Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Help Support EcoWatch

Koch Brothers Wage War 'to Buy South Dakota's Future'

Popular
Koch Brothers Wage War 'to Buy South Dakota's Future'

By Lauren McCauley

A state ballot measure seeking to end political corruption has won the ire of the billionaire Koch Brothers, who have relied on secret donations to conservative interest groups to influence elections coast to coast.

The notorious Charles and David Koch own Koch Industries and are major benefactors for organizations and candidates involved in pushing radical Republican policies.Donkey Hotey / Flickr

South Dakota's Initiated Measure 22, dubbed the Government Accountability and Anti-Corruption Act, seeks to "ensur[e] that special interest lobbyists and their cronies aren't buying influence with our elected officials," according to proponents South Dakotans for Integrity.

Specifically, it calls for public disclosure of donors to campaigns and advocacy groups; lowers contribution amounts and imposes limits on political action committees, political parties and candidates; and it creates an ethics commission to enforce campaign finance and lobby rules. Further, it establishes a publicly funded campaign finance program for state and legislative candidates.

State residents will have the chance to vote on the measure in November and, apparently, the Koch-backed Americans for Prosperity (AFP) is hoping to quash this effort before it gains traction in South Dakota or anywhere else.

SA Today's Fredreka Schouten reported Wednesday that an AFP-founded coalition, Defeat 22, has launched an aggressive opposition campaign, which "already has run commercials on talk radio and country-music stations, contacted 50,000 voters through phone calls and door-knocking and distributed mailers denouncing the initiative as a money-grab by politicians."

The Defeat 22 campaign has not yet submitted a campaign finance report, but South Dakotans for Integrity has raised $20,000 from a single group called Represent Us, according to their filing with the South Dakota Secretary of State.

As the Yes on 22 campaign notes, South Dakota scored an F grade (ranking 47 out of 50 states) on the Center for Public Integrity's 2015 state report. The oil-rich state scored lowest on Political Financing, Lobbying Disclosure and Ethics Enforcement Agencies, among others, which makes it an ideal market for the tar sands giants to peddle their influence.

In a recent letter published in the Argus Leader, Yankton resident Chris Svarstad wrote, "the out-of-state oil and tar sand billionaires, Charles and David Koch, are trying to buy South Dakota's future."

Svarstad continued:

The Koch brothers have promised to spend $900 million to influence the 2016 election cycle and support Republican candidates who have sold out their political souls to advance the Koch brothers' radical agenda. But the Koch brothers aren't satisfied with simply buying government officials. They now want to dictate S.D.'s energy policy. [...]

This isn't the first time the Koch brothers have tried to buy S.D. They've used their deep pockets and shadowy organizations to try to upend the state's open primary process. They've tried to dissuade young South Dakotans with bribes to stay out of the state's health exchanges. They've fought attempts to expand Medicaid and used their Republican slaves in the Legislature to undermine labor unions.

The Koch brothers are committed to turning the Mount Rushmore State into a safe haven for their own corporate interests at the expense of all South Dakotans.

And South Dakotans are not alone in this fight against Dark Money. As Schouten reports, the Defeat 22 campaign "marks the latest in a string of battles the Koch network has waged around the country to block efforts to disclose contributors' identities. Last year, for instance, AFP and more than a dozen other groups opposed a bill in Georgia that would have required advocacy groups active in state politics to disclose the sources of their money. The measure died."

This article was reposted with permission from our media associate Common Dreams.

The wildfires that roared through Eastern Washington in September had a devastating impact on an extremely endangered species of rabbit.

Read More Show Less

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

A protestor in NYC holds up a sign that reads, "November Is Coming" on June 14, 2020 in reference to voting in the 2020 presidential election. Ira L. Black / Corbis / Getty Images

By Mark Hertsgaard

What follows are not candidate endorsements. Rather, this nonpartisan guide aims to inform voters' choices, help journalists decide what races to follow, and explore what the 2020 elections could portend for climate action in the United States in 2021 and beyond.

Read More Show Less

Trending

Activists fight a peat fire in Siberia in September. ALEXANDER NEMENOV / AFP via Getty Images

The wildfires that ignited in the Arctic this year started earlier and emitted more carbon dioxide than ever before.

Read More Show Less
A metapopulation project in South Africa has almost doubled the population of cheetahs in less than nine years. Ken Blum / Wikimedia Commons / CC by 3.0

By Tony Carnie

South Africa is home to around 1,300 of the world's roughly 7,100 remaining cheetahs. It's also the only country in the world with significant cheetah population growth, thanks largely to a nongovernmental conservation project that depends on careful and intensive human management of small, fenced-in cheetah populations. Because most of the reserves are privately funded and properly fenced, the animals benefit from higher levels of security than in the increasingly thinly funded state reserves.

Read More Show Less
A new super enzyme feeds on the type of plastic that water and soda bottles are made of, polyethylene terephthalate (PET). zoff-photo / iStock / Getty Images Plus

Scientists are on the brink of scaling up an enzyme that devours plastic. In the latest breakthrough, the enzyme degraded plastic bottles six times faster than previous research achieved, as The Guardian reported.

Read More Show Less

Support Ecowatch