Koch Industries' Federal Lobbying Rose 35 Percent in First Quarter of 2019

Koch Industries, the parent company of the private conglomerate held by Charles and David Koch, has increased its spending on federal lobbying by 35 percent so far this year.

In the first quarter of 2019, Koch Industries, which includes Guardian, Koch Energy, Koch Mineral, Georgia-Pacific, Molex, and dozens of others companies, spent $4,620,000 on federal lobbying, up from $3,420,000 in the same quarter of 2018.

The increase in lobbying reflects the introduction of legislation opposed by the Kochs by the new Democratic majority in the U.S. House. Most of Koch's lobbying efforts in 2017 and 2018 were in support of the passage and implementation of Trump legislation, most notably the Jobs and Tax Cut Act of 2017. In 2019, by contrast, Koch is largely playing defense in the House.

Its lobbying this year has focused on several main areas: support for repeal of federal fuel efficiency standards (H.R. 431, H.R. 84); opposition to the federal government's creation of a Green New Deal (H.Res. 109, S.Res. 59); and continuing opposition to the Paris Agreement on climate change (H.R. 9). Koch lobbied on these issues through outside lobbying firms as well as with its own staff.

Koch Industries' lobbying efforts have a common goal -- continued reliance on fossil fuels and an increase in gasoline consumption, which will increase corporate profits for Charles and David Koch, already worth a combined $110 billion.

Not Just Energy

Koch Industries, along with dozens of large companies, opposed H.R. 1, a bill to expand access to voting, reduce the amount of corporate money in politics, and force disclosure of the donors of "dark money" groups. The bill passed the House in March and awaits action, which it is not likely to get, in the GOP-controlled Senate.

Charles Koch, an avid supporter of increased trade with China and a recent investor in Chinese manufacturing, also supported a measure intended to weaken presidential authority over some types of trade policies. Charles Koch has been a vocal critic of Trump's imposition of increased tariffs on Chinese products.

Interestingly, the Kochs' "astroturf" operation, Americans for Prosperity (AFP), also did lobbying for Koch Industries on trade issues.

AFP targeted "22 senators and 12 House members from both parties with digital advertising urging them to support the Bicameral Congressional Trade Authority Act (S. 287), which would require congressional approval for increasing tariffs or levying new ones."

However, the websites of the 34 state AFP affiliates do not mention trade as an issue area, nor has AFP encouraged its members to communicate with their elected representatives on the issue.

That is not surprising, since 80 percent of Republicans, who form the bulk of AFP's members, think the trade war with China has been good for America.

Don Wiener

Don Wiener is a writer at the Center for Media and Democracy. Don has 40 years experience working as a policy analyst, researcher, media strategist, and coalition coordinator for dozens of community, public interest, labor, and environmental groups. He has a Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.