Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Help Support EcoWatch

Koch Brothers Exposed for Campaign Contributions to 19 Members of Congress Who Voted to Deny Fair Compensation to Asbestos Victims

Politics

House Judiciary Committee members who voted for a bill that could delay or deny fair compensation to asbestos victims received almost $3.3 million in campaign contributions over the last five years from companies that would benefit from the legislation, according to an investigation of federal records by Environmental Working Group (EWG) Action Fund.

The so-called FACT Act, H.R. 526, authored by Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-Tex.), is being supported by dozens of companies and industry associations with billions of dollars worth of liability for deaths and diseases caused by exposing workers, their families or consumers to asbestos. On May 14, the Judiciary panel approved it 19 to 9. The full House is expected to debate it soon.

“Rep. Farenthold’s bill claims to be about increasing transparency for asbestos claims, but it’s really just a scheme to delay paying for victims’ deaths and illnesses as long as possible,” said Bill Walker of EWG Action Fund and author of the report.

“The FACT Act would not only erect needless bureaucratic hurdles to victims’ compensation, but by forcing them to make public their personal financial data, could put them at risk of identity theft,” Walker said. “You might think such a bad bill would be a non-starter for members of Congress, but our report shows how asbestos interests are using their cash and clout in an attempt to deny justice and evade the consequences of their liability.”

The Koch brothers empire, which includes the forest products giant Georgia-Pacific, and its affiliated political action committee, has given the 19 committee members who voted for the FACT Act $241,500 since 2010. Koch network contributions were exceeded only by defense contractor Honeywell International, which gave the members more than $245,000.

In addition to their campaign contributions, since 2010, Koch, Honeywell, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and others aligned with asbestos interests have spent unknown millions of dollars on K Street, lobbying for the bill.

Most of the largest contributors to congressional supporters of the FACT Act were defense contractors, who have exposed millions of Americans to asbestos over the years. But big donors also included AT&T, ExxonMobil, railroads and insurance companies.

Koch’s Georgia-Pacific subsidiary is facing tens of thousands of lawsuits from people exposed to asbestos in its pipe joint compound. The company’s estimated liability is nearly $1 billion—culpability it tried to skirt by funding bogus scientific studies falsely concluding that the type of asbestos used in the product does not cause cancer.

Honeywell International, whose political action committee donated more money to members of Congress than any other U.S. corporate PAC, has paid out more than $1 billion in asbestos damages since 2010.

The 19 FACT Act supporters on the House Judiciary Committee received an average of $173,267 apiece from asbestos interests since 2010.

EWG Action Fund examined federal records of campaign contributions to members of the House Judiciary Committee who voted for the FACT Act, starting with the 2010 election cycle.

The EWG Action Fund report compiles contributions from companies that met at least one of these criteria:

  • Companies or industry associations that have disclosed on federal forms that they lobbied for the FACT Act or for asbestos litigation reform.
  • Companies named in court decisions in the last 10 years as defendants in asbestos lawsuits.
  • Companies that have disclosed significant asbestos liability in Securities and Exchange Commission filings or whose liability was confirmed by news reports.

House Judiciary Committee members who received the most campaign contributions from asbestos interests between 2010 and 2015 were:

  • Lamar Smith (R-TX), $382,150
  • Darryl Issa (R-CA), $372,329
  • Virgil Goodlatte (R-VA), the committee chair, $300,879
  • Randy Forbes (R-VA), $286,285
  • Blake Farenthold (R-TX), $239,250

EWG Action Fund’s full analysis is here:

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

And the Cheapest Electricity in America Is … Solar

Does Elon Musk’s Tesla Model S ‘Signal the Beginning of the End for Oil?’

Has Urban Farming Come to Your Major League Baseball Stadium Yet?

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Oregano oil is an extract that is not as strong as the essential oil, but appears to be useful both when consumed or applied to the skin. Peakpx / CC by 1.0

By Alexandra Rowles

Oregano is a fragrant herb that's best known as an ingredient in Italian food.

However, it can also be concentrated into an essential oil that's loaded with antioxidants and powerful compounds that have proven health benefits.

Read More Show Less
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro meets Ronaldo Caiado, governor of the state of Goiás on June 5, 2020. Palácio do Planalto / CC BY 2.0

Far-right Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, who has presided over the world's second worst coronavirus outbreak after the U.S., said Tuesday that he had tested positive for the virus.

Read More Show Less
Although natural gas produces fewer greenhouse gas emissions and other pollutants than coal or oil, it is a major contributor to climate change, an urgent global problem. Skitterphoto / PIxabay

By Emily Grubert

Natural gas is a versatile fossil fuel that accounts for about a third of U.S. energy use. Although it produces fewer greenhouse gas emissions and other pollutants than coal or oil, natural gas is a major contributor to climate change, an urgent global problem. Reducing emissions from the natural gas system is especially challenging because natural gas is used roughly equally for electricity, heating, and industrial applications.

Read More Show Less
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has approved two Lysol products as the first to effectively kill the novel coronavirus on surfaces, based on laboratory testing. Paul Hennessy / NurPhoto via Getty Images

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently issued a list of 431 products that are effective at killing viruses when they are on surfaces. Now, a good year for Lysol manufacturer Reckitt Benckiser just got better when the EPA said that two Lysol products are among the products that can kill the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19.

Read More Show Less
U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez unveils the Green New Deal resolution in front of the U.S. Capitol on February 7, 2019 in Washington, DC. Alex Wong / Getty Images

By Judith Lewis Mernit

For all its posturing on climate change, the Democratic Party has long been weak on the actual policies we need to save us from extinction. President Barack Obama promised his presidency would mark "the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow," and then embraced natural gas, a major driver of global temperature rise, as a "bridge fuel." Climate legislation passed in the House in 2009 would have allowed industries to buy credits to pollute, a practice known to concentrate toxic air in black and brown neighborhoods while doing little to cut emissions.

Read More Show Less
About 30,000 claims contending that Roundup caused non-Hodgkin's lymphoma are currently unsettled. Mike Mozart / CC BY 2.0

Bayer's $10 billion settlement to put an end to roughly 125,000 lawsuits against its popular weed killer Roundup, which contains glyphosate, hit a snag this week when a federal judge in San Francisco expressed skepticism over what rights future plaintiffs would have, as the San Francisco Chronicle reported.

Read More Show Less

Trending

Hundreds of sudden elephant deaths in Botswana aren't just a loss for the ecosystem and global conservation efforts. Mario Micklisch / Flickr / CC by 2.0

By Charli Shield

When an elephant dies in the wild, it's not uncommon to later find its bones scattered throughout the surrounding landscape.

Read More Show Less