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Despite that loophole, Koch Industries in 2007 went beyond what was required by U.S. law and voluntarily stopped doing business with Iran in any form. By contrast, many companies, including corporate donors to Democrats, stayed in Iran after Koch Industries had left. General Electric, whose CEO Jeffrey Immelt is chairman of President Obama’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness, continued to do business in Iran until 2008. Another Democratic funder, the industrial conglomerate Honeywell International Inc., is still selling security technology to Iran. In that time, those companies gave generously to Democrats. The Weekly Standard’s Mark Hemmingway points out that between 2003 and 2010, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee took at least $343,000 in donations from corporations doing business with Iran, including from Koch’s political action committee. (That history did deter the DSCC from trying to make political hay of the Bloomberg Markets story by demanding that Republicans call on Koch Industries to cut ties with Iran, something the company had already done.) If Koch’s prior involvement in Iran tainted its political contributions, why was the same not true for the funds that flowed to left-wing coffers and causes from the likes of GE and Honeywell? Neither the Bloomberg Markets article nor the left-wing bloggers who trumpeted its findings paused to consider the question.
Instead, the magazine explored the absurd and offensive theory that Koch Industries’ willingness to do business with Iran stemmed from the libertarian politics of the Koch brothers. Although the connection was never concretely spelled out, the implication was that the brothers’ dislike for government regulations was behind their company’s willingness to break the law to do business in Iran. The charge was baseless on several counts. First and foremost, the company’s business in Iran, conducted through a subsidiary, was entirely legal. More to the point, there was not a shred of evidence connecting libertarian politics to Koch Industries’ involvement in Iran. One could just as plausibly suggest that liberal politics drove Democratic donors to set up shop in Iran. Indeed, those companies arguably have more to answer for, since they continued to business in Iran after Koch Industries had left.
All those flaws help explain why, aside from ecstatic coverage by left-wing partisans, the Bloomberg Markets has gotten little traction since its publication last week. If one aim of the story was to discredit the Koch brothers and their company in the eyes of the Tea Party and conservatives generally, it has clearly failed. If anything, it has confirmed that while left-wing billionaires like George Soros – who has been convicted for insider trading in Europe – get a free pass in the media, conservatives will be demonized regardless of the facts. But then, they already knew that.
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