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MSNBC: Mark Ames and Yasha Levine
Broke the Koch Brothers' Takeover of America
Koch Whores / February 15, 2012
By Mark Ames

Yesterday, our old friends the Koch brothers were back in the news. The DeSmog Blog exposed how some of the most rancid trolls in the world of climate change-denialism are on the payroll of the Heartland Institute, one of the Koch Cartel’s early propaganda mills set up during the Reagan Era. 

Among the Heartland Institute’s disinformation projects: paying schools to spread pro-pollution lies to K-12 students by “providing curriculum that shows that the topic of climate change is controversial and uncertain.” Also memos exposed direct funding deals from the Heartland Institute to pseudo-contrarian “scientists” like S. Fred Singer, named one of America’s top climate change-denialists, who also serves in a variety of Koch propaganda mills like the Cato Institute, the Institute for Humane Studies and George Mason University.

The main thing to remember in any story involving the Heartland Institute is that it is a direct project of the Koch Cartel (you gotta admire the Kochs’ ability to generate so many bland names for their propaganda outfits, that blandness acts like a wizard’s cloaking power).

Heartland’s founder, David Padden, was an early member of the Koch Cartel. In 1977, when the Charles G. Koch Foundation of Wichita rebranded and renamed itself the Cato Institute, David Padden was a founding board member of the new Cato Institute. Padden headed a financial services firm in Chicago, Padden & Co. Chicago is the “heartland” of financial derivatives, the “financial weapons of mass destruction” that are screwing America and the world, so you can imagine the Kochs and Padden had plenty of work in Chicago. The Chicago Board is the largest financial derivatives exchange in the world—Koch sockpuppet Rick Santelli launched his Tea Party Rant while standing on the floor of the Chicago Board, blathering about “losers” who lost their homes. Another banker who was a founding board member of the Cato Institute was Sam Husbands, an executive at Dean Witter Securities, now part of Morgan Stanley. And of course, heading Cato was Charles Koch, heir to his father’s oil and chemicals fortune.

Yep, they were underdogs and rebels all right, these “radicals for corporate pollution.”

Like a lot of libertarians in the 70s and 80s, Padden styled himself as an anti-EPA hippie for capitalism, forming his own zany libertarian outfit called—get this—the “Loop Libertarian League.” Krazy Koch-heads, those guys! Of course, there’s a practical use for putting a hippie front-group on your resume: Gives the impression that when Padden and his Heartland Institute comrades promote climate change lies and pro-pollution corporate propaganda, what they’re really doing is “bucking The Establishment” and “stickin’ it to The Man.” Cuz you know, you environmentalists and anti-poison types are just so conformist, man—only a true rebel spends tens of millions of dollars poisoning the public’s minds, so that it’s easier for corporations to poison the environment.

In 1984, the Kochs expanded their corporate-hippie libertarian network with a handful of new propaganda mills.David Padden must’ve done something right at Cato because he was installed as the head of one of these new libertarian mills, The Heartland Institute, headquartered in Chicago.

Padden joined the board of another Koch libertarian propaganda mill set up that same year, “Citizens for a Sound Economy” (later renamed “FreedomWorks”). The Kochs installed Ron Paul as the first chairman of Citizens for a Sound Economy—yep, that Ron Paul, the “maverick” Ron Paul. Sorry, folks, but it’s true: Ron Paul and David Padden go way back too, as does Ron Paul with the Koch brothers.

Here’s a snapshot of an article from 1985 about Ron Paul, head of Citizens for a Sound Economy/FreedomWorks, as he’s putting together a campaign to try to convince Ronald Reagan to enact a flat tax. (Steve Forbes, who later became a major force in FreedomWorks, took up the flat tax issue in his presidential run. The Heartland Institute identified Forbes magazine as a pro-pollution propaganda mill that should be pressured to keep out any real science from its pages.)

Ron Paul, serving Master Koch, in May, 1985

Yep, read it ‘n’ weep. Remember this the next time some poor libertarian sucker tries telling you about how Ron Paul is so edgy and dangerous that the Kochs couldn’t handle him and banished him in 1981.

Cuz you know, all these “radicals for corporate pollution”—they’re all so goddamned principled. It’s all about Liberty, Freedom and fighting The Man. And it’s all made possible thanks to you, the little suckers.

Would you like to know more? Read Mark Ames’ article “The Koch Whore Archipelago” and Yasha Levine’s article “How Taxpayers Are Forced To Subsidize Billionaire Koch Brothers’ Right-Wing Libertarian War”.

Mark Ames is the author of Going Postal: Rage, Murder and Rebellion from Reagan’s Workplaces to Clinton’s Columbine.

Click the cover & buy the book!



Add your own

  • 1. c1ue  |  February 15th, 2012 at 12:08 pm

    AEC pre-troll commentary: This bottom troll comment is brought to you by the Committee for a Greener Troll America and the Heartland Institute for Deep Serf Studies. It has been modified to fit the your eXiled comments screen.

    Sure, Heartland is bad and nasty with their $7.7 million (proposed) 2012 budget, a 70% jump over 2010.Ooooh, it’s funded by all these nasty corporations, insurance companies, oil and gas assholes and have a single “anonymous” donor who singlehandedly funds 1/5th of the institute…Oooooh, that’s scary right. Bet none of you could do that–single handedly fund a multimillion dollar oligarchical propaganda outfit. Ooooooooh.

    But then what do you say about Greenpeace ($310 million annual budget), the Sierra Club ($100 million annual budget), and the National Resource Defense Council ($95 million annual budget)? The WWF with its $224 million annual budget in 2010? The IPCC with its $7 million annual budget?

    It seems the nasty deniers must be getting a lot more corporate ATM gangbang for their buck.

  • 2. matt  |  February 15th, 2012 at 12:09 pm

    On top of the climate change denial, the heartland institute was apparently hired by Phillip Morris to deny the link between smoking and cancer:

    In unrelated libertarian/privatization nonsense:

  • 3. a different matt  |  February 15th, 2012 at 2:51 pm

    Wheres the War Nerd on Syria? This shit is all over the news cycle.

    But the real reason I’m commenting is I figured someone at the Exile might appreciate Santorum’s new attack add depicting a Romney impersonator apparently training for a ‘Going Postal’ office rampage with a paintball gun in an abandoned warehouse.!

  • 4. KAPPY  |  February 15th, 2012 at 4:22 pm

    AEC t-shirts

  • 5. super390  |  February 15th, 2012 at 6:13 pm

    Wow, c1ue, every “environmental” group you named except the last is considered pretty much a joke by people who are really fighting pollution. Saving cute animals gets a lot more green from yuppies than stopping toxic shell games. The IPCC has a smaller budget by your reckoning than the Heartland Institute, which is just one of countless right-wing front groups manufactured on a daily basis by the billionaires to manufacture “consensus”.

    How big is the budget of the GOP? The entire party would be considered to be right-wing extremist by the standards of the 1970s, as much a pressure group as the notorious John Birch Society.

    Yet again, I will post this link to Lewis Lapham’s 2004 witness account of how it was all carried out, and a few more people will read it and realize you are full of shit.

    Just a taste, the words of a future Supreme Court justice to right-wing businessmen in 1971:


    “Survival of what we call the free enterprise system,” he said, “lies in organization, in careful long-range planning and implementation, in consistency of action over an indefinite period of years, in the scale of financing available only through joint effort, and in the political power available only through united action and national organizations.”

  • 6. Jesse  |  February 15th, 2012 at 7:29 pm

    Hi, I’m a Koch whore. If Master Koch tells me to suck a tailpipe and pretend that it’s fresh mountain air, I suck. I get on my knees and suck, anything for a whiff of Master Koch’s lovely ass. I suck tailpipe, then I turn around and jam my nostrils into Master Koch’s rectum. So when he tells me to pretend that climate change is not man-made, I only ask, “how sucky should my mouth suck, Master?”

  • 7. hazey  |  February 15th, 2012 at 8:05 pm

    I want to second the AEC t-shirts request. xxl please.

  • 8. mookid  |  February 16th, 2012 at 9:26 am

    ron paul is an independent thinker who likes liberty, oligarchs and blackface humor. if the kochs ever tried to recruit him they probably didnt enjoy the experience, cuz he got’s serious flatulence issues and often shards in his tighty whiteys while in the car. empty suits like herman cain on the other hand have no digestion problems.

  • 9. HYPSTERFICATION  |  February 16th, 2012 at 9:45 am

    please also do a t-shirt liek 1 of those muscle t-shirts except its should b a mark ames body hair t-shirt


  • 10. Jesse  |  February 16th, 2012 at 10:38 am

    Now when you read, “climate change-denialists,” you may feel a slight sting. That’s doubt fuckin’ wit ya. Fuck doubt! Doubt only hurts, never helps. Fight through that shit. ‘Cause a year from now, when you’re kickin’ it in the Carribbean you’re gonna say,”Mark Ames was right.”

  • 11. c1ue  |  February 16th, 2012 at 10:52 am


    Whatever you think of these organizations, you cannot say that the ‘deniers’ are in any way being funded anywhere as much as the ‘good guys’.

    From my point of view, advocacy on either side is equally repugnant, but the advocacy as measured by dollars is very much all on the CAGW side.

    Also amusing how it turns out the Heartland ‘leak’ appears to have been conducted via identity theft, and with the bonus of a faked document added in.

    A fine way to show how the ‘good guys’ work.

    As for the IPCC, to say they have a smaller budget than the Heartland is frankly ludicrous. IPCC is 100% focused on CAGW, while Heartland expends effort on all sorts of wacky things.

    It is like comparing Gingrich’s Super PAC with the DNC – apples and oranges, if you can’t understand that.

  • 12. super390  |  February 16th, 2012 at 9:51 pm

    Advocacy is not equally repugnant when one side is fighting for the idea that capitalism can do no wrong, that profit can never cause harm, that God will always cancel out the consequences of greed as long as we use the profits to enslave the world in His name. If that side is wrong, it will bear no consequences whatsoever because the investors who make it up don’t really give a fuck if the world burns while they relax with their booty in their gated communities guarded from their victims by mercenaries. Just as it has been in the economy in general since Reagan foisted these discredited 19th century ideas on us. Under such guidance, we will abuse every toy until we break it.

  • 13. Nezumi  |  February 16th, 2012 at 11:57 pm

    Pay no attention to the melting icebergs or to the sea-level countries being swallowed by the ocean! It is a completely natural occurence! It’s all a plot by Al Gore and scientists to get free money and punish honest businessmen! The German people are the greatest in the world, THE WORLD! Die juden haf sputen die arabian se zet mach!

  • 14. c1ue  |  February 17th, 2012 at 8:38 am


    Frankly I find it highly amusing that you think advocacy is perfectly fine so long as it conforms to your own prejudices.

    The reality?

    Carbon taxes and expensive energy kills poor people.

    Banksters are lined up beyond the horizon seeking to make big bank – as Al Gore demonstrated – on climate catastrophe alarmism.

    And the litany of bullshit climate science pronouncements goes all the way around the block: Himalayan GlacierGate, Mount KilimanjaroGate, AmazonGate, HurricaneGate, and now FakeGate.

    If you can’t recognize this ongoing pattern of exaggerations and outright lies, then so be it.

    I firmly advocate and practice conservation, but at the same time it doesn’t mean I accept all pronouncements by money grubbing NGOs of whatever stripe.

  • 15. Trevor  |  February 17th, 2012 at 1:33 pm

    What’s really bad about Ron Paul supporters are the ones who aren’t libertarian screwheads but identify as liberal or progressive and expect the guy to magically end all war. Considering all the Pentagon brassholes he’d have to reign in, how would the dumb little troll manage such a feat when he can’t even beat Santorum in the primaries?

  • 16. Fake name  |  February 17th, 2012 at 4:27 pm

    So are the libertards a) small cog in the GOP political machine, or b) an independent group that thinks that their interests line up with the GOP’s but are actually being used by the corp big Whigs that run the party?

    I guess for most it is a, because one would have to be incredibly dumb to not see how the policies s/he is advocating leads to a world that looks very much like the America of the gilded age.

    Or am I overestimating the intelligence of these people…

  • 17. super390  |  February 19th, 2012 at 6:30 pm

    c1ue, you have not addressed a single issue in my post. Do you accept the idea that capitalism has ever done wrong at all, or don’t you? For instance, do you accept that Liggett Tobacco proved that a large industry had manufactured scientific lies to protect its sales at the expense of the health of millions? Do you accept that the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire was the responsibility of its owners, or that the shootings of strikers by Little Steel in 1937 were a moral outrage?

    If not, then you don’t really care if climate change is happening or not, as long as your capitalist Master Race keeps polarizing wealth as it has these last 30 years and buying governments.

    To really put a point on it, did you have a problem with the trillions of $ taxpayers spent, and the millions killed by them, on the theory that communism was on the verge of defeating America and enslaving the world? If you accepted it, you must have felt that our actions were a reasonable precaution against that calamity, but you didn’t really have absolute, scientific proof, did you? Same for our justifications for invading Iraq. Our government took action, even mass murder, rather than wait for better evidence.

    Yet when the precautions lead to regulating the plutocrats instead of awarding them vast Pentagon contracts and newly conquered markets, you balk.

  • 18. Jesse  |  February 20th, 2012 at 7:59 am

    After the Great Insurrection of 1877, the Brown Nose Collective feared an escalating class war between militant labor on one side and propertarian reactionaries on the other. In attempt to stablize the center, they created a middle class, conservative, pseudo-populist movements. Taking their material from Adam Smith, Herbert Spencer and other British East India Company shills, they sythesized an ideology for rich bitch wannabes in the middle class. Preaching a vision of pure Libertarian utopia, false labor leaders like Henry George touted free trade and untaxing intangible property such as money, bank deposits and stocks. Interestingly, concurrent with the Libertard project and with the same goals in mind, the same douchebags in the Brown Nose Collective invented the limp-dick, labor-hating progressive movement.

  • 19. c1ue  |  February 20th, 2012 at 12:34 pm


    Given that you cannot seem to understand that every single issue is distinct and should be judged on its own merits, your assertion that somehow X or Y or Z in completely unrelated areas makes any difference whatsoever with Catastrophic Man Made Climate Change is completely ridiculous.

    Equally so your inability to distinguish between Climate Change (probable), Man Made Climate Change (also probable), CO2 Climate Change (more questionable), Man Made CO2 Climate Change (even more questionable), and Catastrophic Man Made CO2 Climate Change (completely out there) shows that your view is ideological, not factual.

    Swindler and grifters don’t lie, they simply tell a small part of the truth.

  • 20. Fake name  |  February 20th, 2012 at 9:36 pm

    The exiled comments section has the most informed people anywhere on the Internet. Some of these comments are article worthy themselves…

    AEC: Yes, my son. Commenters bloom under the wise supervision of the Almighty eXiled Censor. Amen.

  • 21. rrreeard  |  February 20th, 2012 at 10:58 pm

    AEC pre-troll commentary: Kids this is what your bottom troll brain looks like addicted to a drug called Koch (it looks like this particular troll is hooked on the super refined, super addictive variant known on K street as Koch-ass-crack, which is ingested by puckering up, putting lips on Mr Charles’ sphincter and inhaling deeply):

    There’s a Heartland Institute conference coming up, and they’re climate change deniers. How can we connect the Kochs to this group? 1) Look at the list of non-profit/think tank “sponsors” of the Heartland Institute. Even though it doesn’t say how much each of these sponsor groups donated to Heartland, or how much, if any, of this donated money has been used for climate research, we can establish a Koch-Heartland link through these intermediaries. If the Kochs donated to someone who donated to Heartland, we can claim an association. 2) Once we establish that the Kochs donated to groups who donated to Heartland, we add up how much the Kochs have donated to each of these “sponsor” groups. In 20 years (1986-2006), the Kochs donated $4.4mil to 8 of Heartland’s 54 sponsors. 3) We divide $4.4mil/20years, and get $220k/year for those 20 years that the Kochs have been donating to places that donate to Heartland. Even though these donation records do not constitute evidence of any Koch money actually going to Heartland, nor, assuming it did, that it was used for climate research, we can now imply guilt by association. 4) Since this is all so convoluted and speculative, let’s see if there were any direct Koch contributions to Heartland. The Kochs donate directly to places like the Competitive Enterprise Institute and Heritage Foundation, so is there any reason to believe that they would go out of their way to hide donations to an organization funded by people like the Scaifes? It turns out the “Koch Foundation provided $25,000 to the Heartland Institute in 2011 for research in healthcare, not climate change, and this was the first and only donation the Foundation made to the institute in more than a decade. The Foundation has made no further commitments of funding to Heartland”. If they openly donated to Heartland just last year for health care research, why would they insist on using front groups to fund the same group’s work on a different topic, just months later? Have they suddenly become self-conscious about potentially self-interested donations? If so, why just for Heartland, and why just for climate change and not deregulation, flat tax, etc.? Since the most we can prove is that the Kochs gave $4.4mil over 20 years to 8 groups which gave money to Heartland, the extent, and even the existence of a Koch-Heartland funding link is still conjecture at this point, so why focus on this tenuous guilt by association? Bill Cosby pays taxes to the US government. The US government uses Bill Cosby’s taxpayer money to fund think tanks like AEI and PNAC, who publish studies on how best to invade Iraq, which ended up killing countless people. By guilt by association logic, I can say that Bill Cosby is complicit in the Iraqi genocide by contributing money to the US war machine.

  • 22. Vernon  |  February 21st, 2012 at 5:58 am

    Perhaps you could update your article on how Peter Gleick used deception to obtain the documents from the Heartland Institute

    Ironically, This appears to be the same Peter Gleick selected by the American Geophysical Union to lead a task force on ethics and intergrity in science.

    Perhaps it would help if you broadened your reading from the DeSmog blog to include such web sites as so you could get a more balanced view of the current state of climate science.

    Based on your news artlicles, you apperantly do read and link to CounterPunch. Do you just skip over CounterPucnh’s articles critical of Global Warming science or do you feel that Alexander Clockburn is part of a Koch conspiracy as well?


    As soon as you learn to fucking spell “apperantly” we’ll get right on your climate change-denialist horse shit, you poor abused Koch addict

  • 23. c1ue  |  February 21st, 2012 at 10:30 am

    AEC pre-troll commentary: This bottom troll comment is brought to you by the Committee for Trollier America and the Heartland Institute for Deep Serf Studies. It has been modified to fit the your eXiled comments screen.

    What a delightful case of Peter Gleick pwning all you poor saps who unquestionably inhale whatever he and his fellow spokesmodels say.

    And doubly so for this incident absolutely pumping up the profile and hence fund raising capabilities of the Heartland Institute.

    Since Heartland has apparently been able to stymie the tens and hundreds of billions spent by the US government and NGOs with their mere $6.4 million, I wonder what happens when their funding doubles or triples.

  • 24. pat  |  February 29th, 2012 at 7:44 pm

    They go back further, how much…I’m not sure. David Koch contributed to Ron Paul’s 1984 Campaign, at the end of the article.

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