Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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March 21, 2011

THE CONGRESSMAN FROM KOCH INDUSTRIES.... When we last checked in with Rep. Mike Pompeo (R) of Kansas, he was trying to kill a consumer-product-safety database, allowing Americans to go online and access free information about the safety records of household products. The measure was easily approved with bipartisan support, but the freshman Republican perceived it as anti-business.

After all, if consumers are made aware of potentially dangerous products, Americans might not buy them. How can the manufacturers of those products make a profit under conditions like that?

As it turned out, the Koch brothers were the ones who wanted the online consumer-product-safety database scuttled, and Pompeo was happy to do their bidding -- he represents the district where Koch Industries is located, and the Koch brothers and their political action committee were his most generous campaign contributors.

The Washington Post had an interesting piece over the weekend, noting that Pompeo is now also trying to gut an EPA registry of greenhouse-gas polluters -- another Koch Bros' goal -- and has hired a former Koch Industries lawyer as his chief of staff.

"It's the same old story -- a member of Congress carrying water for his biggest campaign contributor," said Mary Boyle of Common Cause, a liberal-leaning group that has spearheaded protests against the Kochs. "I don't know how you make the argument to your constituents that it's in their interests to defund the EPA or a consumer database."

Burdett Loomis, a University of Kansas political science professor, added, "I'm sure he would vigorously dispute this, but it's hard not to characterize him as the congressman from Koch."

That pretty much sums it up. We're talking about a dynamic in which a congressman appears to be an employee of the Koch brothers.

This just isn't healthy.

Steve Benen 10:00 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (21)

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Rep. Mike Pompeo (R) of Kansas:

Kochsucker, or Kochroach?

If it's true that all of the people we elect are bought and paid for, then why do we have the worst Congress money can buy?

Oh yeah, it depends on who's doing the buying.

For the MFing Kochsucking Brothers, he's a bargain.

Posted by: c u n d gulag on March 21, 2011 at 10:06 AM | PERMALINK

1. What value does CPSC's database have over widely available information about product flaws on amazon, epinions, etc.?

2. Not that it's a ton of money, but why does a relatively simple database cost $3 million to build?

Posted by: kaplan37 on March 21, 2011 at 10:16 AM | PERMALINK

"That pretty much sums it up. We're talking about a dynamic in which a congressman appears to be an employee of the Koch brothers.

This just isn't healthy."

A little advice, Steve. You should have ended your post with the first sentence. That last attempt at understated irony just sounds lame.

Otherwise, keep up the good work.

Posted by: bdop4 on March 21, 2011 at 10:17 AM | PERMALINK

The illogic in all this has impressed me once again.

These neo-libertarian, objectivist, Tea Party financing brothers believe that we should make no communal effort to identify potentially harmful things (unsafe products or green house gasses) because that is an unwarranted invasion of our individual rights. Yet the net effect is take the power away from a reputedly unresponsive group of men (the government) and give it to another group of men (business owners and boards) whose defined purpose is not interest in individuals, but in profits. And, they expect us to believe it will make things better.


When someone claims to be acting for high moral purpose, but their actions do not accord with the objective of that moral behavior, there is no room for any conclusion except that they are either deeply hypocritical or evil and we would do well to get as far away from them as we can.

Posted by: Charlie on March 21, 2011 at 10:18 AM | PERMALINK

It is all but impossible to convict a member of Congress of bribery. But then, if drug dealers were writing the rules, it would be all but impossible to convict someone for dealing drugs.

How about this? If I point a gun at someone and pull the trigger and they die, then it becomes my responsibility to prove that I commit murder.

So if corporation wants something done and they give money to a member of Congress (or candidate) and the member of Congress does what the corporation wants, then it becomes their responsibility to prove that the money wasn't a bribe.

Before Pres. Obama's inauguration, I said we'll never see the kind of reforms that are necessary for this country to succeed -- radical changes in health care, financial reform and energy policy -- until we first have pubic financing of elections.

Posted by: SteveT on March 21, 2011 at 10:19 AM | PERMALINK

This guy is only the current example. Lots and lots of congressmembers are really representatives of specific large corporations. Then there are guys who represent the political parties of foreign nations (Sen Lieberman (Conn-Likud) or Rep King (NY-IRA)or foreign companies (Sen. McCain (AZ-Airbus).

This will continue as long as we tolerate an election systen based on legalized bribery.

Posted by: Ron Byers on March 21, 2011 at 10:20 AM | PERMALINK

How do you sell it to your constituents? - the way conservatives always do - tell low-information voters that to **not** gut the EPA would be a socialist plot that would raise their taxes and hurt small businesses.

Mission accomplished.

Posted by: June on March 21, 2011 at 10:21 AM | PERMALINK

Kaplan37 where do you think a lot of the information found on the consumer websites comes from? They pull information from the public databases.

Posted by: Ron Byers on March 21, 2011 at 10:23 AM | PERMALINK

That pretty much sums it up. We're talking about a dynamic in which a congressman appears to be an employee of the Koch brothers.

This just isn't healthy.

If cronyism was good enough for 19th century American politics, it's good enough for 21st century American politics.

Posted by: hells littlest angel on March 21, 2011 at 10:31 AM | PERMALINK

These clowns like Pompeo are like lemmings. We dealt with them for years when I worked in DHHS. Their minions were always ranting about too many regulations, especially regulations that protected hospital patients and nursing home residents. At one meeting someone asked them if they ever expected to he in a hospital one day. Its like talking to a wall. This is the modern GOP - anti-consumer, anti-public safety, anti-science, anti-everything.

Posted by: max on March 21, 2011 at 10:32 AM | PERMALINK

Steve Benen wrote: "We're talking about a dynamic in which a congressman appears to be an employee of the Koch brothers."

"A congressman"?

The entire Republican Party is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Koch Brothers.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on March 21, 2011 at 10:36 AM | PERMALINK

This is so frustrating. How is it that these Congress people are so open to being bought and so open about being bought?

Do We the Taxpayers not pay them enough, do we not give them enough perks, insurance, actual jobs?

And the only mechanism for yanking a bad Congress person to is hope the rich assholes who paid for his/her election the last time won't pay for it this time?

And how is it those who claim to front for religion seem to be the ones fastest to fall when dollars are waved around?

Drowning in lies...need...truth...glub, glub...

Posted by: Skip on March 21, 2011 at 10:39 AM | PERMALINK

But Look How Much You Save on Taxes

A $3,000,000.00 government-run boondoggle was scuttled. On average, we Amurkins have saved 0.1 cent on our taxes! That makes a real difference - 1/10 cent here, 1/25 cent there - pretty soon it adds up to real money. Now you can take your extra 0.1 cent to the bank, or use it to analyse all the consumer products you use. Good effin' deal!

Look, the IRS wants you to check off a box to send $3.00 to pay for presidential campaigns - Three Dollars! My god, you could buy a cup of coffee for money like that! And what do you get out of it, besides more ads and robo-calls?

We Amurkins save by letting the wealthy and corporations pay to support our elected Representatives. If the sponsors get a little on the side for helping us, well, didn't they earn it?

NOTE: this was sarcasm. Do not take literally - unless you're a Tea Bagger. Then it makes perfect sense.

Posted by: zandru on March 21, 2011 at 10:42 AM | PERMALINK

While Pompeo sounds like a first class sleaze (and, reading between the lines of the Post article, a serial failure in business before going into politics, along the lines of the unlamented G.W. Bush), I'm afraid that being "the congressman from" the major employer in your district is, sadly, the rule, rather than a shameful exception. Every congressman from the Peoria area winds up (and usually starts out) as "the congressman from Caterpillar." Scoop Jackson was universally called "the senator from Boeing," without a hint of censure attaching to it.

Frankly, I reserve my outrage for slimeballs like Shelby and Baucus, who carry water for their corporate masters without any pretense that they do so because it somehow benefits the shlubs who vote for them.

Posted by: audax minor on March 21, 2011 at 10:45 AM | PERMALINK

With all the "tribes" of Congress... Tea Partiers, Bluedogs, Koch heads, ... gosh, we're becoming Iraq.

Posted by: mmm on March 21, 2011 at 10:45 AM | PERMALINK

Rock on Prof. Loomis!!!

Posted by: k l m on March 21, 2011 at 10:48 AM | PERMALINK

Not at all healthy, but certainly plenty traditional.

The US has survived for 200+ years in spite of, not because of, Congress. As true today as it ever was.

Posted by: Jim Pharo on March 21, 2011 at 10:56 AM | PERMALINK

This sounds suspiciously familiar to something New Mexico's Governor Susan 'Swiftboat' Martinez tried to do a few weeks ago. Hmmm.

Posted by: Varecia on March 21, 2011 at 11:10 AM | PERMALINK

That a representative carries the water for the major business interest in his district is sort of expected, esp. from the Republican party. It's not like he's handing out checks to other house members on the floor.....

Posted by: golack on March 21, 2011 at 12:24 PM | PERMALINK

Dole and Brownback have not been much different. Koch and KOCHPAC have their claws wrapped around many politicos from Kansas southward into Texas. But, to call Pompeo a failed business man is a bit of a reach. He appeared to fail upwards ala Shrub. Out of West Point and law school, he was backed in the aerospace game with Koch venture capital. He was even bought out in a deal structured by the RepuG firm of Highland Capital Management out of Dallas. The think tank where Pompeo landed was the Kansas Policy Center, morphed into Flint Hills Center for Public Policy and is strictly a Koch run think tank to control, not only the energy issues, but, privatize social security and change education into a for-profit online and charter school system. In the interim of business moves, Pompeo was, once again, helped along by his work with Sentry International, a partner of Koch through a Brazilian subsidiary, GTF Representiacoes and Consultoria. Pompeo would have nothing without Koch.

Posted by: berttheclock on March 21, 2011 at 12:29 PM | PERMALINK

We don't like Mike...sadly, all of Kansas' Fourth District's honest prospects lost...

Posted by: NoStainMaster on March 21, 2011 at 1:11 PM | PERMALINK



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