How Citizens United* Kept the Koch Brothers Out of Jail

The video below is an interview with Investigative reporter Greg Palast regarding his 2012 book Billionaires and Ballot Bandits: How to Steal an Election in 9 Easy Steps. Palast is best known for exposing the fake “ex-felon” scrub list that illegally disqualified tens of thousands of law abiding Florida African Americans from voting in the 2000 presidential election.

According to Palast, the real agenda behind the Citizens United decision was to keep the notorious Koch brothers** out of jail for illegal corporate donations they had made to Republican campaigns. In other words, the ruling decriminalized extensive lawbreaking by the Republican Party’s favorite billionaires. Apparently it’s was no accident that Ted Olsen, the Citizens United attorney, also happens to be legal counsel for Koch Industries.

The Koch Brothers’ Long History of Flouting the Law

As Palast reveals at the beginning of the interview, he was an FBI investigator prior to becoming an investigative journalist. During the late eighties, he was directly involved in investigating Charles Koch for illegally siphoning oil (beyond what Koch Industries had paid for) from Indian reservations. According to Palast, the FBI had videos of the whole operation, as well as numerous witness statements, including one from David and Charles’ younger brother Bill. The US attorney in Oklahoma went so far as to file an indictment against subject 67C (their code name for Charles Koch), when Koch leaned heavily on Oklahoma Senator Don Nickles (Rep 1988-2005) to have the federal prosecutor replaced and the indictment quashed.

With the possibility of criminal prosecution off the table, brother Bill Koch filed a civil lawsuit over the oil theft under the False Claims Act. The latter private plaintiffs to sue, on behalf of the government, companies and individuals which have defrauded it.

In December 1999, the jury found that Koch Industries had stolen oil it didn’t pay for from federal land, and the company paid a $25 million settlement to the federal government.

The FBI next turned its attention to 350 criminal violations of environmental law, mainly due to faulty pipelines dumping oil sludge into rivers. After George W. Bush became president in 2000, the US Justice Department dropped 88 of the charges. Two days before the trial, Attorney General John Ashcroft agreed to a plea bargain. The company pled guilty to falsifying documents. All major charges were dropped, and Koch and Ashcroft settled a civil lawsuit for a fraction of the criminal penalty.

The FBI – and Congress – Investigate Illegal Corporate Donations

Next on the FBI list of crimes was the smear campaign Koch Industries secretly funded, through the Campaign for Our Children’s Futures. This was in 1994 when corporate campaign donations were still illegal. The campaign, caused 25 incumbent Democrats to lose their seats, which meant Clinton lost Congress in the 1994 midterm election and again in 1996.

The illegal campaign donations were funded through an entity called Triad Management Services. Senator Fred Thompson, Chair of the Senate Finance Committee attempted to undertake an investigation into Triad. According to Palast, it was shut down the same day (ethically challenged) Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott made a deal with President Bill Clinton not to investigate his illegal campaign donations from the Indonesian billionaire James Riady.

*In Citizens United, the Supreme Court ruled that setting limits on campaign expenditures on corporations and labor unions violates their first amendment right to free speech.

**The Koch brothers are major funders of several conservative think tanks and lobbies, such as the Heritage Foundation, ALEC, the CATO Institute, and right wing Astroturf groups, such as the Campaign for America’s Future, the Campaign for a Fair Economy and the Tea Party). They’re also the major beneficiaries of the Keystone Pipeline

11 thoughts on “How Citizens United* Kept the Koch Brothers Out of Jail

  1. With all the conniving going on I sometimes wish for some good news. You know an upright honest politician leading a nation to do good and improve the lot of all. I thought Obama was such a person. Perhaps he is. He is becoming more and more unpopulra and I don’t understand this. What do Americans see that I don’t?


    • Well, for a start Obama has shredded our Bill of Rights, embroiled the US in decades long war in the Middle East aimed at establishing a US colony in the Middle East and North Africa, given criminal Wall Street banksters trillions of dollars in bailouts, instead of sending them to jail for crashing the economy and openly armed and trained a blood thirsty jihadist groups called ISIS that goes around beheading journalists on YouTube.

      And now he’s trying to fast track the dangerous TPPA (Transpacific Partnership Agreement) through Congress, without any public consultation on the contents. The TPPA allows any corporation to sue any country for any law they don’t like. Check this out:


  2. I never thought Obama was a hard man. I also had the impression he wasn’t keen to get back into another war in the Middle East. But, I don’t know. In the US, everything imaginable seems to happen. Even the things not imaginable.
    Did Obama not introduce a national Health scheme and also tried to tackle the guns?


    • Obama greatly expanded the war in the Middle East, through drone strikes on Yemen and Pakistan, the overthrow of Gaddafi in Libya and covert funding and training (for 3 years) of jihadist rebels in Syria.

      As for his national health scheme, it turned out to be a corporate welfare scheme for drug companies and private health insurance companies. All it does is require that people purchase health insurance – whether they can afford it or not. Those who don’t pay a penalty with the federal income tax.

      These private health insurance plans have enormous copayments and deductibles – which mean that poor people still don’t have access to health care.


  3. OK. I understand better now, but… what Obama’s effort in gun control…surely he tried hard…I watched a US woman Democratic candidate TRYING distancing herself from Obama for the senate on the news yesterday advertising her credentials by firing off a gun into the distance. It is all so weird!


  4. Pingback: America’s Favorite Billionaires | The Most Revolutionary Act

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