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About Koch Industries

Koch Industries is the second largest private corporation in the country, with $115 billion in annual revenue. Koch is the oil and gas industry's top lobbying spender, one of the top polluters, a massive funding source to climate-denial front-groups, and major force fighting against clean energy policies.

Koch Bros Fat Cat Protest

Activists inflate a giant Fat Cat outside the Washington Convention Center, where the Koch Brothers' political group Americans For Prosperity held its annual summit.

© Greenpeace / Robert Meyers

Charles Koch has controlled Koch Industries since inheriting the company from his father, Fred Koch, Sr., when he died in 1967. Previously known as Rock Island Oil & Refining Co., the company was renamed Koch Industries, Inc (KII) after Fred Koch. (Charles Koch, The Science of Success, John Wiley & Sons, 2007, pp.9-12)

For most of Koch Industries’ history, one of Charles Koch’s three brothers, the late David Koch, co-owned the company and worked as a senior executive.

David Koch’s twin brother, Bill Koch, worked for Koch Industries until 1983, when he was forced out of company for trying to overthrow Charles Koch and seize control of the company. Bill Koch’s shares of the company were sold for approximately $470 million, which only appeased the younger Koch twin for two years.

In 1985, Bill Koch had convinced the eldest of the four Koch brothers, Frederick “Freddie” Koch, that their shares in the family company had been undervalued by Charles Koch. Bill and Freddie Koch initiated a series of lawsuits against Koch Industries and Charles Koch that lasted from 1985-1998 (Christopher Leonard, Kochland, Simon & Schuster, pp. 118-119, 131, 145, 208).

Charles and David Koch became known as “the Koch brothers” in political circles, as their involvement in politics escalated, using the company as the financial engine and coordinating body. Charles Koch continues to coordinate the spending of his personal fortune with other business executives to bankroll political operations implemented by a wide web of organizations, most of which are affiliated through the State Policy Network.

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Koch Industries Facts

  • Koch Industries is owned and controlled by Charles G. Koch. According to 2014 Forbes rankings, the Koch brothers are tied for sixth richest person in the world at $41.3 billion each–more than Michael Bloomberg, George Soros and Jim and Alice Walton of Wal-Mart fortune. Bloomberg estimates of each brothers’ wealth currently exceed $52 billion.
  • Koch Industries has many subsidiaries, operating in oil and gas exploration, pipelines and refining, in chemical and fertilizer production, in trading both physical fossil fuel products as well as commodity futures and derivatives, cattle and game ranching, forestry and timber products, electronics, industrial glass and various consumer products. Koch Companies Public Sector oversees Koch’s lobbying, political activities and aggressive public relations.
  • Koch Industries’ environmental record includes a $30 million federal fine for Koch’s role in 300 oil spills that resulted in more than three million gallons of crude oil into waterways, a $1.7 million federal penalty in 2009 for environmental violations at facilities in seven states, and ongoing pollution from Koch operations around the country.
  • Koch Industries entered into a $25 million settlement with the US government in May 2001, after estranged brother Bill Koch revealed that Koch stole over 5 million barrels of oil from federal land and native peoples’ reservations. The value of oil that Bill Koch accused Koch Industries of stealing was worth $133 million – over $255 million in 2014 dollars.
  • In 2013, political groups controlled by the Kochs were fined $1.5 million by the state of California for illegally funneling money to support ballot initiative campaigns without proper disclosure. This scandal revealed a vast network created and run by Koch Industries executives and lawyers that is used to influence political issues and elections.

Major Oil & Gas Political Influence

Koch’s Funding to Deny Climate Change Solutions

  • Since 1997, Koch foundations have provided over $145.5 million in funding to climate denial groups; ExxonMobil provided about $37.7 million to climate denial organizations over the same period. Through “Dark Money ATMs” like DonorsTrust, it is likely that the Kochs have obscured millions of additional dollars to the same organizations.
  • Americans for Prosperity Foundation (AFP), founded and chaired by David H. Koch, received over $5.7 million from Koch foundations since 2005. AFP is known for its “Hot Air Tour” and“Regulation Reality Tour” campaigns that spreads misinformation about climate science and policy.
  • Koch Industries and the front groups it finances have attacked state-level climate and clean energy laws. Numerous Koch-funded organizations and people have pushed to repeal clean energy incentives in states like Kansas, Ohio and North Carolina, among over a dozenother states. Koch subsidiaries supported the California ballot Proposition 23 in 2010. Koch and its surrogate organizations continue efforts to pull northeastern states out of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative.
  • Multiple Koch-funded organizations have repeatedly rebroadcasted the November 2009 story dubbed “ClimateGate,” referring to stolen personal emails of climate experts. These organizations claim the emails prove a “conspiracy” of scientists and casts doubt on the scientific consensus regarding climate change.
  • In 2007, several prominent climate denial scientists published a non-peer reviewed article, funded by a Koch foundation, that concluded polar bears were not threatened by global warming. Multiple Koch-funded groups reiterated the article’s conclusions through their websites and other media outlets.

Coordinated Outside Political Spending

Since 2003, Charles Koch has convened twice-annual meetings for select business executives, politicians, lobbyists, judges and journalists to strategize and fund political campaigns for large business interests. Attendees of these “KochWorld” meetings pledge their own money to fund a network of political organizations working to limit the power of public employee unions, resist healthcare expansion, push pension reforms, privatize schools, and oppose environmental laws. The Kochs raised $400 million dollars to influence the 2012 elections, funneling hundreds of millions of dollars through a complex network of nonprofit organizations and limited liability corporations controlled by Koch operatives.
Track funding to climate denial front groups from Koch foundations:

See also PolluterWatch profiles of Koch IndustriesCharles Koch and David Koch.

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