More on the Kochs – A Response to the Obama Campaign

The following letter from Koch Industries, Inc. was sent out yesterday in response to the Obama campaign’s recent fundraising smear.  It deserves to be posted in full (and I would have done so yesterday except I didn’t want to bump Sven’s excellent post on education).  I’m sure Bill Maher, George Soros, and other liberals are outraged by rich men trying to influence political outcomes with their “disproportionate” wealth:

 Friday, February 24th, 2012

A Letter to the Obama Campaign

Mr. Jim Messina
Campaign Manager
Obama for America

Dear Mr. Messina:

Because every American has the right to take part in the public discourse on matters that affect the future of our country, I feel compelled to respond directly about a fundraising letter you sent out on February 24 denouncing Koch. It is both surprising and disappointing that the President would allow his re-election team to send such an irresponsible and misleading letter to his supporters.

For example, it is false that our “business model is to make millions by jacking up prices at the pump.” Our business vision begins and ends with value creation — real, long-term value for customers and for society. We own no gasoline stations and the part of our business you allude to, oil and gas refining, actually lowers the price of gasoline by increasing supply. Either you simply misunderstand the way commodities markets work or you are misleading your supporters and the rest of the American people.

Contrary to your assertion that we have “committed $200 million to try to destroy President Obama,” we have stated publicly and repeatedly since last November that we have never made any such claim or pledge. It is hard to imagine that the campaign is unaware of our publicly stated position on that point. Similarly, Americans for Prosperity is not simply “funded by the Koch brothers,” as you state — rather it has tens of thousands of members and contributors from across the country and from all walks of life. Further, our opposition to this President’s policies is not based on partisan politics but on principles. Charles Koch and David Koch have been outspoken advocates of the free-market for over 50 years and they have consistently opposed policies that frustrate or subvert free markets, regardless of whether a Democrat or a Republican was President.

If the President’s campaign has some principled disagreement with the arguments we are making publicly about the staggering debt the President and previous administrations have imposed on the country, the regulations that are stifling business growth and innovation, the increasing intrusion of government into nearly every aspect of American life, we would be eager to hear them. But it is an abuse of the President’s position and does a disservice to our nation for the President and his campaign to criticize private citizens simply for the act of engaging in their constitutional right of free speech about important matters of public policy. The implication in that sort of attack is obvious: dare to criticize the President’s policies and you will be singled out and personally maligned by the President and his campaign in an effort to chill free speech and squelch dissent.

This is not the first time that the President and his Administration have engaged in this sort of disturbing behavior. As far back as August, 2010, Austan Goolsbee, then the President’s chief economic advisor, made public comments concerning Koch’s tax status and falsely stated that the company did not pay income tax, which triggered a federal investigation into Mr. Goolsbee’s conduct that potentially implicated federal law against improper disclosure of taxpayer information. Last June, your colleagues sent fundraising letters disparaging us as “plotting oil men” bent on “misleading people” with “disinformation” in order to “smear” the President’s record. Those accusations were baseless and were made at the very same time the president was publicly calling for a more “civil conversation” in the country.

It is understandable that the President and his campaign may be “tired of hearing” that many Americans would rather not see the president re-elected. However, the inference is that you would prefer that citizens who disagree with the President and his policies refrain from voicing their own viewpoint. Clearly, that’s not the way a free society should operate.

We agree with the President that civil discourse is an American strength. That is why it is troubling to see a national political campaign apparently target individual citizens and private companies for some perceived political advantage. I also hope the President will reflect on how the approach the campaign is using is at odds with our national values and the constitutional right to free speech.


Philip Ellender
President, Government & Public Affairs
Koch Companies Public Sector, LLC

Standard disclosure: I have received funding from the Kochs for educational purposes. However, I was defending “free minds and free markets” long before such a relationship began and this was likely part of the cause not the effect of that relationship.

4 thoughts on “More on the Kochs – A Response to the Obama Campaign

  1. Aside from the stunning hypocrisy of the Obama campaign, i.e.; Kochs are evil, selfish, rich manipulators of the political process, Buffett, Soros, Maher, et al, use their riches to selflessly protect the public and Nation by promoting Obama, I wonder who is targeted for these Koch bashing messages and what they seek to achieve?

    Like you, I follow politics and political discourse fairly closely, but I suspect many of my friends, family, and acquaintances, who are less engaged, have no idea who the Kochs are and perhaps have never even heard of them.

    1. The targets are supporters already firmly in the tent. Talk of the Kochs drives these people nuts (just like Bush did but he can’t stir them anymore like he used to and just like Clinton did for conservatives) and will loosen their purses to donate to the campaign. But Dems are also eager to paint themselves for the general public as the defenders of the masses vs so-called plutocrats – so it doesn’t matter if the masses know who the Kochs are as long as the Dems can sell them that people like the Kochs are trying to “buy” public policy outcomes for their own self-interest. On the other hand, they of course are looking out for the Forgotten Man!

  2. What amazes me is the length that most people will go to gain and maintain power. Once these megalomaniacs,both of the Right and Left,have acquired the power to run other people’s lives they will fight,tooth and nail,to maintain that position. Even if they have to smear,put in prison,or kill their potential opposition. Such is the history of the world.

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