Video proof David Koch, the polluting billionaire, pulls the strings of the Tea Party extremists

I’ve never been to a tea-party event,” pollution billionaire David Koch told New York magazine in July, 2010. “No one representing the tea party has ever even approached me.” Koch’s corporate public relations officials declared in April 2010 that “no funding has been provided by Koch companies, the Koch foundations, Charles Koch or David Koch specifically to support the tea parties.”

However, in October, 2009, Koch was applauding his army of Astroturf tea party organizers.  Brad Johnson has the story and the video that refutes Koch’s claim he isn’t the marionette.

Koch, who founded Americans for Prosperity with his brother David, was the guest of honor at AFP’s annual Defending the American Dream Summit. Independent filmmaker Taki Oldham filmed Koch beaming as organizers who run AFP’s 25 state-level outposts touted their success in mobilizing dozens of tea party events across the nation:

AFP CALIFORNIA: We helped organize huge tea parties all throughout the state. And on April 15, Tax Day, over 10,000 Californians joined us on the steps of the state capital and we held one of the largest tea parties in the country. . . .

AFP MICHIGAN: “¦ We have held the largest tea party in the state “¦

AFP GEORGIA: “¦ the largest Tax Day tea party in the nation on April 15 “¦

AFP OKLAHOMA: “¦ we’ve held 29 tea parties “¦

AFP MARYLAND: “¦ we organized dozens of tea parties “¦

DAVID KOCH: This is a phenomenal success in my judgment. Eight hundred thousand activists from nothing five years ago. This is a remarkable achievement. And we’re being effective in so many ways.

Watch it:

Oldham’s documentary, (Astro)Turf Wars, reveals that David Koch’s tea party army has demonized health care and climate legislation by stoking false fears of their costs and lying about the science of global warming. AFP, the Guardian explains, “has spun off other organizations such as November is Coming, Hands Off My Healthcare, and the Institute of Liberty, which are buying up television ads and holding rallies across the country in an attempt to defeat Democrats.”

One particular focus of Koch’s efforts this November is California’s Proposition 23, which would kill the state’s landmark global warming law. The Koch brothers’ corporation gave $1 million to the Prop 23 campaign, while AFP California attempts to stoke grassroots support, and Koch-funded think tanks attack climate policy.

(Astro)Turf Wars explains in detail how the Koch brothers and other right-wing plutocrats have succeeded in mobilizing millions of grassroots conservatives to support their pollution-for-profit agenda, at the price of the nation’s health and security.

(HT Kevin Grandia)

— Brad Johnson in a Wonkroom cross post.

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20 Responses to Video proof David Koch, the polluting billionaire, pulls the strings of the Tea Party extremists

  1. Raul M. says:

    My hat has radiant barrier paint to the top side.
    It works nicely to keep the excess heat away.
    Not to stiff so it still has some flop to it.

  2. Mike says:

    It is good to expose Kock et al, but we still have to deal with the psychological/cultural phenomena of people wanting to be lied to. If the plain girl finds out her boyfriend lied when he said she was beautiful, she might love him all the more.

  3. Leif says:

    “Pollution-for-profit agenda:” Perhaps “P Party” would be a more appropriate name.

  4. Nice one Leif but I would suggest that pollution x profit = p squared i.e perhaps the “P Squared Party”.

    It is clear that the lying and cheating is not a product of climate scientists, I doubt the likes of the Kochs could pee straight!

  5. catman306 says:

    My congressman Paul Broun was up in West Virginia supporting Republican David McKinley. But Broun won’t debate his local challenger Russell Edwards.

    ‘In terms of why the upcoming election is so important, Broun said, “We need to stop this steamroller of socialism that is being driven by (Speaker of the House) Nancy Pelosi and (Senate Majority Leader) Harry Reid and is being fueled by (President) Barack Obama.”‘–Local-Race-Is-Vital.html?nav=515

  6. mike roddy says:

    Thanks, Catman. Steamroller of Socialism refers to a place on the political spectrum about where Richard Nixon was.

  7. George Ennis says:

    #2 Comment

    That is the great conundrum. How does one push a science based public policy in a country where the popular culture is hostile to science, open to believing thee most ridiculous conspiracy claims and whose interest is primarily on the ephemeral e.g. Lindsay Lohan, Paris Hilton? What we are seeing in the US is an ever increasing dumbing down of the ability of most Americans to think and discuss serious public policy issues.

    What has emerged in the political culture as well as the popular culture are impermeable barriers in which facts just bounce off. That is why I have become quite pessimistic about the ability to change public policy in the next 10 to 20 years. After that even if we exceed I suspect that we will be so far down the road of greenhouse gas emissions that it simply won’t matter since the positive feedbacks e.g. melting tundra, reduced albedo from reduced Arctic ice cover will be so strong that what we do as a species will begin to pale in comparison.

  8. Raul M. says:

    Went on a web search to see if there are other
    radiant barrier hats out there, but I only saw
    mention of tin hats and my own references to
    my own hat.
    I thought some company would have made a good
    hat to reflect infrared heat waves by now.
    Well, anyway, yesterday I was out working in the
    yard with my radiant barrier hat and it was still
    cool to the touch after hours in the direct sun.
    Keep cool.

  9. Mike says:

    Re: #7.

    There is a lot of literature on communicating climate science. The psychology of denial is real. But maybe there ways to get around it. I am not saying I know the answer, but I am not throwing in the towel either.

  10. Rixar13 says:

    Tea Party is bad for America funded by big money… Smile :-)

  11. Ric Merritt says:

    Historian Sean Wilentz, in a New Yorker article (Oct 18 issue, available this week on line), details the amazingly straight line from the John Birch Society to Glenn Beck and the Tea Party.

    A large segment (propose your own percentage, and revise it after next month’s elections) of American politics is, in effect, in thrall to the Birchers. Younger folks may not get much out of that (a visit to Wikipedia is in order), but anyone who goes back to the 60’s will feel a shiver, and detect a sulfurous odor on the breeze. Pendulum swings in American politics are normal, but this threatens to go entirely off the rails, to mix a metaphor.

  12. Mike wrote in comment 2:

    It is good to expose Kock et al, but we still have to deal with the psychological/cultural phenomena of people wanting to be lied to. If the plain girl finds out her boyfriend lied when he said she was beautiful, she might love him all the more.

    I don’t entirely agree. Chances are it would be very difficult to change the minds of the people who are already tea party activists. Their minds are in no small part the product of decades of manipulation. The Kochs, Bradleys, Scaifes and others have been funding Libertarian organizations and propaganda since the 1970s as part of a culture war — and as having a ready-made astroturf army and means to defend cigarettes, CFCs, asbestos, dioxin, lead paint and leaded gasoline and a whole host of carcinogens and other products that cause health problems.

    The good majority of Americans aren’t tea party activists and they aren’t ideological extremists, so pointing out that the organizations that are part of the astroturf movement are should give them cause for concern. Maybe even want to do something about it.

    For those who are interested, here is a list in alphabetical order of 32 organizations involved in both the denial campaign surrounding tobacco and that surrounding Anthropogenic Global Warming. I also researched the organizations to see which would appear to be libertarian, including a source for each.

    1. Acton Institute (Libertarian 1)

    The Acton Institute for the Study of Religion and Liberty (founded 1990) is a Classical Liberal think tank, part of the Atlas Economic Research Foundation network, which promotes laissez-faire economics and public policy within a Christian framework. “Together, empowered by faith in God and belief in human freedom, we truly can make a difference.”

    2. American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) (Libertarian 2)


    The mission statement of the organisation is to “promote the principles of federalism by developing and promoting policies that reflect the Jeffersonian principles that the powers of government are derived from, and assigned to, first the People, then the States, and finally the National Government.”

    3. Alexis de Tocquerville Institute (Libertarian 3)

    The Alexis de Tocqueville Institution was founded in 1988 in Redwood City, CA. The first corporate board was formed in 1989 by Robert Severns, Eugene Ravizza and Bruce Thompson. AdTI claims that they “follow the principles of Tocqueville himself…among these liberal ideas are civil liberty, political equality, and economic freedom and opportunity”.

    4. American Enterprise Institute (Libertarian 4)

    The American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research (AEI) is an extremely influential, pro-business, conservative think tank founded in 1943 by Lewis H. Brown. It promotes the advancement of free enterprise capitalism[1], and succeeds in placing its people in influential governmental positions. It is the center base for many neo-conservatives.

    5. Americans for Prosperity (Libertarian 5)

    Americans for Prosperity (AFP), a section 501(c)(4) organization, and Americans for Prosperity Foundation (AFP Foundation), a section 501(c)(3) organization, are “committed to educating citizens about economic policy and a return of the federal government to its Constitutional limits.” On its website it states that it supports “cutting taxes and government spending in order to halt the encroachment of government in the economic lives of citizens by fighting proposed tax increases and pointing out evidence of waste, fraud, and abuse.”[1]….
    ‘I think the bill is dead,’ said Peggy Venable, Texas director of Americans for Prosperity, which opposed the legislation, arguing that it is an intrusion on private-property rights.” The strategy of portraying smoking as a “property right” can be traced to Philip Morris which, in the mid-1990s, introduced bills in state legislatures nominally to protect property rights as a means of fighting smoking bans….
    AFP opposed a clean indoor air law in Kansas City, portraying the issue as one of personal liberty and economics rather than public health.[16]

    6. Atlas Economic Research Foundation (Libertarian 6)

    For over two decades, a Virginia-based organization has been quietly working as the Johnny Appleseed of conservative think tanks. With a modest $4 million dollar budget in 2003 and a staff of eight, Atlas Economic Research Foundation is on a mission to populate the world with new “free market” voices. In its 2003 review of activities, quaintly titled its “Investor Report,” Atlas boasted that it worked with “70 new think-tank entrepreneurs from 37 foreign countries and several states of the U.S.,” including Lithuania, Greece, Mongolia, Ghana, the Philippines, Brazil and Argentina.

    The mission of Atlas, according to John Blundell (president from 1987 to 1990), “is to litter the world with free-market think-tanks.”

    7. Burson-Marsteller (PR firm)

    8. Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW)

    9. Cato Institute (Libertarian 7)

    The Cato Institute is a non-partisan libertarian think tank headquartered in Washington, D.C. The Institute states that it favors policies “that are consistent with the traditional American principles of limited government, individual liberty, and peace.” [1] Cato scholars conduct policy research on a broad range of public policy issues, and produce books, studies, op-eds, and blog posts. They are also frequent guests in the media.

    Cato was founded in 1977 by Edward H. Crane and Charles Koch, [2] the billionaire co-owner of Koch Industries; the largest privately owned company in the United States. Though diversified, the company amassed most of its fortune in oil trading and refining. [3]

    10. Competitive Enterprise Institute (Libertarian 8 )
    Competitive Enterprise Institute And Global Warming

    CEI was founded in March 1984. In 1986, it began its “free market legal program,” which seeks to overturn government regulations that the CEI regards as inappropriate, such as regulations pertaining to drug safety, rent control, and automobile fuel efficiency (see the case study, Fuel efficiency standards and the laws of physics).

    11. Consumer Alert (Libertarian 9)

    In 1998 Philip Morris was canvassing possible organisations that might be an ally in its Youth Smoking Prevention programs. A memo from Roy Marden described Consumer Alert as a “DC free market consumer group, antithesis of the Nader effort. Perhaps we could involve them in an effort re responsible corporate activity w/consumers in mind, etc. Long-term recipient of (modest) PM funding”.

    12. DCI Group (PR firm)

    13. European Science and Environment Forum (defunct)

    14. Fraser Institute (Libertarian 10)

    The Fraser Institute is a libertarian think tank based in Vancouver, British Columbia.

    15. Frontiers of Freedom (Libertarian 11)


    According to the organization’s web site, “Frontiers of Freedom is a cutting-edge, forward-looking policy group advancing center-right principles in today’s fast-paced news and information age. We work with grassroots activists throughout the country to protect private property rights, secure our national security, and promote sensible public policies critical to our country’s liberty.

    16. George C. Marshall Institute (Libertarian 12)

    The following year, Frederick Seitz, chairman of the libertarian George C Marshall Institute, repeated the charges in the Wall Street Journal in an op-ed piece headlined “A major deception on global warming”.

    Climate change denial: a history
    Naomi Oreskes and Erik Conway, The New Statesman, 01 June 2010

    17. Harvard Center for Risk Analysis

    18. Heartland Institute (Libertarian 13)

    The Heartland Institute, according to the Institute’s web site, is a nonprofit organization whose mission is “to discover and promote free-market solutions to social and economic problems”.[1] The Institute campaigns in support of:
    “Common-sense environmentalism”, such as opposition to the the Kyoto Protocol aimed at countering global warming;…
    The privatization of public services;
    The introduction of school vouchers;
    The deregulation of health care insurance; …

    19. Heritage Foundation (Libertarian 14)

    Founded in 1973, The Heritage Foundation is a New Right think tank. Its stated mission is to formulate and promote conservative public policies based on the principles of “free enterprise, limited government, individual freedom, traditional American values, and a strong national defense.” It is widely considered one of the world’s most influential public policy research institutes.

    20. Independent Institute (Libertarian 15)

    Environmental Issues

    Much of the Anti-Global Warming rhetoric published by The Independent Institute is the work of a few persons, and one stands out, both in quantity of releases, as well as notoriety, S. Fred Singer. Some of the other analysts of The Independent Institute agree that the environment is a pressing concern, including the issue of greenhouse gas emissions. Where they dissent from current environmental theory is in the proper methodologies for remediation, and they propose strong private property and free market solutions, a libertarian model for environmentalism.

    21. International Center for a Scientific Ecology

    22. International Policy Network (Libertarian 16)

    Historically, the IPN can be seen as a UK-based version of the Atlas Foundation. It was founded by Antony Fisher in the UK as the International Institute for Economic Research (IIER) in 1971….

    In the USA, the Atlas Foundation also provides training and funding to start libertarian think-tanks. Fisher also went on to found the influential Institute for Economic Affairs (IEA), a classical liberal think tank based in London.

    23. John Locke Foundation (Libertarian 17)

    The John Locke Foundation (JLF) is a right-wing, free-market think tank in North Carolina. The JLF describes itself as, “…an independent, nonprofit think tank that would work for truth, for freedom, and for the future of North Carolina.” [1]

    24. Junk Science (Steven J. Milloy) (Libertarian 18) is a website maintained by Steven J. Milloy, an adjunct scholar the Cato Institute and the Competitive Enterprise Institute – right wing think tanks with long histories of denying environmental problems at the behest of the corporations which fund them. Milloy is also a columnist for


    Milloy is a self-described libertarian whose other unforgivable crimes include working for Fox News Channel and associating with think tanks that accept oil and/or tobacco money. He visited Pittsburgh Thursday to appear at an Alcoa stockholders meeting. I talked to him by cell phone as he drove back to his home near Washington, D.C.

    Taking Out the Junk (Science)
    By: Bill Steigerwald | Monday, May 12, 2008

    25. National Center for Public Policy Research

    26. National Journalism Center

    27. National Legal Center for the Public Interest (NLCPI)

    28. Pacific Research Institute (Libertarian 19)

    The Pacific Research Institute (PRI) or officially the ‘Pacific Research Institute for Public Policy’, is a think tank founded in 1979 whose stated vision is the promotion of “the principles of individual freedom and personal responsibility. The Institute believes these principles are best encouraged through policies that emphasize a free economy, private initiative, and limited government.” The institute is a 501(c)3 non-profit corporation, and had $4.9M in revenue in 2005. [1] The Pacific Research Institute has associated with other think-tanks like the American Enterprise Institute and the Cato Institute.

    29. Reason Foundation (Libertarian 20)

    The Reason Foundation describes itself as a “libertarian” [1] think tank which challenges strict environmental regulations: “A national research and education organization that explores and promotes public policy based on rationality and freedom.”[1] The Reason Foundation’s projects include and It is part of the Atlas Economic Research Foundation network.

    30. Small Business Survival Committee

    31. The Advancement of Sound Science Coalition (TASSC) (Libertarian 21)

    The Philip Morris effort also spawned the “junk science” home page. writer/editor/publisher Steven Milloy worked for TASSC, ultimately as its executive director before the sham operation was allowed to fade out of existence: ….

    The effort to create a scientific defense for secondhand smoke was only one component in the tobacco industry’s multi-million-dollar PR campaign. To defeat cigarette excise taxes, a Philip Morris strategy document outlined plans for “Co-op efforts with third party tax organizations”–libertarian anti-taxation think tanks, such as Americans for Tax Reform, Citizens for a Sound Economy, Citizens for Tax Justice and the Tax Foundation. Other third party allies included the National Journalism Center, the Heartland Institute, the Claremont Institute, and National Empowerment Television, a conservative TV network.

    32. Washington Legal Foundation (Libertarian 22)


    The foundation states that it has “one goal” which is:
    “to defend and promote the principles of freedom and justice.” Since it was founded 25 years ago, WLF has developed into the nation’s preeminent center for public interest law, advocating free-enterprise principles, responsible government, property rights, a strong national security and defense, and balanced civil and criminal justice system.

    Regarding the use of Libertarianism by industry, recently I wrote:

    …. what is it that has made conservativism so virulently anti-science nowadays? The influence of libertarianism?

    And if libertarianism is so influential what has made that possible?
    Doubt is their product. Tobacco and a host of health problems, CFCs and the destruction of the ozone layer, DDT and cancer, dioxins and both birth defects and cancer, asbestos and lung disease, fossil fuel and global warming, etc.. The ability to sow doubt has helped companies avoid or at least postpone regulation by government. Organizations have been funded to sow that doubt.

    But ideology is a strong motivator as well — and they can’t possibly fund all the people that are needed to push their propaganda into the news and affect public opinion. So they have promoted the ideology of libertarianism since the 1970s using the same organizations that they have used to sow doubt. An ideology that as a matter of principle is opposed to government regulation.

    Given the ideology of libertarianism, whenever industry has faced scientific facts that it deemed inconvenient it has had a willing army of believers who are ready to regard such facts as nonexistent or at worst irrelevant.

    Incidentally, I believe that promoting religious extremism may serve much the same function — and it is worth noting that Richard Mellon Scaife was largely responsible for funding the Religious Right so that it would become a political force in US politics back during the 1980s.

  13. Wit's End says:

    JR, Hansen and the “Koch Kills” Climate Zombies made the Wonkette today!

    posted with extra cool ad from the Oil Watchdog “Koch – Destroy!” playing in Times Square!

  14. John Mashey says:

    re: #12 Timothy
    yes, good list.
    Almost all are included in Crescendo to Climategate Cacophony, with Table A.6.1 giving a matrix of funders versus organizations, with more on each organization in A.2, and connections with various individuals and activities.

    For funm, here’s a Google Map that shows the names and locations of most. Odd how these (mostly) non-profit entities need to be near Washington’s K-Street.

  15. Mike says:

    #12 Timothy: Very good indeed!

    On the Psychology of denial I just finished reading

    “The psychology of global warming” by Newell and Pitman in Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, August 1020. (down at the moment)

    It does not have all the answers but it is well worth reading (when the AMS site comes back up!). It does not discuss political dynamics but does point out “research suggests that people can become ‘numbed’ by overuse of emotional appeals and that they can only worry about a limited set of issues.” I think the economic downturn is the biggest factor causing people to not want to think about global warming. We tend to get upset at the professional deniers, but if unemployment rate were 4% their impact would be much less. The ‘green jobs’ approach is likely helpful here, but it is obviously not enough.

  16. John Mashey wrote in 14:

    re: #12 Timothy
    yes, good list.
    Almost all are included in Crescendo to Climategate Cacophony, with Table A.6.1 giving a matrix of funders versus organizations, with more on each organization in A.2, and connections with various individuals and activities.

    Obviously my project was a lot smaller, but it shows what you can put together given what has been made available on the web, e.g.,,, but I would also recommend as a means for finding out what organizations that were involved in the tobacco disinformation campaign were also into, and for identifying who is funding what. Up to a point, at least — given the kind of laundering operations you’ve identified. And is worth checking out. And here is another project of mine.

  17. Timothy Chase and ‘another project’.

    What a great UI for a knowledge base that can be both deep and broad. Much mental effort must go into organising the hierarchical structure of such a project.

    Well conceived and well done, I have book marked it for future ref’.

    That Monbiot article, ‘Worse than pollution: crazy ants, bird-eating mice and murdering mink’ raised a sense of deja vu here in southern England as about 15 years ago a group of ‘animal rights activists’ released large numbers of mink with the result that the water vole population is all but wiped out. What about the water vole’s rights you idiots!

    This is what comes about when education causes knowledge to be restricted in scope and patchy at that.

  18. peter whitehead says:

    remember – you cannot get people to change their minds just on evidence. 50% of US citizens don’t get evolution, despite 200 years of geological evidence. They can’t be bothered to think about complex scientific lines of deductive enqiry when someone can just give them a one-second soundbite.

    You need to work at their level.

    Call the Tea Party the OIL PARTY.

  19. peter whitehead wrote in comment 18:

    Call the Tea Party the Oil Party.

    Do you mean the Texas Tea Party?

  20. Did a quick check… In comment 12 I made available a list of 32 organizations I have found that were involved in both the disinformation campaigns surrounding global warming and tobacco – and identified those that appear to be libertarian (22 out of 32). I have now identified which have received funding from the Koch brothers — according to Media Transparency.

    Of the original 32 organizations there are 14 that receive funding from the Koch brothers. They are:

    1. Acton Institute (Libertarian 1)
    2. American Legislative Exchange Council (Libertarian 2)
    4. American Enterprise Institute (Libertarian 4)
    5. Americans for Prosperity (Libertarian 5)
    6. Atlas Economic Research Foundation (Libertarian 6)
    9. Cato Institute (Libertarian 7)
    10. Competitive Enterprise Institute (Libertarian 8 )
    14. Fraser Institute (Libertarian 10)
    18. Heartland Institute (Libertarian 13)
    19. Heritage Foundation (Libertarian 14)
    20. Independent Institute (Libertarian 15)
    23. John Locke Foundation (Libertarian 17)
    Charles David
    29. Reason Foundation (Libertarian 20)
    32. Washington Legal Foundation (Libertarian 22)

    Although the Koch brothers fund slightly less than 44% of the organizations involved in both disinformation campaigns, they fund nearly 64% of those that are libertarian and every one that they have given money to is libertarian.

    “If we,re going to give a lot of money, we’ll make darn sure they spend it in a way that goes along with our intent.” – David Koch as quoted by