Tag Archives: Koch Brothers

Koch Brothers to Spend Millions on Second Chances for Ex-Cons

On the last weekend of January, billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch met with hundreds of Koch network donors in Palm Springs, California to drum up support for their Safe Streets and Second Chances initiative, a $4 million pilot program aimed at implementing and studying ways to help former prisoners overcome reentry hurdles and become productive members of society.

According to The Hill, the program will begin on a trial basis in Florida, Texas, Louisiana, and Pennsylvania and will offer individualized reentry programs beginning on the first day of incarceration for 1,000 inmates. Those inmates helped in the initial trial phase of the program will include people from both rural and urban areas.

USA Today notes that Koch Industries attorney Mark Holden said, “Over 95 percent of people who are incarcerated will eventually be released, so it’s in everyone’s best interests to make sure that these individuals are better when they leave prison than before they went in. The vision of ‘Safe Streets and Second Chances’ is that, rather than waiting until the end of an individual’s sentence, the reentry process should begin on day one.”

Holden recently attended a White House meeting with President Trump and other officials to promote criminal justice reform.

“We want to ensure that those who enter the justice system are able to contribute to their communities after they leave prison, which is one of many very difficult subjects we’re discussing having to do with our great country,” said President Trump at the meeting.

[RELATED: Billionaires Charles Koch, George Soros to Team Up on Criminal Justice Reform]

Dr. Carrie Pettus-Davis of the Texas Public Policy Foundation, who will run the program, described it by saying, “This unique initiative marries research-driven policy and reentry services reforms. Even though incarceration and reentry impacts millions of people’s lives in our country, there is a huge void in research on creating a successful transition of people from prison back home to our communities. We’re closing the gap.”

TIME is reporting that the Koch brothers’ gathering to promote the initiative drew unlikely bedfellows like Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas), the rapper Scarface, and Olympian John Carlos, known for having displayed a black power salute on the winners’ podium at the 1968 Olympics.

“Instead of division, this event was a powerful example of bringing people together. I mean, who hosts an event like this? This network does. The opportunity to work with folks that might disagree with our Seminar Network on all kinds of issues coming together in common cause to solve common problems is an exciting part of what we’re doing,” said Koch network executive Evan Feinberg.

“We all need to be fully committed to a society in which everybody has an opportunity to make a better life for themselves. That’s what we’re about,” said Charles Koch.

The billionaire Koch brothers are often criticized in media op-eds for spending large sums of their personal wealth to influence politics. The Koch network reportedly hopes to spend around $400 million to influence the 2018 midterm elections.

Charles Koch Says ‘Bernie Sanders Is Right’ on Criminal Justice, Corporate Welfare

Billionaire Koch Industries CEO Charles Koch says he agrees with U.S. Senator from Vermont and 2016 Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders “that we have a two-tiered society that increasingly dooms millions of our fellow citizens to lives of poverty and hopelessness.

In an op-ed published Thursday in The Washington Post, Koch said that he believes that the U.S. political and economic system is “often rigged to help the privileged few at the expense of everyone else, particularly the least advantaged.

[Sanders] thinks many corporations seek and benefit from corporate welfare while ordinary citizens are denied opportunities and a level playing field. … I agree with him,” added Koch.

[RELATED: Obama Praises Rand Paul, Koch Brothers in NAACP Criminal Justice Reform Speech]

Bernie Sanders frequently personally denounces the Koch brothers by name on the campaign trail. His Senate website states, “The agenda of the Koch brothers is to repeal every major piece of legislation that has been signed into law over the past 80 years that has protected the middle class, the elderly, the children, the sick, and the most vulnerable in this country.

Koch said that even though Sanders often criticizes him personally, he sees “benefits in searching for common ground and greater civility during this overly negative campaign season.

Consider the regulations, handouts, mandates, subsidies and other forms of largesse our elected officials dole out to the wealthy and well-connected. The tax code alone contains $1.5 trillion in exemptions and special-interest carve-outs. Anti-competitive regulations cost businesses an additional $1.9 trillion every year. Perversely, this regulatory burden falls hardest on small companies, innovators and the poor, while benefitting many large companies like ours. This unfairly benefits established firms and penalizes new entrants, contributing to a two-tiered society,” said Koch, who argued that “it’s not enough to say that government alone is to blame. Large portions of the business community have actively pushed for these policies.

[RELATED: VIDEO: Charles Koch Rips Hypocrisy of Pot Criminalization]

Koch declared that Koch Industries “opposes all forms of corporate welfare — even those that benefit us” and pointed to his company’s opposition to a government ethanol mandate despite the fact that it is the fifth-largest producer of ethanol in the U.S.

The billionaire also highlighted his common ground with Sanders on criminal justice reform. Koch complained that harsh criminal laws targeting non-violent drug offenders are upending families and lives. He noted that poor people who cannot afford top legal representation often find themselves punished harshly for pot possession, while wealthy people with connections are treated differently. He also said that he feels that businesses should voluntarily assist in reforming the criminal justice system by ceasing to ask potential employees about their past criminal convictions in an effort to help ex-convicts obtain jobs and rejoin society.

Koch stopped short of saying that he is “feeling the Bern” and noted that he disagrees with Sanders’ “desire to expand the federal government’s control over people’s lives,” arguing that expansive federal power “is what built so many barriers to opportunity in the first place.

When it comes to electing our next president,” Koch opined, “we should reward those candidates, Democrat or Republican, most committed to the principles of a free society. Those principles start with the right to live your life as you see fit as long as you don’t infringe on the ability of others to do the same. They include equality before the law, free speech and free markets and treating people with dignity, respect and tolerance. In a society governed by such principles, people succeed by helping others improve their lives.

Koch, who is not yet backing any specific presidential candidate, concluded by saying that he is looking for a candidate who “can demonstrate a commitment to a set of ideas and values that will lead to peace, civility and well-being rather than conflict, contempt and division.

According to Politico, the Koch brothers’ donor network is set to spend $750 million advocating political causes over the next two years, less than the $900 million that was originally planned, due to a decline in contributions.

For more 2016 election coverage, click here.

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VIDEO: Charles Koch Rips Hypocrisy of Pot Criminalization

Billionaire philanthropist and Koch Industries CEO Charles Koch blasted the hypocrisy of pot criminalization’s disproportionate enforcement in an October interview on CBS This Morning.

In the interview, which can be seen in the above-embedded video, Koch said, “Some poor kid in the inner city smokes a joint, goes to prison, ruins his life, where we have a president who is more privileged, who smoked a joint, becomes president. We have a candidate who admits smoking a joint — he’s running for president. Now, where is the justice in that?

The controversial Koch brothers have long pushed for criminal justice reforms that would reduce or eliminate harsh criminal penalties for non-violent offenders.

[RELATED: Obama Praises Rand Paul, Koch Brothers in NAACP Criminal Justice Reform Speech]

Speaking in terms of principles, Koch said, “I think government is a social agency of coercion. Now that sounds horrible and bad, but we need coercion. Beyond that, government should only be doing those things where coercion works better than voluntary cooperation and competition… But the burden of proof needs to be on the government.

Koch told CBS correspondent Anthony Mason that he dislikes the tone that many Republican candidates have struck on immigration in 2016 presidential primary debates. “We need to reform our immigration policy, letting everyone in this country who’s going to make the country better and let in no one who is going to make it worse,” he said.

Describing his business philosophy, Koch explained, “The way to succeed long term is not to think how do I maximize profits, but how do… we maximize the value we create for others.

[RELATED: Charles Koch Blasts Crony Capitalism, Calls Subsidies ‘Welfare for the Wealthy’]

The Koch brothers are oft-vilified by political progressives who characterize their high levels of spending to promote political causes and candidates as efforts to buy elections.

I get a lot of death threats. I’m now on al-Qaeda’s hit list too. It gets pretty scary… I decided long ago I’d rather die for something than live for nothing,” said the billionaire.

He added, laughing off the challenges of pushing for his political views in the face of so much opposition, “My goal was to get more and more people to understand what makes their lives better, what’s fair, what’s a just society… You know, it’s hard to save the world when the world doesn’t want to be saved.

Charles Koch Blasts Crony Capitalism, Calls Subsidies ‘Welfare for the Wealthy’

At last week’s EY Strategic Growth Forum in California, Koch Industries CEO Charles Koch said that government policies aimed at benefiting certain monolithic companies in the short term cause more harm than good in the long term. He blasted corporate welfare and called for CEOs to join him in lobbying against policies that create market distortions favoring particular companies or industries over others.

Koch told Yahoo Finance, “This is creating a two-tiered system where opportunities for the disadvantaged are being destroyed and we’re creating welfare for the wealthy, so it’s unjust.

It’s an unjust system, and it’s making people’s lives worse,” he added.

[RELATED: Obama Praises Rand Paul, Koch Brothers in NAACP Criminal Justice Reform Speech]

Koch admitted that his own Koch Industries currently benefits from a variety of incentives, but feels that his company and the U.S. economy would flourish more if politicians leveled the playing field and stopped doling out special favors to certain companies. Government subsidy tracker Good Jobs First notes that Koch Industries has received over $200 million in federal and state subsidies and federal loan guarantees.

We advocate the elimination of all these distortions, even those from which we currently benefit – such as ethanol mandates, restrictions on the export of crude oil and natural gas, and import tariffs. As an ethanol producer and large consumer of U.S. crude oil and natural gas, we profit short term from these market distortions. But rules like these – that don’t lead to good profit – leave virtually everyone worse off long term, including us,” wrote Koch in his book Good Profit: How Creating Value for Others Built One of the World’s Most Successful Companies.

Koch said that he fears that government interventions into the economy will lead to a future in which the government and the Federal Reserve control American companies. He said that he believes that free market policies allow customers to drive corporate decision-making, which he feels benefits the economy more than bailouts and subsidies aimed at strengthening top U.S. companies.

[RELATED: DONEGAN: Citizens United Ruling Lets Advocacy Groups Expose Politicians’ Voting Records]

PR Watch points out that the Koch brothers’ Freedom Partners advocacy nonprofit “has spent hundreds of millions in elections in part to tackle ‘rent-seeking,’ ‘corporate welfare,’ and other forms of cronyism.

Koch wrote in a 2012 Wall Street Journal op-ed, “Far too many businesses have been all too eager to lobby for maintaining and increasing subsidies and mandates paid by taxpayers and consumers. This growing partnership between business and government is a destructive force, undermining not just our economy and our political system, but the very foundations of our culture.

Koch Industries Attorney Criticizes Ted Cruz for Opposing Sentencing Reform Bill

A Koch Industries statement authored by attorney Mark Holden criticized U.S. Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) for opposing the Koch brothers backed Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act of 2015.

We are disappointed that some members, including Senator Cruz, who have supported the need for reform and been strong supporters of the Bill of Rights did not support this bill. We are grateful that Senator [Mike] Lee corrected the record to make clear that the bill will address grave injustices in our system, free up resources to combat violent crime and enhance protections against the release of violent criminals,” read Holden’s statement on behalf of Koch Industries.

[RELATED: DONEGAN: 46 Non-Violent Drug Inmates Freed, Thousands Upon Thousands Still Incarcerated]

Cruz expressed his concerns that the bill might lead to the release of violent gun criminals and undocumented immigrants.

Under the [retroactive] terms of this bill, 7,082 federal prisoners would be eligible for release. Now none of us know what those 7,082 prisoners did. None of us know what the underlying conduct was that the prosecutors may have plea-bargained down under the existing sentencing laws and that they may not have entered that plea bargain if they had known that the sentencing laws would be lessened,” said Cruz in an October 22 Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on the legislation.

“But I for one at a time when police officers across this country are under assault right now, are being vilified right now, and when we’re seeing violent crime spiking in our cities across the country, I think it would be a serious mistake for the Senate to pass legislation providing for 7,082 convicted criminals potentially to be released early.”

Senator Mike Lee (R-Utah) disagreed with Cruz’s characterization that the bill’s retroactive component could lead to a free-for-all release of violent criminals.

We put together this bill that requires a case-by-case analysis, a case-by-case scrutiny by the federal district judge in question and by the prosecutors involved in each case to consider the nature of each offense and the circumstances of each offense. Also they will consider the offender’s conduct while in prison and the possible risk posed to public safety by any early release that might occur under these provisions,” Sen. Lee said during the hearing, according to The Hill.

Koch Industries attorney Mark Holden wrote, “While not perfect, the bill contains important reforms that will enhance public safety, honor and protect the Bill of Rights, help remove barriers to opportunity for the least advantaged and make our criminal justice system more fair and just for all Americans. Many of these reforms have worked well in states like Texas, Georgia and Utah, and have reduced crime rates, reduced spending, reduced incarceration rates and enabled former offenders and their families to live productive lives.

[RELATED: Obama Praises Rand Paul, Koch Brothers in NAACP Criminal Justice Reform Speech]

The bill ultimately passed through the Senate Judiciary Committee by a vote of 15-5, meaning its next step is a vote before the full Senate.

Watch Truth in Media’s Consider This video, embedded below, which puts the scope of the mass incarceration of non-violent offenders under the U.S. War on Drugs into perspective.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9zTOFxdUsQw

GOP Primary Sparks Billionaires’ Feud Between Donald Trump, Koch Brothers

A Republican presidential primary season feud between billionaires has broken out as bombastic GOP candidate Donald Trump has found himself at odds with the ultra-wealthy philanthropist brothers Charles and David Koch.

The Koch brothers, whom Lawrence O’Donnell characterized as “at least 40 times richer than Donald Trump” in an above-embedded video posted last week to MSNBC’s YouTube channel, snubbed the real estate mogul and reality star by refusing to invite him to a presidential candidates’ retreat last weekend in Dana Point, CA with 450 top conservative political donors. According to CNN, candidates Carly Fiorina, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz attended the retreat.

On Sunday, Donald Trump took to Twitter to blast the GOP candidates who attended the summit and tweeted, “I wish good luck to all of the Republican candidates that traveled to California to beg for money etc. from the Koch Brothers. Puppets?

The New York Times notes that a Koch-affiliated political data company also refused to work for Donald Trump’s campaign.

Representatives from the Koch brothers’ Freedom Partners Action Fund donor network have reportedly indicated that the top five candidates under consideration by the PAC are Ted Cruz, Scott Walker, Rand Paul, Jeb Bush, and Marco Rubio.

The libertarian-leaning Koch brothers have made issues like reforming the U.S. criminal justice system, stamping out corporate welfare, and relaxing immigration laws their 2016 political spending priorities and have recently teamed up with President Obama to push for reforms to federal sentencing guidelines for non-violent criminal convictions. George and David Koch found themselves with a more relaxed view on immigration policy than Democratic presidential candidate and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, as, according to Reason, the pro-union Sanders slammed the Koch brothers’ “open borders” immigration position, calling it “a right-wing proposal.”

[RELATED: Obama Praises Rand Paul, Koch Brothers in NAACP Criminal Justice Reform Speech]

On the other hand, Donald Trump has taken a hard-line stance on immigration, controversially saying during his presidential announcement speech, “When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re not sending you. They’re not sending you. They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.

Charles Koch, who invoked American political icons like Martin Luther King, Jr., Frederick Douglass, and Susan B. Anthony in a speech before donors this weekend, told USA Today in April that his donors want a candidate with an inspiring message, “We’re telling [candidates] that if they want our support, one way to get it is articulating a good message to help Americans get a better understanding and a better appreciation of how certain policies will benefit them and will benefit all America.

For more 2016 election coverage, click here.

Obama Praises Rand Paul, Koch Brothers in NAACP Criminal Justice Reform Speech

On Tuesday, US President Barack Obama gave a speech in Philadelphia at the NAACP national convention, which can be seen in the above-embedded video player, promoting criminal justice reform. In his remarks, he argued that tough-on-crime War-on-Drugs policies have slipped out of control, pushing the US incarceration rate beyond that of China. He also commented on the disparate racial outcomes of arbitrarily-enforced criminal laws targeting non-violent offenders, noting that Latinos and African-Americans are disproportionately represented in US prison populations.

During the speech, President Obama struck a bipartisan tone and, as The Hill points out, commented on some of the strange ideological bedfellows that have coalesced around the movement to reform America’s criminal justice system and victimless criminal laws.

[RELATED: Billionaires Charles Koch, George Soros to Team Up on Criminal Justice Reform in 2015]

As Republican Senator and presidential candidate Rand Paul has said — no, and to his credit, he’s been consistent on this issue — imprisoning large numbers of non-violent drug offenders for long periods of time ‘costs the taxpayers’ money without making them any safer,'” said President Obama.

After continuing to highlight the financial and human costs of the mass incarceration of non-violent Americans, Obama said optimistically, “I am feeling more hopeful today because even now, when, let’s face it, it seems like Republicans and Democrats cannot agree on anything — a lot of them agree on this. In fact, today, back in Washington, Republican senators from Utah and Texas are joining Democratic senators from New Jersey and Rhode Island to talk about how Congress can pass meaningful criminal justice reform this year. That’s good news.”

He continued, “That doesn’t happen very often. And it’s not just senators. This is a cause that’s bringing people in both houses of Congress together. It’s created some unlikely bedfellows. You’ve got Van Jones and Newt Gingrich. You’ve got Americans for Tax Reform and the ACLU. You’ve got the NAACP and the Koch brothers. No, you’ve got to give them credit. You’ve got to call it like you see it. There are states from Texas and South Carolina to California and Connecticut who have acted to reduce their prison populations over the last five years and seen their crime rates fall. That’s good news.

In his speech, Obama advocated for policy positions including lowering or eliminating mandatory minimum sentences, empowering judges to exercise discretion in non-violent cases, and restoring the voting rights of convicted felons who have served their time. He also encouraged companies to follow the leads of others such as Koch Industries who no longer ask job applicants if they have been convicted of a crime.

CNN notes that, on Monday, President Obama commuted the sentences of 46 low-level drug offenders who were facing long prison stints. On Thursday, he visited the El Reno Correctional Institution in El Reno, OK as a part of his criminal justice reform push, making him the first sitting US president to visit a federal prison.

Watch our latest “Consider This” episode on the drug war and non-violent offenders:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9zTOFxdUsQw

Koch Industries’ New Policy: Stop Asking Job Applicants About Their Prior Convictions

Charles and David Koch, oft vilified by liberal politicos for their tendency to spend their disproportionate wealth on their favorite political causes, have been focusing their lobbying efforts this year on the promotion of criminal justice reform, a cause favored by many liberal groups. BenSwann.com recently brought news of the Koch brothers’ plans to fund a campaign against police militarization, their efforts to spread awareness of the plight of a man who was sentenced to 55 years for pot, and their unlikely tag-team partner in their criminal justice reform plot, progressive billionaire George Soros. The Koch brothers are also spearheading an initiative to restore voting rights to non-violent felons.

Now, USA Today is reporting that Koch Industries has announced a new policy change in an effort to help reformed ex-offenders obtain jobs. The corporation, which currently employs 60,000 people and hired 9,100 workers last year, will no longer ask job applicants about their prior criminal convictions. Koch Industries representative Melissa Cohlmia also said that the company has hired qualified individuals with criminal backgrounds in the past.

“Do we want to be judged for the rest of our life for something that happened on our worst day?” said Koch Industries attorney Mark Holden, commenting on the corporate policy change. Under the War on Drugs’ harsh prohibition laws, America’s incarceration rate has exploded, leaping past nations controlled by brutal dictators to take the number one spot worldwide. Holden advocated for a criminal justice system with a goal of protecting the public rather than “putting mentally ill people in prison as a way station or just kind of dealing with vagrants or people with drug problems.”

The above-embedded Inform video notes that Koch Industries is joining other employers like Target, Home Depot, Walmart, and Bed, Bath, and Beyond who have also removed the criminal convictions question from their job applications. The State of Vermont also recently stripped the question from its hiring process.

Said Holden in a statement cited by The Hill, “The criminal justice system should be improved to enhance public safety, honor the Bill of Rights, and treat everyone involved in the system with dignity and respect, from the accused to the victims of crime to law enforcement… Removing the question about prior criminal convictions from our job application process is one way to achieve this goal. As a large United States-based manufacturing company that employs 60,000 American workers we shouldn’t be rejecting people at the very start of the hiring process who may otherwise be capable and qualified and want an opportunity to work hard.” Koch Industries will instead perform workplace safety motivated criminal background checks after determining whether a candidate is qualified.

“The fact that more and more of our nation’s major employers — including a company like Koch Industries that is synonymous with conservative politics — are choosing to embrace fair-chance hiring policies shows that this is an idea with broad appeal whose time has come,” read a statement by National Employment Law Project executive director Christine Owens.

Koch Industries removed the criminal convictions question from its job applications last month.

Koch Brother Signs Brief Urging Supreme Court to Legalize Gay Marriage

David Koch of the oft-maligned-by-progressives billionaire siblings known colloquially as the Koch brothers has signed on to a brief urging the Supreme Court to overturn state-level bans on gay marriage under the rationale that such bans now violate the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the US Constitution, especially in light of the fact that some states now license gay marriages while others do not. The brief has been filed on behalf of the upcoming Supreme Court case DeBoer v. Snyder, in which a lesbian couple is suing for the right to marry in an effort to meet Michigan’s legal requirement to adopt children.

The Washington Free Beacon is reporting that David Koch has, according to Koch Industries attorney Mark Holden, made a personal decision to sign his name onto the brief. During an interview on the 2012 presidential election, Politico quoted David Koch as saying, “I believe in gay marriage.”

However, Koch is not the only right-leaning figure signing on to the brief. The Washington Post is reporting that a wide range of conservative celebrities have offered their signatures as well, including General Stanley McChrystal, conservative commentator S.E. Cupp, ex Republican National Committee chairman Ken Mehlman, former Wyoming Republican Senator Alan Simpson, and senior advisers to the 2012 Mitt Romney presidential campaign, among others.

The conservatives behind the brief offered a pro-family argument as to why they support gay marriage, writing that they “have concluded that marriage is strengthened, and its value to society and to individual families and couples is promoted, by providing access to civil marriage for all American couples — heterosexual or gay or lesbian alike. In particular, civil marriage provides stability for the children of same-sex couples, the value of which cannot be overestimated. In light of these conclusions, amici believe that the Fourteenth Amendment prohibits States from denying same-sex couples the legal rights and responsibilities that flow from the institution of civil marriage.”

On January 16, 2015, the Supreme Court decided that it would review DeBoer v. Snyder along with three other similar cases. The questions at issue in the cases are whether the Fourteenth Amendment requires states to license gay marriages and whether it requires states to recognize gay marriages licensed in other states.

Koch Brothers Launch Fight for Justice for Man Sentenced to 55 Years for Pot

“I sometimes drive near the prison where he’s held, and I think, ‘Gosh he shouldn’t be there. Certainly not as long as I had to send him there. … That wasn’t the right thing to do. The system forced me to do it,'” said former federal Judge Paul Cassell in comments to ABC News about the plight of Weldon Angelos, a father and rap record label founder whom Cassell was forced to sentence to 55 years for three low-level marijuana sales due to mandatory minimum sentencing laws. In 2002, then 24-year-old Angelos, whose record label had recently attracted a collaboration with rap superstar Snoop Dogg, had also been moonlighting as a pot dealer. Federal authorities caught wind of his side gig and launched a sting operation against Angelos, purchasing small amounts of marijuana from him on three separate occasions through an informant. Angelos, who happened to be carrying a gun for protection which he did not brandish or use for any violent purpose, was subsequently tried and convicted on three counts of selling narcotics while in possession of a firearm. Mandatory minimum sentencing laws forced Judge Cassell to sentence Angelos to 55 years with no chance of parole, a near-life sentence for the Salt Lake City father of two.

“If he had been an aircraft hijacker, he would have gotten 24 years in prison. If he’s been a terrorist, he would have gotten 20 years in prison. If he was a child rapist, he would have gotten 11 years in prison. And now I’m supposed to give him a 55-year sentence? I mean, that’s just not right,” said Cassell of Angelos’ case.

According to The Daily Beast, Angelos’ plight caught the attention of the billionaire Koch brothers, whose millennial outreach group Generation Opportunity used some of the duo’s oft-demonized out-sized wealth to produce a documentary, which debuted last week at the Newseum in Washington DC, highlighting Angelos’ unjust sentence. The documentary release coincides with a broader Koch brothers initiative to promote criminal justice reform throughout 2015. A trailer for the film can be seen in the above-embedded video player.

“[This year] offers a unique moment in history in which people of different backgrounds and political leanings are coming together to facilitate a substantive dialogue on how to fix [the criminal justice system]. We can work towards a more just system that reflects the rule of law without overcriminalizing non-violent offenses,” said Generation Opportunity president Evan Feinberg in comments to The Daily Beast.

Weldon Angelos’ family requested two years ago that President Obama grant clemency for the father of two, who has already spent 11 years behind bars, but the administration has yet to respond. Lisa Angelos, Weldon’s sister, described the impact his incarceration has had on his children, “Being around them you can feel their heart ache, even though their laughter, and watching them play and do the fun stuff, you can still feel it. Seeing what they have gone through by losing their father, it just emotionally destroys me.”

The Koch brothers, who are often accused by left-leaning politicos of using their disproportionate wealth to buy elections in an effort to bend policies in favor of the rich and at the expense of the poor, have in the past used their hard-earned dollars to help poor people facing unjust prosecutions obtain legal representation.

Ben Swann took on the federal government’s mixed messages on marijuana prohibition in a September 2014 Truth in Media episode, seen in the player below.

Billionaire Koch Brothers Fund Campaign Against Police Militarization

Left-leaning American politicos often complain about the political activities of the “evil” Koch brothers. They argue that Charles and David Koch use their disproportionate wealth to bend the American political system to suit their will. However, mainstream media outlets rarely point out the types of causes that the duo advocate for with their hard-earned wealth.

As Koch-funded Nick Gillespie at Reason pointed out, the billionaires have used their unusually-massive financial power to promote a wide range of liberal-friendly causes like drug decriminalization, marriage equality, cuts to defense spending, and opposition to the USA PATRIOT Act. Deroy Murdock at Newsmax wrote, “…since January 2009, the wicked Koch brothers’ companies have won 792 awards for environmental quality, operational safety, community service, and philanthropy.” The Obama administration, through bureaus like the Environmental Protection Agency, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, and the Department of Agriculture, has issued many awards to well-run, Koch-funded companies.

In the wake of the crisis in Ferguson, progressive politicos might also find common ground with the Koch brothers on police militarization. Tim Mak at The Daily Beasta recipient of a Koch fellowship, points out that Charles and David Koch have bankrolled opposition to police militarization for years. As an example, Radley Balko, author of Rise of the Warrior Cop: The Militarization of America’s Police Forces, took Koch-funded paychecks early in his career to write about the dangers of police militarization when he worked for Reason and The Cato Institute. Several organizations funded by the Koch brothers have been active in opposing what many see as an emerging police state.

The brothers Koch also helped fund the political campaign to re-elect Congressman Justin Amash, who recently said on Facebook, “The images and reports out of #Ferguson are frightening. Is this a war zone or a U.S. city? The government escalates tensions with its use of military equipment and tactics.” Amash was forced to fight tooth-and-nail to keep his seat during this year’s primary, mainly because he faced opposition from neoconservative groups. With help from the Koch brothers, Amash prevailed over the Dick Cheney wing of the GOP.

Speaking to The Daily Beast, Koch Industries Inc. attorney Mark Holden said, “We need to address issues such as overcriminalization, excessive and disproportionate sentencing, inadequate indigent defense that is inconsistent with the Sixth Amendment, and the militarization of police.” He continued, “We have deep respect for the moral dignity of each and every person and because of this, we’ve worked for decades to support those who defend the full range of individual rights.”

Even today, the news cycle is full of negative articles about the Koch brothers, laced with criticisms of their protected First Amendment activities.