Just as the final word has come that our 2008 presidential race will in fact be between John McCain and Barack Obama, so it seems that the folks with the money are lining up for a two-sided Senate race here in Louisiana. Already in select markets ads are running for and against incumbent Senator Mary Landrieu and State Treasurer John Kennedy.

One thing that seems to be becoming the norm for this year’s election cycle is an amplified repeat of what we saw in last year’s state legislative and gubernatorial races (for any hardcore red-staters out there, gubernatorial means of or relating to a governor ;^). That is, we are going to see a lot of coordinated media campaigns being paid for by big money organizations with very little ethical control. This is a bit of a new age for our political spectrum. Instead of attacking each other, candidates now enjoy armies of special interest groups who attack their opponents for them. These groups have no need to be concerned with libel, proof, character, or anything else. They say what they please so long as it’s to the detriment of their candidate’s opponent.

Likewise, candidates are able to channel such attacks through outside groups and thus avoid being held accountable for misinformation or looking bad when poor judgment is used to their advantage.

Pro-Kennedy and anti-Landrieu radio spots have already hit southeast Louisiana and the New Orleans metro area — these sponsored by a group calling themselves ‘Americans for Prosperity.” This group is both a 501-c4 political organization and a 501-c3 charitable foundation. It’s a neat trick that allows them to pay for political ads under the guise of “educating the public”. According to sourcewatch, AFP is run and primarily funded by donations from the Koch Foundation — the charitable arm of Koch Industries.

Indeed, the Chairman of Americans for Prosperity’s Board of Directors is David Koch.

David Koch
Chairman
David Koch is the executive vice president and a member of the board of directors for Koch Industries, Inc., based in Wichita, Kansas. He helped found Americans For Prosperity, and also serves on the board of directors for the Reason Foundation and the CATO Institute. David was the Libertarian Party candidate for vice president of the United States in 1980. He received his bachelor’s and master’s degree in chemical engineering from MIT.

Koch (pronounced ‘coke’) is the largest privately-held company in the United States, with annual sales of $90 billion.

They are a major player in the energy industry and are also a major polluter in places very close to home for us with their pipelines and operations, and as proven by the Department of Justice, Koch is responsible for over 300 major oil spills in the 1990’s alone.

 The action, which was filed in the U.S. District Court for the
Southern District of Texas, charges that, since 1990, Koch and its
subsidiaries were responsible for more than 300 separate oil
spills.  The suit is being brought under the Clean Water Act, as
amended by the Oil Pollution Act of 1990.  The complaint seeks
penalties and a court order to require Koch to take such actions as
are necessary to protect U.S. waters and to eliminate future
spills.

Fined $35 million dollars by the EPA, Koch had two possible plans of action — change their act, or change the government.

Koch Industries, Inc. will pay the largest civil fine ever imposed on a company under any federal environmental law to resolve claims related to more than 300 oil spills from its pipelines and oil facilities in six states, the Justice Department and the U.S. EPA announced. A settlement filed today requires Koch, the second-largest privately held company in the United States, to pay a $30 million civil penalty, improve its leak-prevention programs, and spend $5 million on environmental projects.

"This record civil penalty will put those who transport hazardous materials on notice -- you cannot endanger public health or the environment," said Attorney General Janet Reno. "We will not let you foul our water and spoil our land by breaking the law."

They went the latter route donating mega-millions to Republican campaigns and channeling funds through Americans for Prosperity and other Republican groups.

After winning election with Koch’s help, George W. Bush and John Ashcroft dropped 88 separate charges faced by Koch Industries, saving the company $352 million dollars in fines. Amazingly enough Bush later appointed two Koch executives to top posts at the EPA — the very agency he had kept from regulating the company, including the integral post of Inspector General.

From the Center for Public Integrity:

Despite its size and political largesse, Koch is able to dodge the limelight because it is privately-held, meaning that nearly all of its business dealings are known primarily only by the company and the Internal Revenue Service. In fact, it is the second largest private company in the country, trailing only food processing giant Cargill.

Koch also prefers to operate in private when it comes to politics and government.

Although it is both a top campaign contributor and spends millions on direct lobbying, Koch’s chief political influence tool is a web of interconnected, right-wing think tanks and advocacy groups funded by foundations controlled and supported by the two Koch brothers.

Among those groups are some of the country’s most prominent conservative and libertarian voices including the Cato Institute, the Reason Foundation, Citizens for a Sound Economy and the Federalist Society. All regularly beat the drum in official Washington for the causes the Koch’s hold dear—minimal government, deregulation, and free market economics.

For the Kochs, conservative and libertarian views are a family tradition. Fred Koch, who founded the company’s predecessor in 1940, helped establish the ultra right-wing John Birch Society.

Some of Koch’s other political activities have been less exotic, but no less controversial.

For example, Charles Koch found himself under investigation by the U.S. Senate for his alleged role in funding so-called “issue ads” that helped conservative Republican congressional candidates in 1996.

Even critics seem awed by the Kochs’ ability to shape policy so effectively without drawing much attention to themselves.

“It’s astounding that so few people have ever heard of a family this rich and powerful and aggressive when it comes to policy and politics,” says Jeff Krehely, deputy director of the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy, who co-authored a recent study on conservative think tanks, including those funded by the Kochs. “When you talk about Koch, most folks think you are talking about the soft drink company.”

Koch Industries did not respond to repeated phone calls and emails requesting interviews for this report.

David Koch, who ran for vice president on the Libertarian Party ticket in 1980, in an interview with National Journal, has described his philosophy this way: “My overall concept is to minimize the role of government and to maximize the role of the private economy to maximize personal freedoms.”

These are the type of people — no these ARE the people who are getting involved in our elections and who will be playing a major role over the next few months. This is definitely going to be a time where taking things with a grain of salt will be necessary. Also, it might be wise to find out who all these groups paying for ads really are. With Kennedy, I would hope we as a voting populous would ask why a major polluter operating in and around Louisiana is so interested in supporting the success of someone whom in his current job should have had little to do with them. Seems to me that some promises have probably been made and despite these Kennedy ads purporting his drive and passion for helping the people of Louisiana, it seems his loyalties are already lining up outside of the interests of our state and like his newfound mentor Bush — with anyone who can lay the buck in his pocket.

—————————————

Along with AFP and other groups, both sides — Democrat and Republican have their own more official crews readying the fight. Below are aired spots from both the National Republican Senatorial Committee and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee:

I have to say, it seems like the case against Mary is pretty weak if that’s all the Repub’s could come up with so far…

14 thoughts

  1. Thank you so much Drew, for educating me on the evils of the private sector. I feel so enlightened now.

    I’m also glad you’re bright enough and intellectually honest enough to cite the sources for all your cute little claims. 300 major oil spills in the 1990s? For you libs who can’t seem to do math, that adds up to 30 oil spills per year. That’s roughly 2.5 oil spills per month, meaning that on average, that would be more than one oil spill every other week. I have a hard time believing that someone could be responsible for a “major oil spill” every other week and be allowed to continue business for multiple decades without serious penalty. And if they were let off the hook, as you claim, they would have been massive public outrage from both liberals and conservatives alike.

    And where is the proof of this claim that they donated “billions” of dollars to Republican campaigns?

    You’re just full of lies and sh*t. That’s all there is to it Drew.

    I might ad that this “evil” corporation you speak of has provided more jobs, more health care, and more retirement programs to more people than you ever will in your entire life. They improve people’s standard of living. You on the other hand, blog from your mother’s basement. I’m really impressed.

  2. Wow Anti…your response there is strangely heated.

    Sourcewatch is a well respected organization so I very much doubt they are pushing false information. They are also non-partisan and report on democrat and republican groups. The truth is out there, and really is easy to find. SEC reports, financial filings, ownership records, there really is no need to make things up.

    As for the spills, unfortunately oil and chemical spills with major environmental impacts happen on a nearly daily basis. Most of these instances go unreported and those that are reported rarely make it into the media. As for outrage from both sides, this is only a small example of the way in which the current administration especially when they had a cooperative congress used corrupt practices to benefit their political allies at the expense of legality, justice, and the welfare of the American people.

    You may also note that I did not call this corporation “evil”. Rather I have pointed out that the owners of the company have used their financial means to affect political contests with some interestingly coincidental outcomes for their company. And, now they are attempting to influence our local Senatorial election. We should wonder why.

    On a final note, that “mother’s basement” comment of yours (I’m guessing you also are the one who said that on the TT forums a while back) — that’s a really mature debating tool. I’m not sure why trying to attack me personally is important to you, but feel free…

  3. Drew, when cornered, some Republicans are trained to ALWAYS be ad hominem. It’s Pavlovian, instilled into them after a lifetime of listening to shrills like Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter.

    Anti, here come the links.

  4. Everyone thinks that Mary is vulnerable, but I don’t see it. I realize the demographics have changed in the last 6 years, but I believe that she has enough widespread support to carry her through.
    Especially against John Kennedy.

  5. Katrina Mary will show up with her school buses on election day like she always does. Thats probably what those poor souls in the lower 9th ward were waiting for when Hurricane Katrina was approaching.

  6. I love how the DSCC chooses to criticize John Kennedy as “always a politician” when the candidate they’re supporting in this race has been in elected office since the age of 23, which means she lived on daddy’s money the first 23 years of her life, and has lived on the public’s dime for the last 32 years…FANTASTIC

  7. To dlc, what a bizarre and backhanded attempt at patronizing a community of people who were devastated by a national/natural disaster.

    To Jeremiah–

    Landrieu has a consistent record of public service. Your main man has been trying to make vertical jumps since he entered the public sector. I’d rather a candidate who has proven their ability than someone who is being courted by the Karl Rove wing of the Republican Party to run, once again, for office before finishing the job he was elected to do.

  8. I think you’re forgetting the fact that Saint Mary herself has run for higher office before finishing the term of the other office she was elected to.

    That’s what politicians do.

    By the way, Landrieu is no “public servant.” She’s a politician like everyone else. She’s nothing special ordained by God.

  9. Lamar, its neither bizarre or backhanded. its fact. welfare and democrats created that attitude. the people of the 9th ward should be pissed off at katrina mary and the dems for abandoning them. you should be pissed off at them as well. here is a man who has a handicap and goes to work every day. yet, you have thousands of people who dont want to work so they find an unscrupulous doctor and attorney to sue the govt on thier behalf for welfare money. sorry, lamar, thats the way it is.

  10. “yet, you have thousands of people who dont want to work so they find an unscrupulous doctor and attorney to sue the govt on thier behalf for welfare money.”

    You have, once and for all, demonstrated how out of touch and ignorant you truly are with that remarkable statement.

    When you write about a disabled person who goes to work everyday, are you referring to me? Are you really attempting to use MY experience to contextualize the lives of people in the Lower Ninth?

    Politics is one thing, but you have made a hasty and ridiculous generalization about an entire community.

    From your perch in Shreveport.

    I will respond in full at some point, but for now, suffice it to say that I think you really do not know “the way it is.” AT ALL.

  11. Dear Drew Ward:

    “Sourcewatch is a well respected organization so I very much doubt they are pushing false information. They are also non-partisan and report on democrat and republican groups.”

    You are not very bright if you believe that Sourcewatch is non-partisan – it was founded by a hardcore environmentalist that has a long track record of hating Republicans.

  12. I love how any time a group doesn’t support the ultra-rightwing agenda they are somehow not non-partisan. Sourcewatch merely compiles readily available information into an easy to use site. Republicans (and unscrupulous democrats too) choose to go to bed with disreputable people. They just get really pissy when people talk about it.

    Saying sourcewatch is biased by reporting the facts is just as idiotic as saying that NPR is pro democrat. Unlike Fox News which is obviously and openly slanted toward republicans, NPR is neutral. Sourcewatch is as well.

    Even if you don’t like sourcewatch, just try google — unless of course they have an agenda I don’t know about as well…

  13. Your address is coming through Shreveport.

    As someone who shares relatives with me, you should understand how and why- exactly- my experience is not comparable to the thousands of people in the Lower Ninth.

    I regret if I came on too strong. I just take exception to your comment.

    Back to the issue: Suggesting the people of the Lower Ninth were waiting for Senator Landrieu’s GOTV operation to rescue them during the aftermath of Katrina is offensive and wrong.

    What makes her any less of a champion for New Orleans than any one of her colleagues on the right? Please tell me what- exactly- Landrieu has failed to deliver. Last I recall, it was Senator Vitter who was holding up a vitally-needed housing bill, an act of pure political pandering.

    And Jeremiah, what facts do you dispute?

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