Ratcheting up the fireworks with Koch Industries even further, the Democratic National Committee harshly criticized the private energy conglomerate on Thursday for firing more than 100 workers at the same time it is spending millions to elect Republicans.
Earlier this week, Koch Industries -- which has earned increased notoriety for bankrolling conservative causes -- laid off 118 employees at the Roxboro, North Carolina plant of its subsidiary Georgia-Pacific. The company left open the possibility of rehiring the employees if economic conditions improve. But considering the sum of money that the organization has put into attacking Democrats this cycle -- largely on the premise that the party's policies have been disastrous for business -- the layoffs resembled tempting targets.
"It takes a special type of callousness to lecture people about what great patriotic employer you are days after laying off hundreds of workers in a single stroke," said DNC Press Secretary Hari Sevugan. "The question for the Kochs is instead of spending money on secret campaigns to fill the government with candidates that will enact their special interest agenda, why aren't they spending that money on saving those American jobs?
A spokesman for Koch Industries responded to the charge by noting that some of the chief recipients of government bailout funds are also laying off employees in a tough economic environment.
"The United States has lost more than 3.2 million jobs despite massive bailouts and stimulus spending over the past two years," said the company's spokesperson, Nancy Pfotenhauer. "General Motors and Chrysler alone received bailouts of more than $80 billion, yet they have still laid off some 120,000 workers since the recession began. The government is in no position to tell companies like ours how to create jobs, and our concern is that if we don't change the policies that are bankrupting America, there will be far fewer jobs in the years to come."
Barbs like this between a private company and a campaign committee aren't common election-themed activities. But the hostile relationship between Koch and various Democratic institutions has been worsening for days, if not weeks. Both the DNC and the White House have accused the company of essentially currying favor with Tea Party candidates in the hope of gaining legislative gifts in the next Congress. Koch has responded by accusing Obama administration officials of snooping into its tax filings and manufacturing a bogeyman for political purposes.
The benefits are (as noted earlier) enjoyed by both parties involved. Democrats have the luxury of vilifying a corporation that not only operates largely in the shadows but also is involved in the (largely detested) oil business. Koch, in turn, gets the high-profile credit of being on the 2010 frontlines, a role that won't go unnoticed by those Republican candidates running in this cycle.