Kochtopus

How ALEC Subverts Democracy

How ALEC Subverts Democracy

I just saw a nasty ad about Jay Nixon, the very popular democratic governor of Missouri, being paid for by an organization called United for Missouri.  Letunited for missouri me tell you they are not united for Missouri, at least not the Missouri we want.  It affects us all on a national level because it’s happening all over the country. I’m just using my home state as an example.  If you’ve wondered why your representatives never seem to be concerned about your issues and national politicians seem to blithely ignore what the voters say then you need to read this.

The Executive Director of United for Missouri and United for Missouri’s Future Carl Beardenis Carl Bearden, who is a Republican politician and also a member of ALEC.  He also runs a “consulting firm” in Missouri and I’ll guarantee you have some like this in your state too.  Both of these organizations are classified as non-profit even though through ALEC they probably see more money changing hands than we, and everyone we know, will see in a lifetime combined.  ALEC stands for the American Legislative Exchange Council so let’s look at what they’re “exchanging.”

Let’s start with the definition of subvert and you can tell me at the end if you think it appropriate in this case.

sub·vert

tr.v. sub·vert·ed, sub·vert·ing, sub·verts

1. To destroy completely; ruin: “schemes to subvert the liberties of a great community” (Alexander Hamilton).

2. To undermine the character, morals, or allegiance of; corrupt.

3. To overthrow completely: “Economic assistance … must subvert the existing … feudal or tribal order” (Henry A. Kissinger). See Synonyms at overthrow.

Briefly, ALEC is a clearing house where our elected officials (nearly all poster 12Republicans) get together with big business lobbyists to auction off our interests by letting them write the law in their favor including tax law, labor laws, regulations, etc.  There were more than 2400 state legislators as members in 2002, nearly a third of the nation’s total.  (Mother Jones, 2002)  In return they get megabucks thrown at their campaigns and who knows what other “perks.”

You can look for yourself to see who the members of ALEC are.  They are all of the companies destroying our economy and environment while they run away with the bank.  They are bankers, Exxon-Mobile, AT&T/telecom, big oil/energy, pharmaceuticals, insurance, the Koch brothers, etc.  Foreign interests are even represented, but you and I don’t have a voice there and we’re footing the bill.  That is the problem in a nutshell.

(editors note:  “Fascism should more appropriately be called Corporatism because it is a merger of State and corporate power.”
 — Benito Mussolini)

You’ll also notice that there are many members who aren’t actually businesses but right wing groups promoting their agenda such as the Cato Institute, Americans for Prosperity, the Heritage Foundation, Crossroads GPS, etc.  They kochtopusclaim to be non-partisan but I think it’s clear that they’re not and it’s all one big nasty batch of snakes twisted together with the Koch brothers.  Their tentacles reach all the way from the federal government down to local school boards strangling the voice of the people and choking the life from our democracy.

Some businesses bailed out of ALEC when it was first exposed but the others seem to think we’re too stupid to understand what’s going on—or too powerless to stop it. Here is a link that shows who the business lobbyists are, who they work for and which of our legislators are meeting them to sell out our interests.  Adding insult to injury, in at least 3 states they can do it on the taxpayers’ dime.  These are “the powers that be” that we’re so angry about.  This is who we need to “take our country back” from because they hold it in a vicious grip.  They are still controlling public policy in secret with money and influence to make sure they retain the money and influence.

Billionaires control the political conversation by staying hidden and paying others to promote their brutal agendas (The Guardian, 2013)

Anybody who is part of this organization is the problem.  They need to be targeted in their districts and thrown out like the sold-out scum they are. If you don’t know for sure about your legislators call them and ask them if they are members of ALEC.

If we want to see government that listens to the people we have to get rid of all of these unprincipled, unethical, and subversive politicians be they Republican, Democrat or whatever.  Throw them out of office and let them go to work directly for their true bosses, like Scott Brown did, so we at least know who they’re representing.

There is nothing in the constitution that gives any elected official the right to meet in the dark to do dirty business with a select group of mega-rich people giving them power over the rest of us.  It’s a shame Nixon’s dead because slush funds are evidently legal now or might as well be.

Contrary to their opinion we are the government; we just need to take back the reins.

References

ALEC Thought of Non-Profit — Then Thought Not – Bloomberg. (n.d.). Bloomberg – Business, Financial & Economic News, Stock Quotes. Retrieved April 7, 2013, from http://go.bloomberg.com/political-capital/2012-12-13/alec-thought-of-non-profit-then-thought-not/

Biography of Missouri Governor Jay Nixon. (n.d.). Governor Jay Nixon. Retrieved April 7, 2013, from http://governor.mo.gov/about/Jay-Nixon.php

Carl Bearden | United for Missouri. (n.d.). United for Missouri | The Missouri Minute – covering grassroots and political issues in the state of Missouri. Retrieved April 6, 2013, from http://www.unitedformissouri.org/about/carl-bearden

Carl Bearden – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. (n.d.). Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Retrieved April 6, 2013, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carl_Bearden

clever, w. d., well-trained., dustbin, w. u., taxes, w. w., Anger, d. t., unions, t., et al. (n.d.). The educational charities that do PR for the rightwing ultra-rich | George Monbiot | Comment is free | The Guardian . Latest US news, world news, sport and comment from the Guardian | guardiannews.com | The Guardian . Retrieved April 7, 2013, from http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2013/feb/18/charities-pr-rightwing-ultra-rich

http://www.npr.org/blogs/itsallpolitics/2013/02/28/173170193/after-tough-2012-conservative-koch-brothers-regroup

Olsson, K. (n.d.). Ghostwriting the Law | Mother Jones. Mother Jones | Smart, Fearless Journalism. Retrieved April 7, 2013, from http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2002/09/ghostwriting-law

subvert – definition of subvert by the Free Online Dictionary, Thesaurus and Encyclopedia.. (n.d.). Dictionary, Encyclopedia and Thesaurus – The Free Dictionary. Retrieved April 6, 2013, from http://www.thefreedictionary.com/subvert

The separation of profit and state – chicagotribune.com. (n.d.). Chicago Tribune: Chicago breaking news, sports, business, entertainment, weather and traffic – chicagotribune.com. Retrieved April 7, 2013, from http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/opinion/sns-201302271700–tms–rkoehlerctnbk-a20130228-20130228,0,2907076.column

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This article is written by cherisplace and is posted at http://thebigslice.org/how-alec-subverts-democracy/

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Richard Fink: The Koch Brothers’ Big Tobacco Man Behind the Kochtopus Curtain

Richard Fink has long been one of the Koch Brothers’ inner circle, playing the role of both political strategist and close confidante.
Richard FinkSome say the Koch Empire wouldn’t have been nearly as successful without Fink. Without him and his ideas, what is now pejoratively known as the “Kochtopus” probably would not have branched so far into research or political advocacy.
kochtopusBut relatively few people have heard of Richard Fink. And even fewer know of his connections to Big Tobacco – connections which may have influenced the creation and actions of Koch-funded front groups for decades to come.

With the Kochs’ support, Fink established the Mercatus Center in 1980, and then co-founded Citizens for a Sound Economy (CSE) in 1984, where he served as President and CEO. Later, Fink helped found Americans for Prosperity to succeed CSE in 2004.

Fink sits on the board of the Institute for Humane Studies and is the former President of two Koch Family Foundations. Further, he has served as the Executive Vice-President of Koch Industries since 1989.

The Koch Brothers are best known as a key funder behind the climate denial machine and for their political attacks on President Barack Obama, as Jane Mayer exposed in her must-read New Yorker article.

The Kochs have donated over $25 million to front groups that attack climate science, create doubt and confusion among the public, and otherwise delay accountability for polluters.

Americans for Prosperity has campaigned against efforts to cut greenhouse gas emissions, and amplified the “Climategate” attack on scientists, calling global warming the “biggest hoax the world has ever seen.”

But the Koch front groups’ involvement in the tobacco industry has gone largely unreported.

In 1999, the major tobacco companies were accused of a mass conspiracy to deceive the public about the dangers of smoking. The United States Department of Justice filed a racketeering lawsuit against major cigarette manufacturers, and sought $280 billion in penalties.

To combat this, Big Tobacco called on its allies for support – including the Mercatus Center and Citizens for a Sound Economy – both created by Richard Fink.

THE MOBILIZATION UNIVERSE

In a document called “Mobilization Universe,” as seen on the Tobacco Archives, Philip Morris laid out a plan to call on its allies. The goal: avert White House filing of the federal suit.

Its plan was to leverage third-party relationships to “oppose DOJ appropriations request for federal suit task force, oppose federal legislation enabling cause of action against the industry, and persuade the Administration and Senate and House Democrats of the political liability in a federal suit.”

Philip Morris laid out its key targets and key message points, examples of which include “Assumption of risk,” “Money grab,” and “Bad for Gore and Senate and House Democrats in 2000.” The document calls for third-party surrogates to write op-eds, LTEs and editorials, give speeches or testimonies, create policy reports, join coalitions, and provide access to policymakers, to name several.

CSE and the Mercatus Center were documented as allies several years before that, as well. In 1991, both CSE and Mercatus were part of a portfolio of organizations Philip Morris had cultivated to support its interests during a federal suit. Many other Koch-funded organizations were also included in this list, including the Cato Institute and the Heritage Foundation.

A HISTORY OF ALLIANCE

For several years, Fink acted on behalf of Big Tobacco using tactics laid out in their mobilization strategy – dating back from 1985, when he wrote federal representatives urging them to eliminate the US Tobacco Program. In a hand-signed letter, he wrote:

“Dear Representative: On behalf of the 220,000 members of Citizens for a Sound Economy, I urge you to consider the heavy costs of the U.S. tobacco program, and the enormous benefits to consumers and taxpayers which would result from the elimination of that program.”

The elimination of the tobacco tax bill would have lined the pockets of Big Tobacco CEOs, with less taxes and easier access for farmers to grow tobacco. Fink aligned not only himself but the entire membership of CSE with the interests of Big Tobacco.

In 1988, Fink wrote to the Surgeon General to express concern about the Interagency Committee on Smoking and Health’s inquiries into the subject of tobacco and U.S. trade policy. He warned that it would be unwise to suggest any foreign trade barriers, ending, “we hope that you will keep these thoughts in mind as your department discusses U.S. trade policy toward tobacco.” This letter was tracked down by the Checks & Balances Project in the Tobacco Archives, with an addendum from Samuel Chilcote – President of The Tobacco Institute – urging others to follow Fink’s lead and support.

For Fink’s efforts, Chilcote thanked Fink in a hand-signed letter on behalf of the tobacco industry, writing, “When an advisory body such as the Interagency Committee on Smoking and Health ventures into the field of U.S. trade policy, it is vitally important that the public record be balanced by the sound economic views and sensible business judgments that you provided.”

A LEGACY OF LOBBYING

In 1988, Fink testified on behalf of CSE to the National Economic Commission, urging them to avoid tax increases – increases that would have negatively impacted Big Tobacco’s profits.

Under Fink’s guidance, CSE participated in coalitions and partnered with other tobacco front groups, honing the dirty public relations tactics employed today by the Kochtopus Empire to delay action on combating climate change.

CSE joined the “Coalition for Fiscal Restraint” (COFIRE) in 1988, along with Koch Industries and Philip Morris. This is the only coalition in which Koch Industries represented itself as a corporation, rather than through its myriad front groups.

CSE also took part in “Get Government Off Our Back,” the front group created in 1994 by RJ Reynolds Tobacco Company to fight federal regulation of the tobacco industry. Its involvement in this group was kept in strict confidence until eventually made public via the Tobacco Archives. During this time, CSE was funded to the tune of at least $400,000 by the tobacco industry for its efforts to limit government regulation.

In 1998, CSE lobbied against California’s Proposition 10, an amendment to raise tobacco taxes in the Sunshine State. Members of CSE wrote letters to legislators and put forth a pledge to vote no. Ultimately, the effort “went up in smoke” and Prop 10 passed.

In 2004, Citizens for a Sound Economy split into two groups, Americans for Prosperity (AFP) and FreedomWorks.

Richard Fink continued to lead Americans for Prosperity as President, and the tobacco lobbying efforts continue under the smoke of a new banner.

The most recent AFP pro-tobacco effort occurred this past summer, when it campaigned to oppose CA’s Proposition 29. If Prop 29 had passed, it would have increased tobacco taxes and directed the money raised from taxes towards cancer research – insidious given the Koch Brothers’ support for cancer research at places like MIT.

AFP, along with the tobacco industry, spent around $40 million to defeat Prop 29, mostly on anti-Prop 29 television ads.  During that campaign, AFP was also part of a broader coalition of tobacco and anti-tax groups. According to maplight.com, Philip Morris and RJ Reynolds bankrolled almost the entire campaign.

The arguments made against Prop 29 were very similar to those made by Citizens for a Sound Economy in 1998 when it unsuccessfully campaigned against CA Prop 10.

This was not AFP’s first attempt to shill for Big Tobacco.

In 2006 AFP campaigned to oppose tobacco tax increases in several different states – South Dakota, Texas, Kansas, and Indiana. For their work in South Dakota, AFP received money from US Smokeless Tobacco, Retail Tobacco Dealers of America, and Tobacco Warehouse of Rapid City. It also opposed taxes in Texas, Kansas, and Indiana. The following year, in 2007, AFP campaigned to oppose Texas’ smoking ban in indoor workplaces.

Finally, in 2009, AFP and Philip Morris were both asked to react to Virginia’s smoking ban, in an email from Karen Corriere of Altria Group, Inc. (the parent company of Philip Morris). Unsurprisingly, both voiced their opposition quickly. Americans for Prosperity reacted in full, hiring a company to make tens of thousands of calls to the offices of Virginia legislators, pressuring them to vote against the ban.

FISCAL TIES TO BIG TOBACCO

Throughout the years, the alliances were tied together in one of the most politically influential ways – money. The following is just a sample Big Tobacco’s money trail:

  • In 1987, Roger Ream – Vice President of CSE – wrote to the Tobacco Institute asking for funding. Given their alliance, it is likely they achieved their goal.
  • For its participation in the “Get Government Off Our Backs” (GGOOB) campaign, CSE received $400,000 in 1994 from RJ Reynolds and other tobacco corporations.
  • In 1996, CSE requested a funding increase of $500,000 from Philip Morris. Due to the handwritten “OK $500,000” at the top of the letter, this was almost definitely approved.
  • In 1999, Beth Stevens of CSE wrote to Kirk Blalock of Philip Morris requesting $100,000 in funds to support their efforts “to fight increased government spending, taxes, and regulation.”
  • In the late 90’s and early 2000’s, the Mercatus Center received public policy grants from Phillip Morris: $10,000 in 1999, and $20,000 in 2000. CSE received a total of $520,000 in 1999.
  • In 2000, in a memo to Philip Morris, CSE requested two million dollars to lead the opposition against tax increases and a Medicare suit to fund “big government” initiatives. The plan: “CSE will develop and run print, radio, and television advertising inside the Beltway and in targeted states. They will generate letters and phone calls to Congress from constituents. CSE will also educate Members of Congress and their staffs by preparing and distributing policy papers, conducting congressional education events, and meeting directly with offices.”

HOW DOES FINK TIE INTO ALL THIS?

Richard Fink first formed his alliance with Big Tobacco in 1985 when he urged legislators to eliminate the Tobacco program. But his value to the tobacco industry only increased with time, much like Dick Armey’s did at FreedomWorks.

As Fink gained more influence and power, his relationship with the tobacco industry tightened. When asking the Tobacco Institute for funding, Roger Ream of CSE wrote: “Recently, our president, Richard H. Fink, was appointed to the Consumer Advisory Council of the Federal Reserve and to the Department of Transportation’s Amtrak Privatization Commission. This further enhances CSE’s credibility and effectiveness on these issues.”

From the beginning, Fink’s position in the government was used as a selling point to earn funding support from Big Tobacco, exemplifying CSE’s ability to reduce taxes and fight government regulation.

Richard Fink came to the Koch brothers in 1977 to urge them to turn their libertarian ideals and love of “free markets” into political advocacy. In 2009, he advised them to do everything in their power to change the course of the 2012 election.

The Koch Brothers and their allies have funded attacks on climate science, attacked clean energy and stifled the green debate via an army of front groups. Lo and behold, they also worked with Big Tobacco to stop common-sense regulations and public health measures on smoking. In fact, fighting the tobacco file helped them to hone the playbook they would continue to use to fight against accountability for polluting the atmosphere, harming their workers and fenceline communities, and subverting participatory democracy.

Just as the severe health risks of tobacco are no longer up for debate, neither should be the reality of climate change, though the “Merchants of Doubt” shilling for a killing have – in a self-serving manner – maintained a façade of “controversy” over the issue for decades.

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This article is posted at The Checks and Balances Project  (Holding government officials, lobbyists and corporate management accountable to the public) and may be seen at http://checksandbalancesproject.org/2013/01/31/richard-fink-the-koch-brothers-big-tobacco-man-behind-the-kochtopus-curtain/

 

Koch Brothers Produce Counterfeit Climate Report to Deceive Congress

The octopus has a remarkable ability–it can blend seamlessly with its surroundings, changing its appearance to mimic plants, rocks or even other animals.

Similarly deceptive is an upcoming junk study from a Koch-funded think tank that has taken on the format and appearance of a truly scientific report from the US Government, but is loaded with lies and misrepresentation of actual climate change science. The false report is a tentacle of the Kochtopus–with oil and industrial billionaires Charles and David Koch at the head.

The report’s disgraced author, Patrick Michaels, has made his largely undistinguished career shilling for fossil fuel interests, including his stay at the Cato Institute, which published the counterfeit report. After admitting to CNN that 40% of his funding is from the oil industry alone, even Cato was embarrassed enough to clarify that “Pat works for Cato on a contract basis, not as a full-time employee. Funding that Pat receives for work done outside the Cato Institute does not come through our organization.”

Koch Industries Chairman and CEO Charles Koch co-founded the Cato Institute in 1977, and David Koch sits on Cato’s board of directors. Both brothers are Cato shareholders.

The Kochs’ combined $62 billion in wealth comes from Koch Industries operations in oil refining, pipelines, tar sands exploration, chemical production, deforestation and fossil fuel commodity trading, all of which contribute to global climate change and the types of extreme weather Americans are now starting to recognize as symptoms of global warming.

Wary of how public concern over climate change could drop demand for fossil fuel products, the Kochs have spent the last 15 years dumping over $61 million to front groups telling us that global warming doesn’t exist, or that it would destroy our economy to stop runaway climate change. Other billionaire families like the Scaifes and companies like ExxonMobil have funneled tens of millions more to the same groups to bury climate science in public relations schemes designed to delay solutions to global warming. While Cato got over $5.5 million from the Kochs since 1997, it received over $1 million from the Scaifes, $125,000 from ExxonMobil and tens of millions more from other fossil fuel interests and ideologues in the top 1%.

Koch Industries cato institute kato

Cato Institute: a Koch Industries subsidiary?

In a highly public battle earlier this year between the Koch brothers and libertarians at the Cato Institute, some Cato employees didn’t want their work to become what David Koch calls “intellectual ammunition” for other Koch fronts like Americans for Prosperity. Cato’s deceptive climate report is exactly the type of fake science that AFP needs in order to continue lying to the American public about the reality of global warming.

Cato’s counterfeit report is classic global warming denial, loaded with deceptive information that is clearly designed to be confused for actual science…

To read this Greenpeace report by in its entirety, and watch their embedded video, please click here.  There is a lot more to this story, and we recommend that you click on all of the blue links in this report for even more information.

 

 

 

What the #&%! Is CMD Thinking?

Dear Center for Media and Democracy,

Are you out of your #&%! minds, or do you just want to throw some red meat to the radical right?  I refer directly to your article:
We’ve got a few bones to pick with you re this…

First, just what “industrialized nations would expect a presidential candidate to indicate his top choice for a position as significant as Secretary of the Treasury prior to the election”.  Sounds kind of like the “trust me, I know what I’m doing” ad nauseum at tonight’s “debate”.

Next up in importance:  it seems to us that since Geithner has said he’s leaving anyway, just what is the point of your throwing him to the dogs?  The right wing might try to use him as a scape-goat for the economic issues that have remained long after Bush left office.  They’re not having much success (according to polls taken before tonight’s debate) going after Obama on the economy, and you are suggesting that Geithner should be a distraction.

We agree with your view about Geithner being one of those who caused the problem(s), and we think that Obama made a crappy choice in selecting him as Secretary of the Treasury.  That being said, is now the time to fuel the fires of the right by agreeing with them on a position they have long held – on the eve of an important election.  Seems kind of political for a 501(c)(3) doesn’t it?  I mean calling for a particular kind of person to be appointed to such a posting?

But most importantly to us is why an organization as responsible as CMD can be even going down this track?  When as leaders of the movement to expose ALEC you are worrying about why any political candidate would make the future choice of a Congressionally-approved post, there is something really wrong.
Why are you not asking how many ALEC members and neocons will be on Romney’s cabinet?  Why are you not thinking about how ALEC will prosper under another republican administration?  Think how ALEC flourished under the Reagan and Bushs’ administrations–to the point of being a virtual partner in the government under Reagan.  And after your own Brendan Frazier’s report on ALEC, Heritage, and the House Republican Study Group…how the heck can you be thinking about who will replace Geithner?  ALEC.  Heritage.  RSC. Weyrich.  What are you missing here CMD?

Who knows, would Tommy Thompson have another cabinet post under Romney?  Or Donald Rumsfeld?  Perhaps Victor Schwarz for Attorney General?  Jack Kingston for HHS.  Joe “you lie” Wilson; Mary Kiffmeyer; Spencer Bacchus, John Boehner…  Neocons like John Bolton are already advising Romney on foreign Policy.  Sure, let’s bring on another war, Iran and/or Syria—we’re still paying for the last ones.
Who is going to create and administer “austerity budgets”?  We’re the ones who are going to get wiped up by this…this…KochtopusAusterity budgets are certainly winning the hearts and minds of Europeans right now, with ALEC–the legislative arm for the entire world’s 1% in America and increasingly in other countries.
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We know Lisa Graves.  We’ve been in sporadic communication and cooperation about our research re ALEC and transparency for almost 18 months.  She is dedicated to exposing and eliminating ALEC.  Watch her on videos on the VLTPVideoChannel.  IMHO, she is the face of the “expose ALEC” community.  She took the information from Cincinnati, organized it carefully, and created ALECexposed.org.  She didn’t just dump the info as others have.  I cannot believe that she approved this article for publication.

CMD–and others–what have you done with Lisa Graves?  We cannont believe that she approved this article for publication.

KOCHTOPUS: The Kochs’ Influence Network Explained – VIDEO

This artistic interpretation of the Kochtopus is from “Outing the Oligarchy: Billionaires Who Benefit from Today’s Climate Crisis” from the International Forum on Globalization.

 

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To watch this explained on the very informative video, please click here

To navigate through the Kochtopus yourself (I recommend watching the video first), please click here