The Badger Democracy expose (“The ALEC-Koch pipeline to Wisconsin Legislators and the Mining Bill“) revealing the money and lobbying ties from Wisconsin Legislators pushing the Mining Bill; to Gogebic Taconite, ALEC, and Koch Industries has prompted Koch Industries to post a “Debunking Conspiracy Theories in Wisconsin” blog on Kochfacts.com. Seems Progressive blogs in Wisconsin are hitting a nerve.
The rebuttal from Koch Industries characterizes Badger Democracy as an “obscure, secretive blog” in Wisconsin. The facts, as Koch sees them, are as follows (cited to clear the record “before another lie gains traction“)…
“Koch has no mining operations in Wisconsin, no plans for any such operation, no financial interest in the proposed iron mine in the state, and has taken no position on any Wisconsin legislation related to mining. Koch companies have never been involved in lobbying for this bill, either directly or through any other party.”
This response on Kochfacts, a Koch “fact check” site operated by Koch Industries itself, proves one of the points in the Badger Democracy expose. That Koch Industries funds, writes, and promotes self-serving private media; with no regard for the actual facts. After reading this rebuttal, I had questioned whether it’s author had even read the entire piece, or followed the links to sources. For clarification, here are the highlighted facts about Koch from the expose:
1. Koch Industries is one of the political interests in Wisconsin that has “…created an expressway of influence to Wisconsin Legislation for co-opting state resources – creating record profits for themselves (which they will ultimately pay little tax on)…” The money and lobbying interest Koch Industries is unleashing in Wisconsin (both direct and indirect) is unprecedented. Through their sponsorship of ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council), Koch has direct access regular citizens do not have to Legislators. Names of Lobbyists registered for Koch Industries are linked in the previous Badger Democracy blog. Also noteworthy – just because Koch lobbyists have not registered in support of a bill, does not mean they do not work toward passage of the bill as a function of other lobbying efforts (such as Wisconsin Mining lobby). Is Koch Industries implying they do not ideologically support de-regulation of mining permitting laws? That would be a first.
2. “Among Koch subsidiaries are companies who would profit greatly from the establishment of iron ore mining in the Badger State, primarily through materials and systems for mining operations. Not to mention the potential for Koch to bring its mining operations directly to Wisconsin.” – This is absolutely true. There are several subsidiaries listed in the link that could supply materials and/or equipment for current or future mining operations. Is the Koch reaction to this assertion a pledge to NEVER engage in or profit from future mining operations in Wisconsin? Considering the permitting process may soon be de-regulated, any such claim from Koch would be disingenuous at best.
3. “The Koch brothers have perfected “shadow spending” to influence politicians and the electorate. Their methods (practiced for decades) can be summarized in three steps. Establish and fund third-party, biased media…; establish and fund conservative “think tanks” to promote favorable research outcomes; and establish and fund legal groups to write scripts for lawmakers and file favorable briefs on behalf of right-wing interests.” Again, all of these points are well documented. The extent of their spending on these interests may never be fully disclosed, as Koch Industries is a private company. Hamilton Consulting lobbyists, being paid by Koch Industries, virtually brag about the influence they have had on the most extreme policies of Scott Walker (Act 21) on the Great Lakes Legal Foundation policies website.
4. Koch Industries funds ALEC. ALEC corporations write and approve “model legislation” that is pushed and influences member legislators – many of whom are far right-wing Wisconsin GOP Legislators. Again, the average taxpayer does NOT have this access. Enough said.
Badger Democracy never directly or indirectly implied that Koch Industries owns any part of the mine. The Koch influence was accurately cited as financial and through legislative agenda and ideology through ALEC.
Finally, a broader point. Those who have followed Badger Democracy (and thank you) will know that this is not a secretive or covert blog. I have written fully credited pieces for Isthmus, appeared in person on radio (Sly in the Morning, Sara Schultz Show), and spoken in person to Drinking Liberally Waukesha and Leftist Cocktail Party events in Madison. Readers have access to post comments – whether you agree or disagree, and have access to my email address in the “about” section of the blog. There are not numerous writers – just one. I take full responsibility for every post, and therefore, source and cite every reference to insure accuracy.
There you are, Koch Industries. I have given you a forum on my blog – even though you completely mis-characterized Badger Democracy and the expose on the Mining bill. I will not likely have the same opportunity on your website. Now who is being secretive? And by the way – if Badger Democracy (and the other Progressive Blogs in Wisconsin) is so “obscure,” why did you feel it necessary to write a response?
This link is being forwarded to Koch Industries media contact – firstname.lastname@example.org (316)828-3756.