Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Money Koch Bros. Stole from Tribes Could Swing Mid-Term Elections

Two of the billionaire Koch brothers – Charles and David – have poured a lot of money into the 2014 mid-term elections, mostly backing Republican and Tea Party candidates. Koch money is one of the prime reasons Republicans may take control of the U.S. Senate this time around.

Some of the Koch fortune (Forbes puts Charles and David Koch’s net worth at about $40 billion each) that makes possible the brothers’ hefty contributions to conservative causes came from cheating American Indian tribes out of oil royalties 30 years ago. An investigation begun in 1988 by a select committee of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs comprised of Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.), Dennis DeConcini (D-Ariz.) and Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) found that Koch Oil had cheated American Indian tribes out of millions of dollars in royalties by intentionally and consistently lying about how much crude they had taken out of storage tanks on Indian lands.

The committee issued its report (Senate Report 101-216) in 1989: “Koch Oil, the largest purchaser of Indian oil in the country, was engaged in a widespread and sophisticated scheme to steal crude oil from Indians and others through fraudulent mismeasuring and misreporting.”

The committee sent the report to the Justice Department and DOJ convened a grand jury to examine possible criminal charges, but no indictments had been returned before the group was disbanded in 1992. In 1999, a federal court found Koch Industries guilty in a whistleblower case brought by estranged Koch brothers Bill and Frederick, who got a share of the fines imposed by the government. The tribes got nothing.

The cruel irony here is that two of the Senate seats in contention this November are in states where the Native vote could determine the outcome. In South Dakota, Democrat Rick Weiland, Independent Larry Pressler and Republican Mike Rounds are in a too-close-to-call race for the Senate seat now held by three-term Sen. Tim Johnson, Democrat, who announced his retirement in March 2013.

In Alaska, Sen. Mark Begich, Democrat, is defending his seat against Republican Dan Sullivan. On October 20, Begich was trailing in the polls.


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