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The Koch Brothers Must Have LOVED Monopoly As Kids

2:27 pm in Uncategorized by Robert Greenwald

The Koch brothers don’t just have a gazillion luxury homes and boats. They’ve been using their wealth to shut out the voices of the 99% — pledging to spend at least $100 million on the 2012 elections. The pro-corporate policies they favor are, of course, antithetical to the public interest. But the TV ads they’re airing so far in this election make it seem like they’re on the side of regular Americans. “Maybe your family is like most, struggling to make it by…The private sector is not doing fine,” says Americans for Prosperity, an organization the Kochs founded and fund. Watch the video:

Let’s forget for a moment that the expression is “get by” or “make ends meet,” not “make it by.” What the Kochs want is to use their vast fortune to influence the political beliefs of people with a millionth their net worth, getting the middle class to buy into the notion that what’s good for the rich is good for everyone. But if the financial crisis and recession have taught us anything, it’s that the interests of the extremely-well-to-do are not the same as those of the general public. Feeding the top doesn’t translate into food for the middle and bottom.

Do we really think the Kochs are chiefly concerned about working families making five figures rather than expanding their own wealth? To ask the question is to answer it.

Kochs, Lies, and Videotape

12:48 pm in Uncategorized by Robert Greenwald

This week as I premiered my new film, Koch Brothers Exposed — the result of a year-long investigation on how two billionaires are using their wealth to corrupt democracy — Koch Industries has launched an attack on the film and me. The Kochs intimidate, they menace; they have a letter from their lawyer borderline threatening the media if it reports what’s in the film — and they always try to change the subject so their behavior can stay in the shadows: not only are they unwilling to accept my offer of a debate or interview, they also refuse to testify about their interest in the Keystone XL pipeline and may have to be dragged kicking and screaming into revealing their secret contributions to groups doing election work. This time, the Kochs are using a technique I point out in the film: attacking to avoid dealing with the facts. They are dodging and distorting the truth to avoid confronting our findings on cancer, voting rights, civil rights, and more.

How? Let me count (some of) the ways:

1) Cancer. People are dying of cancer near the Kochs’ Georgia Pacific plant in Crossett, Arkansas, and the Kochs refuse to answer the relevant question: What are they going to do about it? On Penn Road in Crossett, right near the mill, residents powerfully show how nine out of 11 homes have suffered from cancer. A USA Today study said Crossett’s school district is in the top 1% in the nation for cancer. Meanwhile, the Kochs’ facility releases significant amounts of formaldehyde — a known carcinogen — and there’s no other chemical plant in town. The Kochs are among the country’s top 10 polluters and lobbied hard to keep formaldehyde from being labeled a carcinogen. For a company where one of the owners (David Koch) and the communications director (Melissa Cohlmia) are cancer survivors, this is tragic and infuriating. It reflects a warped sense of humanity where greed trumps all. Read the rest of this entry →

Koch Brothers v. Health Reform

3:18 pm in Uncategorized by Robert Greenwald

By Robert Greenwald and Jesse Lava

Do all roads lead to Koch?

Conservative activists will rally at the Supreme Court tomorrow to encourage the overturn of the Affordable Care Act. The “Hands Off My Health Care” protest—which will feature the likes of Rep. Michelle Bachmann and Sens. Jim DeMint and Rand Paul—is being organized by Americans for Prosperity, a right-wing group financed by industrialists Charles and David Koch. The billionaire brothers provided the seed money to get this organization off the ground and have donated at least $5 million overall (possibly a lot more) to its operations. David Koch still serves as the group’s chairman.

These facts belie the image that Americans for Prosperity would like to present as a humble grassroots organization. The stories we see today about regular Americans coming to D.C. to protest evil health reform are directly attributable to the corporate interests that the Koch brothers represent.

Yet the Kochs’ impact on the current court battle doesn’t end there. Group after group participating in the lawsuit to destroy the Affordable Care Act is a beneficiary of the Koch brothers’ largess—reflecting the outsized influence that these guys wield in our political debate. Indeed, one wonders whether this effort would be happening at all if not for these two billionaires with a direct interest in avoiding government regulation.

One of the most important groups in this case is the National Federation of Independent Business, which is bringing one of the lawsuits now before the Supreme Court. This group has received $88,000 from the Claude R. Lambe Charitable Foundation, which is controlled by none other than Charles Koch.

Several organizations that have filed amicus briefs with the Supreme Court have received substantial donations from the Koch family as well. These groups include:

In addition, a Court-appointed attorney used a study by the Rand Corporation to show the impact of the individual mandate in the health care bill—even though Rand has received $100,000 from none other than the Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation. Read the rest of this entry →

Are the Koch Brothers Funding Rush Limbaugh?

2:07 pm in Uncategorized by Robert Greenwald

By Robert Greenwald and Jesse Lava

Just in time for the release of Brave New Foundation’s new film, Koch Brothers Exposed, Rush Limbaugh has thrown in with Charles and David Koch in their letter war with Obama campaign manager Jim Messina. No surprise there; Rush has made his fortune defending the rich and powerful against the 99%. But does Rush actually have a vested interest in the Koch brothers’ success?

The letter war started when Messina sent a fundraising letter saying the billionaire brothers bankroll “Tea Party extremism” and manipulate oil prices to buttress their energy business. The Kochs responded that Obama was treading on their “right to free speech.” (To them, I guess, being criticized by the president is tantamount to being arrested for sedition.) Team Obama shot back again, and here we are.

Rush has taken to the airwaves and lauded the Kochs. “This is how you do it,” he says. And on the surface, the reason for Rush’s apologetics is straightforward enough: he’s a man of the Right, and so are the Koch brothers. But below the surface of this defense lies a much more complex and insidious truth. The fact is that Rush needs the Kochs,and the Kochs need Rush.

Limbaugh is, fundamentally, a mouthpiece for conservative propaganda. He’s not a researcher. He’s not a grassroots organizer. He’s a mouthpiece. And where would he be without propaganda to spout? He has to get his ideas from somewhere. He can’t feed the right-wing echo chamber that’s hijacking our democracy if someone isn’t feeding him first. That’s where the Kochs come in.

The video we made with Sen. Bernie Sanders reveals the Kochs’ general method, whether Limbaugh is involved or not: fund an army of right-wing organizations so that politicians and pundits know exactly what to say:

Read the rest of this entry →

Is your Senator Representing Charles and David Koch?

6:42 pm in Uncategorized by Robert Greenwald

Billionaire industrialists Charles and David Koch look like they’re easy graders. Their tea party group released its rankings this week of senators and congressman who tow the Koch line most, and it gave a total of 44 A+’s for the 112th Congress.

Americans for Prosperity, the Tea Party group funded by the Kochs, based its grades on opposition to affordable health care, clean air, alternative energy and net neutrality. Scores were also boosted if the elected official signed the tea party group’s anti-revenue pledge.

In sum, the five senators who scored 100 percent on the Americans for Prosperity how-can-we-make-the-Kochs-richer test received $187,400 in campaign contributions from the Kochs and their allies.

These senators are Ron Johnson (R-WI), Tom Coburn (R-OK), Mike Crapo (R-ID), Orrin Hatch (R-UT), and potential Republican vice presidential nominee Marco Rubio, a freshman from Florida. Indeed, Rubio, Johnson and Coburn have a lifetime of A+ scores!

Though the brothers are worth about $42 billion, a little political donation here and there goes a long way. Factor in the brothers’ self-serving “philanthropy” with the Kochs’ numerous other nonprofit foundations and academic think tanks and you’ve exposed a vast echo chamber of perpetuating myths and distortions designed to make the Kochs richer.

While the Koch brothers use their enormous wealth to influence democracy in the Capitol, they’re also funding or supporting groups that aim to replace the values of working families with policies that make the Koch brothers richer. At the same time, the Kochs are working to bolster their clout with influential members of the political and media elite to favor devastating environmental developments that would boost the soaring profits of Koch Industries. Read the rest of this entry →

Are the Koch brothers afraid of the facts?

11:15 am in Uncategorized by Robert Greenwald

Charles and David Koch responded to our video, “Why do the Koch Brothers want to end public education?” Friday night. They didn’t like our video it seems.

Our film was about the big-money and high-stakes school board election in Wake County, North Carolina. We were able to connect the dots and demonstrate how Koch brothers’ wealth benefited the forces of Jim Crow and candidates who employed “forced busing” and “neighborhood schools” rhetoric made infamous by George Wallace. That was the video’s thesis and it’s backed up by the facts, the historical record, and the many public statements on the subject by the Koch brothers’ groups.

Like their Tea Party group Americans for Prosperity, the Kochs are changing the subject rather than trying to rebut our video point-for-point. And now Americans for Prosperity has told journalists that there’s pending litigation against us. These reporters were also told there could be litigation against them too if they continue writing about us.

What are the Kochs so defensive about? Our video doesn’t say they broke any laws. The press reports about the Koch brothers’ influence in Wake County doesn’t report that either, although this photo is worth 1,000 words.

School board member John Tedesco poses with an Americans for Prosperity sign. (Photo via John Tedesco Facebook page.)

What is accurately and comprehensively reported in our video, and elsewhere, is how the Kochs’ wealth laid the groundwork for a school board majority that favored policies which would spark 21st century segregation.

Now the Kochs are retreating from what they’ve done through their national foundations, local groups, think tanks and more. They put in a lot of time and millions of dollars into this machine. What are they ashamed of? Are they now going to recant their association with Jim Crow?

The Koch brothers tacitly acknowledge this point in their post at, although they don’t apologize for it. In their blog post, they hold up a Newsweek article with a favorable headline, “Weak Tea Party Connection to Wake County, N.C., School Board.” The article is full GOP activists’ quotes until you get to this, which debunks the article’s headline.

The Koch-funded Tea Party group, Americans for Prosperity “did only voter education and volunteer work on the school-board campaign,” said Newsweek, closing the story with a quote from a Koch spokesperson acknowledging the new school board majority will lead to “de facto segregation.”

The Americans for Prosperity spokesman was quoted in Newsweek saying, “Some areas are whiter and some areas are a little more colored [in Wake County]. That’s the society we live in.”

Indeed, some of Newsweek’s readers were left scratching their heads and wondering why the magazine was protecting the Tea Party from Wake County schools especially in light of Americans for Prosperity’s victory lap after the election. The post also parades a right-wing blogger as an authority from the Washington Post, when in fact the Washington Post got the story right.

The Newsweek article is proof positive that the Koch brothers’ money did play a role in the school board race and understood the consequences of a Jim Crow school board. Sue Sturgis is a local investigative journalist we interviewed in our film, and she too knows the extent to which the Koch billions, through Americans for Prosperity, influenced the school board.

There’s even more evidence that connects the dots. The Koch brothers’ so-called response is further discredited by UNC-Chapel Hill Prof. Walter Farrell. Farrell says the Kochs get their way “directly and indirectly through their numerous 527s [campaign spending machines] and in collaboration with their conservative multi-millionaire and billionaire colleagues (including local millionaires Art Pope and Robert Luddy)” who are directors of Americans for Prosperity and the John Locke Foundation, respectively.

There’s a lot going on deeper in the weeds with Pope and Luddy, information the Kochs know about first hand, but chose to ignore. They could’ve read about it here and here, or asked them about Wake County during one of the Koch mega-donor summit and conference. Luddy and Pope have been invited to the events, which bring political heavyweights together with ultra-wealthy conservative donors.

They know their group, Americans for Prosperity, played a role in the elections. After all, how could we use its own blog posts to produce a video debunking its smears?

It appears the Kochs are among the most defensive billionaires, preferring the comfy confines of their callous and intellectually dishonest world view.

Why didn’t Americans for Prosperity love our video?

9:53 pm in Uncategorized by Robert Greenwald

The Koch brothers – founders of the Tea Party group Americans for Prosperity – were the subject of our latest investigative video, “Why Do the Koch Brothers Want to End Public Education?”

AFP didn’t much like it, and that’s disappointing. With its extensive track record of influencing and supporting elections – all adverbs are appropriate – we would think AFP would’ve taken another victory lap after our video.

They have done so previously.

Following the 2009 Wake County school board election, Americans for Prosperity waited a few months before publically popping champagne bottles. The blog entitled, “Your grassroots action really paid off in Wake County Public Schools,” is a self-congratulatory missive AFP published. In light of the role AFP played in Wake County, the blog post affirms its active role in repealing and replacing successful school integration policies.

In addition, the AFP blog extols members and “all those AFP-NC activists who sacrificed their time in order to…show support for the members of the Board that overturned the policy.” The board members had just been sworn in at this time, each with Americans for Prosperity financial and organization support funneled through local individuals like Art Pope and artificial grassroots groups such as WakeCARES – which has enjoyed on the record support from Americans for Prosperity.

Americans for Prosperity has a track record of pleading ignorance and feigning innocence elsewhere too. In Wisconsin, it was busted for egregiously inaccurate voting information. Americans for Prosperity also scared the daylights out of Michigan residents with fake eviction notices. North Carolina is in esteemed company in both its tactics and excuses.

We are disappointed AFP doesn’t like our work, research, interviews or personal stories that reflect a pleasant working and middle class community trying to fight against outside right-wing agitation and influence.

But Americans for Prosperity goes further, and we’re amused its North Carolina chapter made embarrassing mistakes in its attempt to erase a story about its influence in the state. AFP got our name wrong. We are Brave New Foundation, not Brave New Films. The group got our my name wrong. It’s Robert Greenwald, not Robert Greenwell.

Looking for any way out of the hole the group dug itself (and that we merely filmed and distributed for free on the internet), Americans for Prosperity is transcending the facts our film and investigation brought to light. We never accused AFP of breaking the law. One could make the case we are commemorating its history-making achievement of voting in like-minded school board members. It’s not every day a school board makes morning, afternoon and evening news.

We regret that AFP misunderstands our motives. Our intentions are as simple as spelling names correctly. We’re telling a story about the pivotal role the Koch brothers, through Americans for Prosperity and its allies, are playing in resegregating schools.

Intimidation, deception, subterfuge and basic spelling errors will not intimidate us nor will it chill a free press rooted in comforting the afflicted and afflicting the comfortable.