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Koch Brothers’ Money Influencing Colleges and Nonprofits

A report by the Investigative Reporting Workshop details the extensive amount of money Charles and David Koch have provided to colleges and nonprofits. The Koch Brothers have already established themselves as one of America’s most influential political forces but now there is detailed evidence how far their reach extends into purportedly independent organizations and institutions.

An analysis by the Investigative Reporting Workshop found that from 2007 through 2011, Koch private foundations gave $41.2 million to 89 nonprofit organizations and an annual libertarian conference. Koch Industries and Charles and David Koch contributed $8.7 million to candidates and the Republican Party in the three election cycles between 2007 through 2012. In addition, Koch private foundations contributed $30.5 million to 221 U.S. colleges and universities and $46.3 million to the arts and other more traditionally charitable purposes during this period.

And while Koch Industries’ lobbyists were spending $53.9 million to further the giant corporation’s federal and state policy agenda, the nonprofits it funded were simultaneously “educating” the public and lawmakers about energy, the environment and other issues in public testimony on Capitol Hill.

Nothing says liberty like a web of dependency-inducing patronage.

It also seems that, in contravention of laws governing private foundations, the Koch money is being used to further private interests.

[I]n 2011 and 2012, Koch Industries Public Sector LLC, the lobbying arm of Koch Industries, advocated for the Energy Tax Prevention Act, which would have rolled back the Supreme Court’s ruling that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) could regulate greenhouse gases. The bill was sponsored by Rep. Fred Upton, R-Mich., and co-signed by 92 Republicans (and three Democrats), 61 of whom signed an anti-climate tax “pledge.” An economist with the American Council for Capital Formation — a nonprofit group that receives Koch money — testified about that same bill before the House Energy and Commerce Committee. Margo Thorning told members of the House in February 2011 that regulation of greenhouse gas emissions “makes little economic or environmental sense,” according to her testimony.

Private foundations cannot be organized to promote private interests under the law, but the Koch Brothers don’t seem to care. Or maybe they are hoping that if the foundation mission statements are extremely vague, such as “promoting liberty”, it will be seen as a coincidence when they pump millions into the foundation that just happens to testify in favor of legislation they are backing.

In theory the IRS should be investigating such abuses. Good luck with a Koch-funded Congress already investigating that agency.

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Dan Wright

Dan Wright

Daniel Wright is a longtime blogger and currently writes for Shadowproof. He lives in New Jersey, by choice.

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