Bloomberg reported Monday: “Koch Industries Inc. agreed to buy Georgia-Pacific Corp. for $13.2 billion … to become the largest privately held company in the U.S.” But some underlying political implications of the move have not yet been publicly addressed.
The following analysts are available for interviews:
A project manager at the Center for Public Integrity, Williams is co-author of the report “Koch’s Low Profile Belies Political Power: Private Oil Company Does Both Business and Politics With the Shades Drawn.” Williams said today: “Koch is a huge company — bigger than Microsoft, but few people have heard of it. It is very politically active, in campaign contributions, lobbying and, probably most importantly, founding and funding right-leaning libertarian think tanks. … Both industries [oil and lumber] have environmental challenges. Koch is very solicitous of its many friends in Washington; and when it gets in an environmental bind, it is not shy about calling on those friends in Washington.”
The 2004 report noted: “Despite its size and political largess, Koch is able to dodge the limelight because it is privately held, meaning that nearly all of its business dealings are known primarily only by the company and the Internal Revenue Service.”
“Although it is both a top campaign contributor and spends millions on direct lobbying, Koch’s chief political influence tool is a web of interconnected, right-wing think tanks and advocacy groups funded by foundations controlled and supported by the two Koch brothers.”
“Koch has had plenty of run-ins with government regulators and other legal problems in recent years. Through it all, the company has shown a remarkable knack for getting criminal charges dropped and huge potential penalties knocked down.”
“Koch has also shown a remarkable ability to get rid of or modify environmental policies and other government rules it doesn’t like.”
Silver is founder and executive director of Wild Wilderness, a conservation and recreation issues-related organization. He said today: “Amongst the most important, visible and powerful proponents of public lands privatization are the Cato Institute, the Property and Environment Research Center (formerly known as Political Economy Research Center) and the Reason Institute. Koch funds have played a major role in the operation of each of these organizations.
“Today, in the Department of Interior, Interior Secretary Norton comes to government having been a Senior Fellow at PERC. Interior Assistant Secretary [P. Lynn] Scarlett comes to government having been the Executive Director of Reason.
“Simply stated, the Koch family is amongst the most powerful and influential movers and shakers promoting privatization in America. Over decades they and their money created an extensive infrastructure of Libertarian and Free-Market think tanks from which President Bush has drawn to staff the highest rungs of the land management agencies.
“Georgia-Pacific does extensive logging on public lands. Private logging of America’s National Forests is a heavily subsidized form of corporate welfare. Logging companies such as Georgia-Pacific strip lands bare, destroy vast acreages and pay only a small fee to the federal government in proportion to what they take from the public. They do not operate in the Free-Market when they log public forests.
“Now that GP has been acquired by Koch, the circle is completed. The ideologues running the land management agencies are the product of the think tanks created by, and funded by, the Koch family. Those ideologues are now in a position to permit Koch’s newest acquisition, Georgia-Pacific, to further rape and pillage the public’s lands. These think tanks promote the Free-Market ideal when it serves their interests to do so, but in reality, they are firmly committed to the ideal of enriching private interests at enormous direct cost to the American taxpayer.”
For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167