Watchdog on Charles Koch Op-ed: The Hypocrisy is Palpable

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Washington, D.C.—Public Campaign Action Fund released background information today in response to Charles Koch’s Wall Street Journal op-ed bemoaning “crony capitalism” and “special favors."

“Charles Koch’s op-ed today should be in The Onion, not the Wall Street Journal,” said David Donnelly, national campaigns director for Public Campaign Action Fund. “Koch Industries is the perfect example of absolutely everything Charles claims to hate about our current political system. The hypocrisy is palpable.”


In response to Koch Industries’ CEO Charles G. Koch’s opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal today, campaign finance watchdog Public Campaign Action Fund compared some of Koch’s statements with reality.


Koch: “Too many businesses have successfully lobbied for special favors and treatment by seeking mandates for their products, subsidies (in the form of cash payments from the government), and regulations or tariffs to keep more efficient competitors at bay.”


  • Koch Industries, its executives, and its PAC donated $11,002,235 since 1989 to federal candidates, parties, and political committees.
  • The largest individual donors from all Koch-related donations were Charles and David Koch and their wives, who together contributed $2.8 million over the same time period. Of that, just $1,500 went to Democrats.
  • Members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee have received $630,950 in Koch-related donations. House Appropriations members have received $656,115.
  • Koch Industries, its subsidiaries, and their PACs and employees donated $8,743,220 to state candidates, political parties, and committees since 2003.
  • Koch Industries has spent $49,520,500 lobbying the federal government in just the last five years, for an average of nearly $10 million per year. In 2008, they spent more than $20 million lobbying the federal government.
  • In January this year, Koch Industries hired seven lobbyists in Madison, Wisconsin.


Koch: “Crony capitalism is much easier than competing in an open market. But it erodes our overall standard of living and stifles entrepreneurs by rewarding the politically favored rather than those who provide what consumers want.”


  • Koch Industries, like other oil companies, benefits from the massive federal subsidies from the federal government. President Obama has proposed eliminating them, which will save taxpayers $43 billion over the next ten years.
  • Nowhere in his op-ed does Koch mention the subsidies.
  • Oil and gas interests like Koch donated $27,582,799 in the 2010 election cycle. The largest source was Koch-related donations at $1,911,212.
  • Seventy-one percent went to Republicans, who have almost exclusively opposed ending subsidies, with just 22 percent going to Democrats, who almost all supported ending the subsidies.
  • For Koch-related donations, 93 percent went to the GOP and six percent went to the Democrats.


Mr. Koch, along with his brother David, has played an outsized role in the political showdown in Wisconsin between Governor Scott Walker and state employees:

  • An organization the Koch brothers founded, Americans for Prosperity is running $342,200 worth of television adverting in the state.
  • Their political action committee was among the top donors to Walker’s campaign, giving $43,000.
  • Last week, a blogger impersonated David Koch and spoke with Walker for 20 minutes about strategy. The embarrassing prank unveiled the tremendous influence and access the Koch brothers have.
  • Koch Industries gave more than $1.2 million to the Republican Governors Association, which spent $5 million to elect Walker in 2010 according to the organization’s website.

Except where otherwise noted, campaign finance and lobbying data in this fact sheet can be found at the websites for Center for Responsive Politics for federal figures and the National Institute for Money in State Politics for state figures.