The Kochs Take on Politico

Koch counsel: source ‘feeding Vogel a lot of false and outright wrong information’


Koch Industries, Inc., is disputing an article published in Politico that claims the manufacturing conglomerate with more than 50,000 U.S. employees played a role in a California referendum fight last fall.

The article, “Koch World Reboots,” written by Politico campaign finance reporter Ken Vogel, detailed shake-ups inside organizations that have been previously supported by the company’s owners, the major philanthropists Charles and David Koch. The article is factually inaccurate and relies on questionable sources, representatives of Koch Industries told the Free Beacon.

“It looks like it is some conservative operative from the way the source is described by Vogel—we don’t know who it is—but it sounds like someone who’s unhappy with us and has a vendetta to make everything we do sound sinister,” Koch Industries General Counsel Mark Holden told the WFB.

“He’s feeding Vogel a lot of false and outright wrong information. This has been going on for a few years, and that’s what concerning to us—that someone who might have been affiliated with us in the past and claims to have insight into our operations would feed a reporter deliberately wrong information to assist in partisan attacks against us.”

Koch Industries disputed passages in Vogel’s article that detail an investigation by the California Fair Political Practices Commission into $11 million in political spending by several groups that have been supported by Koch in the past.

That money went toward supporting a California ballot measure that would have restriced political activity by unions and corporations and another initiative opposing additional tax increases, according to Vogel.

Koch officials say the article neglects to mention that the corporation has repeatedly denied any role in funding activity in support of the ballot initiatives or having any public position at all on the issues in question.

“We have been on the record, since Nov. 5, 2012, as definitively not involved in the Prop 32 issue in California,” Koch external communications director Rob Tappan wrote. “We did not support, either directly or indirectly, this ballot initiative which would have restricted public and private sector employees’ rights to contribute to candidates.”

Koch Industries demanded a correction, but Vogel stood by the original story.

“Regarding Koch Industries’ stance on Proposition 32, we don’t feel an update is justified, because our story does not assert that Koch Industries took a stance on Proposition 32,” Vogel wrote in an email to Tappan.

However, the Politico report did allege that the money in question had been “funneled through a key Koch conduit.” Spokesmen for Koch Industries denied unequivocally that any of that funding was either provided by or directed by Koch Industries or its owners.

Politico still stands behind Vogel and his story.

“Ken followed all the right steps in reporting and writing his Koch Brothers piece, including contacting all appropriate parties for comment,” Craig Gordon, Politico‘s managing editor, told the Free Beacon. “We stand by the story.”

CJ Ciaramella   Email CJ | Full Bio | RSS
CJ Ciaramella is a staff writer for the Washington Free Beacon. Prior to joining the Beacon, he was a reporter for the Daily Caller. He was also a Collegiate Network year-long fellow at the San Diego Union-Tribune and has written articles for the Weekly Standard and Oregon Quarterly. Ciaramella attended the University of Oregon, where he edited the award-winning student magazine, the Oregon Commentator. He lives in Washington, D.C. His Twitter handle is @cjciaramella. His email address is

Get the news that matters most to you, delivered straight to your inbox daily.

Register today!