The Koch brothers’ dirty money in California
by Gabe Wisniewski
September 22, 2010
The New York Times editorial “The Brothers Koch and AB 32” takes on efforts by oil billionaires Charles and David Koch to block California’s signature climate law by pouring money into Proposition 23:
Four years ago, bipartisan majorities in the California Legislature approved a landmark clean energy bill that many hoped would serve as a template for a national effort to reduce dependence on foreign oil and mitigate the threat of climate change.
Now a well-financed coalition of right-wing ideologues, out-of-state oil and gas companies and climate-change skeptics is seeking to effectively kill that law with an initiative on the November state ballot. The money men include Charles and David Koch, the Kansas oil and gas billionaires who have played a prominent role in financing the Tea Party movement.
Flint Hills, a wholly-owned subsidiary of oil giant Koch Industries based in Kansas, has joined with Texas oil companies Valero and Tesoro in trying to block California’s landmark climate legislation by funding the campaign to pass Proposition 23. As the second largest private company in the US, Koch Industries has plenty of money to pour into this fight.
In fact, the $1 million from the oil billionaires is only one tentacle of the oily Kochtopus. As we detailed in our report “Koch Industries: Secretly Funding the Climate Denial Machine,” oil billionaires David and Charles Koch have become kingpins of climate denial, funneling tens of millions of dollars to front groups and think tanks that oppose climate and clean energy policies. In recent years, they have even surpassed ExxonMobil in contributions to climate denial organizations.
Those front-group-tentacles have also reached California. David Koch’s favorite front group, “Americans for Prosperity,” is running TV ads promoting Proposition 23, and AFP’s California director has said that the Prop 23 is the group’s “top priority.” Although AFP purports to be a ‘grassroots’ organization, in fact it was founded and is co-chaired by David Koch, and, as our report shows, Koch Foundations have poured more than $5 million into this front group. As David Axelrod told Jane Mayer of The New Yorker in her extraordinary investigative article exposing the Koch brothers, “What they dont say is that, in part, this is a grassroots citizens movement brought to you by a bunch of oil billionaires.
The Kochs are also directly funding political candidates who will support their agenda including California senate candidate Carly Fiorina, who supports Proposition 23. KochPAC gave her $5,000 earlier this year, and is even co-hosting a fundraiser for her in Washington DC to give thousands more.
The fight over clean energy and climate policy in California is dripping with out-of-state oil money because the oil billionaires want to stamp out the progress that has been made to move toward clean energy and energy efficiency, and keep us addicted to their fossil fuels. That’s how they became oil billionaires, after all. The NYT editorial concludes:
Who wins if this law is repudiated? The Koch brothers, maybe, but the biggest winners will be the Chinese, who are already moving briskly ahead in the clean technology race. And the losers? The people of California, surely. But the biggest loser will be the planet.