Energy-rich Koch brothers spend freely to influence Colorado, national elections

Oil and gas, chemical industry giants look to shape public perception of global warming

By Troy Hooper
Real AspenNovember 7, 2011

Koch Industries Inc. isn't just in Kansas anymore, Toto.

The nation's second largest private company and its subsidiaries are also in Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, New Mexico, Texas and just about every other state in the nation. But the locale where Koch Industries is making its presence felt the most isn't a state at all. It's Washington, D.C.

Charles and David Koch

The Wichita-based conglomerate has spent a fortune lobbying for its oil, gas, mineral and chemical interests this past decade while bankrolling the campaigns of sympathetic congressmen. It has paid special attention to lawmakers that make up the House Energy and Commerce Committee. Koch Industries is diversified — it manufactures household staples such as Angel Soft toilet paper, Brawny paper towels, Dixie cups, Lycra fabrics and Stainmaster carpets — but its main investment is in oil.

While the influence of Koch Industries has been ongoing for years, it wasn't until after 2008 that it captured mainstream attention for the tornado of dollars it funneled into campaign coffers as the Democrats — buoyed by House, Senate and White House control — pushed for cap and trade. What followed was a conservative takeover of the House in 2010 that capitalized on widespread voter frustration with the job-hemorrhaging economy and the government's inability to put a stop to it.

In the 2010 elections, Koch Industries and its partners spent tens of millions of dollars to elect politicians who would roll back environmental and financial regulations that benefit their businesses.

The men behind the curtain are Charles and David Koch who, with an estimated net worth of $25 billion a piece, are tied for fourth in Forbes magazine's annual list of The Richest People in America.

There's no place like a second home

Increasingly the Koch brothers, both in their 70s, are becoming visible in Colorado, where they own trophy homes in Aspen and throw lavish laissez faire strategy sessions with captains of industry. This summer they convened the Republican Governors Association's annual summit in Aspen, where they vetted Texas Gov. Rick Perry's right-wing mettle weeks before he announced his bid for the presidency.

Koch Industries is diversified — it manufactures household staples such as Angel Soft toilet paper, Brawny paper towels, Dixie cups, Lycra fabrics and Stainmaster carpets — but its main investment is in oil.

A month before in Beaver Creek, the Koch brothers declared they were all in for this election cycle. At a private function honoring the likes of Charles Schwab for donating one million dollars or more to defeat President Obama, Charles Koch warned the 2012 election would be “the mother of all wars.”

Their businesses also have a foothold in Colorado. Koch Mineral Services LLC, Koch Chemical Technology Group LLC and Flint Hills Resources LP each operate facilities along the Front Range.

Meanwhile, a third brother (there are four altogether) William Koch, has also made a name for himself in the Rockies. He marches to the beat of his own drummer and doesn't always agree with his slightly older twin, David, and the eldest, Charles. But they all share a common bond: extreme wealth.

Even though his net worth isn't that of his richer brothers — it is estimated at $4 billion – “Wild Bill” owns a bigger house than his brothers in Aspen. He gobbled up four properties in the area — including a 17,000-square-foot lodge — for $51 million four years ago. His brothers own Victorians in the West End. A short helicopter ride away, Bill Koch owns another mountain paradise. It overlooks the Ragged Range, a dozen miles upstream from a mine in Somerset controlled by his company, Florida-based Oxbow Carbon & Minerals Holdings. Using state-of-the-art long-wall mining technology, Oxbow extracts five million tons of low-sulfur coal from the mine each year for electricity production.

Koch's spread outside of Somerset is something else.

Known as Bear Ranch, it is under development with plans for a train station, saloon, firehouse and other buildings to complement a pair of huge homes. It is also the site of a controversial land swap that will require an act of Congress for it to be completed.

Their businesses also have a foothold in Colorado. Koch Mineral Services LLC, Koch Chemical Technology Group LLC and Flint Hills Resources LP each operate facilities along the Front Range.

The three Koch brothers are pouring a lot of cash into Colorado. They are lining the pockets of real estate agents and construction workers while consuming other goods and services to support their lifestyles. They are also giving money to politicians. A new analysis reveals the Kochs and their employees made more than $200,000 in campaign contributions in the state over the last five years. When an anti-tax group the Kochs founded is factored into the equation, the amount is much higher.

U.S. Rep. Cory Gardner is currently the biggest beneficiary of the Kochs' generosity in Colorado, having raked in at least $13,300 from Koch and Oxbow in the 2010 and 2012 election cycles. The anti-tax nonprofit the Kochs founded, Americans for Prosperity, gave Gardner an additional $302,000, according to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

So far in the 2012 election cycle, Gardner and U.S. Reps. Doug Lamborn and Scott Tipton — all Republicans — appear to be the only congressmen to have received Koch or Oxbow contributions, but a review of previous election cycles shows Democrats benefit from the companies' giving as well. Sens. Michael Bennet and Mark Udall have each received funding from Koch interests in the past. Bill Koch, his wife and Oxbow employees donated nearly $70,000 to ex-Rep. John Salazar, a Democrat.

The anti-tax nonprofit the Kochs founded, Americans for Prosperity, gave Gardner an additional $302,000, according to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

But the scales tip to the right when all the Koch and Oxbow money is calculated. So despite having received and solicited funds from the Kochs, the Democrats use the Kochs as political ammo.

“We've seen that the votes and actions of Republicans are for sale to the highest bidder,” said Democratic state chair Rick Palacio. “With Koch money flowing to Cory Gardner, Doug Lamborn and Scott Tipton, D.C. interests are able to trump the needs of our communities here in Colorado. That's bad news for their constituents in the short term, but as these issues become known, I'm confident that Coloradans will send a strong message about this kind of corruption by voting them out of office.”

Messages left for the Kochs, Gardner and Americans for Prosperity were not returned.

Follow the yellow-bricked pipeline

The non-partisan group Public Campaign compiled data for The Colorado Independent that shows Koch and Oxbow campaign contributions in the state have nearly doubled in each of the last three election cycles, going from at least $31,400 in 2006 to at least $60,900 in 2008 to at least $111,200 in 2010.

And that doesn't include Americans for Prosperity, which is spending freely in Colorado. Just last week Americans for Prosperity sponsored a bus tour that rolled through the state, reminding residents of the vast coal resources in Craig and the potential for more U.S. oil and natural gas drilling.

Colorado is far from the only state where the Kochs are investing in political capital. Koch Industries contributed to 62 of the 87 new members of the U.S. House of Representatives in 2010 and, over the last decade, it is the largest political donor in the energy sector, outspending Exxon Mobil and Chevron.

One congressman who won't be receiving any gifts from the Kochs anytime soon is U.S. Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., the top Democrat on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, who is calling for an investigation into Koch Industries' denials that it stands to profit from the Keystone XL pipeline.

"When I first raised this issue in May, representatives from Koch denied any interest in the pipeline and Chairman Upton called the idea that there could be a link between Koch and the pipeline an 'outrageous accusation' and a 'blatant political sideshow,'" Waxman wrote in a recent letter to committee chairmen Fred Upton, R-Mich., and Ed Whitfield, R-Ky. "Recently, however, I have become aware of evidence that appears to contradict the assertions of the Koch representatives and Chairman Upton. If members of the Committee were misled by Koch, that is a serious matter that deserves prompt and thorough investigation."

Republicans on the committee are pressuring the White House to quickly approve TransCanada Corp.'s pipeline, which would transport crude oil from Canada's oil sands to U.S. Gulf Coast refineries.

“It may seem unusual for Congress to have to publicly vote on a bill that simply asks the president to do his job; unfortunately, such action is warranted as the long-delayed Keystone XL pipeline continues to languish and workers continue to wait for the Obama administration to make a decision,” the Republicans said in a group statement last week.

Earlier this year, the Los Angeles Times noted that Koch Industries and its employees together were the largest single oil and gas donor to members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, contributing $279,500 to 22 of the committee's 31 Republicans, and $32,000 to five Democrats. Gardner is on the committee, along with Rep. Diana DeGette, D-Colo., who the Kochs don't sponsor.

The CATO Institute, which Charles Koch founded and continues to fund, is a consistent critic of climate science and its senior fellows are regularly interviewed on talk shows and in newspapers.

Nine of the 12 new Republicans on the House Energy and Commerce Committee signed a pledge distributed by Americans for Prosperity to oppose legislation designed to regulate greenhouse gases. Gardner and Tipton have signed the pledge. Gardner is on the record as a climate change denier.

Lions, tigers and polar bears — oh my!

The Kochs are dumping money into academia and right-wing think tanks that are vigorously targeting environmental regulations. Koch-funded groups including the American Enterprise Institute, the Heritage Foundation and the National Association of Manufacturers have tangled with the federal government for listing the polar bear as an endangered species, and Koch-supported scientists contradict the majority of peer-reviewed scientists who say humans are warming the planet.

Greenpeace estimates the Kochs spent more than $50 million since 1998 on climate science attacks, and the Center for Responsive Politics reports the Kochs spent $8 million on lobbying last year alone.

The CATO Institute, which Charles Koch founded and continues to fund, is a consistent critic of climate science and its senior fellows are regularly interviewed on talk shows and in newspapers. Their efforts may be working. Over the last two years, Gallup polls indicate a growing number of Americans don't see global warming as a serious threat to their standard of living. Greenpeace largely attributes the change to the work of scientists who receive funding from the fossil fuel industry.

This all comes at a time when weather is getting wackier, new heat records are becoming the norm and Bengal tigers and African lions are among the latest species now facing the threat of extinction as their habitat is further diminished by a global human population that is now more than seven billion strong.

But the Kochs aren't seeing a return on all of their investments. Richard Muller, a physics professor at the University of California at Berkeley, was a climate science skeptic who added legitimacy to the Kochs' cause. The brothers gave Muller a grant that helped him launch the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature project. What the professor found is that not only is the earth's surface warming, it is doing so at an accelerating rate. He wrote about his findings in a Wall Street Journal op-ed.

Off to see the wizards

Who is giving exactly what to whom is sometimes hard to pin down.

Colorado Ethics Watch reports it has obtained evidence Americans for Prosperity spent $100,000 on TV ads targeting recent Colorado Springs mayoral candidate Richard Skorman and did not disclose it. Luis Toro, director of Ethics Watch, said Under the Fair Campaign Practices Act, which was adopted by ordinance to govern Colorado Springs municipal elections, groups that pay for “electioneering communications” must disclose any spending in excess of $1,000, as well as the identity of any contributor who provided more than $250. Americans for Prosperity began airing the TV ads in April but it hasn't been disclosed and the Colorado Springs clerk and recorder hasn't taken any action.

“The more fundamental problem is the city of Colorado Springs won't enforce its laws,” said Toro, adding that, in his mind, the nondisclosure of the TV ad campaigns is “legally indefensible.”

Exceptions to rules often crop up in situations where large sums of money are involved.

During the time Oxbow was generously giving to Salazar an exemption to the 2001 Clinton Roadless Rule was made for the company to bulldoze into a roadless area to drill wells for methane. It helped that Oxbow had support from Delta County residents who saw the mine as a boon to their economy. Salazar also championed the Bear Ranch land swap but he was unable to get it done before Tipton unseated him. Shortly after taking office this year Tipton indicated Bear Ranch is on his radar.

Over the summer, when Charles and David Koch came out against a bipartisan bill promoted by oil magnate T. Boone Pickens that would have awarded tax credits for natural gas use in commercial vehicles, three Colorado Republican congressmen — Gardner, Tipton and Mike Coffman — who were sponsoring it abruptly removed their names from the legislation saying it was unfair to competitors.

It didn't go unnoticed that two of the three of them had received contributions from the Kochs.

How contributions influence political and scientific decisions isn't easy to discern.

“It's hard to prove quid pro quo but clearly businesses — whether it is Koch Industries or other businesses — aren't making these donations out of altruism,” said Steve Ellis, vice president for Taxpayers for Common Sense. “They are trying to either sway someone's position or get people re-elected who already support their position. That's the challenge when you look at these issues: Is it the chicken or the egg? Clearly they aren't going to give to someone that doesn't support their interests. The Kochs are certainly not naïve to the way the game is played. And they're not alone.”

This story first published on For more stories from the American Independent News Network's series "Campaign Cash: Outing the Corporations," click here. This report was produced as part of a collaborative investigative effort to expose the influence of corporate money on the political process by members of The Media Consortium, in partnership with the We the People campaign. To read more, visit or follow #CampaignCash on Twitter.

Follow Troy Hooper on Twitter

comments: 36 Comments on "Energy-rich Koch brothers spend freely to influence Colorado, national elections"

jack2929 – Feb. 24, 2022, at 12:22 a.m.

ou don’t want to be late for work or social engagements but you will find you will always make time for this. And after about a month, you’ll never want to miss a session.

lepetiw688 – March 10, 2022, at 12:55 p.m.

I have watched “boston legal” ever since in my college days, i love to watch courtroom drama“ Indien Geschäftsvisum

lepetiw688 – March 13, 2022, at 5:40 a.m.

you possess a fantastic blog here! if you’d like to have the invite posts in my small blog? replica Gucci belts

lepetiw688 – March 14, 2022, at 8:37 a.m.

I’m happy with exactly how you have dealth with this subject matter in such a exact method. I discovered your web-site although searching by means of Google and I’ll need to admit that I’ve subscribed to it already. Turkiet Visa Online

lepetiw688 – March 17, 2022, at 9:41 a.m.

investing is tricky, sometimes you win and sometimes you loss. Risk takers win of course. ויזת תייר בהודו

lepetiw688 – March 20, 2022, at 6:14 a.m.

I have been surfing online greater than three hours these days, but I never discovered any attention-grabbing article like yours. It’s lovely value enough for me. Personally, if all webmasters and bloggers made just right content as you probably did, the internet can be much more helpful than ever before. ufabet เข้าสู่ระบบ

lepetiw688 – March 21, 2022, at 6:50 a.m.

botox can be very helpful with skin wrinkles and it can also help treat bruxism“ בקשה לויזה לקנדה

lepetiw688 – March 22, 2022, at 5:49 a.m.

naturally like your website but you need to check the spelling on several of your posts. A number of them are rife with spelling problems and I find it very troublesome to tell the truth nevertheless I’ll certainly come back again. สมัคร slotxo

lepetiw688 – March 23, 2022, at 7:37 a.m.

I like the helpful info you provide in your articles. I will bookmark your weblog and check again here frequently. I’m quite sure I’ll learn many new stuff right here! Good luck for the next! Туристическая виза в Индию

lepetiw688 – March 24, 2022, at 6:52 a.m.

Wow. There’s so much info here it hurts my head. Good job online kasyno

lepetiw688 – March 27, 2022, at 8:18 a.m.

I have been exploring for a little bit for any high quality articles or weblog posts in this sort of area . Exploring in Yahoo I finally stumbled upon this site. Studying this information So i am glad to exhibit that I have a very good uncanny feeling I found out exactly what I needed. I so much surely will make certain to don¡¦t disregard this site and provides it a look a continuing. インドのビザを適用する

lepetiw688 – April 01, 2022, at 11:31 a.m.

Having been simply looking at useful blog articles with regard to the project research when My partner and i happened to stumble on yours. Thanks for this practical information! double a a4 paper manufacturer

lepetiw688 – April 02, 2022, at 6:37 a.m.

Generally I do not read post on blogs, however I would like to say that this write-up very forced me to check out and do so! Your writing taste has been surprised me. Thank you, quite great post. ครีมรักษาสิว

lepetiw688 – April 03, 2022, at 7:08 a.m.

I truly appreciate this post. I?ve been looking all over for this! Thank goodness I found it on Bing. You’ve made my day! Thanks again カナダのビザ

lepetiw688 – April 03, 2022, at 12:09 p.m.

hey there i stumbled upon your site searching around the web. I wanted to say I enjoy the look of things around here. Keep it up will save for sure.

lepetiw688 – April 03, 2022, at 12:21 p.m.

There a few interesting points over time here but I don’t know if I see them all center to heart. There exists some validity but Let me take hold opinion until I look into it further. Very good post , thanks and now we want more! Included with FeedBurner at the same time Best divorce lawyer in Saket court

lepetiw688 – April 06, 2022, at 11:10 a.m.

Loving the info on this internet site , you have done outstanding job on the posts . 카지노사이트

lepetiw688 – April 09, 2022, at 11:14 a.m.

Hello there, I discovered your blog via Google while looking for a similar subject, your site got here up, it looks good. I have bookmarked it in my google bookmarks. ONLINE ŽÁDOST O VÍZA USA

lepetiw688 – April 11, 2022, at 6:06 a.m.

After study a handful of the websites with your website now, and I truly as if your strategy for blogging. I bookmarked it to my bookmark website list and will be checking back soon. Pls consider my web site likewise and make me aware if you agree. 6-Day Sahara Desert Trekking

lepetiw688 – April 12, 2022, at 6:38 a.m.

Very useful post. I think this can make me some idea. And i wish there was a post about wireless phone plans. Sexy casino

lepetiw688 – April 13, 2022, at 4:31 a.m.

I discovered your blog site on google and appearance a few of your early posts. Keep up the excellent operate. I simply extra the RSS feed to my MSN News Reader. Looking for forward to reading more on your part later on!…

lepetiw688 – April 13, 2022, at 5:01 a.m.

When I originally commented I clicked the -Notify me when new comments are added- checkbox and today each time a comment is added I am four emails with the same comment. Will there be however you can get rid of me from that service? Thanks! sexy gaming บาคาร่า

lepetiw688 – April 14, 2022, at 6:15 a.m.

This was for a new and credulous ‘generation’ who, I suppose, have never even heard reference made or seen so much as a parody of the series – which is most unlikely, if I might paraphrase our favorite Vulcan. CANADA BUSINESS VISA

lepetiw688 – April 16, 2022, at 12:31 p.m.

An interesting discussion might be priced at comment. I do think that you should write more about this topic, it might not become a taboo subject but normally everyone is too few to talk on such topics. Yet another. Cheers ТУРИСТИЧКА ВИЗА НОВОГ ЗЕЛАНДА

lepetiw688 – April 17, 2022, at 7:28 a.m.

Your blog never ceases to amaze me, it is very well written and organized.;-:~. Kennected

lepetiw688 – April 18, 2022, at 7:49 a.m.

I have been reading out a few of your posts and i must say nice stuff. I will surely bookmark your site.

lepetiw688 – April 18, 2022, at 1:34 p.m.

An exceptionally good post. This information sums up for me what this topic depends upon and some of the essential benefits that can be created from knowing about it as you. A friend once remarked that you have a totally different perspective when you do something for certain as opposed to when you’re just toying with it. In the case of this topic, I believe you are taking, or start to consider, a more professional in addition to thorough approach to either what and how you write, which in turn helps you to carry on and get better and help others who don’t know everything about what you have discussed here. Thank you. North American Bancard Agent Program

lepetiw688 – April 21, 2022, at 7:40 a.m.

the shoulder bags that my girlfriend uses are always made up from natural leather` 미국 비자 신청서

lepetiw688 – April 21, 2022, at 5:44 p.m.

I’d must talk with you here. Which isn’t some thing I usually do! I love to reading an article which will make people feel. Also, thank you allowing me to comment! 스웨디시

lepetiw688 – April 24, 2022, at 2:31 p.m.

My brother suggested I might like this blog. He was entirely right. This post actually made my day. You cann’t imagine simply how much time I had spent for this info! Thanks! joker388

lepetiw688 – April 25, 2022, at 12:06 p.m.

Great article, but a frustrating read, due to the lack of proper punctuation in a lot of spots. Please close your quotations! If this article is following some sort of nouveau grammatical style, of which I’m not aware, I remain frustrated; however, I apologize. INDIJSKI POSLOVNI VIZUM

lepetiw688 – April 26, 2022, at 2:14 p.m.

There are actually numerous particulars like that to take into consideration. That is a great level to carry up. I provide the thoughts above as general inspiration however clearly there are questions like the one you convey up the place crucial thing will likely be working in sincere good faith. I don?t know if best practices have emerged round issues like that, but I’m sure that your job is clearly recognized as a good game. Each girls and boys really feel the impact of only a moment’s pleasure, for the rest of their lives. OBCHODNÉ VÍZUM DO KANADY

lepetiw688 – April 28, 2022, at 6:46 a.m.

You really make it seem so easy with your presentation but I find this topic to be really something which I think I would never understand. It seems too complicated and very broad for me. I am looking forward for your next post, I will try to get the hang of it! ป๊อกเด้ง ออนไลน์

lepetiw688 – April 28, 2022, at 6:10 p.m.

Great post, I concur completely and appreciate the time you took to write it, nice! Žiadosť o vízum USA

lepetiw688 – April 30, 2022, at 7:41 a.m.

Thank you, I’ve been seeking for facts about this subject for ages and yours is the best I have located so far. Indien visumsøgning

kimjune – Aug. 10, 2023, at 11:45 p.m.

카지노사이트,슬롯사이트 카지노 슬롯 추천 링크 검증 순위

카지노사이트 추천
카지노사이트 검증
카지노사이트 주소
카지노사이트 순위
슬롯사이트 추천
슬롯사이트 검증
슬롯사이트 주소
슬롯사이트 순위

카지노사이트 추천
카지노사이트 검증
카지노사이트 주소
카지노사이트 순위
슬롯사이트 추천
슬롯사이트 검증
슬롯사이트 주소
슬롯사이트 순위

카지노사이트 추천
카지노사이트 검증
카지노사이트 주소
카지노사이트 순위
슬롯사이트 추천
슬롯사이트 검증
슬롯사이트 주소
슬롯사이트 순위

Comment Form Info  Comment Information
Real Aspen encourages you to post comments on our articles and blogs. Logged in email is required for monitoring purposes. Your email will not be published and will not be distributed to any third-party. Abusive, obscene, profane, threatening, libelous or defamatory comments are prohibited. By posting a comment, you agree to this policy and our terms of use. To report an abusive posting, please contact us.

To make a comment, please log in or create an account. This helps us prevent spam and other malicious attacks.

Please log in to comment


Create a user account to comment

Snow Report

  24hr snow mid dpth snow cond.
A-Basin n/a n/a
Aspen n/a n/a closed
BC n/a n/a closed
Breckenridge n/a n/a closed
Buttermilk n/a n/a closed
Copper n/a n/a closed
Crest. Butte n/a n/a closed
Eldora n/a n/a closed
Heavenly n/a n/a closed
Highlands n/a n/a
Howelsen n/a n/a closed
Keystone n/a n/a closed
Kirkwood n/a n/a closed
Loveland n/a n/a
Monarch n/a n/a closed
Northstar n/a n/a closed
Powderhorn n/a n/a closed
Purgatory n/a n/a closed
Silverton n/a n/a closed
Ski Cooper n/a n/a closed
Ski Granby n/a n/a closed
Snowmass n/a n/a closed
Steamboat n/a n/a closed
Sunlight n/a n/a closed
Telluride n/a n/a closed
Vail n/a n/a closed
WinterPark n/a n/a closed
Wolf Creek n/a n/a closed
More Weather Reports
Vail powder day snow snake
Airing it out at Crested Butte
Feb. 17, 2011 Surprise 14 inches of Fresh Powder