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UPDATED: See addendum at end

Gasoline prices are soaring across America, despite record supplies and lower than normal demand. Analysts pretty much agree the main reason for the soaring prices is Wall Street speculation -- investors buying up oil futures and bidding up the price on the bet that world economic turmoil will turn them a profit.

The other reason for the gasoline price surge of the past few weeks (prices are past five bucks a gallon in California, less in other places) is the calculated attempt by conservative business and political interests to hang a big weight around Barack Obama's neck. For conservative political interests, it's a two-fer: get rid of the administration that's trying to put you to task while promoting alternative energy, and do it in a way that pads your own bank account.

The most maddening part of this is that some of the very one percenters who are speculating in oil prices in order to turn windfall profits at the expense of average Americans are the same people behind funding massive political campaign attacks on Obama and other Democrats, pointing the finger of blame at them.

None of these self-serving interests are more culpable than Americans For Prosperity (AFP), a conservative lobby group -- actually, it's a 501(c)(3) organization that, legally, is banned by the US tax code from any political activity. AFP is spending tens of millions of dollars on outright political campaign ads nationwide. Among the backers of that secretive but increasingly outed organization are the Koch brothers, holders of Koch Industries, a big player in the oil business.

Take a bite out of your hydrocarbon-based cheese sandwich as you click past the fold to read more:

Koch Industries owns vast chemical and mineral interests. It refines oil and ships oil through pipelines running across large swaths of America. It has a long history of pollution violations and has been fined hundreds of millions of dollars by regulators in recent years. Further, the firm has been instrumental in pushing for the environmentally dangerous Keystone XL pipeline that would run from northern Canada to Texas, risking major aquifers along the way.

In Wisconsin, AFP has so far spent $700,000 running ads that basically sound like campaign commercials for Republican Gov. Scott Walker, who is likely going to face a recall election later this year. Koch Industries has business interests in Wisconsin, including pipeline operations. It has been mentioned as a possible shadow suitor for a group of state-owned, coal-fired power plants that Walker at one point planned to put up for sale to the private market.

ThinkProgress, the progressive issues organization, recently listed a number of campaigns the Koch-funded AFP is into right now. Those campaigns are all blatantly anti-environmental while projecting Koch's own sins onto Obama and Democrats. A summary list:

The Please Don’t Blame Oil Companies for High Gas Prices Campaign : In June, AFP announced it was launching a “Running on Empty” tour to try to falsely blame President Obama for high gas prices. The tour was funded in part by the profits Koch Industries made as a result of high oil prices.

Attacking the Clean Air Act:Various Koch groups, but especially AFP, have tried to gut the Clean Air Act in order to prevent the EPA from using its regulatory powers to protect public health from the dangers caused by global warming pollution.

Attacking Regional Cap-and-Trade Programs: AFP has launched an all-out assault on the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), the Northeast’s successful regional cap-and-trade system.

Attacking State-Level Renewable Electricity Standards: Politico reports that AFP is considering strategies for killing Renewable Electricity Standards in “some three dozen states,” including Colorado, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.

Attacking Natural Gas Vehicles: While Koch rakes in billions in annual subsidies as a result of oil and ethanol businesses, among others, AFP launched a campaign against legislation to incentivize the use and production of natural gas vehicles. The campaign’s main attack on the legislation: that it’s a “subsidy.”

See more from ThinkProgress on this at

ThinkProgress last year also directly fingered the Koch brothers as heavy-duty oil speculators. The case is laid out at:

The latter piece documents how outfits like AFP and "Citizens for the Environment" -- a Koch-fueled outfit that really should have been named "Oil Companies Against the Environment" --push out their heavily funded lies, while in private manipulating higher oil prices. From the April 2011 piece at ThinkProgress:

Currently, the public knows very little about the oil speculation industry because a conservative majority on the Commodity Futures Trading Commission has refused to implement a mandate from the Dodd-Frank Wall Street reform bill to curb abuses. Meanwhile, Republicans are pushing steep cuts to the CFTC, hampering any new rules on oil speculation that may be released later this summer. Fortunately, both the Securities and Exchange Commission and the CFTC have so far survived the latest round of budget cuts.
Fellow Kos blogger Puddytat earlier today posted a piece on why AFP may be in trouble with the IRS. Read it at

A Feburary 2011 DailyKos blog fingered the Kochs as a power behind the Keystone pipeline project, even while Koch-funded groups attacked Obama for taking a cautious approach based on environmental concerns. See:

In short, the Koch brothers and their gigantic corporation are busy polluting for fun and profit while spending tens of millions of dollars promoting further deregulation and trying to pin all the blame for high petrol prices on Democrats. That's beyond cynical. It's anti-democratic and grossly manipulative.

The Kochs and their billions arguably represent a menace to democracy, one made all the worse by the Citizens United case in which the Supreme Court allowed virtually unlimited and hugely anonymous campaign spending by shadowy special interest groups.

But what progressives already have managed to learn about the nation's Koch problem is troubling enough. We haven't seen power-mongering robber barons like this since the last days of the 19th Century. The good news is that citizens of conscience stopped those rapacious cretins once before, and we are on the way to stopping them once again.

On the same I originally filed this post, Wisconsin Democratic Party Chairman Mike Tate announced the party was filing formal complaints questioning the nonprofit status of Americans For Prosperity after recent comments David Koch made in a Florida newspaper. Tate said the party was filing a compliant with the state Government Accountability Board, which oversees elections in the state. He said the party also was forwarding a copy of the compliant to the Internal Revenue Service.

Read more:

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Comment Preferences

  •  i don't believe (3+ / 0-)

    that we have to look much further than at the koch brothers themselves, as well as other individuals of their ilk, to find out why gas prices are on the rise.

    they can try all they want to blame president obama but the buck will ultimately stop with the kochs.

    hope springs eternal and DAMN is she getting tired!

    by alguien on Fri Feb 24, 2012 at 01:15:42 PM PST

  •  Fasten your seatbelts and get ready to pay up..... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    ....the corporatists are about to show us who is in charge.

  •  Not a 501c(3) (0+ / 0-)

    I've read similar statements.  However, if you look at the Americans for Prosperity website (under legal), they say they are a 501(c)4 and that contributions are not tax-deductible.  There's similar language under the Wisconsin affiliate's website. I don't know what constraints there are on 501(c)4's political activity.

    Now, I'm far from being a Koch Brothers supporter, but I think this mischaracterization hurts our cause.

    •  Thanks (0+ / 0-)

      I relied on Puddytat's post, referenced in my own, which discusses this and just offered an update that continues to suggest something unusual is happening. Take a look.

    •  Actually, they're both (0+ / 0-)

      In an update I link to a researched comment where the two are sharing resources which may be at the heart of the problem.

      There already is class warfare in America. Unfortunately, the rich are winning.

      by Puddytat on Fri Feb 24, 2012 at 04:40:33 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Same thing has been happening (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        ... with right-wing "educational" groups and Republicans. Rachel Maddow the other night had an example where an "independent" group bought video footage from Mitt Romney's last presidential run and basically created a commercial on his behalf that was almost identical to the one his own campaign had used in the earlier campaign. Left hand / right hand stuff.

    •  Update (0+ / 0-)

      John Nichols in The Nation re-ups the issue of whether AFP's tax exempt status is being used legallY. See:

    •  If is true AFP is not tax-deductible... (0+ / 0-)

      ...then becomes very clear...AFP represents the 1% as only they could afford to throw money at such a ignoble cause. Makes sense WalkerFitz Inc. would seek and be supported by an anti Common Americans group.

      Our nations quality of life is based on the rightousness of its people.

      by kalihikane on Tue Feb 28, 2012 at 09:04:47 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  You've collected some interesting... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Puddytat, sabo33

    ....material here that, together with Puddytat's, ought to be getting some more attention. So, I've tipped and recced.

    But one thing you should correct is this:

    Indeed, crude oil prices have doubled in recent weeks.
    Not even close. The last time the price of a benchmark barrel of crude was half what it is now was May 2009. Its cheapest level in the past 14 months was $79.20/bbl in late September. In the past 12 weeks, its low point (in mid-December) was $93.53/bbl. Today it is at $109.72/bbl, a 28% increase over September, and a 15% increase over the low point of two months ago. The price hasn't been as high as it is now since late April 2011.

    Don't tell me what you believe, show me what you do and I will tell you what you believe.

    by Meteor Blades on Fri Feb 24, 2012 at 02:00:59 PM PST

  •  It's war! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Koch asks himself, What can I do to defeat that guy?" He raises oil prices.

    Cardinal Dolan asks himself the same thing, and mandates a series of pseudo-religious diatribes and a petition.

    I ask you, what have YOU done today to insure democracy survives?

    Quidquid latine dictum sit, altum viditur.

    by MrMichaelMT on Sat Feb 25, 2012 at 05:50:08 PM PST

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