Corporate Connections: Koch Industries
Former CIA Director Mike Pompeo became Secretary of State after President Donald Trump fired Rex Tillerson. A former member of the House of Representatives from Kansas, Pompeo has been described as “the congressman from Koch” for his close ties to Koch Industries, the conglomerate based in Pompeo’s former congressional district.
- In 1998, Pompeo founded Thayer Aerospace, an aircraft part maker, with fellow West Point alumni. The company was founded in Wichita, Kan., headquarters of Koch Industries. Wichita’s Koch Venture Capital provided some of the capital for Thayer Industries.
- After selling Thayer Aerospace, Pompeo became president of oil rig firm Sentry International, a partner to Koch Industries.
- When Pompeo ran for Congress in 2010, his campaign received $80,000 from Koch Industries’ PAC and employees, more than any candidate had ever received in a single election cycle. In 2012, Koch contributions to Pompeo’s campaign totaled $110,000. Over the course of his four congressional campaigns, Pompeo received $400,500 from Koch Industries’ corporate PAC and individual employees.
- In a 2012 op-ed for Politico, entitled “Stop harassing the Koch Brothers,” Pompeo praised the billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch as “U.S. citizens, taxpayers, entrepreneurs and employers” and said Koch Industries and its employees “are among the most hardworking and generous in our community.”
- As a congressman, Pompeo’s chief of staff was Mark Chenoweth, who previously worked in Koch Industries’ general counsel’s office. Pompeo also proposed legislation defunding a federal database of complaints about consumer products and an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) registry of greenhouse-gas polluters. This legislative agenda mirrored that of Koch Industries.
- Pompeo is a frequent guest at the Koch brothers’ gatherings and has called Democrats’ criticism of Koch officials a “public flogging.”
- In a 2013 C-SPAN interview, Pompeo cast doubt on the veracity of climate change, saying, “There are scientists that think lots of different things about climate change. There’s some who think we’re warming, there’s some who think we’re cooling, there’s some who think that the last 16 years have shown a pretty stable climate environment.” At his Senate confirmation hearing in March 2018, he changed his stance, saying that “the climate is changing, there’s a warming taking place” and that he was “happy to concede that there is likely a human component to that.”
- Koch Industries has 120,000 employees in 60 countries worldwide, giving the company a major interest in foreign affairs.