Kochs Sue Over Climate Prank


Koch Industries, the Kansas-based oil and gas conglomerate, claims that its “business and reputation were harmed” by a prank last month, when a fake press release and website appeared stating that the company had change its ways on global warming—that is, it had decided to cease pouring millions into climate change-denying campaigns. In late December, the company filed a legal complaint seeking to uncover the individuals behind the prank.

From the filing in the US District Court in Utah that came to light this week, via Wonk Room:

[A]s a result of Defendants’ actions, Plaintiff’s business and reputation were harmed, and Plaintiff incurred monetary damages, including costs associated with spending time and money to respond to inquiries about the fake press release and Defendants’ other fraudulent activities, investigative and legal expenses associated with determining the host for Defendant’s website and contacting the host to have it taken down, and investigative and legal expenses associated with ascertaining the identity of Defendants.

The fake press release stated that after serious reevaluation, the company had decided that the “best course forward includes a discontinuation of funding for these organizations, and organizations like them, whose positions on climate change could jeopardize America’s continued global competitiveness in the energy and chemical sectors and Koch Industries’ ability to provide high-quality products and services to the American people.”

The press release and website was clearly a prank, one that bore a close resemblance to one pulled on the Chamber of Commerce in 2009 by the notorious pranksters known as the Yes Men. But unlike the Chamber stunt, which put one over on some media outlets, the Koch prank was instantly identified as a “spoof” in news coverage.

Charles and David Koch have become the left’s favorite bogeymen. Their company spent $2.6 million on the midterm elections, and both brothers made sizable donations to Republican candidates and campaign committees. For enviros, the Kochs’ largesse on climate denial has been a particular bane; the Kansas-based company, its affiliates, and foundations spent almost $25 million on “organizations of the ‘climate denial machine'” between 2005 and 2008, according to an analysis compiled by Greenpeace last year. Americans for Prosperity, the Cato Institute, and Citizens for a Sound Economy are among the 35 organizations that have spread misinformation about climate change which have directly or indirectly received money from Koch Industries, affiliates, or family foundations.

In other Koch news this week, Gawker looks at evidence that someone (possibly the Kochs themselves) has been attempting an unsuccessful smear campaign against the New Yorker‘s Jane Mayer in the months since her blockbuster expose on the brothers was published.

On Friday, Politico‘s Playbook also noted that David Koch was spotted breakfasting in DC with GOP pollster Frank Luntz at the Four Seasons on Thursday. Luntz is the guy who famously advised Republicans about how to muddy the water on global warming before last year imparting the wisdom to environmentalists that they should just stop talking about the issue. One can only wonder what Luntz and Koch were chatting about over bacon and eggs.