Koch Brothers and the Road to “Citizens United”


PAUL JAY: Welcome to The Real News Network.
I’m Paul Jay in Baltimore. And this is the second in our series of interviews with Greg
Palast, who’s written a new book called Billionaires & Ballot Bandits: How to Steal an Election
in 9 Easy Steps. And Greg now joins us in our studio in Baltimore. Thanks for joining
us again, Greg. GREG PALAST: Glad to be back. JAY: And, again, just to remind everybody,
Greg writes for Rolling Stone. He’s a journalist for BBC Television’s Newsnight. And he writes
for The Guardian and The Nation and Harper’s. And let’s talk about the new book. So we’re
doing this series of interviews about the book, and today we’re going to talk about
the Koch brothers. PALAST: The Koch brothers. Right. The sub-subtitle
of the book is Greg Palast investigates the Koch gang, Karl Rove, and their buck buddies.
And I was an investigator before I was an investigative reporter, and one of the investigations
I did was oil missing. JAY: Investigator for who? PALAST: I was an investigator for the federal
government, and also I worked with native tribes. And there was oil missing from the
Osage indian reservation. It was being siphoned off by Koch oil company drivers. And we thought
some drivers, renegade drivers were out there sucking up some oil out of these old strip
wells–you know, the horses that go up and down. The way that they did it is they had the right
to be there, but they had to pay for it. So they took 80 barrels, and then they’d write
down 60, and they’d take 70 barrels, and they’d write down 50. You know, it was just a skim. So I thought, well, we’ll grab a couple of
guys. Follow the trucks back on a loading dock in Oklahoma. Who’s standing there saying,
I want more, was Charles Koch. Charles Koch personally ordered the pilfering of oil. Now, my first question is–. JAY: Now, you’ve written this. PALAST: Yes, I’ve written this. JAY: He has not sued you about this. PALAST: No, and he’s–has more mean lawyers
than, you know, the mob. You know, plenty of consiglieri there. JAY: So, Mr. Koch, you’re very welcome to
come on The Real News at any time to refute all of this. PALAST: Yes. JAY: Go ahead. PALAST: I’d love to talk to him about it.
But the most interesting thing was my question: why? He was already a multibillionaire at
the time. And so the amount of oil being stolen, you have to understand, is a few hundred bucks
from a family from each of these native families, and they get some royalties. I said, why,
but one of his executives asked the same question, why. And we know his answer because his executives
were wired. And on the tape he said, I want my fair share, and that’s all of it. This
is the Koch brothers. And by the way, you’re wondering, since the
FBI had the tapes, the video tapes, the witnesses, the oil, the whole thing, what happened? Well,
if you look in Billionaires & Ballot Bandits, we have a chapter called “Target 67C”. And
Target 67C is the name of the guy named Charles Koch who is being indicted with Koch Industries
for theft from an indian reservation, racketeering, theft from federal properties. These are big
felony crimes. So what happened? The answer is: the money.
As it turns out (and I have FBI agents who’ve been screaming about this, Justice Department
people), prosecutors serve at the discretion, at the pleasure of the states’ senators. Well,
Don Nickles, who was the Republican U.S. senator, was not pleasured by the prosecutors cuffing
one of his big donors and benefactors, the Koch brothers, so the prosecutor was removed.
The grand jury that was empanelled was not allowed to even look at the evidence. And
one of Koch’s buddies, who became prosecutor, wrote him a letter saying, you will not be
prosecuted, which is pretty funny. Like, he was told that. So that’s just the beginning.
And all throughout the book, we have several chapters of [crosstalk] JAY: But jump from that to Koch’s role in
the elections. PALAST: Yeah. So now what happens is that’s
not good enough. Remember, he had to have a senator. So now he was then hit with three
hundred–the Koch brothers and Koch Industries were hit with 350 criminal violations of the
federal environmental laws, Koch Industries. These are criminal violations, 350 of them. They took those oil trucks that we followed,
and after they skimmed the oil and got rid of the good stuff, they skimmed from the indians
and they sold the oil, there’s still sludge at the bottom of these trucks. So they just
open the spigots and dump them into rivers. So nice guys. Well, that’s a crime. So now what do you do?
As one of the things I say in Billionaires & Ballot Bandits, rule number one for billionaires,
the way to avoid breaking the law is to change the law, not change your criminality, right?
So they decide to get rid of the environmental protection agency and environmental laws and
federal prosecutions. So they drafted something called “Contract for America”. If you remember,
Newt Gingrich rode to power on this. And one group of investigative reporters said, this
sounds like it was written just for the Koch brothers, the “Contract for America”. No,
that’s–but I checked it out. It’s not true. It was written by the Koch brothers. JAY: How do you know that? PALAST: They’ve–that’s how they funded–that’s
when they funded the creation of the heritage institute and they created something called
Citizens for a Sound Economy. And then something else happened. There’s
another chapter called “The Hunt for Triad”. It turns out that suddenly the reason why
Newt Gingrich won, which shocked everyone, including Bill Clinton, was that 25 Democrats
lost their seats because there was a group called Campaign for our Children’s Future–sounds
very nice–who suddenly spent millions of dollars–they spent millions of dollars fighting–running
ads, smear ads, against Democrats. Now, this was a time when we didn’t see big money in
campaigns. So they ran all these smear ads in the last week of the campaign. Like, you
know, they said, oh, one–. JAY: What year are we in? PALAST: This was the–we’re talking the ’94
midterm elections, and then again it continued in ’96. And so how did the Republicans take
these seats of these massive millions of dollars in money smearing these Democrats? And, now,
it was traced back, again, by FBI congressional investigators, this–who are these–who was
concerned about the children’s future? It had nothing to do with children. It went back
to a company called Triad, which is the name of Chinese money-laundering games. Behind
Triad was Koch Industries. Now, here’s the kicker, okay? At that time
it was a crime for corporations to give money to elections campaigns. So this was another
federal crime committed by the Kochs. So that’s how we have today–now we zip the
tape forward to Citizens United decision in 2010 by the U.S. Supreme Court. They–through
their massive donations, they were able to–and games, they were able to get the court that
they wanted. At that point, there was this little group
called Citizens United, which somehow hired the most expensive lawyer in the United States,
Ted Olsen, to argue their case at the Supreme Court. But no one asked, how did they get
Ted Olsen? He didn’t volunteer. He was given leave from his day job as general counsel
for Koch Industries. So Koch Industries, this was the way that Koch Industries–. JAY: Which frees the Koch Brothers, in this
election, to spend whatever they want. PALAST: Right. And not only that, but (very
important) it decriminalized their prior behavior. The Kochs were always giving money through
Koch Industries, but it was criminal. They just decriminalized it. So it’s not just what
they could do now, but that they got away with their–basically, any attempt at bringing
them to justice before. And I want to give credit to a Republican
senator, Fred Thompson–remember Mr. Law and Order, the guy who plays a federal prosecutor
on Law and Order? As you’ll see in Billionaires & Ballot Bandits, Fred Thompson wanted to
blow the whistle on the Koch brothers, even though he was a Republican, ’cause I guess
he took playing the part of a prosecutor kind of seriously, right? And he was told by Trent
Lott, then the senator, the Republican majority leader in the Senate, back off, and his investigation
was shut down. And why didn’t the Democrats, who knew all about it, scream bloody murder? JAY: Yeah, why? PALAST: One did, and it’s [“[email protected]’sini], but
they got–he told me the Koch brothers got him. That’s when the Keating Five–he was
smeared. And he said the Koch brothers were behind him losing his seat, ’cause he wanted
to bring up this issue. But Fred Thompson, a Republican, shut it down. And the Democrats didn’t complain, because
it was a trade, it was a deal, as you’ll read–and true-blue democrats might be upset to hear
this, but Bill Clinton apparently had taken not a small amount of change from his billionaires,
called the Riady family. They’re not American citizens. He met 95 times with them in the
White House. That means he met with Chinese billionaires more often than his own daughter,
Chelsea. And he–apparently, money went into the Clinton campaign and other favors were
done by the Riadys, big favors for the Clintons. That’s a real impeachable offense. Forget
the stains-on-dresses stuff. This was really impeachable. And Trent Lott told Senator Thompson,
we don’t do the Riadys and Clinton, and they don’t do the Kochs. So it was a billionaire
trade. And that’s how the game’s played. JAY: Okay. More of this is all in Billionaires
& Ballot Bandits. And if you want to get more detail on this and much more like it, it’s
in the book. Just one other point. If, Mr. Koch or Mr.
Clinton, you would like to join us to refute any of this, you’re more than welcome. One more time, no one’s sued you yet? PALAST: No one’s sued me yet. And these guys
are not afraid to sue anyone. They threaten all the time. JAY: Alright. Thanks for joining us. PALAST: You’re very welcome. JAY: And thank you for joining us on The Real
News Network.

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