The much-anticipated Bloomberg Markets article about the left's most hated industrialists, Charles and David Koch [the latter of whom sits on the Board of Trustees of the Reason Foundation, the 501(c)(3) nonprofit that makes this website possible], was, as I indicated in a blog post Monday, much ado about not much. Or as Powerline's John Hinderaker put it, in two posts worth a read if you're interested in this stuff, "Bloomberg Whiffs."
How much did Bloomberg Markets overpromise and underdeliver? Consider that the mag's headline was "Koch Brothers Flout Law Getting Richer With Secret Iran Sales," and that a follow-up editorial by Bloomberg Businessweek concluded something closer to the opposite: "Did Koch break the law? It seems not." (The editorial goes on to use words like "loophole" and "opportunistic," and advocates a much stricter ban on trade with Iran.)
Over at the non-Koch-funded Atlantic, Daniel Indiviglio writes a detailed journalistic critique with the subhed: "Working for six months, 14 reporters around the world found eight ugly incidents in the last six decades -- all of which already resulted in fines or settlements, if applicable. Is that it?" Excerpt from that:
To further attempt to sway the reader before explaining the facts, the reporters reveal the following fact that someone not familiar with politics and lobbying might find shocking: "Koch Industries has spent more than $50 million to lobby in Washington since 2006." My reaction to reading this was, "$50 million? That's it?"
That might sound like a lot, but let's compare that to, say, General Electric. Over the same period, GE has spent more than $136 million lobbying, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. And of course, GE's CEO Jeffrey Immelt serves as the head of President Obama's Council on Jobs and Competitiveness. Immelt is the same man who once urged businesses to find ways to profit from government subsidies, saying: "It's never been a free market; it's never gonna be a free market. That's just the way it is."
The reporters provide no such perspective or comparison. [...]
Really, the most shocking thing about this expose is that an army of Bloomberg reporters working for months only found eight instances of alleged misconduct by a giant multinational over the span of 63 years. To put this in context, do a quick Google search of "GE Fines." Within a few pages of results you find:
- $16.1 million fine for Pentagon fraud (1990)
- $200 million settlement for various environmental pollution claims (1998)
- $23.5 million settlement for bribes associated with Iraq Oil for Food program (2010)
- $50 million fine for accounting fraud (2009)
- $97 million for unlawful debt collection practices (1998)
- $1 million settlement for misrepresentation of airline circuit board testing
- $7.1 million settlement for fraud regarding aircraft engine plant (1995)
- $69 million fine related to defense contracting (1992)
(Sources: NY Times, CorpWatch, Florida Political Press)
I'm not trying to pick on GE here. But we know that GE's executives aren't crusading against regulation, and yet their alleged misdeeds appear as bad as or worse than Koch Industries'. And I didn't need a team of 14 reporters to work six months to figure that out -- I just did a quick Google search.
And here's a video rebuttal from Kochfacts.com:
Meanwhile, Greenpeace USA is calling for a congressional investigation into Koch Industries' dealings with Iran, marking an interesting departure from the organization's longstanding opposition to sanctions against, for example, Iraq.
And no, this kind of political hate-figure pile-on is not one eyelash prettier when directed at George Soros.