Koch brothers' odious influence

Charles and David Koch, who have grown rich by burning fossil fuels, want to keep it that way.

Through a largely obscure stream of funding for academe, think tanks, lobbyists and politicians, the brothers have built an unprecedented policy network for furthering their pseudo-libertarian philosophies, according to a report from the Investigative Reporting Workshop at American University.

If spreading a doctrine of corporate supremacy is the Koch brothers' primary goal, it comes at a significant cost to the cause of science and free inquiry, especially on the issue of climate change.

"The cumulative cost to Koch Industries and Charles and David Koch for this extraordinary alchemy of political and lobbying influence, nonprofit public policy underwriting and educational institutional support was $134 million over a recent five-year period," the reporters found. A huge chunk of that money - more than $30 million, according to the report - has gone to George Mason University and affiliated entities.

Not surprisingly, the Koch brothers spend that money in the furtherance of their own particular interests. Because so much of their wealth is a function of fossil fuels (refineries, asphalt, chemicals), the brothers spend millions each year to prevent efforts to curb greenhouse gas emissions and to undermine their critics.

They give compliant politicians money and lobby ferociously. But much is less direct, including the funding of foundations and research that attempts to argue that science isn't science.

"Altogether, since 2007, Koch nonprofit organizations testified before U.S. Senate and House of Representatives committees or subcommittees at least 49 times, according to lobbying disclosure information compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics and testimony available from Congressional Quarterly/Roll Call."

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