Why did a former White House official delete a statement about Koch Industries taxes?2:40 PM, May 29, 2013 • By JOHN MCCORMACK
In August 2010, Austan Goolsbee, serving at the time as economic adviser to President Obama, told reporters during an anonymous background briefing that Koch Industries doesn't pay corporate income taxes. That statement was made at the same time that top Democrats, including President Obama himself, were demonizing Charles and David Koch, the owners of Koch Industries, for giving money to Tea Party groups. Goolsbee's remark led to a federal investigation, the results of which have never been released.
In a September 2010 WEEKLY STANDARD interview, Mark Holden, a lawyer for Koch Industries, disputed Goolsbee's claim and asked how Goolsbee came up with the idea that Koch Industries doesn't pay corporate taxes. Holden raised the question of whether someone in the Obama administration might have looked at Koch Industries' tax returns--which would be a violation of a federal law that was enacted in 1976 in response to Watergate.
The White House never formally explained how it came up with the claim, but an anonymous White House official told Ben Smith, then a reporter at Politico, that the claim was based on testimony to President's Economic Recovery Advisory Board and publicly available sources, such as Forbes magazine and Koch Industries' website. Koch lawyer Mark Holden said the White House's explanation didn't make sense: "[C]ontrary to the administration official's statement on what sources were used by the administration, neither the Koch website nor Forbes' list of private companies has information regarding Koch's tax filing status. This is confidential information."
A letter from Republican senators led to an investigation by Treasury inspector general J. Russell George. But after the investigation was completed, George wrote in an October 2011 letter to Senator Charles Grassley that, due to confidentiality provisions of the law, he could not tell Grassley if anyone had illegally accessed Koch Industries tax returns or if the inspector general had taken any actions following his investigation. The inspector general wrote that the only members of Congress who can access confidential tax information are the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee and chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee. Spokesmen for the Senate Finance Committee did not reply to a WEEKLY STANDARD inquiry about whether Chairman Max Baucus has the authority to release the report.
Without the inspector general's report, we don't know where the White House came up with the claim that Koch Industries doesn't pay corporate income taxes. But earlier this month, Austan Goolsbee offered a new explanation in light of the unfolding IRS scandal. Goolsbee wrote on Twitter:
@joerepublic1 there was no secret info on koch bros. It came fr/heresptimes.com/2003/12/28/Sta… but was a mistake--one of the other Koch bros.
— Austan Goolsbee (@Austan_Goolsbee) May 14, 2013
3:30 PM, Oct 18, 2011 • By MARK HEMINGWAY
Last week, Senator Jon Tester, D-Mont., forcefully condemned business that have dealings with Iran. Not surprisingly, Tester used the issue to zero in on Koch Industries. Since the Koch brothers are patrons of many conservative and libertarian causes (at least when the DSCC isn't begging Koch for money themselves), Democrats have tried to make hay out of the company's alleged shady dealings in Iran.
4:24 PM, Aug 25, 2011 • By DANIEL HALPER
Warren Buffett wrote an op-ed last week making his case for higher taxes on the rich, like himself, who he said shouldn't pay at lower marginal rates than their underlings—and indeed Buffett paid a relatively paltry $6.9 million in taxes last year.
11:00 AM, Jun 2, 2011 • By DANIEL HALPER
The left has been slamming the Koch brothers’ donations to education after the Charles G. Koch Foundation’s made an agreement with Florida State University to sponsor an academic position in the university’s economics department. The real controversy is not related to the academy at all, of course: It’s the extension of a well coordinated, long-time political attack against the Kochs.
12:01 PM, May 12, 2011 • By DANIEL HALPER
Have you heard the news? First the nefarious Koch brothers were trying to end education for kids in Wisconsin (well, until they weren’t actually). And, now, if you can believe it, the news is that the Koch brothers are trying to promote education! Some nerve…
5:00 PM, Jan 31, 2011 • By DANIEL HALPER
In Palm Springs, California, this past weekend, one set of rich folks was the target of another set of rich folks. It is, uniquely, an American story. Here’s how it played out: The Koch brothers, Charles and David, held a closed-door meeting with their political allies at a local hotel. Outside, Common Cause, with plenty of support from the Center for American Progress and several others, held a protest, saying that the Koch meeting shouldn’t have been private and that the billionaire brothers were up to no good.
5:45 PM, Jan 27, 2011 • By DANIEL HALPER
Guess who’s holding a super secret, ill-intentioned meeting this weekend in Palm Springs, California? The nefarious Koch brothers – nefarious because they donate to conservative causes, of course.
Already, leftist groups are beginning to fulminate (against what, it’s not quite clear), insisting that there’s something inherently corrupt in the free assembly of the Koch brothers and their cohorts.