Lawmakers are kicking their Koch habit over industrial giant's refusal to leave Russia

Lawmakers are kicking their Koch habit over industrial giant's refusal to leave Russia
David Koch speaking at the 2015 Defending the American Dream Summit at the Greater Columbus Convention Center in Columbus, Ohio. Credit: Gage Skidmore

During its invasion of Ukraine, Russia has been feeling economic pressure not only from the Biden Administration and its European NATO allies, but also, from all the corporations that are refusing to do business in Russia. Koch Industries, however, has opted to keep doing business in Russia, and some politicians have responded by saying that they will no longer accept donations from Koch’s political action committee, Koch PAC.

CNBC’s Brian Schwartz reports, “U.S. lawmakers are being scrutinized for accepting campaign contributions from the conglomerate, which is run by billionaire Charles Koch, even as other major U.S. and European companies flee the country to avoid sanctions over its invasion of Ukraine. The company’s glass manufacturer Guardian Industries, which has two facilities in Russia, will remain fully active despite the Kremlin’s war with Ukraine, Koch Industries President and Chief Operating Officer Dave Robertson said in a statement (on March 16).”

Walter Shaub, who headed the U.S. Office of Government Ethics from 2013-2017, believes that Koch’s decision to keep doing business in Russia could have a negative influence on politicians.

Shaub told CNBC, “Having lawmakers dependent on Putin enablers for their positions as they are making decisions about how to handle this crisis is dangerous for America and dangerous for democracy.”

Richard Painter, who served as chief White House ethics lawyer under President George W. Bush during the 2000s, believes that members of Congress who have received donations from Koch “should return the donation and stop taking money from Koch.”

One Democratic congressman who is now swearing off donations from Koch PAC is Rep. Kurt Schrader of Oregon. Deb Barnes, a Schrader spokesman, told CNBC, “Schrader believes as long as the company has decided to continue to do business in Russia during the war, he will not accept donations from the company.”

Another is Rep. Sanford Bishop, a Georgia Democrat. On March 21, Bishop told CNBC, “As long as Koch Industries continues to do business in Russia while the country is at war with Ukraine, I will not accept any donations from the company or its political action committee. My campaign is donating the amount received from the Koch Industries PAC this cycle to a non-profit dedicated to supporting and providing aid to the people of Ukraine during this international crisis.”

Biden is presently visiting Europe, where is meeting with NATO leaders to discuss additional economic sanctions against Russia.

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