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6 Reasons the Koch Brothers Had a Very Bad Week

An FBI investigation, a new documentary, and a negative court ruling: here's a look inside the Kochs' worst week in a while.

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Just as the date was being set for a recall election for Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, a federal court struck down portions of the anti-labor law that all but ended collective bargaining for the state's public employees. When first introduced in the state legislature, the anti-union measure sparked an uprising in the Dairy State last year that led to an 18-day occupation of the state capitol building. Walker was elected in 2010 with a substantial assist from the Wisconsin chapter of Americans for Prosperity (then under the leadership of Mark Block, now a person of interest in the aforementioned FBI investigation). Judge William Conley took aim at several portions of the law: those that forbade the automatic deduction of union dues from public employes and demanded yearly union elections. Such provisions treated certain groups of public employees differently from others with similar jobs, apparently according to their loyalty to the governor.

From Amanda Terkel's report on Huffington Post:

The court ruled that the state cannot prevent public sector unions from automatically deducting dues from workers' paychecks and cannot require them to be recertified annually. 

The law, known as Act 10, requires most public sector unions to hold annual votes on whether a majority of its members want to recertify the union. It also took away the rights of some unions to automatically collect dues from members' paychecks.

The court kept most of the law in place, but it ruled that the state did not have the power to pick and choose which unions could deduct dues. Under Act 10, only "public safety unions" -- those representing firefighters and police officers -- could continue to take out payments automatically.

AlterNet's Steven Rosenfeld explains the loyalty issues involved:

The ruling by U.S. District Court Judge William Conley, which struck down those sections of the law, held that the legislature had the right to deny union bargaining rights, so long as that policy was applied evenly across all state employee unions--not just the ones opposing the governor's or his party's policies. In Act 10, Walker generally exempted state police and public safety unions from the bargaining and dues-collecting restrictions.

"The Act’s treatment of the Capital Police, who endorsed the governor’s opponent, in comparison to its treatment of state vehicle inspectors, who endorsed the governor, best illustrates this suspect line-drawing," Conley wrote, saying that targeting of some unions violated the Constitution's equal protection clause.

5. 'Koch Brothers Exposed' Debuts

If you're trying to keep a secret -- say, one about the amount of money you're investing in organizations that put out disinformation in order to sway the political process in your favor, or maybe one about the cancer affecting nearly every family in a neighborhood downriver from your paper plant -- a documentary raising questions about these things is never a good day. On Thursday, March 29, filmmaker Robert Greenwald unveiled a feature-length film, Koch Brothers Exposed, at a screening co-sponsored by AlterNet and Greenwald's Brave New Foundation.

But given all the other fires that had popped up in Kochland -- the court ruling against Scott Walker, the FBI investigation of Mark Block, the Politico report on the Kochs' support of the American Energy Alliance, and the New Yorker's exploration of the Alliance's Koch links -- you'd expect that public relations wizards for the Kochs and their proxies would be falling all over themselves issuing statements and doing spin-control on these developments. Instead, radio silence:

From Politico:

A spokesman for the Koch brothers did not immediately respond to requests for comment Thursday.

From the  New Yorker:

A spokesperson at Koch Industries did not respond to questions on the Kochs’ ties to the groups.

The Kochs' political operatives were hardly more responsive. From the  Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, in its report on the FBI investigation that involves the Kochs' Americans for Prosperity:

 
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