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Beyond Koch: Meet the Other Right-Wing Oligarchs Featured in Jane Mayer’s “Dark Money”

Beyond Koch: Meet the Other Right-Wing Oligarchs Featured in Jane Mayer’s “Dark Money”

But the Koch Brothers and Koch Industries’ right-wing family foundation network are far from the only big money influencers featured in the must-read book which has jumped to #4 on the Best Sellers list at Amazon.com.

Enter the Scaife, Olin and Bradley family fortunes, all three of which have served as key nodes through which the right-wing have tried to reshape the public policy landscape within (and beyond) the U.S. in the years following the Cold War until present day. If those family names sound familiar to DeSmog readers, they should: we have a profile in our database for Scaife and have written fairly extensively about Olin and Bradley.

Mayer devoted some 60 pages of the 380-page tome to the three families.

More than just a profile of those families and their influence in shaping policy, the pages also serve as a primer on the historical roots of the 501(c)(3) non-profit system itself and how and why plutocratic interests pushed the U.S. Congress to create it to begin with.

Self-interest, Mayer meticulously documents, played a central role. But that’s a long and vital history lesson for another day.

For now, here are some of the most compelling details about a few of the families not named Koch probed by Mayer in “Dark Money”.

Scaife, “League to Save Carthage” and ALEC

At the center of the Scaife story is Carthage.  Yes, Carthage of the north African variety, sort of.

In 1964, Richard Scaife — namesake of the Scaife Family Foundations, whose money came largely from the Gulf Oil fortune — helped create a group called the League to Save Carthage, harkening back to the city conquered and colonized by the Roman Empire now situated as a suburb of Tunis, Tunisia.

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Negative Oil Prices Arrive: Koch Brothers’ Refinery “Pays” -$0.50 For North Dakota Crude

Negative Oil Prices Arrive: Koch Brothers’ Refinery “Pays” -$0.50 For North Dakota Crude

Do you have some extra space in your garage or attic? Or perhaps you own an oil tanker you aren’t currently using. Or maybe you have a storage unit that’s got a little extra room next to an old mattress and box springs.

If so, you may want to call up oil producers in North Dakota and ask if they’d care to send you some free oil, because the crude glut is now so acute that the Koch brothers are actually charging $0.50/bbl to take low grade oil at their Flint Hills Resources refining arm.

North Dakota Sour is a high-sulfur grade of crude and “is a small portion of the state’s production, with less than 15,000 barrels a day coming out of the ground,” Bloomberg notes, citing John Auers, executive vice president at Turner Mason & Co. in Dallas. “The output has been dwarfed by low-sulfur crude from the Bakken shale formation in the western part of the state, which has grown to 1.1 million barrels a day in the past 10 years.”

High-sulfur grades are more expensive to refine and thus fetch lower prices at market. As Bloomberg goes on to note, “Enbridge stopped allowing high-sulfur crudes on its pipeline out of North Dakota in 2011, forcing North Dakota Sour producers to rely on more expensive transport such as trucks and trains [and] the price for Canadian bitumen — the thick, sticky substance at the center of the heated debate over TransCanada Corp.’s Keystone XL pipeline — fell to $8.35 last week, down from as much as $80 less than two years ago.”

So there you have it. The global deflationary supply glut has now reached the point that the market is effectively forcing producers to pay to give their oil away or else see it sit in bloated storage facilities until Riyadh decides enough is enough and until the world comes to terms with the return of Iranian supply.

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Emails Reveal Coziness Between Koch Lobbyists and Regulators

Emails Reveal Coziness Between Koch Lobbyists and Regulators

The close ties between corporate interests and the regulators who are supposed to police them contributes, many argue, to fundamentally lax oversight.

Emails I recently obtained through a records request show how cozy a Koch Industries lobbyist is with officials at the Commodities Futures Trading Commission, the primary regulator for derivatives and commodity trading.

Though Koch Industries is better known for using its considerable political machine to promote fossil fuel industry priorities and tax cuts for the wealthy, the company also has a major stake in the financial markets via its business unit devoted to commodity speculation. Notably, the very first oil-indexed price swap was pioneered by a Koch trader in 1986, and the infamous “Enron Loophole” that deregulated the trading of credit default swaps was engineered by a lobbying team that included two Koch lobbyists.

The recent lobbying campaign around derivatives is already paying off. As Zach Carter of the Huffington Post reported, the House of Representatives on Tuesday passed a major regulatory roll-back supported by Wall Street banks and the Kochs. The legislation would affect the post-financial crisis reforms designed to rein in the global derivatives market.

Just as Citigroup lobbyists authored their own deregulation bills in Congress, the Koch emails reveal just how comfortable the regulators and the lobbyists who curry their favor feel with each other, even as the latter are besieging the former with information and pressure that benefits their very rich clients.

Gregory Zerzan, a former Treasury Department official during the George W. Bush administration, went on to work for the International Swaps and Derivatives Association before becoming a Koch lobbyist.


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