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Koch Respects The Right of All Americans to Support Their Political Candidates

We have seen media reports about the protest being organized by a convicted terrorist and a number of fringe organizations.

It is ironic that the pretext for the protest is supposed “outrage” at the role of money in politics. Considering the record-setting fundraising by President Obama as reported here, here, here, here, here and here, the hypocrisy of the Left and their attempts to mislead the public are obvious. There is a double standard at work here, and the message from the Left is that fundraising for their preferred candidates is fine, but donations to those with differing points of view are somehow immoral. The Left’s outrage is selective and hollow.

A flyer distributed prior to the demonstration includes a familiar list of debunked claims and incoherent grievances:

1.) “David Koch, through his group Americans for Prosperity, has spent nearly $11 million to help Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker’s anti-union and anti-public education agenda.”

• PolitFact Wisconsin debunked this charge weeks ago when it was first made by Democratic operatives. Koch supports Gov. Walker’s reforms and so do a solid majority Wisconsin voters as evidenced by the results of the state’s most recent election. We respect their choice. Additionally, AFP is not David Koch’s “group.” Americans for Prosperity has more than 1,800,000 activists in all 50 states and 34 state chapters and affiliates. More than 90,000 Americans in all 50 states have made a financial contribution to AFP or AFP Foundation. This sounds like broad-based support to us.

2.) “David Koch has spent millions fighting against expanded healthcare access, through their (sic) political action group, Americans for Prosperity and has bought intentionally deceptive ad space to confuse voters on the facts surrounding expanded healthcare initiatives.”

• This is false. David Koch has not fought against expanded healthcare access. Rather, he has contributed hundreds of millions of dollars to fund medical research that has benefitted untold numbers afflicted with cancer.

3.) “The Koch brothers have given nearly $100 million to right-wing think tanks, so they can push their regressive policies on legislators in both Washington and across the country.”

• Koch supports the notion that economic freedom and individual liberty are the bedrock principles upon which the United States has built the world’s most just and prosperous society. History proves this, and we have promoted those principles for more that 50 years regardless of which party holds power. (Read Charles Koch’s 2011 op-ed in the Wall Street Journal.)

4.) “The Koch brothers have spent millions supporting Citizens United, a court ruling which opened the floodgates for corporations to have unlimited influence on elections.”

• Citizens United vs. the FEC was decided by the Supreme Court and is entirely distinct from the electoral campaign process. (Read about the media’s frequent mischaracterization of the Citizen’s United decision.) Koch has not advocated for or against the decision. We were not party to it and we follow all campaign finance laws regarding disclosure. It should be noted that the court’s decision applies to groups on both ends of the political spectrum, including labor unions.

5.) “The Koch Brothers are one of the nation’s biggest funders of efforts to prevent reductions in fossil fuel use. They actively spend to defend the interests of Koch Industries which has grossed billions for the Koch Brothers despite having more than 300 spills in six states, and one of the largest fines ever imposed upon a US corporation.”

• Koch is interested in ensuring that the debate on climate change and hydrocarbons arrives at an appropriate conclusion 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.Koch makes a broad range of products including energy products that people need and does so responsibly. Koch companies have been recognized with more than 500 awards for safety, environmental excellence, community stewardship, innovation and customer service since President Obama took office.

6.) “David and Charles Koch have donated at the very least $1.5 million dollars to the controversial American Legislative Exchange Counsel, authors of the infamous “Stand Your Ground” law which emboldened Trayvon Martin’s killer George Zimmerman. David and Charles Koch have continued to support ALEC as the group continues to draft model legislation to maximize Koch profits.”

• Koch has been a member of ALEC which has existed for almost 40 years and works with Democrats and Republicans. 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.

7.) “In 2000, David and Charles Koch’ (sic) company was indicted on criminal charges related to the dumping of 91 tons of liquid benzene, a chemical linked to childhood leukemia, into a stream in Corpus Christie (sic), Texas. After successfully lobbying the newly appointed Attorney General John Ashcroft in 2001 David and Charles reduced their criminal counts to a $350 million dollar fine for falsifying documents related to the dumping.”

• This claim is based on a deeply flawed article in Bloomberg Markets Magazine that relied heavily on unreliable sources. You can read one of the many critiques of the Bloomberg piece here. In November 1995, Koch Petroleum Group made a voluntary disclosure to the government related to its reporting of wastewater monitoring tests. After making this voluntary disclosure, Koch Industries, Koch Petroleum Group and four individuals were prosecuted by the Department of Justice for alleged violations of Clean Air Act provisions related to benzene. This was an overreach by the federal government. The 97-count complaint was resolved almost six years later with Koch Petroleum Group pleading guilty in April 2001 to a single count related to the wastewater reporting it had voluntarily disclosed in November 1995. The charges against the four were dropped and they were required to agree not to sue the federal government for malicious prosecution as part of the settlement.

8.) “In 2011 David & Charles Koch pledged to donate $100 million dollars to whomever runs against president Obama and expanded their promise by saying they would fundraise 10 times that of what the Obama campaign could.”

• Neither Charles Koch nor David Koch has ever made such a pledge. We challenge those making this assertion to provide factual evidence of this false claim.

9.) “David Koch has spent $3.6 million on misleading ads blaming the Obama administration for high gasoline prices despite knowing that the governing bodies that regulate prices are autonomous from any political group in the United States.” • Another sweeping and unsubstantiated statement that is false and absurd.

10.) “David Koch & Charles Koch think that democracy is something that can be bought and sold to the highest bidder.”

• We believe that the American people can make decisions about the fate of the nation for themselves and that their vote cannot be bought or manipulated by advertising or clever slogans.

Regardless of the clarity of their concerns, we respect the protestors’ rights to free speech and to peaceably assemble. These rights apply not only to the protestors, but to those who are hosting and attending the fundraiser.