Fighting back against public scrutiny, Koch Industries is relying on a small army of conservative bloggers, reporters, and lobbyists. Chief among them is John Hinderaker, a blogger at the “Powerline Blog.” However, in his now daily defense of the Koch brothers, Hinderaker has failed to disclose that his law firm counts Koch Industries as a major client.
Hinderaker has been on the war path defending Koch. He has tasked himself with sniping at ThinkProgress posts, spending the last few weeks defending forced-abortion lobbyist and Koch operative Tim Phillips, celebrating Koch’s self-interested propaganda against climate change science, and generally making juvenile swipes at yours truly, including posting my picture and calling me a “high school student.” In a bizarre rant defending “what a great company Koch Enterprises is,” Hinkeraker even claims ThinkProgress is being paid “millions of dollars by left-wing billionaires” to report on Koch Industries. But here’s what he didn’t say:
– Hinderaker Has A Disclosure Problem. Hinderaker is an attorney for the law firm Faegre and Benson. Despite his previous role handling “ethics and professional responsibility” for Faegre, he has failed to disclose in his Koch-friendly blogging that Koch is a major client for his firm. Faegre represented Koch Industries in cases related to Koch’s theft of oil (using the famed “Koch Method” of manipulating oil data) in Texas and North Dakota, in cases against Koch’s own employees regarding Koch’s speculative weather derivatives business and an environmental whistleblower case, and in a case against a Koch subcontractor. In an ongoing case, Hinderaker’s firm represents Koch Industries in a class action suit brought by a group of plaintiffs regarding oil Koch allegedly stole from wells in Oklahoma. In addition, Hinderaker has defended the Bradley Foundation after we profiled the group and its support for Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI). Hinderaker never disclosed that he is a fellow of the Claremont Institute, a front that has received over $3 million from the Bradley Foundation.
Asked about his failure to disclose his firm’s financial relationship with Koch, Hinderaker told ThinkProgress’ Scott Keyes today that he has no comment.
The Koch spin machine is much larger than just Hinderaker. Koch recently retained Orion Strategies, a PR firm run by Weekly Standard writers like Michael Goldfarb, Wilson Miller Communications, and PR consultant Ron Bonjean, as well as government affairs firms like Cove Strategies, Hunton & Williams, ADS Ventures, the Palmetto Group, and Mehlman Vogel Castagnetti. In addition to their communication consultants, Koch is being aided by the right-wing media investments they have made over the years.
As ThinkProgress has detailed, Koch funds a number of conservative media positions using grants distributed by the Phillips Foundation, a conservative journalism front funded by Koch charitable foundations, the Koch-owned Institute for Humane Studies, and the Charles Koch fellowship. Moreover, the top conservative media outlets are owned by close associates of the Koch brothers: the Daily Caller is owned by Foster Friess, a friend of the Koch brothers and attendee of secret Koch fundraising meetings; the Washington Examiner and the Weekly Standard are owned by Phil Anschutz, another oil billionaire and Koch meeting attendee. Predictably, these outlets are now attacking us:
– Koch-Funded Media Attacks ThinkProgress. In the last month, the Anschutz-owned Washington Examiner has published nine articles defending to honor of David and Charles Koch. Mark Tapscott, who previously wrote long love letters to Charles Koch, criticized ThinkProgress without disclosing that much of his career, which includes stints at the Koch-funded Heritage Foundation, has been funded by Koch or Koch allies like Anschutz. The Examiner’s Tim Carney, a regular Koch meeting attendee, has dutifully defended his benefactors. Meanwhile, a writer for the Weekly Standard, who got his start with a Phillips Foundation grant, has promoted an odd theory that Koch Industries is a model company according to Obama’s Environmental Protection Agency. In reality, Koch Industries was forced to submit to the EPA permit in question after a protracted struggle. After funding various conservative writers, using fronts or other means, the Koch Industries PR team is now blasting anti-ThinkProgress pieces out to the media. On the official Koch Industries Twitter feed, the shoddy writing of Hinderaker, Carney, and others is being promoted and forwarded to the public.
Longtime Republican pundit and Koch lobbyist Nancy Pfotenhauer was recently rehired to work for Koch Industries as a “Koch spokeswoman.” Last year, after Jane Mayer’s blockbuster article in the New Yorker about Koch’s political machine, Pfotenhauer placed a hit-piece in the Daily Beast against Mayer. The Daily Beast writer later confessed that both Pfotenhauer and David Koch contacted her to write the piece on Mayer. A mysterious opposition researcher again tried to shop around a hit piece against Mayer in January.
The Koch brothers are famously thin-skinned and afraid of honest media attention. The only lengthy interviews given by Koch Industries are through friendly conservative outlets like the National Review, FrumForum, or the Wall Street Journal (even in his only interview to the WSJ, Charles Koch spoke with an editorial board member funded by Koch groups). Indeed, during a family feud, the Koch brothers hired a team of lawyers and investigators to go after one another, and in one incident, caught private detectives rifling through their trash for information.