The Watchdog Institute, a nonprofit reporting center based out of San Diego State University, has released a report showing connections between a committee in the U.S. House of Representatives and the Koch brothers, Charles and David. The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform is chaired by Rep. Darrell Issa, a San Diego Republican who also happens to be the richest member of Congress with a net worth of $451.1 million, according to a recent Mother Jones review.
This month, Issa’s Committee on Oversight and Government Reform published a report critical of federal regulatory practices that it considers “impediments to job creation.” The report several times singles out the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as an entity whose regulations create costs for small businesses that inhibit job growth. Given the committee’s Koch connections, it may come as little surprise that its report targets the EPA, as Koch Industries has come into repeated conflict with federal and state environmental protection agencies. The most recent flare-up between Koch Industries and environmental regulators comes in the form of a battle between Koch Industries-owned Georgia-Pacific Paper and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection over a wastewater pipeline Georgia-Pacific wants to route into Florida’s St. John’s River.
The Watchdog report demonstrates that the parallels between the House committee’s criticisms and Koch Industries’ clashes with federal and state regulators certainly may not be mere coincidence. At least six Republican staffers with the Committee on Oversight have demonstrable corporate lobbying connections, according to the Watchdog Institute. Additionally, 11 of the 23 Republican representatives in the committee received financial help from Koch Industries in the last election.
The largest recipient of Koch Industries contributions overall, with $12,500 since 2008, is Chairman Issa, though two other members of the House Committee have matched the $10,000 in campaign contributions from Koch Industries that Issa received prior to last year’s election: Dennis Ross of Florida and James Lankford of Oklahoma. John Mica, of Florida’s 7th district, which includes part of the St. John’s River (though not the site of Georgia-Pacific’s proposed wastewater pipeline), got $2,500 in campaign funds from Koch Industries. Connie Mack, a Florida representative who may be a potential 2012 Senate candidate (though he still refuses to confirm that he intends to run) received $7,500.
New York representative Ann Marie Buerkle received the smallest Koch donation, getting $250 from Catherine Haggett, Director of Federal Affairs for Koch Industries. Michigan’s Tim Walberg, New Hampshire’s Frank Guinta, South Carolina’s Trey Gowdy and Pennsylvania’s Mike Kelly and Patrick Meehan all received between $2,500 and $7,500 in Koch campaign money leading up to the 2010 election.
With the controversial Koch brothers making headlines lately, House Oversight representatives, especially those like Rep. Mack with a reported eye on higher office, may not be that happy to be tied to them. But as long as Issa and his fellow committee members continue to accept Koch money and advocate deregulation that would conveniently benefit Koch Industries and other energy, petroleum and chemical corporations, they may be stuck to Charles and David Koch. Representatives and staffers on the committee have declined to comment on any perceived conflict of interest.