By Ryan Sibley
Koch Industries, the closely held firm led by conservative and libertarian political donors Charles and David Koch, has a long record of entanglements with federal regulatory authorities; its foreign subsidiaries traded with Iran and some of its foreign employees violated the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act by using bribes to get business deals, according to an exhaustive account by Bloomberg News. That record wasn't sufficient to prevent an executive from the company, Don Clay, from holding a position advising the government on some of the very issues the multi-billion dollar conglomerate has been in trouble for violating, according to official records available through the Sunlight Foundation’s Influence Explorer.
Clay, who before joining Koch Industries served as an assistant administrator at the Environmental Protection Agency, sat on the agency's advisory committee for the the Clean Air Act and on some of its subcommittees that provided advice on various matters including regulation of toxic substances. Records show that Clay sat on multiple EPA federal advisory committees beginning in 1998 -- when he left his official post at the EPA and joined Koch Industries, through 2009.
Clay was in a position to advise the government on how to regulate a company he worked for, which is owned by people regularly fighting for less regulation in general. The EPA did not respond to questions about what issues Clay worked on exactly while he was on the advisory committee.
EPA enforcement data records presented on InfluenceExplorer.com, show details of some of the enforcement actions carried out against Koch Industries and its subsidiaries by the EPA, such as an incident in 2001 where Koch Pipeline dumped over 300,000 pounds of a toxic substance in Iowa, violating the Superfund. The company was fined $2.3 million dollars for that violation.
The table below is taken from InflunceExplorer.com and shows EPA violations by Koch Industries and its subsidiaries dating back to 2001. The data is new to the site and allows access to information that was once hard to obtain.
|Invista S.A.R.L. (National Case)||Invista S.A.R.L.||La Porte, Tx and others||$170,099,600|
|Invista S.A.R.L. (National Case)||Invista S.a.r.l.||Athens, Ga; Calhoun and others||$48,978,944|
|Invista S.A.R.L (National Case)||Invista S.a.r.l.||Martinsville, Va; Seaford and others||$24,672,736|
|Allied Paper, Inc./Portage Creek/Kalamazoo River Admin Order On Consent (Cercla)||Georgia-Pacific, LLC||Kalamazoo, Mi||$14,000,000|
|Allied Paper, Inc./Portage Creek/Kalamazoo River Consent Decree Ou 2-Willow Boul||Georgia Pacific Corp||Kalamazoo, Mi||$11,725,509|
|Koch Pipeline Company||Koch Pipeline Company||Algona, Ia||$2,306,588|
|Allied Paper, Inc./Portage Creek/Kalamazoo River - Kalamazoo Mill And Hawthorne||Georgia-pacific Corporation||Kalamazoo, Mi||$2,029,207|
|Flint Hills Resources Alaska, Llc||Flint Hills Resources Alaska, LLC||North Pole, Ak||$2,000,000|
|Georgia-Pacific Consumer Products, Lp||Georgia-Pacific Consumer Products LP||Milford, Nj||$2,000,000|
|Colonial Pipeline Company||Colonial Pipeline Company||Winder, Ga||$1,582,600|
During the span of years that Clay held his position on the federal advisory committee, Koch Industries reported spending close to $32 million to influence multiple issues including the environment in 1998 and between 2006-2009, according to information obtained from lobbyist disclosure forms and displayed on TransparencyData.
Clay’s position on the advisory committee, in combination with lobbying efforts, gave Koch Industries an additional avenue to influence government. Not only could the company use its lobbyists to influence lawmakers and administration officials, it also had an inside advisor who could recommend policies preferred by the company directly to the EPA.