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Countering a Career Democratic Political Operative’s Clichéd and Dishonest Attacks on Koch

Rather than taking the time to pen an original attack on Koch, Dan Payne, a professional Democratic political operative writing for WBUR radio in Boston, drafted what amounts to a top ten list of tired and debunked accusations. To help readers make sense of his patchwork claims, we did some of the legwork that Mr. Payne didn’t bother to do:

1. “They are the fringe 1 percent:” Over the past fifty years, Charles Koch and David Koch have built one of America’s most successful companies. Koch employs more than 50,000 skilled people in the United States, including about 15,000 who are members of unions, in good paying, manufacturing jobs. They are proud of this and of their fellow employees’ accomplishments, as well as the positive impact their products have had on society and the communities in which Koch operates. Since Mr. Payne worked for clients such as Sen. Ted Kennedy and Sen. John Kerry—men of considerable means — it’s unclear how he is defining “fringe 1%.”

2. “They own practically everything:” Koch Industries, which Charles Koch and David Koch do own, makes a broad range of products that people need and want. The opportunities that Koch has created allow Koch employees to own many things including homes and cars, and to give back to their communities in many ways. The company produces products, goods, and services that are vital to people’s lives and raise the standard of living for people around the world.

3. “They think they own their employees:” Mr. Payne is referring to a false story in The Nation magazine about Koch’s alleged political activities. We encourage all Koch employees to be informed about and participate in civic affairs, and to support ideas and candidates of their choosing.

4. “They back Scott Brown:” Koch companies have operations and more than 500 employees in Massachusetts. As allowed by law, KochPAC has contributed to Senator Brown’s campaign and that information is publicly available. In 2010, the voters of Massachusetts “backed” Scott Brown over his challenger by a five-point margin. This year, the people of the Commonwealth will have another opportunity to choose their Senator. We trust their wisdom and will respect their decision.

5. “(They’re) Right from the start:” For more than 50 years, Charles Koch and David Koch have been outspoken in their support of limited government, individual liberty, and economic freedom, regardless of which party was in power. These ideas, and not any particular political organization, are a powerful force in American society and are the bedrock principles of our great nation. David Koch and other Koch employees support Americans for Prosperity, as do its more than 1.8 million members and 90,000 contributors.

6. “They are already attacking the Court’s health care ruling:”Koch has not commented on the Supreme Court’s decision in the Affordable Care Act, although many other Americans have discussed this historic decision. Of course, the right of all Americans to discuss important issues of public policy and criticize their government is protected by the First Amendment to the Constitution.

7. “They are major polluters:” The UMass study Mr. Payne cites was developed in part by the Union of Radical Socialist Economists, a socialist, anti-free market organization, and has been refuted repeatedly on these pages and elsewhere. This biased study lists most every major U.S. manufacturing company and its findings have nothing to do with actual “pollution.” Koch’s operations are permitted by federal and state regulatory authorities, and we make great efforts to operate in compliance with our permits and applicable environmental regulations. Koch companies have been recognized with more than 500 awards for the safety and stewardship of their operations since President Obama took office.

8. “They are in the climate change denial business:” Koch is interested in ensuring that the appropriate conclusion is arrived at regarding this issue based on sound science, rather than preexisting political agendas. Like many others, we are concerned the proposals of some who believe in climate change would create tremendous economic hardships and have little or no effect on the climate. Instead, Koch encourages an honest and robust debate about these and other important issues.

9. “They were a major force in the Wisconsin recall:” While Koch supports Gov. Scott Walker and the free-market reforms he advocates, we did not provide anywhere near “tens of millions” in the Wisconsin campaign. Also, while Stand Your Ground Laws have enjoyed bipartisan support–with many prominent Democratic governors signing them into law in Arizona, Michigan, West Virginia, and other states– neither Koch nor ALEC had anything to do with Florida’s law. As we have explained, any claim that Koch is in any way associated with the Florida law or the tragic death of Trayvon Martin is despicable and maliciously false. Indeed, even MSNBC was forced to admit it was wrong to make such assertions about Koch.

10. “They host the rich and powerful:” The right to peacefully assemble is protected by the Constitution. Further, many left-leaning groups such as the “rich and powerful” members of Democracy Alliance have met in private to discuss topics of mutual concern. The purpose of the Koch seminars, that have been held since 2003, is to ensure the future prosperity of the United States through public policies that advance economic freedom and individual liberty — views Koch has held for 50 years, regardless of which party is in power.

What Mr. Payne left off his list are the considerable philanthropic activities of Koch in Massachusetts, such as the $185 million given by David Koch to MIT, with $100 million of that to build the renowned David H. Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research.

We have documented on this site the many instances in which “Koch” and “The Koch Brothers” has become the highly abbreviated explanation on the political left for any opposition to the progressive agenda.  Mr. Payne’s list of hackneyed claims shows that even this shortcut is too laborious an effort for some of our critics.