Image via WikiMedia Commons

Image via WikiMedia Commons

The Koch Brothers have denied a Senate request for information regarding payments made through their companies and associated organizations to climate change researchers.

The request was part of a Senate investigation into corporate financing of climate skepticism following the public disclosure that a leading denier of man-made climate change, Dr. Wei-Hock “Willie” Soon, was paid over $1.2 million by various members of the fossil fuel industry, including the American Petroleum Institute, ExxonMobil and the Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation. 

On February 25, Senators Edward Markey (D-MA), Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) sent a letter to Koch Industries, Inc. requesting information from the past 10 years “about Koch Industries’ payments made in support of scientific research and scientists, as well as support for other efforts related to climate change, if such payments have been made.”

Two of the richest men on the planet, Charles and David Koch have been described by Planet Experts editor-in-chief Pierce Nahigyan as “the conjoined boogeymen of democracy.” Holding a combined fortune of $82 billion, they own the second-largest private company in America, Koch Industries, which generated $115 billion in revenue in 2013. Through their subsidiaries, they are involved in a whole mess of fossil fuels – oil and gas, refining and chemicals, etc.

Al Gore has explicitly named them as the demagogues behind the conservative right and Planet Expert Michael Mann has accused them of spending “tens if not hundreds of millions of dollars poisoning…our public discourse over climate change by funding professional climate change deniers, creating front groups and funding think tanks that exist to cast doubt on the science of climate change.”

Charles Koch has previously been tied to anti-environmental spending groups and Koch brothers funding made up a significant portion of the $721 million spent on re-electing climate denying Republicans to Congress in this past mid-term election. However, direct financial evidence tying the Kochs to scientific funding for climate skepticism is scarce.

Speaking on behalf of Koch Industries as well as its subsidiaries and affiliates, the Kochs’ general counsel, Mark V. Holden, responded to the Senate’s February 25 letter by informing them that the Kochs’ involvement, “if any,” in such funding is protected by the First Amendment of the Constitution.

“In reviewing your letter,” Holden wrote, “I did not see any explanation or justification for an official Senate Committee inquiry into activities protected by the First Amendment.

“Under the circumstances, we decline to participate in this endeavor and object to your apparent efforts to infringe upon and potentially stifle fundamental First Amendment activities.”

In other words, Senators, better luck next time.

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