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Powerline - Anatomy of a Smear

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The Center for American Progress is generally regarded as a front for the Obama administration. Its President and CEO is John Podesta, formerly Bill Clinton's Chief of Staff and the chairman of Barack Obama's transition team. CAP is lavishly funded by George Soros and several other left-wing billionaires. It runs, among other things, a web site called Think Progress, which cranks out a steady stream of slimy hit pieces for the benefit of the Obama administration and the far left.

Soros apparently believes that only left-wing billionaires should be able to participate in public discourse, so his Center for American Progress, through its web site, has carried on a bizarre vendetta against Charles and David Koch and their company, Koch Industries. The Kochs are two of the very few billionaires who are active in politics on the conservative/libertarian side, a phenomenon that apparently drives left-wing billionaires wild with rage. I'm not sure why; maybe they think the Kochs are traitors to their class. In any event,Think Progress has stalked the Koch brothers with video cameras and produced one false, over-the-top attack on the Kochs after another, some of which we have had fun dissecting here.

As part of its ongoing obsession with all things Koch, Think Progress has attacked Congressman Mike Pompeo, who represents Kansas' 4th Congressional district. Wichita, where Koch Industries' headquarters is located, is in the 4th district. The 4th district seat was open in 2010, and Pompeo was the Republican nominee. Not surprisingly, the Koch brothers, who are Republicans, supported Pompeo, as did many Koch employees. (Koch Industries employs well over 2,000 people in the 4th district.) The 4th is strongly Republican, and Pompeo easily defeated his Democratic opponent, Raj Goyle, with 59 percent of the vote.

This may be the ultimate dog-bites-man story: Republicans support Republican candidate in Republican district! Republican candidate wins, despite opposition from goofball, Communist-leaning web sites! Not only that, having taken his seat, the Republican proceeds to vote with his fellow Republicans!

Nevertheless, Think Progress has found Pompeo's Republican behavior to be sinister. In September 2010, boy reporter Lee Fang wrote a hit piece on Pompeo in a futile attempt to drum up support for Goyle. Fang alleged that Pompeo was the candidate of the "Kochtopus," and breathlessly noted that more than a decade ago, Pompeo started a company "which he ran with investment funds from Koch Industries." He pointed out that Pompeo's biggest contributor at that point in the campaign was Kochpac.

Fang studiously avoided saying anything about Pompeo's opponent, Raj Goyle. Goyle is an interesting character, albeit a far-left one. He was not only a staff attorney at the American Civil Liberties Union, but also a "senior policy analyst" for none other than the Center for American Progress! Young Mr. Fang did not see fit to let his readers know that the candidate he tried to shore up was his own former colleague and Soros employee.

Pompeo, in contrast, is a former soldier--he graduated first in his class from West Point--and a graduate of Harvard Law School, where, like Barack Obama, he was an editor of the Law Review. Suffice it to say that his easy win over Mr. Goyle was not exactly an upset.

Think Progress did a follow-up hit piece on Congressman Pompeo on February 17 of this year. This post repeated the site's obsessive anti-Koch hysteria, and wove into it some of Pompeo's votes:

Pompeo is the congressman "spawned by 'Kochtopus'" and "essentially a subsidiary of the Koch brothers' business empire." He made his fortune off of a Koch backed company, sidled up to Koch-backed Americans for Prosperity in his 2010 campaign, signed the AFP anti-climate change pledge, took more campaign contributions from Koch Industries than any other candidate in 2010, and hired on an ex-Koch lobbyist to be his chief of staff. In fact, Koch Industries even ranked at top of Pompeo's campaign contribution list, outpacing the second top contributor by $60,000.

So it's no surprise that the Congressman from Koch took to the House floor to champion one of Koch Industries' top causes - stripping the EPA's ability to regulate greenhouse gases.

Once again, the dog is biting the man. The Obama administration couldn't get cap and trade through Congress, so now it is attempting to circumvent the legislative process by implementing cap and trade, in effect, through EPA regulations. The House Energy and Commerce Committee voted 34-19 to strip the EPA of carbon regulation authority, with three Democrats joining every Republican in the majority. So again, this is standard, bipartisan fare, not special pleading on behalf of Koch Industries or anyone else.

But this is where the story gets interesting. One of the curious media phenomena of our time is the synergy between the fever swamp of left-wing web sites, often closely affiliated with the Democratic Party and supported by far-left billionaires, and the supposedly mainstream media. Repeatedly, "stories" that begin in the fever swamp attain a sort of respectability a few days later when they are picked up by the New York Times or the Washington Post, and often are disseminated from there to liberal newspapers around the country. This is a case in point.

On March 20, the Washington Post, evidently inspired by Think Progress, laundered that site's attack on Pompeo into slightly more respectable form, and brought it into polite company. The Post's article is by Dan Eggen, who has a history of this kind of thing. Eggen's article was a rehash of Think Progress's indictment, minus the "Kochtopus."

When Mike Pompeo needed funding for a Wichita aerospace company, one of the places he and his partners went for help was Koch Industries, a hometown firm that is among the world's largest privately held corporations.

This is a repeat of Fang's reference to a company "which [Pompeo] ran with investment funds from Koch Industries." Only, if you keep reading Eggen's article, you learn this:

The investors included Koch Venture Capital, an arm of the oil-and-gas conglomerate; Pompeo and his aides said Koch's investment amounted to less than 2 percent of the total.

Eggen attempts no rebuttal of this statement. It is perhaps not shocking that someone looking for capital in Wichita, Kansas would find less than 2 percent of it at the venture capital arm of the city's biggest company. (One wonders: was young Mr. Fang ignorant of the fact that Koch Venture Capital's investment was less than 2 percent of the total, or did he know it and hide it from his readers?)

Eggen, undeterred, continues to expand on Think Progress's themes:

Last year, Pompeo turned to Koch for help again -- this time to support his successful campaign for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. Pompeo received $80,000 in donations from Koch and its employees, making him the top recipient of Koch-related money in the 2010 elections.

It is noteworthy that Eggen's link to the $80,000 figure is the same as Think Progress's. But really: $80,000? From Koch and its more than 2,000 employees in the district? That amount is dwarfed by contributions that all kinds of institutions made during the 2010 cycle. Nor is it anywhere near the largest amount contributed by the oil and gas industry during 2010. Democrat Blanche Lincoln got more than five times as much.

Now liberal groups have begun turning their ire toward Pompeo, who hired a former Koch Industries lawyer as his chief of staff and proposed legislation in his first weeks in office that could benefit many of Koch's business interests.

Let's just pause here. Eggen evidently considers it news that "liberal groups have begun turning their ire toward Pompeo." Note the implicit admission that Think Progress's smears inspired his article. But when is partisan ire news? Conservative groups express ire toward any number of Democrats; is that "news" to be repeated in the Post? Not that I've noticed. And an objective reporter might say that Pompeo's votes could benefit his constituents, as opposed to "Koch's business interests."

The measures include amendments approved in the House budget bill to eliminate funding for two major Obama administration programs: a database cataloguing consumer complaints about unsafe products and an Environmental Protection Agency registry of greenhouse-gas polluters. Both have been listed as top legislative priorities for Koch Industries, which has spent more than $37 million on Washington lobbying since 2008, according to disclosure records.

It is interesting that Eggen links to no source for his claim that "[b]oth have been listed as top legislative priorities for Koch Industries." If they were listed, he must have a source. What is it? Koch's corporate spokeswoman said, "please be advised that 'eliminating funding for a database of consumer complaints about unsafe products and for an Environmental Protection Agency registry of greenhouse-gas polluters' was not a top legislative priority of Koch Industries." If Eggen has some evidence to the contrary, what is it?

Eggen continues by quoting a critic whom he identifies correctly as a "liberal-leaning group that has spearheaded protests against the Kochs."

"It's the same old story -- a member of Congress carrying water for his biggest campaign contributor," said Mary Boyle of Common Cause,

Actually, this is, if anything, a case of a member of Congress carrying water for his Congressional district. Is there something wrong with that? If so, we will have to revisit what the Washington Post wrote about a great many Democrats. But that raises another question: who were the biggest contributors to Pompeo's opponent, Mr. Goyle? We don't have to look very far, as the information is at the same web site that Eggen has already linked to for information on contributions to Congressman Pompeo.

Note that the Center for American Progress, the Obama administration front that runs Think Progress, is on the list. So Dan Eggen knew, when he mainstreamed Think Progress's self-interested attack, that its parent company was one of the significant contributors to Pompeo's opponent.

Note, too, that Goyle's biggest contributor was ActBlue, a consortium of far-left billionaires. And unions and law firms, together with the national organization of plaintiffs' lawyers, contributed more to Goyle than Koch Industries and its more than 2,000 constituents contributed to Pompeo. It is an interesting point: Pompeo was a member of the Harvard Law Review, but law firms and plaintiffs' lawyers organizations supported his undistinguished opponent. Why? Do you suppose that, in office, Goyle, like nearly every other Democrat, would have carried water for unions and for lawyers who want to stir up ever more litigation?

So, does Common Cause consider Democrats' support for the agendas of unions and plaintiffs' lawyers to be "the same old story" of Congressmen carrying water for their contributors? Does the Washington Post? If so, why the bizarre focus on Mike Pompeo and the Koch brothers, when vastly greater sums of money are marshaled on behalf of the Democratic Party and its fat-cat allies?

Dan Eggen has been down this path before. In the Examiner, Tim Carney documents Eggen's "bad habit" of forgetting to mention the vast support that lobbyists and special interests give to Democrats. The Post, like most liberal outlets, has a schizoid attitude toward money in politics. It pretends to be horrified that people support candidates who agree with them, and that people who have more money are likely to give more support. Yet they seem allergic to recognizing that most big money in politics is on the left, not the right.

Eggen concludes his echo of Think Progress's smear with an act of sheer dishonesty. Having already quoted a "liberal-leaning group" that criticizes Congressman Pompeo, he wraps up by quoting a critic whom he presents as a neutral academic:

Burdett Loomis, a University of Kansas political science professor, said that "almost any Republican legislator from Wichita is going to be very, very solicitous of the Kochs. They're major constituents, major employers and major money."

But, he said, Pompeo's ties seem to stand out: "I'm sure he would vigorously dispute this, but it's hard not to characterize him as the congressman from Koch."

Well, that's the Think Progress line, as endorsed by the Washington Post. But who, exactly, is this neutral arbiter, the "University of Kansas political science professor," Burdett Loomis?

The Post doesn't tell its readers this, but Loomis is a Democratic Party partisan and a virulent enemy of Republicans in general and the Kochs in particular. He is a fever swamp leftist just like Lee Fang and his colleagues at the Center for American Progress. If you doubt that, take a look at his Facebook page. Here are his "activities and interests:"

Kansas Historical Society, Campaigns & Elections, Kansas Democratic Party, Kansas House Democratic Caucus, Ad Astra Institute, Inc., Thomas W. Benton, Sunlight Foundation, Representative Jim Ward, Chris Steineger, Raj Goyle,

Wait! What was that? Loomis was active in Pompeo's opponent's campaign? Isn't that something the Post's readers should know if Eggen is going to present Loomis as an objective news source? The list continues:

Organizing for America - Kansas, Laura Kelly, Dome On The Range, University of Kansas Federal Relations, Sports Fans Coalition and 18 more

Organizing for America is, of course, the Obama campaign. But that isn't all. Loomis has actually authored at least one anti-Koch op-ed.

What we see here is incest to the third degree. The disgusting morass of left-wing blogs, funded by far-left billionaires like George Soros, spew up an endless stream of slimy attacks on mainstream citizens, like Charles and David Koch, and mainstream politicians, like Mike Pompeo. Democratic Party outlets that are generally presumed to be more respectable, like the New York Times and the Washington Post, watch the dirt flow by and periodically, when they see something promising, pluck it out of the swamp and take it mainstream in order to benefit their party. The Post isn't as bad as some--I have referred to it as the most respectable voice of the Democratic Party--but when it follows this disgusting practice, plucking out the vilest unsubstantiated smear and promoting it for purely partisan purposes, it is hard to distinguish the Post from the most disreputable far-left rags, like Think Progress and the New York Times.


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