CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- National Democrats called on West Virginia's two Republican members of Congress last week to return money from conservative political donors David H. and Charles Koch, after a report tied the brothers' business to Iran.Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., received $19,500 from the Koch brothers and their businesses, according to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. Rep. David McKinley, R-W.Va., received $3,500, according to the DCCC.In a news release, the DCCC said the money came from the "controversial Koch Industries, which profited from business with Iran despite the country's known links to financing terrorists."Last week, Bloomberg Markets Magazine published an article headlined "Koch Brothers Flout Law with Secret Iran Sales." The article stated that "Koch Industries -- in addition to being involved in improper payments to win business in Africa, India and the Middle East -- has sold millions of dollars of petrochemical equipment to Iran, a country the U.S. identifies as a sponsor of global terrorism."
The Bloomberg investigation cited previously internal Koch Industries documents that revealed the company made those equipment sales to Iran "through foreign subsidiaries, thwarting a U.S. trade ban.Representatives of Capito and McKinley had no comment Friday about whether they might return those contributions.The DCCC news releases did not mention Koch contributions and relationships with conservative Democratic Party politicians, including Sen. Joe Manchin and former state Sen. Mike Oliverio, whom McKinley defeated in the 2010 race for Congress.Between January and July, the Koch Industries Political Action Committee gave $259,000 to Republican candidates and national Republican political committees.During that same period, the Koch PAC gave $45,000 to five Democrats in Congress, including four House members and one senator, according to OpenSecrets.org, website of the Center for Responsive Politics in Washington, D.C.Manchin received $5,000 from the Koch PAC, according to his July filing with the Federal Elections Commission, related to his 2012 re-election campaign. He was the only Democratic senator to receive a contribution from the Kochs.While he was in the state Senate, Oliverio also served as chairman of the West Virginia Chapter of the American Legislative Exchange Council.Between 1997 and 2009, the Charles G. Koch Foundation and the Claude R. Lambe Foundation -- both Koch Family Foundations -- gave $688,858 to fund ALEC, including $200,858 in 2009, according to OpenSecrets.The Koch PAC also gave $168,000 to 33 political action committees associated with incumbent members of Congress, including $153,000 to Republicans and $15,000 to Democrats, according to OpenSecrets. The Koch brothers also backed the FreedomWorks Foundation, which helped train thousands of tea party activists.In all, the Koch Brothers have also spent more than $50 million to lobby Congress since 2006, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.In West Virginia, the Charles G. Koch Foundation helps fund a conservative Morgantown think tank, called the Public Policy Foundation of West Virginia, and several positions at West Virginia University's Department of Economics.
The Public Policy Foundation is part of the State Policy Network, a group of conservative organizations around the country. The Foundation founded and finances West Virginia Watchdog, an online news site. The Koch Bothers made a major portion their money operating oil and gas refineries. They also hold major interests in Brawny Paper Towels, Dixie Cups, Georgia-Pacific Lumber, Stainmaster Carpet and fabric company Lycra.Today, the Koch brothers have operations in more than 50 countries, according to Bloomberg Markets Magazine.Koch Industries is the second-largest private company in the country after Cargill, an international food producer and marketer, according to Forbes magazine.Reach Paul J. Nyden at email@example.com or 304-348-5164.