The Weekly Standard's John McCormack does his best to create a scandal out of a comment allegedly made by an Obama administration official about Koch Industries, the massive energy company that uses use the fortune it accumulated in part by stealing oil from US taxpayers and Indian lands to provide millions of dollars in funding for the conservative movement. But, as is often the case, McCormack's best isn't good enough.
The attempted scandal stems from an August 27 background briefing in which Obama administration official supposedly said: "So in this country we have partnerships, we have S corps, we have LLCs, we have a series of entities that do not pay corporate income tax. Some of which are really giant firms, you know Koch Industries is a multibillion dollar businesses." Supposedly this is scandalous because it raises questions about how the official is aware of Koch's tax status.
McCormack's source for the Obama administration official's alleged statement is Koch Industries senior vice president and general counsel Mark Holden. But even Holden is apparently unwilling to allege any wrongdoing by the Obama administration: "I'm not accusing any one of any illegal conduct. … I don't know what [the senior administration official] was referring to. I'm not sure what he's saying. I'm not sure what information he has. … [I]f he obtained it in a way that was inappropriate, that would be unlawful. But I don't know that that's the case."
Holden's unwillingness to actually allege any wrongdoing might have been a sign that there's less here than meets the eye, but McCormack credulously writes: "Holden claims that the revelation of tax information could have been improper, depending on how the information was obtained by the White House."
"Could have been"? "Depending on"? Can McCormack possibly include more wiggle-words? Yes he can: "Holden says that to his knowledge the tax status of Koch Industries has not been previously reported in the press."
But surely John McCormack didn't just take Holden's word for that? Surely he looked into it himself? Ah, no:
So, questions remain: Why won't White House officials say if the quotation about Koch Industries is accurate--or even if a transcript of the briefing exists?
And, if the quotation is accurate, why won't they say how the White House obtained tax information on Koch Industries?
But, as Politico's Ben Smith reports, obtaining the tax information isn't hard: It's on Koch's public web site:
[A]nother administration official said in an email this morning that the White House got the information from testimony before the the President's Economic Recovery Advisory Board (PERAB) and from Koch's own website.…
[The official writes:] This issue was raised repeatedly by outside experts that testified before the PERAB and Koch was cited to the PERAB as an example by outside commenters to the group. We assume it came up from publicly available information such as the Forbes magazine annual report listing Koch as one of the largest private companies in the nation or the fact that a high fraction of the largest companies within Koch Industries are listed on the Koch website as LLCs, LPs or other frequent pass-through entities. If this information is incorrect, we are happy to revise statements.
Sure enough, if you go to KochIndustries.com and click on "Fact Sheets," then on "Koch Facts," you'll see a list of Koch companies, many of which contain labels like "LLC" and "LP." Here are a few examples:
No wonder Holden wasn't willing to allege wrongdoing by the White House. The supposedly top-secret information is readily available on Koch's web site!