Cain’s Other Scandal

Herman Cain is having a moment. Thanks to his economics-by-mnemonics plan and his unconventional, smoke-filled ads, Cain recently shot to the top tier of the GOP campaign. He became what Ryan Lizza called the fringe frontrunner.

But when you step to center stage, you realize just how glaring the spotlight can be. Cain’s campaign is reeling from revelations that two former employees at the National Restaurant Association accused Cain of “inappropriate behavior.” His inconsistent statements about the ordeal are only making matters worse.

The harassment story will dominate Cain’s coverage for some time to come, but there is another scandal lurking in the background that deserves attention as well.

Mark Block, Cain’s chief of staff, has been implicated in a host of campaign financing improprieties. And as researchers pore over financial documents, they have found substantial links between Cain, Block, and the Koch Brothers.

Koch Industries own oil refineries and 4,000 miles of pipeline and was named one of the top 10 air polluters in the nation in a 2010 UMass-Amherst report. The Kochs’ political donations are often aimed at promoting their Libertarian views, but they also directly benefit their own profit margins. They have donated millions of dollars to nonprofit groups that fight environmental regulation and seed doubt about climate science. A Greenpeace report called them a “kingpin of climate science denial.” And though green groups tend to paint ExxonMobil as the worst of the worst when it comes to lobbying against climate legislation, Koch outspent even them.

It’s no surprise that Cain would attract Koch money and dollars. He says he doesn’t believe in climate change, and he believes public health and environmental safeguards are “burdensome.” Those are appealing positions for dirty polluters like the Koch’s business interests.

But now we can connect the dots. Cain’s Chief of Staff Mark Block ran the Wisconsin chapter of Americans for Prosperity, a group cofounded by the Koch brothers to develop the Tea Party movement. Block met Cain through Americans for Prosperity and encouraged him to run for president. Block then launched spinoff groups from Americans for Prosperity, including Prosperity USA, which gave money and services to Cain’s campaign. It also paid for Block’s trip to meet with David Koch in Washington.

This doesn’t mean Cain was the Koch brothers’ top choice. They fund several candidates who back their anti-regulation, anti-clean energy, and anti-climate action agenda. They were major players in the midterm election and they will likely continue paying to keep their dirty talking points at the forefront of the presidential race.

That is their right, according to current campaign finance laws. But it is also voters’ right to know where the big money comes from and what kind of influence it buys. In the case of the Koch brothers, it seems to advance candidates who give polluters a free pass and disregard how this will damage the health of American families.

The Dirty Koch Brothers Launch Their Latest Spin Campaign

As if we haven’t heard enough from the Dirty Koch Brothers, now comes their latest scheme:  This week, Americans for Prosperity — which is founded and funded by dirty energy giant Koch Industries — is launching its “Running on Empty Tour” in an attempt to blame high gas prices on the environmental safety regulations and the Obama Administration.   You can be pretty sure they’re not going to talking about how gas prices are affected by Big Oil companies, foreign governments or oil industry speculators like, say, Koch Industries.  They’re planning to preach their lies in places like Nebraska, Kansas, and Missouri.

These wealthy fat cats are working hard to advance their misguided, dirty agenda which is full of falsehoods and great for their corporate bottom line — but it isn’t good for your family or your community.  Here are a few examples of their lies:

The lies just keep piling up.  They are spread like urban legend on talk-radio and even in the Capitol.

The solutions they propose in this latest roadshow, like more drilling, will not reduce your gas prices.  In fact, as much as it disturbs me as an environmentalist, the truth is that U.S. Oil production is higher under the Obama administration than it has been in years, according to the Energy Information Administration. Claims that drilling permits are being held up by environmental rules and the Obama Administration are just bogus. The agency that issues offshore drilling permits, in fact has issued shallow water drilling permits at a rate of six per month since October 2010.

The five largest privately held oil companies — BP, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobil, and Shell — earned profits totaling $901 billion between 2001 and 2010, the non-profit Center for American Progress calculated using companies’ annual reports. And as prices rise, those profits will grow. Big Oil takes care of itself.

Their lies are making us less healthy, our economy less sustainable, our security more questionable and our environment dirtier.  We should do everything we can to stop them.