On February 2, the Republican head of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee temporarily changed the rules to force a confirmation vote on Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt to lead the EPA, despite the fact that Democrats had boycotted the vote a day earlier. Pruitt is set for full Senate confirmation vote sometime this week.
You can count the Koch brothers among those who are eager to see Pruitt confirmed.
Before Pruitt’s nomination hearing on January 18, a coalition of 23 nonprofit groups sent a letter to the entire Senate urging his confirmation. “Attorney General Pruitt has consistently fought for Oklahoma families and communities,” the letter states, “and has been a stalwart defender against federal intrusion into state and individual rights.”
The two dozen nonprofit groups and Senate committee members defending Scott Pruitt, President Donald Trump’s nominee for Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) administrator, have at least two things in common.
Like Pruitt, they’re climate science deniers. And, like Pruitt, most of them are funded by Charles and David Koch, the billionaire brothers who own the coal, oil and gas conglomerate Koch Industries.
The groups that signed the letter endorsing Pruitt include such high-profile, climate-science-denier organizations as the American Energy Alliance (AEA), whose president, Thomas Pyle, is a former Koch Industries lobbyist; the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI), whose top climate disinformer, Myron Ebell, oversaw the Trump EPA transition team; and Heritage Action, the political arm of the Heritage Foundation. Heritage economist David Kreutzer, who maintains there is no justification for Obama administration climate policies, also served on the EPA transition team.
Those three groups and at least 15 other letter signatories have received generous support from one or more of the Koch brothers’ numerous foundations, including American Encore, the Charles Koch Foundation, Charles Koch Institute, the now defunct Claude R. Lambe Charitable Foundation, and Freedom Partners Chamber of Commerce, a de facto Koch bank that distributes contributions from wealthy conservatives to free-market, anti-government groups. A number of the organizations on the letter are also funded by Donors Trust, a secretive, pass-through money laundering operation that received more than $13 million from the Kochs’ Knowledge and Progress Fund between 2005 and 2014.
Negin wasn’t the first to notice Pruitt’s ties to the Kochs. In the New Yorker in December, Jane Mayer also noted:
Pruitt has clearly aligned himself with his right-wing campaign donors, including Charles and David Koch. KochPAC, the political-action committee of the brothers’ Kansas-based oil-and-chemical conglomerate, Koch Industries, contributed to Pruitt’s campaigns in 2010, 2013, and 2014. Pruitt has also been backed by several other billionaire oil-and-gas executives, who joined political forces with the Kochs during the Obama years, becoming “investors,” as they called themselves, in the Kochs’ anti-regulatory, pro-business political movement.
And when we mapped out Pruitt’s many fossil fuel industry ties on LittleSis, we devoted a whole slide to the Koch-connections, highlighting the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). As you can see in the map below, Pruitt has benefited from a variety of political action committees (PACs and Super PACs) with fossil fuel allegiances, from the Republican Attorneys General Assocation (RAGA) and the Rule of Law Defense Fund, and, finally, from his longstanding ties to the Koch-tied American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).