projects.publicintegrity.org -- Koch Industries could be the biggest oil company you have never heard of—unless, that is, you hang around the halls of government in Washington. Koch Industries (pronounced "coke") is a huge oil conglomerate controlled by brothers Charles and David Koch, two of the country's richest men and among the biggest backers of conservative and libertarian causes. With estimated revenue of about $40 billion last year, Koch is bigger than Microsoft, Merrill Lynch and AT&T. Koch is the leading campaign contributor among oil and gas companies for the 2004 election cycle, giving $587,000 so far. Next came Valero Energy at $568,000. Since 1998, Koch is the fourth biggest campaign oil and gas industry giver, behind ChevronTexaco, El Paso Corp. and Enron Corp. Despite its size and political largesse, Koch is able to dodge the limelight because it is privately-held, meaning that nearly all of its business dealings are known primarily only by the company and the Internal Revenue Service. In fact, it is the second largest private company in the country, trailing only food processing giant Cargill. Koch also prefers to operate in private when it comes to politics and government.
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