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Thursday, December 8, 2016

We told you how the Koch brothers were loosely involved in a scheme designed to destroy the booming solar energy industry in Arizona. The billionaires carefully go to great lengths to cloak their involvement in such efforts using a vast network of think tanks and organizations — which are funded by think tanks and organizations backed by Koch money. Because the disclosure laws for most of these groups are very limited, we cannot know how exactly how much money the brothers are applying to any particular effort.

But we do know for sure that they are going out of their way not to be connected to their own political efforts.

Last week, MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow reported on the defeat in federal court of a Florida law designed to drug-test welfare recipients, which has turned out to be a waste of taxpayer money anyway. The segment connected the Kochs’ ideological network to these laws and included a comment from a Koch spokesperson who said, “Not sure I see how we would have anything to say on this, since we are not involved in this issue in any way.”

On Friday night, Maddow revisited the story with a preamble about her willingness to issue corrections and an explanation about why she is fixated on what she calls “the most important story in American politics this decade,” which to her is “the effort by the Republican Party to remake itself in the wake of the disastrous Bush/Cheney era.”

She went on to say that this focus necessitates reporting on two people who despise being connected with their political activities, the Koch brothers — whom she’s described as “the conservative political figures who you can most count on to threaten to sue you and call your boss and scream about their victimization as loud as they can whenever they get mentioned by name in a way they do not control.”

After explaining how vague state-based groups, including several Koch-funded operations, helped spread the failed Florida law, Maddow described a letter she received from the Kochs’ attorneys, who do not want their clients associated with the law or the policy it implemented, even though their clients would not deny being a source of funding for one of the groups Maddow mentioned in the report. Further, the letter included a script they intended for her to read on the air, “denouncing my own reporting on the Florida Drug-Test the Poor story and telling you “that they are not involved in promoting any such issue.”

Maddow stated flatly:

I’m not going to read their script. I’m not going to renounce my own reporting on this story because the reporting on this story stands. It is true and now we also know that the Koch brothers do not wish to be associated with the work and the causes that they have funded through their multi-million-dollar, multi-year massive funding of networks of conservative organizations. You not wanting to be known for something that you have done is not the same thing as you not having done it.

She did acknowledge that her staff should have solicited an opinion earlier from the Kochs but left them with an even better option than responding through their lawyers.

“Mr. Koch, or the other Mr. Koch, you are welcome on this show any time,” she said. “I would love to discuss these matters with you right here, in person, live and without interruption, any time. It would be easy to set up. You apparently already have my number.”

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