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

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?

A North Atlantic right whale feeds off the shores of Duxbury Beach, Massachusetts in 2015. David L. Ryan / The Boston Globe via Getty Images

The population of extremely endangered North Atlantic right whales has fallen even further in the last year, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said Monday.

Read More Show Less

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Hundreds of Canadian children took part in a massive protest march against climate change in Toronto, Canada, on May 24, 2019. Creative Touch Imaging Ltd. / NurPhoto / Getty Images

By Heather Houser

Compost. Fly less. Reduce your meat consumption. Say no to plastic. These imperatives are familiar ones in the repertoire of individual actions to reduce a person's environmental impact. Don't have kids, or maybe just one. This climate action appears less frequently in that repertoire, but it's gaining currency as climate catastrophes mount. One study has shown that the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions from having one fewer child in the United States is 20 times higher—yes 2000% greater—than the impact of lifestyle changes like those listed above.

Read More Show Less

Trending

For the first time on record, the main nursery of Arctic sea ice in Siberia has yet to start freezing by late October. Euronews / YouTube

By Sharon Guynup

At this time of year, in Russia's far north Laptev Sea, the sun hovers near the horizon during the day, generating little warmth, as the region heads towards months of polar night. By late September or early October, the sea's shallow waters should be a vast, frozen expanse.

Read More Show Less
Fossil remains indicate these birds had a wingspan of over 20 feet. Brian Choo, CC BY-NC-SA

By Peter A. Kloess

Picture Antarctica today and what comes to mind? Large ice floes bobbing in the Southern Ocean? Maybe a remote outpost populated with scientists from around the world? Or perhaps colonies of penguins puttering amid vast open tracts of snow?

Read More Show Less
A baby orangutan displaced by palm oil plantation logging is seen at Nyaru Menteng Rehabilitation Center in Borneo, Indonesia on May 27, 2017. Jonathan Perugia / In Pictures / Getty Images

The world's largest financial institutions loaned more than $2.6 trillion in 2019 to sectors driving the climate crisis and wildlife destruction, according to a new report from advocacy organization portfolio.earth.

Read More Show Less

Support Ecowatch