Robert Greenwald “Koch Brothers Exposed” – March 29th
On March 29th, The Common Good will host a discussion and screening with Robert Greenwald on his documentary titled Koch Brothers Exposed, which takes a closer look at the relationship between politics and money through the story of David and Charles Koch.
For more on our speaker, see below:
Robert Greenwald is a producer, director and political activist. Greenwald is the founder and president of Brave New Films, a new media company that uses moving images to educate, influence, and empower viewers to take action around issues that matter. Under Greenwald’s direction, Brave New Films has produced a series of short political videos, including the Fox Attacks and Real McCain campaigns. One of the more notable Real McCain videos focused on McCain’s Mansions; after Brave New Films produced this video, McCain notoriously said he was not sure how many houses he owned and a media firestorm ensued. In total, Brave New Film’s short videos have been viewed over 56 million times in the past two years, inspired hundreds of thousands of people to take action and forced pressing issues into the mainstream media.
Robert Greenwald’s Brave New Foundation is currently producing Rethink Afghanistan, a groundbreaking documentary being released online in real-time; the film features experts from Afghanistan, Pakistan and the U.S. discussing the United States’ flawed strategy in Afghanistan. In August of 2009, Brave New Films launched Sick for Profit, a campaign that focuses on the exorbitant amounts of money made by health insurance companies’ CEOs. Within one week, the campaign’s first video was viewed over 100,000 times. Recently, Brave New Films also launched Senator Sanders Unfiltered, a two-minute weekly show in which Senator Sanders shares his views on an array of critical issues for our country.
In addition, Greenwald is the director/producer of several documentaries: “Iraq for Sale: The War Profiteers” (2006), an expose of what happens when corporations go to war; as well as “Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price” (2005), detailing the retail giant’s assault on families and American values; and “Outfoxed: Rupert Murdoch’s War on Journalism” (2004), about the right-wing opinion factory known as Fox “News”. Millions of viewers have seen these films via grassroots “house parties” and independent online DVD sales, a groundbreaking method of alternative distribution. Greenwald also executive produced a trilogy of political documentaries: “Unprecedented: The 2000 Election” (2002); “Uncovered: The War on Iraq” (2003), which he also directed; and “Unconstitutional” (2004).
Prior to his documentary work, Greenwald produced and/or directed more than 55 television movies, miniseries and feature films. Greenwald’s films have garnered 25 Emmy nominations, two Golden Globe nominations, the Peabody Award and the Robert Wood Johnson Award. He was awarded the 2002 Producer of the Year Award by the American Film Institute. He has been honored for his activism by the ACLU Foundation of Southern California; the Liberty Hill Foundation; the Los Angeles chapter of the National Lawyers Guild; Physicians for Social Responsibility; Consumer Attorney’s Association of Los Angeles; Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy and the Office of the Americas.
For a video from the event, visit our speaker page here.
MORE INFO ON THE DOCUMENTARY FROM BRAVE NEW FILMS:
With a net worth of 43 Billion the Kochs have already spent decades of their lives and over 324 Million of their wealth exerting their influence. The Kochs accomplish their goals by funding a massive array of right wing front groups, think tanks and tea party efforts. They largely operate outside of the public eye, and target their funding to infiltrate public opinion, the media, judicial decisions and legislation. Over three dozen organizations are funded by the brothers, and they spend additional money lobbying and backing conservative candidates. Everything the Kochs do is to fight for a country free from protections and any degree of a social safety net for working Americans.
You might recognize names of some of the organizations that the Koch brothers fund. Americans for Prosperity is their Tea Party effort. They fund the Cato Institute, the Heritage Foundation, the Reason Foundation, the Institute for Justice, the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, the Federalist Society for Law and Public Policy Studies, the American Legislative Exchange Council, and many many more. Through their massive funding efforts, they have fought against health care and are fighting against protecting social security, as well as fighting efforts to halt climate change, and fighting against LGBT rights, Immigration rights, unemployment insurance, environmental protections, the rights of unions to organize and educational opportunity, just to name a few areas they focus on.
When we started our research four months ago – inspired by Jane Mayer’s brilliant New Yorker article and Lee Fang’s great investigative work at ThinkProgress – we thought that a big part of our job was to bring attention to theKoch brothers. Boy have things changed over those months!
With their secret meeting in Palm Springs, brought into the light, and with their involvement in the atrocious happenings in Wisconsin, the Koch brothers have worked their way into the attention of a concerned public.
Now, as we get set to launch our investigative campaign, we circle back to the reason we began this project. As with the best of our work at Brave New Foundation, The Koch Brothers Exposed allows us to connect the dots. To understand how the system works. And how the system doesn’t work. To understand that there is a different set of rules for those with power and access than the rules faced by those without money and access. The Koch brothers play this game by using their wealth and foundations to fund efforts that will increase their wealth at the expense of others.
The Koch brothers are using their BILLIONS to make more money, and to advance their right wing agenda on the backs of those who have less; a lot less. They are not alone in this effort. Their size, wealth and scope makes them noteworthy (as was Wal-Mart), but it is important, even as we call attention to so many of the horrific groups and issues they are behind, to realize that they don’t exist in a vacuum.
The Koch Brothers represent the latest reality in our country. A reality where the wealthy use the system to get wealthier. A world where the powerful game the system so as to access even more power.
NEW YORK TIMES March 6, 2012
By ERIC LICHTBLAU
WASHINGTON — From its perch in a spacious brand-new headquarters blocks from the White House, the Cato Institute has built on its reputation as a venerable libertarian research center unafraid to cross party lines.
Now, however, a rift with one of its founding members — the billionaire conservative Charles Koch — is threatening the institute’s identity and independence, its leaders say, and is exposing fault lines over Mr. Koch’s aggressive and well-financed brand of Republican politics.
The rift has its roots, Cato officials said, in a long-simmering feud over efforts by Mr. Koch and his brother David Koch to install their own people on the institute’s 16-member board and to establish a more direct pipeline between Cato and the family’s Republican political outlets, including groups that Democrats complain have mounted a multimillion-dollar assault on President Obama. Tensions reached a new level with a lawsuit filed last week by the Kochs against Cato over its governing structure.
“We can’t be perceived as a mouthpiece of special interests,” Robert A. Levy, chairman of Cato’s board, said in an interview. “The Cato Institute as we know it would be destroyed.” [MORE...]
|The battle to define the Koch brothers
By: Kenneth P. Vogel
March 28, 2011 05:34 AM EDT
|When it comes to the suddenly infamous Koch brothers, there’s one thing the conservative Weekly Standard and liberal filmmaker Robert Greenwald can agree on: The Kochs, Charles and David, have been a boon to the American political left.“For progressives confused at the heated opposition to their do-gooder agenda, the Kochs became convenient scapegoats,” asserts the Weekly Standard’s Matthew Continetti this week in a long cover story defending the Kochs. Liberals in the media have “ascribed every bad thing under the sun to the brothers and their checkbooks. Pollution, the Tea Party, global warming denial—the Kochs were responsible,” Continetti writes, asserting that in recent months “whenever you turned on MSNBC or clicked on the Huffington Post you’d see the Kochs described in terms more applicable to Lex Luthor and General Zod.” ….Tim Carney, a libertarian columnist at the Washington Examiner, contends that the attacks on the Koch’s are based on a “myopic liberal view of money in politics” that “conservative money is bad, and linked to greed, while liberal money is self-evidently philanthropic.”Carney, another conservative journalist with ties to the Kochs (he has been paid $3,000 in fees by Koch-funded non-profits and spoke at the Rancho Mirage summit, while his paper is owned by a billionaire who attended a previous Koch donor conference), also has suggested there’s hypocrisy in the scrutiny of the Kochs’ funding, given that many of the groups involved in the effort are funded by Soros and other wealthy liberals.Since 1999, Common Cause, the Ruckus Society and the Center for American Progress have received a combined $7.2 million from foundations controlled by or linked to Soros, according to an analysis of grant information provided to POLITICO by Common Cause and data from the Internal Revenue Service provided by the Capital Research Center.The data also show that those foundations have given another $4.6 million to Public Citizen, Brave New Foundation (a non-profit affiliated with Brave New Films) and a few other liberal groups that have been critical of the Kochs, including the Alliance for Justice, People for the American Way, and Public Campaign. Additionally, some of those groups are beneficiaries of a liberal donor network that meets in secret twice a year – very much like the Koch donor network – though it’s impossible to know how much the groups received from those donors.“Soros money being used to protest money in politics strikes me as ridiculous,” Carney told POLITICO.
Davies of Greenpeace predicted the Kochs “will continue to be a focal point as long as it’s an effective thing to do and as long as the left doesn’t yet have a candidate on the Republican side to talk about. It gives people something to focus on.”But he also said “there are people shoehorning anything onto the Kochs. It’s a bit of a pile on, at this point.” And he cautioned against liberals “blaming the Kochs for everything. There’s a much bigger picture. Don’t let Karl Rove or Newt (Gingrich) escape our gaze while we’re distracted by the Kochs.” [MORE...]
Koch Brothers Flout Law Getting Richer With Secret Iran Sales
In May 2008, a unit of Koch Industries Inc., one of the world’s largest privately held companies, sent Ludmila Egorova-Farines, its newly hired compliance officer and ethics manager, to investigate the management of a subsidiary in Arles in southern France. In less than a week, she discovered that the company had paid bribes to win contracts.
“I uncovered the practices within a few days,” Egorova- Farines says. “They were not hidden at all.”
She immediately notified her supervisors in the U.S. A week later, Wichita, Kansas-based Koch Industries dispatched an investigative team to look into her findings, Bloomberg Markets magazine reports in its November issue.
By September of that year, the researchers had found evidence of improper payments to secure contracts in six countries dating back to 2002, authorized by the business director of the company’s Koch-Glitsch affiliate in France.
“Those activities constitute violations of criminal law,” Koch Industries wrote in a Dec. 8, 2008, letter giving details of its findings. The letter was made public in a civil court ruling in France in September 2010; the document has never before been reported by the media.
Egorova-Farines wasn’t rewarded for bringing the illicit payments to the company’s attention. Her superiors removed her from the inquiry in August 2008 and fired her in June 2009, calling her incompetent, even after Koch’s investigators substantiated her findings. She sued Koch-Glitsch in France for wrongful termination.
Obsessed with Secrecy
Koch-Glitsch is part of a global empire run by billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch, who have taken a small oil company they inherited from their father, Fred, after his death in 1967, and built it into a chemical, textile, trading and refining conglomerate spanning more than 50 countries. [More..]