Monday, April 2nd, 2012

Fringe Video Maker Upset That Koch Defends Itself by Revealing the Serial Dishonesty in his Latest Attacks on the Company

From Mark Holden, General Counsel, Koch Industries, Inc.

Robert Greenwald continues to be dishonest about Koch in an effort to raise money for and draw attention to his latest attack video.  In a March 31st blog posting, Mr. Greenwald again repeated many of the false story lines that have been refuted over the past year hereherehere, and here.

He claims his new video is the result of a “year-long investigation” and that Koch is trying to intimidate him.  From what we understand about this re-packaged video, it, like his prior videos about us, is not factual or original.  It consists of the derivative rehashing of distortions and fabrications made by far-left bloggers, diatribes based on the most attenuated of relationships between Koch and some third-party group’s real or alleged activities, or outright smears.

His “investigation” consisted of having his employees harass us with multiple, staged phone calls that were not intended to get our point of view, but instead to create material for his new video. (Unfortunately, many of Mr. Greenwald’s employees have not mastered the art of hanging up the telephone, and their motivations and false intentions were revealed, as we have shown here and here).

At the same time that we have been the target of death threats, as well as threats of physical violence and attacks on our facilities, Mr. Greenwald’s employees attempted to conduct ambush interviews of one of our owners to ask him how many homes he owns. Mr. Greenwald himself has never acknowledged the many homes he apparently owns in the LA-area alone. In addition, he had film crews show up at our owners’ residences to videotape and ask questions – a tactic we understand he plans to employ again as he has tried to hire a camera crew to stalk our employees in Wichita over the next couple of weeks.

Compared to Mr. Greenwald’s and his employees’ stalking and harassing behavior, what we have done is point out that Mr. Greenwald’s assertions are false, baseless, distorted, and/or misleading.  We also pointed out his history of making extremely biased, false, and misleading videos about other entities that he and the far-left do not like.  Mr. Greenwald, like many of the groups he is aligned with politically, does not like it when the targets of his attacks defend themselves by relying on the truth to show the falsity of the attacks.

In his most recent post he has offered to debate us.  After Mr. Greenwald’s March 30 appearance on MSNBC’s Martin Bashir show, however, we are confused about what there is to debate.   During his appearance, Mr. Greenwald, in a rare moment of honesty about Koch, stated that “what they do is legal.”  While he later reverted to his dishonest ways and tried to retract this truthful statement, he apparently reviewed the tape of his statement and realized even he could not lie his way out of it, deleting his tweet in the process.

Below we again address his false claims about us.  In so doing, we deal solely with the facts:

1.  With regard to the Crossett facility, we have explained that Georgia-Pacific operates in compliance with its government-issued and regulated permits and the law; that the individuals in Mr. Greenwald’s video have undisclosed, ulterior financial or other motives in attacking us; and that the allegations about us have been reviewed and dismissed by the regulators in the past.

In his post, he attempts to denigrate Koch’s exemplary environmental performance by referring to a study prepared by a member of the Union for Radical Political Economics that has nothing to with compliance with EPA-issued permits, and lists many major US-based manufacturers, given that the study is based on outputs from facilities in the U.S.  We work hard to comply with our permits and work cooperatively and innovatively with federal and state regulators to ensure compliance. We have been recognized by the EPA for doing so  — see here and here.  Koch’s commitment to compliance with environmental, health, and safety laws is shown by the more than 450 awards we have received since President Obama took office.

With regard to formaldehyde, Koch companies comply with all laws and regulations.  Along with many other individuals, environmental groups, NGOs, government agencies, and companies, we provided comments on the EPA’s proposed regulations, as is provided for under the law.

Mr. Greenwald’s insinuation that we are responsible for any cancer that any individual is unfortunately suffering from is maliciously false and irresponsible.  We, of course, have sympathy for anyone suffering from cancer.  We are sickened by his attempt to exploit someone else’s suffering in a dishonest way so that he can line his own pocket and garner publicity for himself, as well his gratuitous and disgraceful reference to Koch employees who have battled this disease.

2.  Mr. Greenwald falsely ties us to laws designed to combat voter fraud based solely on our membership in ALEC.  As we have explained, we are not involved with these initiatives.  Consistent with our  longstanding support for the Bill of Rights and individual liberty, we support voter education and voter registration efforts.   ALEC is a non-partisan association for state legislators who share a common belief in limited government, free markets, and individual liberty — ideals that Koch has long supported.  Many hundreds of other individuals, organizations, and companies also support ALEC, including General Electric and Unilever, Ben and Jerry’s corporate parent.  This includes Democrats and Republicans alike, representing all various demographic groups across the social and political spectrum.  However, membership in an organization does not mean that Koch is actively involved with or interested in everything done by the organization.

3.   As we have explained, Koch was not involved in any way in the decisions made by a Wake County, North Carolina school board.  Mr. Greenwald doesn’t even try to suggest that Koch was somehow directing what this local school board and the parents decided concerning their children’s education.   Typical of his other allegations, he bases this one on alleged actions by an AFP chapter.  He rehashes facts we have long acknowledged: that David Koch is the chairman of AFP Foundation, and that some Koch employees are among the more than 2 million members and 90,000-plus individuals who contribute to AFP and AFP Foundation.  He complains that AFP doesn’t disclose its donors (it is not required to do so under the law).  He fails to note, however, that it appears his own organization, Brave New Foundation, and his former funder, Democracy Alliance, don’t reveal their donors.  Mr. Greenwald’s other false allegations and irresponsible race-baiting concerning AFP’s alleged involvement in Wake County are largely based on false allegations by the far-left ThinkProgress, which were refuted in January 2011 by Newsweek and the Washington Post.  The Post decried ThinkProgress’ misrepresentations of fact and irresponsible race-baiting, which Mr. Greenwald continues to repeat.

4.   Mr. Greenwald falsely claims Koch is undermining worker rights.  He bases this on allegations that Koch was behind Wisconsin’s budget repair bill — allegations that have been debunked here and here.  Koch, in fact, has productive, respectful, and longstanding relationships with the unions that represent thousands of our employees.  In fact, last year a senior union official praised Koch for providing “among the best-paid manufacturing jobs in America,” and stating that Koch “in practice and in general has positive and productive . . . relationships with its unions.”  In contrast, Mr. Greenwald’s past relationships with his workers and unions have not been as positive or productive.  In 1992, Teamsters drivers at a North Carolina movie production site staged a strike when Robert Greenwald Productions paid them only $100-a-day ($152-a-day, or $39,520 annually in 2009 dollars), 33% below the union’s $150-a-day minimum requirement. ($228-a-day, or $59,280 in 2009 dollars).  “It was a case where they were trying to make a low-budget movie and pay low salaries,” said R.V. Durham, president of Teamsters Local 392. “We fixed it.”  (The News & Observer (Raleigh), 4/16/92 and 4/18/92).  Mr. Greenwald also continues to be dishonest about the false representations he made in his Wal-Mart attack video concerning a Wal-Mart store in Middlefield, Ohio.   As one third party commentator put it“The High Cost Of Low Price” is a hatchet job on the big China seller. So here is the “$64,000 Question”:  WHAT IN THE BLOODY HELL IS H&H HARDWARE DOING IN A MOVIE WHICH FEATURES BUSINESSES THAT WERE PUT UNDER BY WAL-MARTS? Good question, because H&H was hemorrhaging for four or five years before it went out of business and actually sold all of its remaining inventory and went lights out THREE MONTHS BEFORE WAL-MART EVER OPENED! . . . So now do you smell a rat? This Greenwald is very, very deceptive. You’ve just got to see this film to believe it.”

In sum, Mr. Greenwald is the one “hiding” and “distorting the truth.”  Koch has been and will continue to be truthful and direct concerning Mr. Greenwald and his false allegations.  We hope that Mr. Greenwald’s recent video is seen for what it is: a desperate attempt by an obscure video maker to make money off of the orchestrated partisan political attacks against Koch that have been going on for the past few years.  We recommend that people read for the truth.  While it appears unlikely that reasonable people will watch Mr. Greenwald’s video, we hope that those who do will make the same decision about Mr. Greenwald and his work that the Democracy Alliance did.


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