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'Koch Brothers Exposed:' New Film Examines How Billionaire Brothers Shaped The Political Narrative

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David Koch, executive vice president of Koch Industries, attends a meeting of the Economic Club of New York, Monday, April 11, 2011.
David Koch, executive vice president of Koch Industries, attends a meeting of the Economic Club of New York, Monday, April 11, 2011.

WASHINGTON -- Over the past two years, Charles and David Koch have commanded a great deal of attention and been held up as an example of how corporate forces have corrupted the democratic process in America. Now a provocative new film, "Koch Brothers Exposed," seeks to uncover how the Koch brothers have manipulated the political narrative for personal and ideological gain, particularly in the post-Citizens United era.

The film, directed by Robert Greenwald, who notably uncovered unethical labor practices at Wal-Mart in his documentary "Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Wages," is set to premiere in New York City on March 29.

In an interview with The Huffington Post, Greenwald said that the Kochs' money and power have had an "unparalleled" impact.

"The Kochs are using their money, their power and the inequalities of our system for personal gain," he said, "and the size and scale that they're doing it at is fairly impressive."

The political media company Greenwald founded, Brave New Films, conducted financial research and interviewed people around the country, asking them questions about how the Kochs have impacted their lives. Notable subjects include Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), environmental advocate Van Jones and Nation editor Katrina vanden Heuvel.

Koch Industries has disputed the claims on their website KochFacts.com, calling the film "intellectually dishonest" and a "propaganda video."

The filmmakers' requests to interview the Koch brothers themselves were denied. "They hide," said Greenwald, "and [they're] not just hiding from us."

See the trailer and a full list of the film's findings, via a press release, below.

  • The Echo Chamber of Influence - Documents and interviews unearthed by Brave New Foundation researchers illustrate a28.4 million Koch effort that has manufactured 297 opinions and commentaries, 200 reports, 56 studies and six books distorting Social Security's effectiveness and purpose. This is just one example of the vast industry comprised of Koch brothers' spokespeople, front groups, think tanks, academics and elected officials, which has built a self-sustaining echo chamber to transform fringe ideas into popular mainstream public policy arguments.
  • Voter Suppression - Through their web of political influence, the Kochs' have bought access to democracy's lifeblood: free and fair elections. The Kochs' have funded efforts to thwart 21 million Americans from voting as Koch dollars helped write and propose voting suppression bills in 38 states.
  • Re-Segregation - Americans for Prosperity led the effort to remake a successful school diversity policy in Wake County, NC; which was the model framework for scores of school districts across the country. The 2009 school board election provided the Koch brothers' front group an opportunity to lay the groundwork for candidates who advocate for re-segregation, or in Jim Crow terms "neighborhood schools."
  • Cancer in Crossett - Koch Industries is among the top ten worst air polluters. And, Georgia Pacific, a Koch Industries subsidiary in Arkansas, is one of the largest manufacturers of the human carcinogen, formaldehyde. While the Koch brothers wage war against safety precautions, every day this factory is dumping millions of gallons of wastewater into streams that flow near a small rural town. The surrounding area is noticeably affected by air pollution - particularly in a minority neighborhood now dying of cancer. The brave community members of Crossett give powerful testimony to how they believe their health is being ravaged by a Koch Industries plant.
  • Keystone XL - Koch Industries and its employees are the single largest oil and gas donors to the House Energy and Commerce Committee. Along with ample evidence linking the Kochs' business to the Canadian tar sands, they refuse to testify in Congress about their financial interest in the controversial Keystone XL. At the same time, the Kochs' allies in Congress are doing their best to stonewall and remove oversight.
  • Higher Education - At a time when governments are slashing higher education funding, the Charles Koch Charitable Foundation has given more than14.39 million in grants to over 150 universities. In return, some of these campuses are required to hire candidates who adhere to Koch-defined ideological guidelines.

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