In today’s Wall Street Journal, Charles Koch laments “crony capitalism,” complaining about “partisan rhetoric,” corporations’ eagerness “to lobby for maintaining and increasing subsidies,” and rewards for “politically connected friends.”
Hilariously, he is not writing about himself or his brother David.
Drawing on just a small portion of their net worth, the Koch brothers bankroll a network of Tea Party groups and Republican political war chests. In return, they receive continued subsidies, government contracts, and pro-polluter policies that benefit their interests.
So while David Koch hypocritically complains about “crony capitalism,” here are five ways his company, Koch Industries, is benefiting from policies it has specifically campaigned, donated, and lobbied for:
1. Billions of dollars in oil subsidies: In his op-ed, Koch acknowledges government support of renewable energy, but he doesn’t point out the billions of dollars in tax breaks the oil industry receives every year. Koch Industries reaps billions in these century-old tax breaks, and spends millions lobbying specifically to ensure they stay in place. Koch is guilty of what he writes in his op-ed: “Far too many businesses have been all too eager to lobby for maintaining and increasing subsidies and mandates paid by taxpayers and consumers.”
2. Koch Industries has had at least $85 million in federal government contracts: Lee Fang reported that the Bush administration awarded the corporation expensive contracts, after Koch Industry contributions to Bush’s campaign. Many come from the Department of Defense, but they also include an exclusive contract to supply the nation’s Strategic Petroleum Reserve and prior access to Iraqi crude oil.
3. They’ve asked for bailouts: A Koch refinery located in Alaska, Flint Hills Refinery, repeatedly asked former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin for a bailout. Sen. Lisa Murkowski also asked for reduced royalties on the company’s behalf, arguing it plays a “vital” part in the economy.
4. After launching a campaign on behalf of the Keystone XL pipeline, they stand to benefit from taxpayer subsidies: Price of Oil calculates that refineries for the Keystone XL pipeline would receive over $1 billion in tax breaks for tar sands equipment. The Kochs have avoided talking about on how this would benefit the company. But InsideClimate News recently reported that a Koch subsidiary told regulators it has “direct and substantial interest” in the pipeline. Through its political contributions to Canadian lawmakers, the corporation help itself maintain a stake Canada’s tar sands.
5. Koch Industries contributes millions of dollars to advance anti-environment legislation, and has been accused of outright bribery: Koch argues that the point of business is to “act lawfully and with integrity.” However, Grist points out a telling anecdote that undermines Koch’s point: Koch Industries was accused of bribing French government officials to win contracts. The Seattle Times reported that a Koch ethics manager highlighted bribes and activities that were “violations of criminal law” in France; however, the whistleblower was fired soon after she alerted executives to the issue.
Koch Industries has spent nearly $13.6 million on lobbying since 2011 — almost all of which has gone to Republicans. The Koch brothers have personally pledged $60 million to defeat President Obama, according to the Huffington Post. In the U.S., Koch Industries’ biggest political recipients in Congress advance anti-environment and anti-climate legislation, giving Koch Industries the freedom to emit 300 million tons of carbon annually.