Over the weekend, Bloomberg Markets magazine published a lengthy investigative piece about a French subsidiary of Koch Industries that supposedly conducted illegal business with the Iranian government. The report further insinuates an ensuing cover up.
Both Jennifer Rubin at the Washington Post and Dan Foster at National Review Online have enumerated the problems with the piece, which hinges on the word of very questionable sources. It is also larded up with unnecessary and obviously biased political context that details the political affiliation of the company's founder going back over 60 years.
More specifically, the main source of the accusations against Koch in the story recently lost a case against them in a French court and was even ordered to pay Koch's court costs in the process. Further, this is why, according to Bloomberg Markets, Koch Industries is suspect: "Koch Industries is obsessed with secrecy, to the point that it discloses only an approximation of its annual revenue -- $100 billion a year -- and says nothing about its profits." As Foster notes, Koch is a privately held company and it's hardly unusual for private companies to keep their profits to themselves. (Bloomberg also happens to be a privately held company -- I encourage you to call them and demand a complete accounting of the news organization's profits.)
Despite the fact that the Bloomberg story falls apart upon even a cursory investigation, that hasn't stopped the Democrats from piling on. Ben Smith notes the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee's (DSCC) latest attack on Massachusetts Republican Scott Brown:
New Blockbuster Report Shows Scott Brown's Deep Pocketed Benefactors Got Rich Selling Chemicals To Iran, Then Used Wealth To Help Brown's Campaign
Scott Brown Talks Big Game on Illegal Contracting With American Enemies, Will He Call On Koch To Come Clean, Cut Ties To Iran?
Scott Brown's deep-pocketed benefactors, the secretive Tea Party billionaire Koch Brothers, are in hot water after a new report shows that their company may have violated federal law by making millions in sales to Iran, a country designated by the State Department as a state sponsor of terrorism. Scott Brown talks a big game on illegal contracting with American enemies. Will Scott Brown call on his deep pocketed donors to come clean about all their illegal interactions with Iran and cut ties to the country?
As Smith notes, "Unmentioned here is that, while the Koch brothers are now among the most important donors to conservative causes in America, they've also given pretty widely to influential Democrats in the recent past -- including, most of all, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. The DSCC took $15,000 a year from KOCH PAC between 2007 and 2010." So despite accepting $60,000 from the Kochs, the DSCC hypocritically demonizes Brown for taking Koch money. This past summer, Koch Industries even released a voicemail from Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee chair Patty Murray dropping hints that another generous donation from the Kochs will get them invited to the DSCC's Kiawah Island retreat.
But that's not the full extent of the hypocrisy here. The DSCC apparently didn't even bother reading the Bloomberg piece -- they want Scott Brown to call on the company to cut ties with Iran but, as noted in the article, Koch has already stopped doing business with Iran. As for the business it did do with Iran, a Koch Industries spokesman told Bloomberg, "during the relevant time frame covered in your article, U.S. law allowed foreign subsidiaries of U.S. multinational companies to engage in trade involving countries subject to U.S. trade sanctions, including Iran, under certain conditions.”
Koch was hardly the only American company doing business in with Iran. Between 2003 and 2010, the DSCC took at least $343,000 in donations from corporations doing (legal) business with Iran. Those corporate donors are practically a who's who of American business: 3M, General Electric, Honeywell, JP Morgan, and Tyson.
If Koch is to be condemned for doing business with Iran -- in accordance with U.S. laws allowing them to do so -- then perhaps the DSCC should return the $343,000 they've already received from corporations that did likewise.