elsewhere to rapists, murderers, criminals, and pedophiles.

Bundy and Hannity’s promotion of state ownership of federal lands gives airtime to an issue that conservatives have long been campaigning for but have had difficulty getting voters excited about — an issue in line with the land  interests of the Koch brothers. Slate reported on April 23 that the Fox News corporate, financial, and political interests being served by Hannity’s promotion of Bundy lie in the network’s connection to the Koch brothers:

Bundy’s anti-federal agenda is closely aligned with that of Charles and David Koch, major Republican donors who have been pushing for states to gain control over federal lands - so they can be sold or leased to people like the Koch brothers in deals.

Fox News Network and Sean Hannity have a particular interest in the promotion and realization of such Koch interests because their funding depends on it — Hannity receives major funding and large ad buys from Koch-affiliated Heritage and Tea Party Patriots.

Hannity’s Koch-affiliated funders have a long history of promoting the privatization of public lands and condemning the federal ownership of land. Tea Party groups have supported local efforts to transfer federal lands. Heritage has advocated shrinking the U.S. government’s control by selling its physical assets such as “huge swaths of land (especially out west).” Heritage was also a loyal promoter of the Federal Land Freedom Act of 2013, advocating for the transfer of federal land management to state regulators for energy resource development.

Giving airtime to an issue that is obscure but significant to his conservative funders makes perfect sense for Hannity. Politico reported that Heritage began sponsoring Hannity in 2008 and in 2013 Hannity began advertising for the Tea Party Patriots, “lending his name to fundraising drives, hosting its leaders on his radio and Fox News shows, and even using the Fox airwaves to promote the Tea Party Patriots website.”

The Koch brothers have been covertly funding right-wing organizations such as Heritage Action and the Tea Party Patriots through the non-profit business league Freedom Partners whose tax code status as a trade association allows the organization to conceal its donors. Freedom Partners is one of the largest donors of conservative groups and its board has deep ties to the Koch brothers with many of its members being longtime employees of Koch Industries and the Charles G. Koch Foundation.

The Koch-funded Freedom Partners made grants of $236 million in 2011; among many conservative groups its recipients include Heritage as well as the Tea Party Patriots. Heritage Action received $500,000 in 2011 from the Koch brothers through Freedom Partners and additional funds from the Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation. In 2012, the Tea Party Patriots received $200,000 from Freedom Partners. 

The legislative efforts of such groups to transfer control of federal lands to states are ”nothing more than corporate-backed messaging tools” initiated by conservative groups like the Koch-affiliates. Such efforts are rooted in the interests of the Kochs and other conservative groups to use the land in whichever way is most profitable to them such as mining, drilling, and other resource extraction. 

h/t: Olivia Kittel at MMFA

h/t: Evan McMorris-Santoro at BuzzFeed


It’s been a very bad week for talk show host, Rush Limbaugh, and a very rewarding week for the millions of Americans who have protested his extreme hate speech for decades. Two years ago, newer groups like BoycottRush/FlushRush/StopRush began a massive national boycott movement that is exposing Limbaugh and crushing his career. Here are four new recent developments:

1. Politico published an article revealing that Tea Party organizations (some created by the Koch brothers) have contributed millions to Rush Limbaugh. What does this mean? For Rush it means they helped sustain him while thousands of sponsors pulled their ads. It means this may lead to an investigation to see if the funding was done legally. According to the FCC, if you receive money from an organization that pays you to promote their propaganda, without telling your audience, it may be considered ‘payola’ - and it may be illegal.


"The Heritage Foundation at the end of January ended its five-year sponsorship of El Rushbo’s show, for which it had paid more than $2 million in some years and more than $9.5 million overall. In 2012, FreedomWorks paid at least $1.4 million to make him an endorser, though it’s not clear that the sponsorship is ongoing."

2. Forbes Senior Political Contributor and regular on Forbes On Fox, Rick Ungar, believes Rush Limbaugh has become a joke. He also shows, via data, that Limbaugh has outlived his audience. Ungar, also known as Forbes ‘token lefty’ implies Rush is now in the, toss out the old - bring in the new, demographic category. The median age of his dwindling audience (as well as the aforementioned sponsor boycott) no longer appeal to advertisers.

Rick Ungar:

"At long last, it appears that Rush Limbaugh has run out of steam. I have to acknowledge that I have sensed Rush getting by on fumes for some time now (yes, I tune into his show from time to time to enjoy his broadcasting skills if not his message). However, it was only recently that the world of Limbaugh crossed that thin red line from partially serious to total self-parody and audience deception—a line crossed from which there is often no return."

"Network television doesn’t just fail to count older viewers; it tries to drive them away. A show with an older viewership is dead air. Advertisers have been pushed by ad agencies into an obsession with associating their product with a youthful brand. The demo rating, 18-49, is the only rating that matters. Viewers younger than that can still pay off. Just ask the CW. Older viewers however are unwanted."

3. Speaking of advertisers, Rush Limbaugh can’t seem to hold on to them, without doling out heavy discounts and/or free ad space. After his notorious on-air verbal attack of then unknown, Sandra Fluke, the national protests was set into motion. Hardworking FlushRush volunteers now monitor The Rush Limbaugh Show nationwide. They document the sponsor ads they hear on his show, into the StopRush Database, along with contact and ad details. The sponsor data is then posted back into the FlushRush private Facebook group, and onto the BoycottRush Facebook page for public use. There have been hundreds of articles written about Rush Limbaugh and the boycotts against him, that have appeared in at least a dozen political online news groups, including Liberals Unite and Daily Kos, and have been viewed by millions. The result? Limbaugh and the radio stations that carry him have lost millions in ad revenue. Very few took the Limbaugh boycott seriously two years ago. It reminds me of the Gandhi quote:

Mahatma Gandhi:

"First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win."

4. And lastly; Ed Schultz interviewed Holland Cook this week. Cook believes Limbaugh’s business is over, for good, due to the various organized boycotts mentioned above. Each does their own part. The protests have been supported by many big and small Liberal organizations, websites, Facebook pages/groups, and Twitter.

Holland Cooke: (via Daily Kos)

"Hundreds of blue-chip national advertisers basically have not only wandered away from Rush Limbaugh and some of the other righties, they’ve abandoned the format entirely. They are afraid to be heard on a news talk station because this man’s use of his free speech triggered the opposing viewpoint exercising THEIR right to free speech. The boycotters are speaking and using the marketplace to say, ‘ENOUGH!’"

Here is an audio clip of the Ed Schultz/Holland Cook interview: youtube

So now, we’re not only hearing from consumers, we are hearing from industry experts on the left and right, many of whom know the business better than anyone and would not risk their reputations on merely gossip. Yes, yes, the public has had enough. Limbaugh’s self-proclaimed ‘Dittoheads’/fans demanded that Limbaugh’s right to free speech also gives him the right to spew misogyny, homophobia, bigotry, and racism on public radio. He’s been getting away with it for over 25 years. After the Sandra Fluke attack, the general public soon realized that neither his radio affiliates, nor the FCC, planned to do anything about his hate speech, so American consumers decided to use their own version of free speech via petitions, boycotts, and their consumer dollars, to bring Limbaugh down by way of his sponsors. It’s reported 3,100 companies have pulled their ads from Limbaugh, and the protestors and boycotters have never been closer to pulling Limbaugh off the air. When he has moved on, this country will be all the better, and the public will prove once again, it can be done. We can eliminate hate speech from the media, if takes one host at a time.

You see, you can toss  Americans some Limbaugh, Fox News, Bush/Cheney, Koch brothers, even some Supreme Court corruption, but when push comes to shove, Americans will stand up, show up, take charge, and demand a return to democracy and common decency. Salute to all the many boycotters and volunteers.

To learn more about the Rush Limbaugh boycott/protests, visit:

BoycottRush Facebook Group
Limbaugh Sponsor/Clear Channel/Cumulus Petition
Join The Fight To Flush Rush Facebook Group
The StopRush Extensive Sponsor Database

Reasonable people who don’t follow politics closely can be forgiven for dismissing Democrats’ focus on the Koch brothers as just a political tactic– not unlike the Republicans’ attacks on George Soros. They’re all rich and politically active. So what? 

Senator Bernie Sanders begs to differ–and so should we. Sanders points out that the brothers are worth 80 billion dollars (including an increase of 12 billion in the last year alone), and he points to the extent of their involvement in the political process–and the degree to which they have used their enormous resources to misinform and confuse, most recently funding political spots that flat-out lie about the Affordable Care Act, which–along with Medicare and Medicaid– they are intent upon repealing. (I guess when poor people get health care, it offends their peculiar version of justice.) 

David Koch ran as the Libertarian Party’s vice-presidential candidate in 1980. And Sanders suggests we take a look at the platform on which he ran: 

  • “We urge the repeal of federal campaign finance laws, and the immediate abolition of the despotic Federal Election Commission.” 
  • “We favor the abolition of Medicare and Medicaid programs.” 
  • “We oppose any compulsory insurance or tax-supported plan to provide health services, including those which finance abortion services.” 
  • “We also favor the deregulation of the medical insurance industry.” 
  • “We favor the repeal of the fraudulent, virtually bankrupt, and increasingly oppressive Social Security system. Pending that repeal, participation in Social Security should be made voluntary.” 
  • “We propose the abolition of the governmental Postal Service. The present system, in addition to being inefficient, encourages governmental surveillance of private correspondence. Pending abolition, we call for an end to the monopoly system and for allowing free competition in all aspects of postal service.” 
  • “We oppose all personal and corporate income taxation, including capital gains taxes.” 
  • “We support the eventual repeal of all taxation.” 
  • “As an interim measure, all criminal and civil sanctions against tax evasion should be terminated immediately.” 
  • “We support repeal of all laws which impede the ability of any person to find employment, such as minimum wage laws.” 
  • “We advocate the complete separation of education and State. Government schools lead to the indoctrination of children and interfere with the free choice of individuals. Government ownership, operation, regulation, and subsidy of schools and colleges should be ended.” 
  • “We condemn compulsory education laws … and we call for the immediate repeal of such laws.” 
  • “We support the repeal of all taxes on the income or property of private schools, whether profit or non-profit.” 
  • “We support the abolition of the Environmental Protection Agency.” 
  • “We support abolition of the Department of Energy.” 
  • “We call for the dissolution of all government agencies concerned with transportation, including the Department of Transportation.” 
  • “We demand the return of America’s railroad system to private ownership. We call for the privatization of the public roads and national highway system.” 
  • “We specifically oppose laws requiring an individual to buy or use so-called “self-protection” equipment such as safety belts, air bags, or crash helmets.” 
  • “We advocate the abolition of the Federal Aviation Administration.” 
  • “We advocate the abolition of the Food and Drug Administration.” 
  • “We support an end to all subsidies for child-bearing built into our present laws, including all welfare plans and the provision of tax-supported services for children.” 
  • “We oppose all government welfare, relief projects, and ‘aid to the poor’ programs. All these government programs are privacy-invading, paternalistic, demeaning, and inefficient. The proper source of help for such persons is the voluntary efforts of private groups and individuals.” 
  • “We call for the privatization of the inland waterways, and of the distribution system that brings water to industry, agriculture and households.” 
  • “We call for the repeal of the Occupational Safety and Health Act.” 
  • “We call for the abolition of the Consumer Product Safety Commission.” 
  • “We support the repeal of all state usury laws.” 

The Koch brothers want to repeal every major piece of legislation that levels the playing field or protects the middle class, the elderly, children, the sick, and the most vulnerable in this country, and thanks to Citizens United and McCutcheon, they can spend unlimited amounts of money to buy the American government they want. 

They’ve realized that the Libertarian party can’t deliver their particular version of “liberty”–but properly funded, they hope the GOP can. 

They may be right.

H/Y: Sheila Kennedy at Peacock Panache

h/t: Olivia Sandbothe at AFSCME