The Most Revolutionary Act

Diverse Ramblings of an American Refugee

Dr Stuart Jeanne Bramhall

Dr Stuart Jeanne Bramhall
New Plymouth, New Zealand
December 02
Retired psychiatrist, activist and author of 2 young adult novels - Battle for Tomorrow and A Rebel Comes of Age - and a free ebook 21st Century Revolution. My 2010 memoir The Most Revolutionary Act: Memoir of an American Refugee describes the circumstances that led me to leave the US in 2002. More information about my books (and me) at


NOVEMBER 2, 2012 5:34PM

How Citizens United Kept the Koch Brothers Out of Jail

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Investigative reporter Greg Palast is on a speaking tour for his latest book Billionaires and Bandits: How to Steal and Election in 9 Easy Steps. Palast is best known for exposing the so-called "ex-felon" scrub list that deliberately disenfranchised tens of thousands of law abiding African Americans from voting in the 2000 presidential election in Florida. From his interview on RealNews, I suspect Billionaires and Bandits is probably his most important expose. In it he reveals, for the first time, the true motivation behind the Citizens United case, in which a small group of right wing activists obtained a Supreme Court ruling removing any limitation on corporate donations to political campaigns.

According to Palast, the real agenda behind the Supreme Court case was to keep the notorious Koch brothers (major founders and funders of conservative thinktanks like the Heritage Foundation, ALEC, the CATO Institute, and right wing Astroturf groups, such as the Campaign for America’s Future, the Campaign for a Fair Economy and the Tea Party) out of jail for illegal corporate donations they had made to Republican campaigns. In other words, the ruling decriminalized extensive lawbreaking by the Republican Party’s favorite billionaires. Palast stresses it was no accident that Ted Olsen, the Citizens United attorney, also happens to be legal counsel for Koch Industries.

The Koch Brothers’ Long History of Flouting the Law

As Palast reveals at the beginning of the interview, he was an FBI investigator prior to becoming an investigative journalist. During the late eighties, he was directly involved in investigating Charles Koch for illegally siphoning oil (beyond what Koch Industries had for) from Indian reservations. According to Palast, the FBI had videos of the whole operation, as well as numerous witness statements, including one from David and Charles’ younger brother Bill. The US attorney in Oklahoma had already filed an indictment against subject 67C (their code name for Charles Koch) when Koch leaned heavily on Oklahoma Senator Don Nickles (R 1988-2005) who exerted pressure to have the federal prosecutor replaced and had the indictment quashed.

With the possibility of criminal prosecution off the table, brother Bill Koch filed a civil lawsuit over the oil theft under the False Claims Act, which allows private plaintiffs to sue, on behalf of the government, companies and individuals which have defrauded it.

In December 1999, the jury found that Koch Industries had taken oil it didn’t pay for from federal land, and the company paid a $25 million settlement to the federal government.

The FBI next turned its attention to 350 criminal violations of environmental law, mainly due to faulty pipelines dumping oil sludge into rivers. After George W. Bush became president in 2000, the US Justice Department dropped 88 of the charges. Two days before the trial, Attorney General John Ashcroft settled for a plea bargain, in which the company pled guilty to falsifying documents. All major charges were dropped, and Koch and Ashcroft settled the lawsuit for a fraction of that amount.

The FBI – and Congress – Investigate Illegal Corporate Donations

Next on the FBI list of crimes was the smear campaign Koch Industries secretly funded, through Campaign for Our Children’s Futures, in 1994, when corporate campaign donations were still illegal. The campaign, which caused 25 incumbent Democrats to lose their seats, also caused Clinton to lose control of Congress in the 1994 midterms and again in 1996. The illegal campaign donations were funded through an entity called Triad Management Services. Senator Fred Thompson, Chair of the Senate Finance Committee attempted to undertake an investigation into Triad. According to Palast, it was shut down the same day Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott (who was also seriously ethically challenged)  made a deal with President Bill Clinton not to investigate his illegal campaign donations  from the Indonesian billionaire James Riady.

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Yup. We seem to be on the same page. Just wrote about their funding of climate denial. Now let's hope folks other than ourselves are hip to their actions.
suppose every bad thing you suspect about the evil plutocrats was true. pretty good bet, actually.

what can youi do about it? not much, hunh? the rich own the usa, always have done.
You understand that even in the dissenting opinion of that case, it was noted that the majority opinion was technically, legally correct, right?

The dumbest part of all this, is that the real issue was Roberts's supplementary majority decision on supreme judicial authority.

Haven't we had enough of the "vast right wing conspiracy"? If the Koch brothers weren't able to use the decision in the Citizens United case to keep them out of the clink, they would have used something else.

Every once in a blue moon, a Bernie Madoff does something so egregious, and highly publicized, that nothing can keep them from getting their ass locked up.

Other than that, rich people don't go to jail. They pay a fine (their legal fees, if not an actual fine). That's the way the world works. If this were a Socialist country, it would be the people with political power who exploited the laws in this way.

Same shit, different day (era/social structure...take your pick).
Malcolm, you are laying out a false dichotomy - as if fascism and state socialism are the only two choices. There are other options, actually, in which the people run things, rather than a ruling elite. Gar Alperowitz writes about something he refers to as a "pluralist commonwealth." You and Al should both check out "If You Don't Like Capitalism, and You Don't Like State Socialism, What Do You Want?" at
That Greg Palast is still alive is a measure of how confident the Koch brothers are of their control of American politicians. Palast can write anything he doggone well cares to and they'll just ignore it. Most of the people who bother to read it won't remember what they read in a week or two. Those who do will not see any way to correct things.

Bernie Madoff stupidly didn't share his ill-gotten gains as he'd agreed to. Thought he was big enough to kiss of his cohorts. He wasn't.

State capitalism isn't at issue.

Capitalist statism is.

In state capitalism the (usually socialist) state owns the means of production and, while paying lip service to the idea that the state operates the means of production on behalf of, and for the benefit of, the people, actually operate the means of production for the benefit of those who sit at the top of the pyramid of power that rules the state.

Capitalist statism is where the capitalists of great wealth own the individuals who sit high in the pyramid of power within a (usually capitalist) society. The capitalists are not the government - they just own everyone of any importance in the government.

In both cases the interests and well-being of the citizens is not part of the equation. Except for the citizens being tossed a bone - elections - once in a while, they're ignored or trampled on. Even then the elections the citizens are allowed are a total fraud. The citizens get to choose between sets of wholly owned incumbents or candidates. None of whom will ever represent the interests of the citizens over the interests of their financial masters.

Al and Malcolm are right. This CANNOT be "fixed", as in repaired. The people either make up their minds to accept this as it is or to overthrow that system in its entirety.

Unfortunately, tossing out those who own the pyramid of power serves no purpose at all unless the people are prepared to install a comprehensive, well-designed alternate system. One that works for their benefit and cannot be corrupted by assholes like the Koch brothers.

It is time - and past time - for one to be designed....

My my but those boys have been busy... money in politics is like water, it will find every crack and crevice. The good news is that Berlesconi may be going to jail. R&R ;-)
I already know what I want - Libertarian Socialism.

Check and balance - Ying and Yang.

To put it another way, I'm not a big fan of plain peanut butter sandwiches. I also don't really like just a jelly sandwich (I at least want regular butter with jelly, on those rare occasions I eat it).

Put the two together, though, and it's pure bliss.

Pluralist Commonwealth is akin to what the Occupy Movement had as a leadership structure, and we all saw the impact that movement had and how well lead they were, right?

Bunch of people stuck out in the cold and they accomplished nothing. Same with the rally to restore sanity...

Leadership is necessary when the group reaches a baker's dozen (you got kids? ever had to chaperone a sports team to a restaurant?). It becomes that much more so when you get into the 300 million range.

Having advanced social services and safety nets are a replacement for familial and communal units. There's no going back, so you need to find a social structure that makes up for the downfalls of the two we have without moving backward, because people won't be able to accept that structure.

Answer - go to the extremes of both of the set ups we have now and allow them to balance each other out.

I'd explain it more, but I hate economics (for someone who studied it, that's kinda funny, right?)

How strange that you should say that! A fe weeks back, while "Stumble"ing around the net, I came across a 'test' that purported to be able to tell one where one is on the political spectrum.

After answering about a hundred questions, my results came up: I tested smack dab in the centre of "Libertarian Socialist".

Maybe we should join together in a strictly individualistic co-operation to run for elective office. On the other hand neither of us could likely grow a forked tongue or acquire enough arrogance to be good candidates. We'd end up doing something stupid, like actually representing the folks who elect us. And wouldn't THAT fuck up the political system big time?!

Malcolm, your blanket dismissal of pluralistic commonwealth is so grossly oversimplified it reminds me of the kind of stuff you read in the CIA Factbook and the Readers Digest. There is absolutely no comparison between the Occupy movement, which has accomplished virtually nothing, and the major worker-owned cooperatives that have been formed across the US in the last two decades, many with support from Alperowitz's Democracy Collaborative. I wouldn't mind if you picked out specific projects to find fault with, but your blanket dismissal makes any serious discussion of this real life political movement impossible.

Sky, you, too, may be interesting in checking out Alperowitz's work. His other recent book is America Beyond Capitalism. While I don't endorse everything he says, I do agree with him that we need to start building the alternative to capitalism now before we overthrow the infrastructure that holds society together. Believe it or not there are already millions of people out there like Alperowitz (and me) who are seriously working to build alternatives that will enable us to dismantle capitalism (or that we can put in place when capitalism collapses).
[r] when THEY [psychopathic self-serving plutocrats] capture the legal system ... democracy is toast.

makes me think of Rove and all his shenanigans. Instead he is invited on tv as a political guru which passes in Post-Morality and Post-Truth America as CROOK.

If these cockroaches aren't prosecuted on the first bounce they become like James Bond villains! MORPHING AND MORPHING INTO GREATER AND GREATER EVIL!

Palast rocks. Whenever I have read his stuff I have been mightily impressed!

Did you see the Moyers show about ALEC and how they are going after all the judges in America, have been for a long time now all in the name of "community education". Threatening judges, planting crony ones and bribing them, etc. Remember when three branches of government seriously meant something?

Thanks, Stuart!

best, libby
In our future dystopic science fiction world we will live in Koch Inc. Not the U.S. of A. Fortunately, for you Dr. you've escaped to down under!
Interesting, Libby. I had a personal experience with a fake judge when I was working for the Social Security Administration during the Reagan administration. He tried to tamper with my testimony on a claimant because the "real" judges were finding too many people disabled. One part of Palast's interview I found really interesting was that the Koch brothers also gave $100,000 to the Democratic Leadership Council (which gave Bill Clinton his start in politics). I wonder if this has anything to do with him abolishing welfare and fast tracking NAFTA.

Unfortunately, Sean, Obama and Hillary (and Goldman Sachs) are all eying New Zealand hungrily. The first two because they want us to join some military alliance against China. GS wants to help us privatize our state-owned energy companies.