Monday, August 1, 2011

Koch tentacles reach deep into Iowa

...and they reveal the so-called "libertarian" brothers don't mind owning businesses that are heavily subsidized by U.S. taxpayers.

The DesMoines Register, reporting on the Kochtopus' influence, learned that Koch Industries bought four ethanol plants in Iowa earlier this year. That brings the number of commercial and industrial facilities owned by the company or its subsidiaries in Iowa to 18, worth about $90 million.

Anyone who follows the Koch brothers won't be surprised that they've contributed $130,000 to Iowa state politicians since 2003. They've also spent $58,000 to lobby lawmakers over the past two sessions. One of their lobbyists, Tom Cope, is the state chair of the American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC -- the fountainhead of most of the anti-worker legislation introduced at the state level recently.

The Kochs' chief lobbyist, Philip Ellender, told the Register that political contributions go to candidates who share the company's values, not because they'll enhance the Kochs' profit margin. He said,
Koch supports candidates who champion fiscal responsibility, limited government and free markets, all of which are critical to the success and survival of our nation.
Now whether you like the ethanol program or not, you have to acknowledge that it's the antithesis of the free market. Here's how Ellender justifies the ethanol business:
"We produce ethanol because federal law requires it to be blended with petroleum products, which we produce."
He said the company accepts subsidies because "we will not place our company or employees at a competitive disadvantage in the mixed-market economy in which we compete."