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Top Ten Koch Facts

3:29 pm in Uncategorized by Robert Greenwald

Co-authored by Jesse Lava

Everyone seems to be investigating Charles and David Koch lately, with exposés of their corrupt political behavior popping up in places like the New Yorker, AlterNet, ThinkProgress, and Brave New Foundation’s film Koch Brothers Exposed. Naturally, the billionaire brothers don’t like the attention, so they’re responding to it by smearing the activists and journalists. In their panic, they have now taken out Google ads attacking me and plastered an ominous image of my eyes on their website, like so:

They made me look like Emperor Palpatine. But who’s really representing the Dark Side here? The truth is that the billionaire brothers bankrolling the conservative movement are using their wealth in a way that should be terrifying to anyone who thinks democracy is about more than pulling a lever every two years and letting rich folks take care of the rest.

Accordingly, here are 10 facts that every American should know about who the Kochs are and what they’re doing to our country.

1. Koch Industries, which the brothers own, is one of the top ten polluters in the United States — which perhaps explains why the Kochs have given $60 million to climate denial groups between 1997 and 2010.

2. The Kochs are the oil and gas industry’s biggest donors to the congressional committee with oversight of the hazardous Keystone XL oil pipeline. They and their employees gave more than $300,000 to members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee in 2010 alone.

3. From 1998-2008, Koch-controlled foundations gave more than $196 million to organizations that favor polices that would financially enrich the two brothers. In addition, Koch Industries spent $50 million on lobbying and some $8 million in PAC contributions.

4. The Koch fortune has its origins in engineering contracts with Joseph Stalin’s Soviet Union.

5. The Kochs are suing to take over the Cato Institute, which has accused the Kochs of attempting to destroy the group’s identity as an independent, libertarian think and align it more closely with a partisan agenda.

6. A Huffington Post source who was at a three-day retreat of conservative billionaires said the Koch brothers pledged to donate $60 million to defeat President Obama in 2012 and produce pledges of $40 million more from others at the retreat.

7. Since 2000, the Kochs have collected almost $100 million in government contracts, mostly from the Department of Defense.

8. Koch Industries has an annual production capacity of 2.2 billion pounds of the carcinogen formaldehyde. The company has worked to keep it from being classified as a carcinogen even though David Koch is a prostate cancer survivor.

9. The Koch brothers’ combined fortune of roughly $50 billion is exceeded only by that of Bill Gates in the United States.

10. The Senate Select Committee on Indian Affairs accused Koch Oil of scheming to steal $31 million of crude oil from Native Americans. Although the company claimed it was accidental, a former executive in this operation said Charles Koch had known about it and had responded to the overages by saying, “I want my fair share, and that’s all of it.”

That last quote — “I want my fair share, and that’s all of it” — encapsulates the unbridled greed driving the Kochs’ political activism and business dealings. Democracy cannot thrive with so much power being in the hands of men like this. If we care about democracy, we have to work to take it back.

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 →

Would the Kochs rather attack me than stop cancer? (VIDEO)

3:32 pm in Uncategorized by Robert Greenwald

My filmmaking team and I recently told the story of the small town of Crossett, Arkansas, where residents are giving powerful testimony about the prevalence of cancer in their community and linking it to a nearby chemical plant owned by Charles and David Koch. This revelation came on top of the already-known facts that the Koch brothers are among the top 10 polluters in the United States and led the charge (unsuccessfully) to keep formaldehyde from being named a carcinogen.

Yet instead of cleaning up their operations, the Kochs are now attacking me personally.

Just as my new film Koch Brothers Exposed is set for release, one of the Kochs’ corporate spokesmen, Greg Guest, says I’m “a very, very slanted filmmaker” who has made “erroneous and false claims” about the Kochs’ operations. What he fails to mention is that my office has contacted the Koch brothers numerous times for an explanation of what’s false about our exposés, including the one on cancer. The billionaire brothers refused to be interviewed for the film and have yet to respond to the evidence that my team at Brave New Foundation has uncovered.

We challenge the Koch brothers to engage in an honest debate. We challenge them to see the film and show one false claim. Generalizing about bias and false claims is easy; actually rebutting what we’ve documented is another matter.

Here’s the video we did on the widespread occurrence of cancer near a Koch Industries chemical plant:

Read the rest of this entry →

Why Do These Koch Industries Neighbors Have Cancer? (VIDEO)

1:47 pm in Uncategorized by Robert Greenwald

Our ongoing Koch Brothers Exposed video investigation has discovered something so tragic it will haunt Charles and David Koch for years to come.

Is a Koch Industries factory getting away with murder?

While the brothers wage war against safety precautions, every day their factory is dumping millions of gallons of wastewater into streams that flow near a small rural town. It’s this kind of abuse by the top 1% of Americans that’s driving young and old to fight money in politics, occupy Wall Street and protest in the streets. The Koch brothers personify inequality, and people are rising up and have identified the overwhelming corporate influence on democracy as a corrosive stain that harms the rest of us.

Our latest video reflects this as we follow the money and prove the Koch brothers buy a system that makes them richer at the expense of everyone else. Through political donations, think tanks and front groups, the Koch brothers are able to weaken safety and oversight laws, which leaves communities like Crossett, Arkansas behind to suffer.

“The Koch brothers are killing me and my family,” Norma Thompson told us during our investigation. She’s lived near the Koch brothers’ mill for 39 years. Journey to Arkansas and watch her story:

Read the rest of this entry →