The following response letter was sent to the Washington Post by Koch Industries, Inc. following the Post’s March 21st article.
March 23, 2011
Steve Reiss, Political Editor
The Washington Post
Dear Mr. Reiss:
I write on behalf of Koch Industries to raise concerns about the March 21, 2011 article by Dan Eggen concerning Representative Michael Pompeo and Koch Industries. As an initial matter, your paper never asked for our reaction to almost every issue raised in the story, other than a narrow question concerning why Koch supported Rep. Pompeo, which we promptly answered. The apparent news hook for the story – that “liberal groups have begun turning their ire” on Rep. Pompeo – is puzzling, since they have opposed him all along and the same could be said of the entire GOP Caucus.
But we believe it is important to provide complete facts about the issues, and so would like to broach these questions:
• In 2008, Koch Industries hired a lobbyist to raise its concerns about the proposed CPSC consumer database. Many other groups, including private employers, NGOs, and advocacy groups, did the same to ensure that their concerns about the proposed legislation were heard by Congress. Koch did not lobby on this issue after 2008 and, therefore, never lobbied Representative Pompeo regarding it, since he was not elected until November 2010. Why were those facts not included and what accounts for the inaccuracy?
• Like many other industry participants, Koch Industries opposed the database as proposed because it would require companies to make public confidential and proprietary information about their manufacturing processes and other trade secrets that would unfairly benefit competitors, including international competitors. Koch Industries also was concerned that the proposed database would allow those with ulterior motives, such as plaintiffs lawyers or third party advocacy groups, to file complaints without verification of the allegations, which could spur baseless lawsuits or investigations, without any resulting benefit to the public or consumer safety. Those rationales are well known and relevant, so why weren’t they included in the piece?
• The employee political action committee of Koch Industries, KochPAC, supported Representative Pompeo during his campaign. Additionally, some individual Koch employees personally contributed to his campaign. All of these contributions have long been publicly disclosed and are a matter of public record. Since the piece refers to “unfettered spending” and some “unfair advantage,” wouldn’t readers benefit from knowing the facts of those full and up-front disclosures?
• Professor Burdett Loomis, whom the article presents as a neutral commentator, is a Democratic partisan and advocate who has publicly criticized Koch Industries in the past. In addition, Professor Loomis has ties to Organizing for America and was a supporter of Rep. Pompeo’s unsuccessful Democratic opponent in the November 2010 election. Why didn’t the piece describe his leanings, as is required in the Post’s own reporting guidelines? Further, could no balancing sources be found to present the range of viewpoints on these matters?
Finally, I’d like to ask why the reporter only asked a very narrow question of why Koch’s PAC supported Rep. Pompeo’s candidacy and why Koch Industries was never given the chance to respond to the specifics in this article?
Thank you for your attention to this matter and I’d be grateful for a formal response.
CC: Marcus Brauchli – executive editor
Raju Narisetti & Elizabeth Spayd – managing editors
Patrick B. Pexton – ombudsman