And if thats true, why are we the only large company thats doing this? he asked. If this were the easy way to make money, why wouldnt they be doing it?
Charles Koch said he would prefer not to get involved in politics.
I look at those activities as defensive, he said. That is, we need to preserve enough liberty and enough of a market economy so people can speak out and have independent resources to provide diverse opinions, and try to put some limits on the growth and intrusiveness of government.
The brothers say they are taking risks by speaking out. Mark Holden, Koch Industries senior vice president and general counsel, said there has been a progression of attacks and lies about the company since Obamas election, including:
Summer 2010: Austan Goolsbee, then Obamas chief economic adviser, commented on Koch Industries tax status during a briefing with reporters in Washington, accusing the company of not paying taxes.
Under federal law, its a crime to improperly access or disclose confidential tax information, according to Holden, who suspects the administration was trying to intimidate them because of their political views.
It was false and malicious, too, Holden said. We pay a lot of taxes.
May 2012: Stephanie Cutter, Obamas deputy campaign manager, said in a video that the campaign is going to call their BS, referencing the Kochs.
Really? Holden said. If my kids said that to me, theyd be going to their room. This is the deputy campaign manager? This is the discourse in this country?
May 2012: David Axelrod, Obamas senior political consultant, told the media in a telephone conference that Mitt Romney is being aided by the (political strategist) Karl (Rove) and Koch brothers contract killers in super PAC land, according to news accounts.
And when you have Axelrod, one of (Obamas) top campaign officials, saying we are contract killers I mean, I dont know how somebody in the administration can say that about a private citizen, said Charles Koch. The attacks are unbelievable.
Its frightening because you dont know what theyre going to do, he said. They have tremendous power. They can destroy just about anybody, whether you are totally innocent or not.
July 2012: U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J., read a statement on the floor of the U.S. Senate accusing the Koch brothers of being two of the biggest sources of secret money in politics.
With photos of the Koch brothers as a backdrop, captioned The Koch Brothers: Subverting the Democratic Process, Lautenberg spoke for three minutes, accusing the brothers of picking their preferred politicians.
If these wealthy individuals want to pick our next president, they should have the muscle and the courage to stand up and say so, tell everybody what they want to do to our democracy. They dont have the courage, Lautenberg said.
Lautenberg also read a list of Koch Industries consumer products into the record, detailing the various companies the Koch brothers own. Koch officials called that action tantamount to inviting a boycott by consumers.
The attacks have forced the brothers to increase security around themselves and their families, both said. David Koch said Obamas criticisms might tempt disturbed people to hurt them.