Koch family

Koch Brothers’ Secrets Revealed In New Book

The Huffington Post

Charles and David Koch are the unofficial standard-bearers of a new generation of billionaires, willing to spend immense sums to influence politics. Best known for bankrolling the tea party movement, the fiercely private Koch family has achieved a quasi-mythical status in political circles. Yet they remain an enigma to most Americans.

Sons of Wichita: How the Koch Brothers Became America’s Most Powerful and Private Dynasty aims to change that. Written by Mother Jones senior editor Daniel Schulman, the biography, set to be released Tuesday, draws on hundreds of interviews with Koch family and friends, as well as thousands of pages of legal documents. The Huffington Post received a copy of the book on Friday.

Schulman examines the roots of Charles and David Koch’s libertarian worldview through the lens of their family, including the formative relationship that all four Koch brothers had with their father, the cold, ambitious Fred Koch. Schulman also traces the bitter and litigious history of Charles and David Koch’s relationships with their lesser-known brothers: Frederick, the eldest, and Bill, David’s twin brother.

At the center of the saga is patriarch Fred Koch, a staunch anti-communist who drilled his political ideology into his sons from a young age. In 1938, then sympathetic to the fascist regimes ruling Germany, Italy and Japan, Fred wrote that he hoped one day the United States would resemble these nations, which had “overcome” the vices of “idleness, feeding at the public trough, [and] dependence on government.”

Elsewhere, Fred warned of a future “vicious race war” in which communists would pit black Americans against white. “The colored man looms large in the Communist plan to take over America,” he wrote.

In private, Fred Koch “ruled the house with an iron fist” and faith in social Darwinism. Schulman recounts how the former boxer encouraged his sons to fight each other, sometimes with horrifying results. “During one bout, Bill bashed his twin over the head with a polo mallet,” Schulman writes. And “David still bears a scar from the time Bill pierced him in the back with a ceremonial sword.” Those early lessons left a deep imprint on the brothers.

Frederick, the oldest, was an outsider in the rough-and-tumble boys club of the Koch house. “Freddie was a sophisticate, a man of the world, in addition to the fact that he was gay, [which] wasn’t easily accepted in those days,” said a family friend.

Instead, it was Charles, the middle child, who became the vehicle for his father’s ambitions. According to a friend, the father worried that he had been “too kind to Freddie, and that’s why he turned out to be so effeminate. When Charles came along, the old man wasn’t going to make that mistake. So he was really, really tough on Charles.”

The result was a serious, extremely disciplined man, who along with his younger brother David, would transform their father’s medium-sized oil refining business, Koch Industries, into one of the largest privately held corporations in the world. But their success came at a high price.

Schulman describes how Charles, unable to convince brother Frederick to sell his stake in Koch Industries, allegedly resorted to “a homosexual blackmail attempt to force Frederick to sell his shares.” And when the youngest twin, Bill, launched a bid to wrest control of Koch Industries from his older brothers, Charles’ legal team responded by releasing a dossier of opposition research on Bill, filled with sordid details of his personal life.

In 2000, Bill’s then-wife Angela, the mother of two of his children, called the police to accuse Bill of punching her in the stomach and threatening “to beat his whole family to death with his belt.” Bill was charged with domestic assault and threatening to commit murder. Angela later recanted parts of her account, shortly before receiving a divorce settlement worth $16 million.

Nonetheless, Bill spent decades waging vicious legal battles against Charles and David, which cost the family tens of millions of dollars. Much of the book revolves around Bill’s failed attempts to gain control of Koch Industries.

As Schulman recounts, Bill hired private investigators to bug his brothers’ offices and pick through the garbage cans at their homes. He planted false memos aimed at rooting out spies in his own company, Oxbow, who he suspected were secretly working for his brothers.

While Bill’s anger may have been rooted in childhood rivalries, according to Schulman, it was exacerbated by Charles’ ultra-libertarian business philosophy, which Bill considered bad for business. Schulman describes how Charles, and by extension Koch Industries, regularly ignored environmental regulations on principle, believing them to be a hallmark of “Big Brother” government.

After losing a string of huge regulatory battles in the 1990s and paying heavy fines, Charles softened his stance somewhat. Still, the company remains a libertarian venture to this day. Schulman writes that Charles believes the role of government should be “only to keep a check on those who might attempt to interfere with the laws of supply and demand.”

Charles still lives in their hometown of Wichita, Kansas, with his wife, Liz, and generally avoids drawing attention to himself or his family.

By comparison, his brothers can seem like dilettantes, despite Schulman’s exceptionally fair treatment.

As a bachelor, David was known for hosting hundreds of people at champagne-soaked, all-night parties at his homes in Aspen, Colorado, and Southampton, New York. He once boasted that at least a third of his guests were “beautiful, wild, single women.” A guest told Schulman, “A lot of the crowd were these L.A. chicks who had just bought a new pair of tits and wanted to make sure that they did not go unnoticed — those parties got pretty wild.”

In 1996, Bill went to court to evict his former girlfriend from the Boston apartment he had set her up in. Included in the court records were faxes the couple exchanged, some of them sexually explicit. One of the notes was signed “Hot Love From Your X-Rated Protestant Princess.” In another, the woman described herself as “a wet orchid,” writing, “every inch of my body misses you.” Bill succeeded in having her evicted.

For his part, Frederick lives an intensely private life and apparently has little contact with his three brothers. He maintains a collection of historic houses around the world, as well as smaller homes in which he actually lives. The historic houses, which Frederick fills with priceless art, essentially serve as his own private museums.

Sons of Wichita hits bookstores on May 20.

Political Wire – Monday – 11-4-2013

Political Wire

Texas tea party seeks Cruz 2.0 [Politico]
David Barton spent nearly a decade as a leader of the Texas Republican Party.

Cuccinelli fights off stench of doom [Politico]
The Republican’s campaign is showing the signs of a classic political death march.

Apologizing, Toronto Mayor Vows to Stay [New York Times]
Mayor Rob Ford of Toronto apologized on Sunday for being drunk in public but did not address allegations of drug use, and said …

Koch Group Has Ambitions in Small Races [New York Times]
Backed by the billionaire Koch brothers, Americans for Prosperity has campaigned against taxes and spending in Coralville, …

Rand Paul Muses About ‘Dueling’ With His Accusers [The Trail]
Senator Rand Paul defended himself from accusations that he lifted wording for a speech from a Wikipedia entry, saying that if …

The GOP establishment strikes back (against the tea party) (The Washington Post)

Obama stumps for McAuliffe in Virginia governor’s race [CNN]
Arlington, Virginia (CNN) – President Barack Obama sidestepped talking about his signature achievement, health care reform, and …

Centrist or a conservative? Christie faces fork in the road for 2016 [NBC News]
Don’t expect Chris Christie to glide toward 2016 without challenges, even if he achieves the rare accomplishment of …

Koch brothers fire back at Belafonte after Ku Klux Klan comments [CNN]
Washington (CNN) – In a rare move, a spokesman for the Koch brothers made a statement defending the Republican super donors …

Obama, Democrats seek to make Virginia governor’s race a Tea Party referendum[CBS News]
ARLINGTON, Virginia (Reuters) – President Barack Obama and fellow Democrats attempted on Sunday to tap into voter anger about a …

Bernie Sanders Exposes Ted Cruz and Explains Why He is a Koch Fueled Threat to Democracy

sanders-cruz-ed

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT)

PoliticusUSA

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) connected the dots and explained that by blocking Tom Wheeler’s FCC nomination, Ted Cruz revealed himself to be a Koch fueled threat to democracy.

Video:

Ed Schultz asked Sen. Sanders about Ted Cruz blocking the nomination of Tom Wheeler to be the chairman of the FCC.

Sanders answered,

What Sen. Cruz is talking about is an issue of huge huge consequence. At the end of the day, these guys have gotten Citizens United, and that means that the Koch brothers, Sheldon Adelson, and all of these guys can spend hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars on political campaigns often without any disclosure. They want to go further. What they want to do is they want to make sure that individuals will be able to spend as much money as they want on campaigns, giving money to individuals without any disclosure whatsoever.

So ultimately what they are about is creating a campaign finance system where billionaires can spend unlimited sums of money on campaigns and candidates electing the people that they want. That is not in my view a democracy. That is called oligarchy, where the nation is run by a handful of billionaires, and the democratic foundations of this country are totally subverted.

Now what Sen. Cruz is here talking about, he is really outraged by the fact that the FCC is supporting a rule, which says that if you are putting ads on television in the 50 largest media markets in this country that they’re going to put that information on their website, so that the American people know who is in fact, funding these ads. In my view we should see that, not only in 50 largest markets, but all over this country. Not only on television, but on radio.

The bottom line here is that what Sen. Cruz and his friends want is a campaign system where a few billionaires can spend unlimited sums of money without any disclosure at all. That is what they want, and have we’ve got not only to defeat that, but we need the alternative, which is overturning Citizens United, and which is moving forward toward the public funding of elections.

Sanders explained that the same people who are trying to create an oligarchy also want to cut entitlements. Sen. Sanders pointed out that Ted Cruz would be easy to defeat at the ballot box, but he and his right wing billionaire funded friends are having some success with dragging Democrats to the right on Social Security and Medicare.

It’s all connected. If you want to keep Social Security and Medicare, you need to demand the overturn of Citizens United. If you want a federal government that represents the many instead of the wealthy few, the country needs to move to publicly funded elections.

Ted Cruz is the most dangerous of the Republican Koch puppets because he is attacking the very heart of our representative democracy. Cruz has been a godsend for Democratic fundraising, but he is no joke. The Senator from Texas isn’t Sarah Palin, and by blocking the Wheeler nomination, Cruz demonstrated that he is more than willing to deliver control of the United States government over to a few conservative billionaires.

Dismissing Cruz would be a mistake. Sen. Sanders has it right. The American people must stand up and fight.

 

Obamacare fight gets too hot for Kochs: We’re not backing GOP’s shutdown tactics

Koch brothers

The Raw Story

As the government shutdown moved into the ninth day on Wednesday, even conservative billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch appeared to be abandoning Republican lawmakers who were trying to use the tactic to derail the president’s health care law.

NBC’s Michael Isikoff reported that Koch Industries, which is privately owned by the activist brothers, sent a letter to members of Congress, insisting that “Koch has not taken a position on the legislative tactic of tying the continuing resolution to defunding Obamacare nor have we lobbied on legislative provisions defunding Obamacare.”

Phillip Ellender, the company’s president of Government and Public Affairs, instead declared that the company had put its emphasis on “reducing our nation’s debt and controlling runaway government spending” with the hopes of never needing to raise the debt ceiling again in the future.

“Congress should focus on these efforts: balancing the budget, tightening and cutting government spending, curbing cronyism, and eliminating market-distorting subsidies and mandates,” Ellender wrote.

The letter was prompted by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s (D-NV) charge on the Senate floor on Tuesday that the Koch brothers “have been raising and spending hundreds of millions of dollars to get us to where we are right now.”

Isikoff told MSNBC’s Tamron Hall that the Koch Industries letter was fascinating because groups funded by the Koch brothers had spent more than $200 million in an effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

And those groups had pushed the tactic of “defunding the government as a wedge to get Obamacare defunded,” Isikoff explained. “Now, here we have the Koch brothers, who in some ways helped foster that movement, saying, ‘Whoa, slow down, we’re not there, that’s not what we think Congress should be focusing on.’”

Watch this video from MSNBC, broadcast Oct. 9, 2013.

Colbert Hammers Koch Brothers, Right-Wing Pundits Over Obamacare Alarm

The Huffington Post

On Tuesday, Stephen Colbert took aim at the Republicans as they continue to lose the media narrative on the government shutdown over Obamacare. Check out the clip above as he offers some tongue-in-cheek mockery of right-wing panic over the Obama administration’s attempts to sell the program to young people, and the Koch Brothers’ attempts to convince them they don’t need insurance.

The GOP Is Terrified Obamacare Could Be a Success

Los Angeles Times

The Daily Beast – Jon Favreau

Why are Republicans so scared of Obamacare? Because, says Jon Favreau, they’re frightened that it might actually work.

Has anyone else noticed how pathetically frightened the Republican Party is that Obamacare just might succeed?

I know, we’re all supposed to think the End Is Nigh because the government has decided to give the 10 percent of large employers who don’t insure their workers another 365 days to do so before levying a small penalty. This could not possibly be a reasonable accommodation to protect jobs and businesses, because as everybody knows, this president hates jobs and businesses.

No, this brief delay must be a sign that the implementation of the Affordable Care Act is destined to result in abject failure. After all, that’s what every Congressional Republican with the ability to hit send on a press release has told us, over and over again, hoping that repeating their prediction enough times will somehow make it true.

But here’s my question: if Republicans are so confident Obamacare will end badly, why not just shut up about it? It’s not like they have the votes to repeal the law—a math problem they still haven’t solved after 37 different tries. Their appeal to the Supreme Court ended in defeat at the hands of a conservative chief justice. And now the bulk of the plan will begin to take effect in just a few months.

At this point, why not sit back and wait for this crazy experiment to self-destruct? Why not let President Obama and the Democrats reckon with the millions of angry Americans who will undoubtedly hate their new insurance or their new insurance protections?

Because Republicans are terrified that Obamacare could actually work. Already, the law has provided 54 million Americans free access to preventive services like check-ups and mammograms. More than six million seniors have saved more than six billion dollars on their prescriptions. Nearly thirteen million consumers have received more than one billion dollars in rebates from insurance companies that had overcharged them. There are more than three million happy young adults who have been allowed to stay on their parents’ health insurance until they turn 26. And in California, a state that represents one-fifth of the U.S. economy, we’ve learned that premiums for the law’s new insurance options have come in lower­ than expected.

As these successes build, Republicans are naturally coping with their fear the only way they know how: by scaring the hell out of everyone else. The Koch brothers, not content with the millions they flushed down the toilet on Karl Rove’s 2012 electoral strategy, are spending millions more on ads that tell the same previously debunked lies about the health care law. Mitch McConnell, still pursuing his top legislative priority of defeating a president who can no longer be defeated, actually threatened the NFL for even considering the administration’s request to help educate uninsured Americans about the fact that they can now receive affordable coverage under the law.

Continue reading here… 

 

Koch Brothers eye L.A. Times, other Tribune newspapers: sources

David Koch, executive vice president of Koch Industries, applauds during an Economic Club of New York event in New York, December 10, 2012. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

Good luck with that, fellas…

Reuters

Charles and David Koch, two of the world’s richest men, are interested in Tribune’s newspaper assets, which include the Los Angeles Times and the Chicago Tribune, according to sources familiar with situation.

Earlier on Tuesday, L.A. Weekly reported that the Koch brothers were rumored to be interested in either all of the Tribune company, which includes 23 TV stations and national cable network WGN American, or the Tribune newspapers. The report also cited “another rumor” from a Los Angeles Times editorial board member that the Koch brothers are helping U-T San Diego newspaper owner Doug Manchester finance a bid.

According to one of the Reuters sources, the Koch brothers are not interested in Tribune’s other assets – which include the broadcast TV stations. Tribune, based in Chicago, owns eight major dailies, including The Baltimore Sun and Hartford Courant.

Manchester said in statement: “We are looking forward to opportunities to employ our cross-media strategy in other markets. We have no partnership with Koch Industries or with the Koch brothers, and we don’t anticipate any such arrangement. If we were to become involved in the sale of the Tribune Company or any other media assets, we would be glad to comment at the appropriate time.”

Melissa Cohlmia, a spokeswoman for Koch Companies Public Sector, said in a statement: “As an entrepreneurial company with 60,000 employees around the world, we are constantly exploring profitable opportunities in many industries and sectors.

“So, it is natural that our name would come up in connection with this rumor. We respect the independence of the journalistic institutions referenced in today’s news stories, but it is our long-standing policy not to comment on deals or rumors of deals we may or may not be exploring.”

Tribune spokesman Gary Weitman said the company does not comment on speculation.

The Koch Brothers – worth $34 billion, making them the world’s sixth-richest men, according to Forbes magazine – would have more than enough room to make a bid for all of Tribune’s newspapers.

Tribune’s newspapers are profitable and estimated to be worth $623 million, according to a report by Lazard, its financial adviser.

The brothers are the owners of Koch Industries, a sprawling conglomerate whose holdings include crude oil and natural gas pipelines, paper products like Dixie Cups and Angel Soft toilet tissue, and cattle ranches.

They are known for their conservative views and on the Koch Industries website explain that economic freedom means that “government is kept small and limited to those activities that contribute to societal well-being, rather than undermine it.”

Other notable names such as Warren Buffett and News Corp’s Rupert Murdoch have surfaced as possible buyers for some of Tribune’s dailies. Aaron Kushner, the owner of the Orange County Register near Los Angeles, said he was “prepared to take a serious look” at Tribune’s newspapers in December.

The newspaper industry is once again becoming a hive of activity as several big city papers hit the auction block while other smaller newspapers have been snapped up by the likes of Buffett.

Tribune is the latest example of a company exploring a sale of its newspapers. The New York Times announced in February it was putting The Boston Globe and other properties in New England up for sale.

 

Koch Industries Warns 45,000 Employees Of ‘Consequences’ If They Don’t Vote For Republicans

So much for Democracy.

The question I have is…will someone be looking over the shoulder of each employee as they vote?   This entire exercise is yet another bully tactic by the powers that be.   They are trying their best, it seems, to guarantee some sort of dystopian future for the American electorate.

Think Progress

The Koch brothers’ $60 million pledge to defeat President Obama — along with their political network’s $400 million spending — make them two of the most influential conservatives this election.

Not content with their unprecedented influence in politics, the Kochs have also taken to influencing the votes of their employees. According to In These Times, Koch Industries sent 45,000 mailers to employees at Koch subsidiary Georgia Pacific, urging votes for Romney and other conservative candidates. The letter warns ominously of “consequences” for the workers if Republicans lose.

The Koch mailer is one of several recent examples of executives warning that employees may lose their jobs if Republicans do not win in November. Here is an excerpt of the letter:

While we are typically told before each Presidential election that it is important and historic, I believe the upcoming election will determine what kind of America future generations will inherit.

If we elect candidates who want to spend hundreds of billions in borrowed money on costly new subsidies for a few favored cronies, put unprecedented regulatory burdens on businesses, prevent or delay important new construction projects, and excessively hinder free trade, then many of our more than 50,000 U.S. employees and contractors may suffer the consequences, including higher gasoline prices, runaway inflation, and other ills.

In These Times also reports that employees are restricted in their political free speech on social media outlets.

Continue reading here…

 

Five U.S. Senators Are Perfect Koch Servants, Americans For Prosperity Reports

The fact that corporations like Koch Industries have purchased legislation to favor their interests is no surprise to anyone.

Naming the top five United States senators that do Koch’s bidding is indeed a big deal.  Those guys need to be voted out of office or maybe even impeached.

In my opinion, selling democracy should be a felonious offense.

Think Progress

Five senators and 39 representatives received a perfect 100 percent score from the Koch brothers’ Astroturf group Americans For Prosperity for the first half of the 112th Congress. AFP judged Congress on their votes to protect the Koch brothers’ right-wing petrochemical empire on such issues as the repeal of President Obama’s new health care law, preempting EPA’s authority to regulate greenhouse gases, Chairman Paul Ryan’s budget to end Medicare, ending ethanol subsidies, several Congressional Review Act resolutions of disapproval to overturn new regulations and the fiscal year 2012 appropriations bills.

The Koch Five are Sens. Tom Coburn (R-OK), Mike Crapo (R-ID), Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Marco Rubio (R-FL), and Ron Johnson (R-WI), who have received a combined $187,400 in campaign contributions from the Koch empire:

THE KOCH FIVE
Senator Koch Contributions
Coburn (R-OK) $56300
Crapo (R-ID) $42000
Hatch (R-UT) $26500
Rubio (R-FL) $34700
Johnson (R-WI) $27900

 

The Kochs were the top contributors to Ron Johnson’s successful campaign to unseat Russ Feingold in 2010. Like first-termers Rubio and Johnson, Coburn has a perfect lifetime Koch score.

Giuliani mocks those hit by recession during his Koch Bros summit speech

Rudy Giuliani is such a jerk…

Democratic Underground

Rudy cozying up to the Koch Bros. cocktail crowd at the Americans for Prosperity summit and offering his blame-the-poor version of advice,’ by telling a generation of underpaid workers saddled with student loan debt that they need to work on their education more and find an eight-hour a day job.

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