Koch brothers: The ultraconservative tycoons of America

According to Forbes, the Koch family is the second wealthiest clan of America, after Sam Walton. Its industrial conglomerate bills more than 100 billion a year. And yet, Charles and David Koch have been invisible behind the tinted windows of his headquarters in Wichita, Kansas.

From the heart of America, the Koch’s have not only extended their particular oil empire (inherited from the father), but have plotted how to directly influence American policy without too much notice. Through its labyrinthine network of small groups and foundations, the ‘Big Brothers’ (as they are popularly known) injected in the last decade at least $196 million to support ultraconservative causes. The Koch Brothers have approximately 36.900 million dollars each in the current year. The company has numerous subsidiaries engaged in manufacture, trade and investment.

Koch Industries owns companies such as Matador Cattle Company, Invista, Flint Hill Resources, Koch Fertilizer, Georgia-Pacific or Koch Pipeline, and are active in a wide variety of business sectors, like basic industries, oil refining and distribution, chemicals, energy, fiber, polymers, minerals, fertilizers, pulp, paper, chemical technology equipment, livestock, finance, commodity trading… and other industries. The firm employs about 60,000 people just in the United States, and 40,000 abroad.

Fred C. Koch, the founder, created the company in 1940 and developed an innovative process of refining oil. He built 15 refineries for Stalin, and back in the US he founded Rock Island Oil & Refining. He was a fierce ‘New Deal’ critic and believed in the evil presence of communists among both the Republican and the Democrat parties. His sons, Charles Koch, chairman and CEO, and David H. Koch, executive vice president, are the principal owners of the company, after buying their brothers, Frederick and William Bill Koch, their holdings by 1.1 billion dollars in 1983.

Opponents and critics of the Koch’s place them next to the Exxon oil company as the largest denier organizations of climate change and global warming. Through one of its ghost branches, ‘Patients United Now’, the Koch brothers organized around three-hundred acts against Obamacare and other eighty events to boycott the Climate Bill. According to Greenpeace, the money served on trays by Koch to finance the ‘skepticism’ against climate change surpasses even the provided amount of the oil giant Exxon Mobil.

On the other hand, Bloomberg Markets has published a report that incriminates the brothers with serious accusations. Among many things, it is stated that some company officials have paid bribes to win contracts, violating the US trade embargo with Iran, pricing, neglecting safety and ignoring environmental regulations; and not just that, the company has sold millions of dollars in oil refining equipment to Iran, even after President George W. Bush included the country as a member of the “axis of evil”. The company affirms that those sales were legal at the time and that they have cut any tie with the Persian nation. The private wealth advisor Patrick Dwyer believes that such controversies should be evaluated carefully, because most part of the available content on search engines and websites are presumptions and not real proofs of such economic crimes.

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Image courtesy of Dwayne at Flickr.com

Fred C. Koch, the real precursor of such empire, warned Americans about the risks of a communist president. His children inherited, among other things, his conservative and libertarian creed. Charles has always been the most discreet, and David has been involved in politics in different occasions.

It was in 1980, competing with Ronald Reagan himself, who was seen as a danger by them. David Koch decided to run for vice president on the Libertarian Party, Ed Clark headlining. Among his election promises, he offered the suppression of the FBI and the CIA, the elimination of Social Security and the minimum wage, a total deregulation and a drastic reduction in taxes. The Government, in his opinion, should be reduced to the protection of individual rights. He achieved the 1% of the vote. Four years later, because Reagan used part of their discourse, David Koch became officially Republican and dragged his brother on the same path.

Charles Koch experienced a vision in the nineties, when he miraculously survived a plane crash. He reinvented himself as a philanthropist of the American Ballet Theater, and created the ‘Citizens for a Sound Economy’ group for keep defending their privileges as shadow billionaires.

The next step was to create ‘Americans for Prosperity (AFP)’: an organization of grassroots leaders in favor of limited government and free markets. Although the AFP can’t directly support candidates, it has invested 45 million in support for conservative causes in the 2-N elections. The Koch’s still publicly deny their connection to the Tea Party, but Jane Mayer has unveiled their operations in the ‘New Yorker’.

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