Robert Greenwald speaks with “The Young Turks” host Cenk Uygur on how the Koch Brothers are trying to destroy social security. Get your copy of “Koch Brothers Exposed” today at kochbrothersexposed.com!
By Staff at Uprising Radio
When the Occupy Movement speaks about the 1 percent which has wreaked havoc on this country’s financial system, the billionaire Koch brothers immediately come to mind. Charles and David Koch have given almost a hundred million dollars to fund a conservative agenda which promotes the interests of the richest 1 percent of Americans. Now, in Robert Greenwald’s new documentary, “Koch Brothers Exposed: The 1% at its very Worst” we get an incisive look at the tentacles of the Kochs’ influence throughout the American political and cultural landscape.
After inheriting the family oil business from their father, Charles and David Koch amassed an estimated fortune of $60 billion dollars through Koch Industries. The company has become the 2nd largest privately held multi-national corporation in the world owning companies that range from Georgia-Pacific paper company to fertilizers, chemicals, ranching, manufacturing and oil pipelines. Veteran film maker Robert Greenwald, in his film, shows how the Koch Brothers have spent their money to wield enormous power and advance an extreme right wing political agenda through massive donations to think tanks, legislators and political groups like Americans for Prosperity.
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By Staff at MoveOn.org
EXPOSED: The Billionaire Koch Brothers Who Are Buying American Democracy
The trailer for a film about those who would own everything . . . even our democracy. Watch:
By Erin Schikowski at The Nation
In this clip by Robert Greenwald and the Brave New Foundation, Representative Henry Waxman (D-CA) invites the Koch brothers to testify before Congress regarding their stake in the Keystone XL Pipeline. Visit Koch Brothers Exposed to sign the petition asking Waxman to haul the brothers before Congress.
Billionaire industrialist brothers Charles and David Koch were stopped today. The Keystone XL oil pipeline will meet its end today in a Washington DC press conference. The pipeline would’ve been one of the largest oil developments in American history. The pipeline would’ve destroyed American homes, farmlands and sensitive ecosystems along the nearly 2,000-mile path from Northwest Canada and through six U.S. states to the Gulf of Mexico.
But it also represented a win for brothers Koch, who’ve used their net worth to influence politicians and the media to support policies that would make them richer.
The Koch brothers helped fund and start the Tea Party group, Americans for Prosperity. It’s Nebraska chapter has actively promoted and organized around the Keystone pipeline despite numerous concerns voiced by the Republican governor of Nebraska and thousands of Cornhusker residents. Many activists in our Koch Brothers Exposed network have said they’ve seen Americans for Prosperity commercials in their communities supporting the pipeline.
The Koch brothers have a profit and greed motive behind the pipeline too. The Kochs’ subsidiary company admits on its website that it is among Canada’s largest crude oil purchasers, shippers and exporters. Throughout the public hearings and process behind the Keystone pipeline’s formation, the Koch brothers have smeared journalists writing about their Keystone agenda. The Kochs and their Congressional allies stonewalled lawmakers when they began asking too many questions.
What are the Kochs hiding? They won’t even answer questions from Joel Francis, a college student and military veteran who’s passionate about protecting the environment.
There have been many cases of legal misconduct behind the Keystone XL pipeline like cost miscalculations and conflicts of interests. For years, the state department had one person handling the entire $7 billion project who virtually outsourced oversight to an unaccountable consultant company.
Peer review and independent analysis of the pipeline’s claims have exposed deception and legally corrupt tactics used to justify the project. The Canadian company building it is inflating the project’s value. Gas prices in the Midwest will be higher, and the pipeline won’t create jobs as advertised. Media Matters has documented the full spin campaign.
The Koch brothers’ echo chamber has also had devastating effects on popular programs like Social Security. We’ve been producing videos and activism that illustrate how the Koch brothers use their wealth to write script and set the goals for politicians, activists and influentials to follow. The Kochs use their wealth to launch think tanks, family foundations and nonprofit organizations to foment policies that make the Koch brothers richer.
This case has a different ending and one that puts people over profit. Organized people beat organized money and that’s reason to have hope as we confront the Kochs in 2012.
Billionaire industrialists Charles and David Koch look like they’re easy graders. Their tea party group released its rankings this week of senators and congressman who tow the Koch line most, and it gave a total of 44 A+’s for the 112th Congress.
Americans for Prosperity, the Tea Party group funded by the Kochs, based its grades on opposition to affordable health care, clean air, alternative energy and net neutrality. Scores were also boosted if the elected official signed the tea party group’s anti-revenue pledge.
In sum, the five senators who scored 100 percent on the Americans for Prosperity how-can-we-make-the-Kochs-richer test received $187,400 in campaign contributions from the Kochs and their allies.
These senators are Ron Johnson (R-WI), Tom Coburn (R-OK), Mike Crapo (R-ID), Orrin Hatch (R-UT), and potential Republican vice presidential nominee Marco Rubio, a freshman from Florida. Indeed, Rubio, Johnson and Coburn have a lifetime of A+ scores!
Though the brothers are worth about $42 billion, a little political donation here and there goes a long way. Factor in the brothers’ self-serving “philanthropy” with the Kochs’ numerous other nonprofit foundations and academic think tanks and you’ve exposed a vast echo chamber of perpetuating myths and distortions designed to make the Kochs richer.
While the Koch brothers use their enormous wealth to influence democracy in the Capitol, they’re also funding or supporting groups that aim to replace the values of working families with policies that make the Koch brothers richer. At the same time, the Kochs are working to bolster their clout with influential members of the political and media elite to favor devastating environmental developments that would boost the soaring profits of Koch Industries.
To complement their political giving, the Kochs are also working with partners to curb access to the voting booth. The Kochs fund the American Legislative Exchange Council, which has helped facilitate the proliferation of voter suppression laws across the country. These laws would have their most adverse effect on students, seniors, minorities and disabled citizens.
At a local level, a Americans for Prosperity chapter helped make a community North Carolina school board race the most expensive in recent memory and favored candidates who pledged to resegregate public schools. They were ultimately rebuked by voters last year.
Exposing the Kochs reveals a pattern of selfish and manipulative priorities that consistently favor the most fortunate among us. In an era of Patriotic Billionaires, Occupy Wall Street and a decaying democratic process, the Koch brothers and their allies continue to demonstrate their satisfaction obstructing progress and social justice.
What do you think Martin Luther King Jr. would have to say about it?
If you live in one of 38 states, billionaire political operatives Charles and David Koch are trying to influence your and your neighbors’ constitutional right to vote. The Koch brothers and their allies have already succeeded in shepherding voter suppression bills through seven states, which amount to about one third of the 270 electoral votes to win the White House.
Through their web of think tanks, nonprofit organizations, family foundations and political donations, the Koch brothers have bought access to democracy’s lifeblood: elections. They’ve used their $42 billion in wealth to support state laws and legislators that erect barriers to the voting booth.
The Kochs’ victims are young people, senior citizens, disabled individuals and people of color– precisely the 99 percent of us who are opposed to the Koch brothers’ political agenda.
In 34 states, the Kochs have supported legislation that makes a photo ID a prerequisite to voting. It’s a Jim Crow poll tax of a different name, and the voter fraud it engenders the Kochs to silence whole communities. These Koch-supported voter suppression laws have the intended effect of transforming constitutional and civic obligations into an endless challenge for the elderly, disabled and young voters alike.
The Kochs enhanced their influence on state capitals through the American Legislative Exchange Council, a 30-year-old organization that brings lawmakers and corporations together to, literally, write model legislation together. The Koch Brothers even provided ALEC with a loan to help the organization start up.
ALEC is an exclusive corporate-legislative hybrid that costs members membership dues in order participate in their secretive meetings. It is estimated that the Kochs have paid over $1 million to the organization and have been board members for years. ALEC has institutionalized and codified the interests of the top 1 percent into laws at city halls, county boards of supervisors and state capitals.
For their investment in ALEC, the Kochs have funded efforts to thwart 21 million Americans from voting. Koch dollars helped write and propose voting suppression bills in Texas, Florida, California, Wisconsin and 34 other states. At the same time the brothers’ Tea Party group, Americans for Prosperity, intents to spend $200 million on local political races with patently false advertisements.
The most decisive and unifying opportunity to deny the Kochs’ power grab at the ballot box is appealing directly to Attorney General Eric Holder. Under the landmark 1965 Voting Rights Act, Holder can deny states like Florida, South Carolina and others from imposing new voter restrictions.
Their history of Jim Crow sets them apart from other states’ voting rights. It’s the responsibility of the Department of Justice to live up to its name and enforce the law, which calls for one person, one vote, not two billionaires and no votes for 21 million American students, seniors, people of color and disabled citizens who could be electorally blacklisted.
These are citizens who could fall through the cracks in our system– cracks exploited by the Koch brothers for their benefit. Rather than supporting politicians who ensure every vote is counted fairly, the Koch brothers have paid more than $245,550 directly to elected officials who support voter suppression laws.
A prime example is Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, whose largest out of state donors were the Koch brothers. In May, he signed a bill that requires voters present a photo ID before casting a ballot. Imposing restrictions on access does not build a more perfect union nor ensure the sanctity of everyone’s vote.
We can stop this by giving Attorney General Holder the support he needs to act. Stand up for democracy and tell him to protect one person, one vote.
Billionaire political donors Charles and David Koch aren’t the only ones who saw our latest investigative film. Thousands of people have posted comments on our Facebook page and have offered additional testimony about the Koch brothers’ pollution in their communities.
In a smear campaign orchestrated in response to our investigation, the Koch brothers attacked almost all of the residents featured in our film. These individuals say they’re suffering from cancer because they live too close to a Koch Industries factory, which pollutes rivers and creeks flowing near their rural homes.
This duality between the haves and have-nots in our society is a big driver of the rising tide of Occupy movement– and for good reason. The Koch brothers personify the top 1 percent and the avarice that’s allowed the richest Americans to profit at the expense of the other 99 percent and those of us who’re hardest hit by the jobs crisis and economic recession.
Thousands of people posted comments that both reflect the goals of the Occupy movement and aid the people of Crossett, Arkansas, who are part of the other 99 percent and have volunteered to hand-deliver these messages to the Kochs. Some viewers, like Lance Blann, reached us directly and shared their personal reactions.
Lance was one of the tens of thousands who saw our video, “EXPOSED: Koch Industries and Cancer Risks” and was activated to speak out against “Crossett Crud,” which is how local doctors describe the sore throats, runny noses, burning eyes and the many other ailments that affect Crossett residents.
Lance went to school in Crossett and spent much of his life. He and his friends nicknamed the brown waterways near their home “Stink Creek.” For as long as he could remember, the smell had stained the community, he said in an interview with Koch Brothers Exposed producers.
“It’s a sickening thought what’s going on in Crossett,” Lance said in an interview. “My parents could be next.”
Lance is an alumni of a school system that ranks in the top 1 percentile of exposure to cancer causing toxins.
For every one Lance, there’s many other individuals who’ve suffered, or continue suffering, so the Koch brothers could profit. But because the Koch Industries factory is the biggest employer in Crossett, many people are reluctant to speak out. The company donates just enough money to the schools, police department, local churches and the Chamber of Commerce that the company is untouchable, even though the company’s pollutants are odorous from the steps of City Hall.
Many of the comments we received from our video at Koch Brothers Exposed were aghast that government regulators allow the Koch brothers’ pollution to harm individuals.
But it’s permitted by the Environmental Protection Agency. The Koch brothers’ billions affords them access to establish or influence politicians, think tanks, family foundations and front groups to weaken oversight and safety laws. The EPA, local agencies and Arkansas state officials are unable to enforce existing laws and precedent in the face of the Koch brothers and their $100 billion Koch Industries.
That’s why we’re trying to help the people of Crossett with comments they can use to confront the Koch brothers. See their stories and take action to fight back.
You might save lives in Arkansas.
Our ongoing Koch Brothers Exposed video investigation has discovered something so tragic it will haunt Charles and David Koch for years to come.
While the brothers wage war against safety precautions, every day their factory is dumping millions of gallons of wastewater into streams that flow near a small rural town. It’s this kind of abuse by the top 1% of Americans that’s driving young and old to fight money in politics, occupy Wall Street and protest in the streets. The Koch brothers personify inequality, and people are rising up and have identified the overwhelming corporate influence on democracy as a corrosive stain that harms the rest of us.
Our latest video reflects this as we follow the money and prove the Koch brothers buy a system that makes them richer at the expense of everyone else. Through political donations, think tanks and front groups, the Koch brothers are able to weaken safety and oversight laws, which leaves communities like Crossett, Arkansas behind to suffer.
“The Koch brothers are killing me and my family,” Norma Thompson told us during our investigation. She’s lived near the Koch brothers’ mill for 39 years. Journey to Arkansas and watch her story:
This a community victimized by the Koch brothers. These Americans, almost all of whom are former employees of the factory, are dying because of their proximity to the Koch brothers’ plant. The chemical-heavy factory dumps pollution into streams, and the effects are visible to the naked eye. As the waste flows away from the Koch plant, toxins bubble up into an airborne pollution that spreads through the air and wind.
All the while, the Kochs fight protections that would begin to mitigate living conditions in Crossett. Through their donations, the Koch brothers buy the system, and through their connections, they transform democracy into a self-serving apparatus that grows their corporate profits.
A toxic cloud hangs over Crossett and it is manufactured by Koch Industries.
David Bouie, a minister and a retired Georgia-Pacific employee, informs me the chemicals’ stench reach the town’s Main Street, about three miles away from his home.
Mr. Bouie is a local community leader has volunteered to hand-deliver your comments directly to the Koch brothers. Help save lives and post a message to the Kochs.
This isn’t the first time the Koch brothers’ businesses hurt innocent people. Two teenagers were killed in Texas because a Koch pipeline leaked flammable materials. The Kochs’ businesses also spew benzene into the air–a known carcinogen. For this, the Clinton administration in 2000 charged the Kochs with a 97-count indictment and sought a $350 million fine.
A few months later, the Kochs received help from the Bush administration and the EPA ultimately knocked down the charges to one count and agreed to a $20 million settlement.
Just how bad is that carcinogen emitted by the Koch brothers? Tea Party Sen. Rand Paul said benzene polluters belong in jail.
The Kochs get away with polluting communities, and in some cases–hurting people– because they use their wealth to ensure the EPA is permanently understaffed and underfunded and therefore lacks enforcement. The result is the Kochs can guarantee safety regulations suffer the same fate in Congress that many innocent individuals face in Crossett: a David versus Goliath fight for justice.
Koch Industries’ life-threatening practices are legal. They’ll attack me and cite some gold stars and blue ribbons as proof that they aren’t killing innocent people. But follow the money: Through their wealth, the Koch brothers fund politicians, think thanks and front groups to neuter oversight and safety. The EPA, local agencies and state officials are toothless in the face of the Koch brothers and their $100 billion pollution Goliath, Koch Industries.
Before our Koch Brothers Exposed campaign, before the New Yorker investigation last year and the recent Bloomberg report, David Koch fancied himself as a do-gooder. Almost 20 years ago, David Koch was diagnosed with cancer and he has donated millions to have cancer research centers named after him since then.
David Koch was told he wouldn’t have long to live, but his wealth has afforded him the best treatment, doctors and medical care available. The folks in Crossett have no such access. They don’t even have a recourse to sell their homes and relocate. As the biggest employer in town, Koch Industries donates to the local churches, police stations, schools and is untouchable. While the chemicals spewing from the Koch plant are odorous in downtown Crossett, city, state and federal officials are powerless in the face of Koch billions.
Many people, including me, believe the brothers’ business poisons people with cancer. All the while, David Koch, a cancer survivor, toasts the institutions that bear his name.
Maybe you want to tell David Koch to travel to Crossett and see what his business is doing to the community. The community needs you, so tell the Kochs to save lives in Arkansas.
I want to introduce David Bouie, who is fighting back against the Koch brothers as an important part of our Koch Brothers Exposed campaign.
Charles and David Koch own my rights, and it cost them a few hundred dollars. Now, I’m asking the Koch brothers to come be my guest.
For the 30 years I’ve lived on South Penn Road in West Crossett, Arkansas, there has been a rotten odor hurting my friends, family and neighbors. It corrodes metal, and you can smell it everywhere on my street. I firmly believe, and have been told by doctors, that it’s giving my community cancer. It drifts across town and is odorous outside our local Chamber of Commerce 2.5 miles away on Main Street.
The Koch brothers’ Georgia-Pacific years ago paid neighbors on other streets to move away. They got out of here on Georgia-Pacific’s dime, but the company opted to settle with us on the cheap, we learned later. We trusted them, needed the money and now we’ve been left behind and left to suffer alone. We cannot access a recourse for our health ailments and property damage, which stems from the chemicals that spew from the Koch brothers’ mill and engulf my community.
The best recourse I have is appealing to the Koch brothers personally. David Koch is a cancer survivor and donates millions to fight cancer.
David, if you’re reading this, I want to be your host at 401 South Penn Road. Come stay with me for one day, seven days, I don’t care. We can camp out, and you can smell what I smell. My wife and I will cook for you. I make great pork chops. For breakfast, whatever you want- or I can whip up some grits and eggs. Whatever you like. You’re my guest.
It’d be my hope we can have some time to go for a walk. You can see for yourself- the fog- and smell for yourself- the rotten air- that I live with every day.
And I pray that I might be able to convince you to clean up this mess and relocate us like Georgia-Pacific did for other communities like ours. Indeed, just as Georgia Pacific compensated Thurman Road residents for their relocation years ago, please be a good neighbor to us. We cannot relocate on our own.
We are ground zero. The smell flows from streams near my street. The wind blows it over our homes and the stench is putrid. There’s no describing it. A rotten egg comes close, but the smell changes depending on the season and the time of day.
It scares away my grandchildren when they visit. Like everyone who lives or visits or works in West Crossett, my grandchildren will suffer sore throats, watery eyes and runny noses after one day here. They ultimately stay at a hotel outside of town.
My wife is afraid of going outside, instead living a life of fear and house arrest. The smell outside is too foul and the health consequences of being outside are too severe. She loves to be outdoors, but is afraid of the cancer causing chemicals she inhales. We do not leave the windows open, especially not at night. Sleeping would be impossible. Chances are you couldn’t get any rest, not while inhaling toxic air that causes sneezing sniffling, headaches and more.
Doctors in and out of town refer to our symptoms as the Crossett Crud. It’s an illness that affects our community and other parts of West Crossett near the Georgia-Pacific paper mill, the largest employer in our community of roughly 10,000 people.
Georgia-Pacific gets away with murder, and I have seen no empirical evidence from the EPA or our state environmental protection office that indicates there’s been any testing done to protect us from what doctors tell me are poisonous fumes I inhale day in and day out. I can’t afford to relocate on my own, and who would want to buy my home with the smell here?
My community needs help. The local Chamber of Commerce, police, fire department, schools, churches- you name it- are powerless against the Koch brothers. Their subsidiary Georgia-Pacific donates just enough money that local institutions are afraid to bite the hand that, in a poor state like Arkansas, feeds them.
My wife worked at Georgia-Pacific for 25 years and I put in 10 years there making table napkins. My neighbors and family made Georgia-Pacific what it is today.
We made it successful for you so we could share in the success. David, be my house guest and together we celebrate our achievements and begin a better tomorrow for our families.