Last September, ThinkProgress posted an investigative piece about Mike Pompeo, the Republican nominee running for Congress in an open seat near Wichita, Kansas. Our post revealed that Pompeo, a businessman with little political experience, had been groomed and selected for office by the petrochemical conglomerate Koch Industries. Not only was Koch Pompeo’s largest contributor, but Pompeo had gained a public profile using two local Koch front groups, had been personally endorsed by Charles Koch, and Pompeo’s oil business has a partnership with Koch’s subsidiaries operating in Brazil.
Pompeo worked hard to qualify our research. Shortly after being sworn in, Pompeo sponsored amendments to cut the EPA’s ability to regulate pollution — a top priority for his Koch benefactors — as well as sponsoring legislation to kill a consumer safety database, an effort begun by Koch lobbyists in years prior. As media outlets from MSNBC to the Los Angeles Times took note of our research and Pompeo’s brazen behavior in Congress (Pompeo even hired a Koch “government affairs” attorney as his chief of staff), the label “Congressman from Koch” began to stick.
Asked by the National Journal yesterday about his reputation as a pawn of the right-wing Koch empire, Pompeo did nothing to dissuade the notion that he’s bought by the company:
NJ: How do you respond to critics who say you’re being influenced by Koch Industries, given its owners’ contributions to your campaign?
POMPEO: What do you think? I’d say [I’ve been] a small-government guy for an awful long time, and I’ll be a small-government guy when the good Lord calls me home. Koch Industries is an amazing business that has succeeded by building a product that customers love dearly. The folks who run Koch are very clear. They would love to have government just get out of the way and allow companies to compete, whether in their particular sectors or other sectors. They are true believers in small government.
Koch has demonstrated a firm commitment to profits and little else. That’s why the company has a track record of demanding bailouts, collecting taxpayer subsidies, buying out politicians, and corrupting society with propaganda aimed at ensuring that polluters like Koch have a free hand to pollute the atmosphere and waterways with little to no accountability. Koch has many loyal foot soldiers in Congress, but Pompeo takes the cake as the most unapologetic Koch enabler in office these days.