How Koch Industries is fighting democracy both 'at home and abroad': journalist

How Koch Industries is fighting democracy both 'at home and abroad': journalist

Numerous companies have refused to do business in Russia because of its invasion of Ukraine, which has brought about the most destructive conflict in Europe since World War 2. But Koch Industries isn’t one of them, and Washington Post opinion writer Dana Milbank slams the company for it in his March 30 column — arguing that Koch is “aiding the foes of democracy at home and abroad.”

“Koch Chairman Charles Koch — brother David died in 2019 — is a top funder of right-wing candidates and causes, notably efforts to roll back voting rights,” Milbank explains. “Now, the maker of Brawny paper towels, Dixie cups and many other household brands is aiding Russia as it rolls back democracy in Ukraine rather less subtly. Koch, keeping two glass manufacturing plants running in Russia, says it ‘will not walk away from our employees there or hand over these manufacturing facilities to the Russian government,’ arguing that doing so would ‘do more harm than good.’”

Milbank notes that Jeffrey Sonnenfeld and his Yale School of Management colleagues at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut have been maintaining a list of companies that have “withdrawn from Russia in some form.” As of March 30, that list includes at least 500 companies — and Koch Industries isn’t one of them.

Sonnenfeld, Milbank observes, has described Koch’s reasons for staying in Russia as “absolutely ludicrous” and “such a tortured logic it’s beyond absurd.”

“The Koch posture toward Russia is consistent with long-time efforts by Koch interests to fight democratic protections in the United States,” Milbank observes. “The Koch-funded American Legislative Exchange Council has promoted voting restrictions in states. Various Koch arms have funded initiatives and candidates that would limit voting access.”

Milbank adds that Stand Together, which he describes as an “umbrella group for the Koch network,” played “a key role in defeating an election-reform and voting-rights package in Congress, as The New Yorker’s Jane Mayer reported.”

The Post columnist adds, “Americans concerned about the Koch threats to democracy can keep their shopping carts free of Mardi Gras and Vanity Fair napkins, Quilted Northern and Angel Soft, Brawny and Sparkle, Georgia-Pacific office products, and Cordura fabrics — all goods produced by the oil, chemical and industrial conglomerate.”

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