In a rare interview with the Wichita Eagle, billionaire sith lord Charles Koch complained about how mean everyone is being now that much of the country is aware of his family business's activities. “We are under attack from various directions, both with threats of violence against us personally, and with threats of attacks on our businesses,” Koch said. He then compared himself to the icon of the Protestant Revolution: "I kind of relate to what Martin Luther said (when Luther took on the established church and launched the Protestant Reformation): 'Here I stand; I can do no other,' " which presumably refers to the way Luther famously used his billions of dollars to bend the Catholic Church to his will.
What prompted the preemptive PR piece was an "Occupy Koch Town" march that took place yesterday. A spokeswoman for Koch Industries claimed that the many of the protesters would be bussed in from Occupy Oakland, implying that an orgy of destruction may ensue against the brothers' property. Instead, the march featured around 150 protesters, and was peaceful. "There is one person from South Dakota," an organizer with the Sierra Club said.
For those who hope that the Koch brothers will be shamed into renouncing their plutocratic status, Charles Koch has bad news:
I have been involved in trying to advance freedom and prosperity for 50 years now, and because we are considered by some to be more effective, we are often the focus of these attacks. But I have decided there is no way, after spending two-thirds of my life speaking out about these matters, that I’m going to quit doing it now.
The reporter notes that Koch Industries' general counsel, Mark Holden, "spent an hour and a half" refuting the myriad charges against his employers.
Nevermind that the Koch Industries is the tenth largest polluter in the U.S. and has spent $50 million fighting climate science, "The accusations about the environment…overlook the fact that the Koch family and Koch employees drink the same water and breathe the same air as everyone else.” Uhh, what?
Of the claims that Koch Industries stands to wildly profit of a Keystone Pipeline-like project: “We have never had any financial interest at all in the pipeline.” But their subsidiaries? That's another story.
There is so much in this article that triggers the gag reflex (the denial that the Koch brothers had anything to do with crushing the collective bargaining rights of Wisconsinites, the seeming refusal of the reporter to counter any of the Koch flack's statements with facts) but Charles Koch's assertion that he is not as influential as he may seem is the most galling. Why, if you look at their political donations, they've only donated $12 million since 1989!
"The overwhelming majority of what I contribute to is what should be called education, teaching students interested in ideas, in opportunity, in productivity,” Koch says. Indeed, all $100 million of it.
The founder of the nonpartisan Center for Public Integrity sees things differently:
The Kochs are on a whole different level. There’s no one else who has spent this much money...They have a pattern of lawbreaking, political manipulation, and obfuscation. I’ve been in Washington since Watergate, and I’ve never seen anything like it. They are the Standard Oil of our times.
Standard Oil, Martin Luther, same thing. The Koch Brothers are projected to spend at least $200 million this election season, to you know, "educate" people.