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Dark Side Last Updated: Mar 15, 2018 - 10:39:19 AM


The Koch Brothers Get Their Very Own Secretary of State
By John Nichols, Nation 13.3.18
Mar 14, 2018 - 11:51:12 AM

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In the Republican wave election of 2010, when Charles and David Koch emerged as defining figures in American politics, the greatest beneficiary of Koch Industries largesse was a political newcomer named Mike Pompeo. After his election to the House eight years ago, Pompeo was referred to as the “Koch Brothers’ Congressman” and “the congressman from Koch.”

Now, he is positioned to become the Koch Brothers’ Secretary of State. After serving for a little more than a year as Donald Trump’s yes man at the Central Intelligence Agency, Pompeo is Trump’s pick to replace Rex Tillerson, the administration’s listless placeholder at the Department of State.

 

In a measure of the extent to which Trump and Tillerson had disengaged with one another, the outgoing Secretary of State apparently learned of his firing via Twitter and a statement from the department indicated that Tillerson was “unaware of the reason” for his removal.

Pompeo’s pattern of deference to his political benefactors is likely to make him a better fit with Trump. Pompeo will bring to the position an edge that Tillerson lacked. He is a foreign-policy hawk who fiercely opposed the Iran nuclear deal, stoked fears about Muslims in the United States and abroad, opposed closing the Guantánamo Bay detention camp, and defended National Security Agency’s unconstitutional surveillance programs as “good and important work.” He has even gone so far as to say that NSA whistle-blower Edward Snowden “should be brought back from Russia and given due process, and I think the proper outcome would be that he would be given a death sentence.”

Pompeo’s open disregard for privacy rights in particular and civil liberties in general, as well as his penchant for extreme language and more extreme policies are anything but diplomatic. That makes him an even more troublesome Secretary of State than Tillerson, who was relentlessly corporate in his worldview but not generally inclined to pick fights—even when it came to standing up for a State Department that decayed on his watch.

Donald Trump has decided to put “the congressman from Koch” in charge of the State Department and, by extension, the engagement of the United States government with a world in which the brothers Koch have many, many interests.

In addition to being a hothead, Pompeo has long been one of the most remarkably conflicted political figures in the conflicted city of Washington, thanks to his ties to the privately held and frequently secretive global business empire that has played a pivotal role in advancing his political career. Pompeo came out of the same Wichita, Kansas, business community where the Koch family’s oil-and-gas conglomerate is headquartered. Indeed, Pompeo built his own company with seed money from Koch Venture Capital.

More important, from a political standpoint, is the fact that Pompeo made the leap from business to government with a big boost from the Koch brothers and their employees. “I’m sure he would vigorously dispute this, but it’s hard not to characterize him as the congressman from Koch,” says University of Kansas political science professor Burdett Loomis.

In fact, that’s a strikingly appropriate characterization for the man who Donald Trump wants “to serve as head of the United States intelligence community; act as the principal adviser to the President for intelligence matters related to the national security; and serve as head of the Central Intelligence Agency.”

As the Center for Food Safety, which has wrangled with Pompeo on food-labeling issues that are of tremendous interest to the global agribusiness and grocery industries, noted in 2014:

Congressman Mike Pompeo was the single largest recipient of campaign funds from the Koch Brothers in 2010. After winning election with Koch money, Congressman Pompeo hired a Koch Industries lawyer to run his office. According to The Washington Post, Congressman Pompeo then introduced bills friendly to Koch Industries while Koch hired outside lobbyists to support them.

Recalling the 2010 election, the Center for Responsive Politics explained that:

Koch Industries had never spent as much on a candidate in a single cycle as it did on Pompeo that time around, giving him a total [of] $80,000. Koch outdid itself again in the 2012 cycle by ponying up $110,000 for Pompeo’s campaign.

When Pompeo ran for reelection in 2014, he faced a tight primary contest with another local Republican who had Koch ties. One of the biggest turning points in that race came when the Kochs sided with Pompeo. “KOCHPAC is proud to support Mike Pompeo for Congress based on his strong support for market-based policies and economic freedom, which benefits society as a whole,” Mark Nichols, the vice president of government and public affairs for Koch Industries, told Politico.
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Just as the Kochs have been loyal to Pompeo, so Pompeo has been loyal to the Kochs. He’s a regular at their behind-closed-doors gatherings and he’s outspoken in their defense, claiming that President Obama and “Nixonian” Democrats have unfairly “vilified” Charles and David Koch.

But, of course, the supposed vilification has simply involved the appropriate questioning of the influence wielded by billionaires in general and the Kochs in particular over American politics and governance. That’s hardly an unreasonable concern, considering that, as one of the most prominent Koch-backed politicians in the country, Pompeo was called out just weeks after taking office for proposing legislative initiatives that “could benefit many of [the Kochs’] business interests.”

“The measures include amendments approved in the House budget bill to eliminate funding for two major Obama administration programs: a database cataloguing consumer complaints about unsafe products and an Environmental Protection Agency registry of greenhouse-gas polluters,” reported The Washington Post in 2011. “Both have been listed as top legislative priorities for Koch Industries, which has spent more than $37 million on Washington lobbying since 2008, according to disclosure records.”

“It’s the same old story—a member of Congress carrying water for his biggest campaign contributor,” Common Cause’s Mary Boyle complained at the time.

Now, however, it’s a different story, because Donald Trump wants to put “the congressman from Koch” in charge of the State Department and, by extension, the engagement of the United States government with a world in which the brothers Koch have many, many interests.


Source:Ocnus.net 2018

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