By Steve Horn for Desmog Blog - The OMB pointed toward the myriad existing safeguards that already ensure regulatory agency accountability, including the federal court system, the fact that many regulatory proposals actually stem from laws passed by Congress, and the requirement for robust public commenting periods. “This radical departure from the longstanding separation of powers between the Executive and Legislative branches would delay and, in many cases, thwart implementation of statutory mandates and execution of duly-enacted laws, create business uncertainty, undermine much-needed protections of the American public, and cause unnecessary confusion,” OMB wrote in July 2015.
By Kyla Mandel in DeSmogBlog - The latest release of lobbying data on the European Commission’s Transparency Register has raised concerns that the fossil-fuelled Kochs are trying to influence the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership(TTIP) negotiations. Digging through the data, DeSmog UK found that the European arm of Koch Industry’s legal, lobbying and public affairs branch – known as Koch Companies Public Sector LLC – has spent up to £0.5m lobbying EUpolicymakers on the environment, energy and free trade. And according to the voluntary register, Koch Industries – the largest privately owned energy company in the United States, known for funding climate denial groups – has a particular interest in lobbying on the “EU’s free trade agreement negotiations.”
By Lee Stewart for Popular Resistance. WASHINGTON, DC - While the Board of the Smithsonian met at the Smithsonian Institute Building during the height of DC’s midday heat on Monday, over 100 protesters picketed outside after delivering 430,000 signatures to Smithsonian Press Secretary John Gibbons demanding David Koch be kicked off the Board. The petition delivery comes after the release of an open letter signed by the world’s top scientists, including several Nobel Prize winners, calling on museums of science and natural history to cut all ties to the fossil fuel industry. The letter specifically mentions the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History in DC, where David Koch, a notorious funder of climate change denial, sits on the Board, is a donor, and sponsors exhibits.
The Charles Koch Foundation (CKF) is the largest donor to George Mason University, having contributed over $23 million since 2005 and millions more in years prior. Charles Koch has a history of using donations from the Charles Koch Foundation to manipulate educational processes, limiting perspectives that are taught in departments Mr. Koch funds. Florida State University, the second largest recipient of CKF funds, was expected to give CKF veto power over the hiring processes of certain faculty and provide the foundation with undue influence over curriculum and teaching. Recent reporting confirms that despite re-negotiating with the Koch Foundation, FSU still promotes a narrow range of disciplines favored by Charles Koch in the programs he funds. Considering the Kochs have known and significant ties to professors, departments, and the administration at George Mason, it is reasonable to question whether or not corporate interests are similarly undermining the educational processes of our university as well. We ask that George Mason University begin taking steps to increase transparency. This is necessary in order to demonstrate that an education from GMU is not being unduly influenced by private interests
Nearly 100 environmental activists protested outside WGBH’s Brighton studios yesterday calling for conservative billionaire David Koch’s ouster from the public broadcaster’s board of trustees. “I am here today because David Koch is a climate denier and ’GBH has scientific programs and he should have absolutely no influence on PBS and public broadcasting,” said Nate Goldshlag of Arlington. Some protesters dressed as Sesame Street characters Elmo, Big Bird and the Count joined the crowd. Dozens then packed the board of trustees meeting. A Herald videographer was not allowed to record the meeting, but Emily Southard of Forecast the Facts said that though they weren’t allowed to address the board, some protesters interrupted the meeting to complain about Koch’s involvement.
The process unfolding at Florida State University looks troublingly similar to much of American politics today: decision makers support outcomes or agendas favoring the rich and well-connected despite broad public opposition, well-publicized conflicts of interests, and with disregard to legitimate requests for redress of grievances voiced by those affected in processes that seem rigged from the start. And it's not just in Florida. "We believe that FSU is one example in a national crisis," the FSU Progress Coalition students wrote earlier this month. The FSU situation is reflective of a broader national trend in recent years that has seen powerful politicians appointed by questionable processes to head prestigious universities - despite lacking the qualifications normally required of university presidents and clear conflicts of interests. FSU's connections with the Koch brothers' influence is also part and parcel of rise in "charitable" contributions that they have been using to gain control over ideas and curricula in US colleges and universities. The FSU Progress Coalition students' research documents that "the Charles Koch Foundation is already funding over 300 universities in the United States today and the numbers continue to increase."
n Tuesday, three activists were detained by NYPD officers outside the Metropolitan Museum of Art after disrupting a gala honoring David H. Koch. The controversial billionaire was being fêted for his $65 million contribution to the newly reopened museum plaza, which prominently bears his name (see “Protesters Crash Koch Plaza Opening at the Met“). The three activists, Kyle Depew, Grayson Earle, and Yates McKee, were caught projecting images from a customized art truck onto the museum’s façade that read “The Met: Brought to you by the Tea Party” and “Koch = Climate Chaos”—references to Koch’s well-known role in funding right-wing and climate denying groups. The incident followed a protest earlier in the day by the tenacious Occupy Wall Street spin-off Occupy Museums, which brought a by all accounts good-spirited group of art activists to the newly opened David H. Koch Plaza to stage anti-Koch performances.
Brooklyn College of the City University of New York has a new academic credential. Unlike an estimated 150 colleges and universities that have taken $56 million from the billionaire libertarian industrialist Koch brothers since the 1980s—and then integrated their extreme right-wing agenda into business classes while censoring other views—the New York City college keeps rejecting Koch cash, an aggrieved libertarian business school professor complained in a detailed report by InsideHigherEd.com. The libertarian professor, Mitchell Langbert, apparently approached the Charles C. Koch Foundation twice—in June 2013 and again this January—seeking multi-million dollar grants to expand Brooklyn College’s business faculty. Langbert’s effort, however, were apparently rejected by his supervisors, who did not want to pursue the grants. “The professor said that in the summer of 2013, he was in unofficial but promising talks with representatives from the Koch Foundation about a $4.3 million grant to advance market-based economics at Brooklyn College,” Inside Higher Ed reported. “The grant would have funded the hiring of multiple faculty members and graduate students, and established an honors program and an institute on markets at the college.”
Charles and David Koch wrapped up their annual summer seminar on June 16 in Dana Point, California, at the St. Regis Monarch Bay resort—a fitting location for two men whose combined net worth is more than $100 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. The highly secretive mega-donor conference, called “American Courage: Our Commitment to a Free Society,” featured a who’s who of Republican political elites. According to conference documents obtained through a source who was in attendance, Representatives Tom Cotton (AR), Cory Gardner (CO) and Jim Jordan (OH) were present, as were Senators Mitch McConnell (KY) and Marco Rubio (FL). Cotton, Gardner and McConnell are all running for the Senate this year; Jordan for re-election in the House. Rubio is widely considered a major contender for a 2016 presidential run. According to the documents, the conference attendees discussed strategy on campaign finance, climate change, healthcare, higher education and opportunities for taking control of the Senate. (The draft agenda is available for viewing here.) According to another source who also attended the conference, 300 individuals—worth at least a billion each—were present. This source said that the explicit goal was to raise $500 million to take the Senate in the 2014 midterms and another $500 million “to make sure Hillary Clinton is never president.”
“America Has a Koch Problem!” That was the hard-hitting theme of a block party protest hosted by New York activists and concerned citizens outside David Koch’s Park Avenue apartment on Thursday night, aimed at exposing the Koch Brothers' extremist right-wing political agenda. A Facebook campaign launched prior to the protest called upon those who were “tired of our democracy being sold to the highest bidder” to stage an intervention to address America’s growing Koch problem undermining democracy in America. At the demonstration which was crawling with police, handouts of 2014 political candidates who have taken money from the Koch Brothers were distributed along with pamphlets revealing how the Koch funded group, Americans for Prosperity, plan to spend $125 million on this election to benefit conservative candidates and have flooded the airwaves with misleading campaigns in states with key Senate races. Darius Gordon, organizer of Citizens Action explained to AlterNet that the more people who became aware of the Koch brothers extremist right-wing agenda, including running campaigns to raise taxes on clean energy and do away with the minimum wage, the greater the opportunity to rise up and challenge it. “We’re here today to protest against the Koch Brothers and let them know democracy is not for sale. They cannot buy our elections, they cannot buy our elected officials and we’re here to protest against that. This is a democracy! We want to educate and inform the people of New York about exactly what is going on for those who are not aware and ensure that our leaders are doing things democratically by stressing the message that our elections cannot be bought," he said.