Martin Bashir | May 17, 2012
>>> they are philanthropists and patrons of the art. they're also patrons of the conservative movement and an unavoidable part of this country's political conversation. they are the koch brothers . 76-year-old charles and 72-year-old david. but who are they? what do we know about their influence on democracy in this country? well, we're delighted to welcome mark holden , general counsel for koch industries to our studio. good afternoon.
>> good afternoon. thanks for having me.
>> i'm delighted that you're here. we're disappointed that either of the brothers is not prepared to come on but we're very grateful and acknowledge our appreciation to you.
>> they're very busy running the company. ? i understand.
>> the koch brothers were recently associate with the controversial stand your ground laws surrounding the death, the killing of trayvon martin. do charles and david koch support this legislation?
>> well, let me start, mr. bashir. we were associated falsely with those lies by a guest host on your show named karen finney . a paid democratic strategist and fund-raiser.
>> sorry, mr. holden comfortable i make a couple of corrections? we want to be accurate.
>> karen finney hasn't been paid by the dnc for three years. this is a falsehood that you and others have repeated and koch industries have repeated. and i can confirm to you today that she has not been paid a congressmen since 2009 .
>> okay. so then she is an unpaid strategist phrasing on behalf of the democrats. so let me say at the outset, that was a tragedy, what happened in florida to mr. martin. i think we can all agree. i think it is despicable that anyone regardless of their political affiliation would try to gain political gain by linking us to it falsely which is what miss finney did. she said on your show in march that we were part of what she called the typhoid mary that led to the proliferation of the stand your ground laws in florida and elsewhere. she associated it with the american legislative exchange counsel and she said we were the reason why this happen. in not so many words. let me finish, please, sir, i was told i would be on the show.
>> we have to be accurate.
>> and i'm going to finish and then you can tell me where i'm not accurate.
>> thank you.
>> so miss finney said we were involved. we weren't involved. koch is a member of amp lec. it's been around about 40 years. it has many other corporate members including msnbc's parents, general electric and comcast . we weren't involved in any way in the stand your ground laws. i'm assuming comcast and ge weren't either. to say we were involve was involved is false. to say alec was involved is false. in anything that alec did. so categorically false, what miss finney said. and there is a part of her statement, i don't have it with me where she was trying to make the sound like a vast republican act that led to these laws around the country. the reality is these laws have had broad bipartisan support across the country. republicans and democrats. and they have been signed into law, the stand your ground laws by many proth prominent democratic governors including the current secretary of homeland security , napolitanu, the governor of west virginia .
>> let me --
>> let me just take you back for a moment. karen finney was using an analogy. and what she said was --
>> a poor analogy.
>> but she was using an analogy. she did not suggest that blood was on the koch brothers ' hands. she didn't suggest the koch brothers were personally or directly involved in that. she didn't. however --
>> i'm sorry. she called us the typhoid mary . she didn't call us the virgin mary .
>> as part of a number of groups including the nra. let's pause on that for a moment. i have to ask you again, the koch brothers through a charitable arm gave $125,000 to alec . that's revealed in a 2009 return. do the koch brothers support stand your ground laws?
>> we have no involvement in those laws.
>> i'll asking you if they support.
>> i don't know what they support. i know the democrats and republicans support them. i can tell you our involvement is limited to economic issues. limited to economic freedom and limited government and individual liberty . that's what the koch brothers believe. just because you're may be of the group doesn't mean you're supporting and involved in every aspect. for example, common cause , sierra club , center for american progress . they have many members on the left them all sponsored a viltd hateful racist protest outside of our seminar in january 2011 in palm springs . i don't think that those groups would support that all their members.
>> you just said repeatedly that democrats and republicans support the work of alec and you've referenced and evidence that had in this answer.
>> i'm sorry to interrupt you but i was talking they supported the bipartisan support for the stand your ground laws.
>> so i have to ask you, do the koch brothers support stand your ground laws?
>> i don't know. i've never talk to them about it.
>> you've never spoken to them about this issue.
>> if they don't, why have they not taken a step like coca-cola? like wendy's and mcdonald's who have walked away following this terrible and tragic death? why have they not taken an avowed public step to say, well, we haven't disclosed that we support stand your ground laws but we're making it absolutely clear to america we want nothing to do with this have comcast and ge done this? they're your parent.
>> with respect, i'll asking you the question.
>>> i can answer the question.
>> why have they not walked away like mcdonald's, coca-cola and wendy's, following what happened in the horrendous killing of this young teenager.
>> i agree it is horrendous and tragic as we said at the beginning. they've not walked away because their involvement in alec like a lot of company including msnbc's patient, comcast and ge . there is other work they. do they have nothing to do with the second amendment issues. it is not clear what role if any these laws played in that tragic shooting. i think there will be -- we don't know yet.
>> we're awaiting the trial.
>> exactly comfortable we let that process go?
>> can i play you something?
>> an imposter pretending to be david koch made a call to louver governor scott walker .
>> i'll tell you what. once crash these [ bleep ] i'll fly you out to cali and show you a good time.
>> all right. that would be outstanding. thanks for all the support and helping us move the cause forward.
>> assuming scott walker 's position, which was he believed that was david koch , what is that phone call worth to scott walker ?
>> i have no idea what you're asking. that was part of --
>> how much have the koch brothers contributed?
>> i don't know.
>> have they contributed?
>> i don't know.
>> you're the general counsel know sir.
>> right, this is not a legal issue. we were falsely inserted into the wisconsin story line as well by --
>> here's the interesting thing.
>> you keep saying everyone is falsely incertaining you. and here's scott walker , the governor of wisconsin who at this moment almost half the peel in the state object to the leadership. and you're not prepared to tell me if the koch brothers support him in the stance that he's taken on worker's rights. can you tell me if they contribute any money to scott walker ?
>> i can tell what you pac did. they contribute $40 smrs which was one half of 1% of what was raised.
>> of course. so you have contributed.
>> the koch pac did. and the support was based on that we have thousands of employees and assets in the state of wisconsin and wisconsin had a fiscal crisis and we wanted to see it hopefully get turned around so it would be more business coming in.
>> what is scott walker thinking he's getting from the koch brothers ?
>> i don't understand your question.
>> why does he take a call? hundreds, possibly thousands of people have been trying to speak to scott walker in that state. one of the koch brothers rings and immediately has from scott walker 's%, even though it is an imposter, a very cordial and warm conversation. ? it wasn't david koch to begin with so this is an entirely false premise .
>> it is not because scott walker clearly thinks it was.
>> it clearly shows he did not know who david koch was or he would not have taken the call. you may want to get whoever that activist was that made the call to ask him about it.
>> here's the question. the koch brothers fund a number of different entities, as you well know. 48 million from the charles koch foundation between 1998 and 200 aext 120 million from david koch foundation. 50 million from koch industries . 8. from koch pac . 80% of that money went to republicans. can you understand why many people feel that there is an issue of transparency here? take, for example, scott walker . here's a man whose leadership is dividing that state. do you not think the people of that state deserve to know if that man is being supported being suppor ted financially by the koch brothers ?
>> that's the principal question. do you feel that the necessity of transparency is absolutely essential?
>> we follow the rules on --
>> that's not what i'm asking.
>> -- donations and transparency. you seem to have some facts and figures. scott walker , i wasn't involved in that, he was elected by the people of wisconsin . there's going to be a recall election. as far as who contributes and who doesn't contribute, i think both sides play by the same rules, the left and the right. the reality is we are very open and honest about what our views are. we have been for 50 years. david koch and charles koch . the book i just gave you -- let me finish --
>> i'm very grateful for the book and i'm very --
>> we are very open about our positions which is limited government , free markets , individual freedom , the bill of rights . we've held those beliefs for a long time, so for 47 years those weren't an issue, but apparently our political opponents object to them and they try to make a story.
>> how much are you contributing to mitt romney 's campaign?
>> i don't know. i don't think anything.
>> we're supposed to be talking about the attacks you've --
>> you had an opportunity to answer that question and they lead us to ask these questions.
>> okay, ask them.
>> and the questions about transparency. i have to go back, sir, and ask you, have the koch brothers contributed any money to mitt romney 's campaign?
>> i don't know.
>> are they contributing to super pacs that are going to be supporting mitt romney ?
>> not to my knowledge.
>> not to your knowledge. which of the congressional seats are the koch brothers planning to bombard with money?
>> bombard with money? i'm not prepared to talk about that. the way you've handled issues with us, the way the far right have handled issues with us, bombarding us with questions, like trahe trayvon martin issue. the koch brothers have received death threats . this is where this leads, and it's irresponsible. are you okay with that?
>> no, i'm not, and i myself have been a victim of repeated death threats . i get your point, but here's the question. what the public wants to know is what the role of these two brothers is. we see their names emblazoned across wonderful theaters, like the new york city theatre of ballet, but we don't know what they do. when new jersey governor chris christie flew out to vail to meet with one of the koch brothers for a secret seminar --
>> they're not secret. they're private.
>> i'm willing to accept that, the word private. why wasn't there reference in mr. christie 's own schedule that that was taking place?
>> i don't know. you would have to ask mr. christie that.
>> do you think the people of new jersey should know why their governor is traveling such a distance and meeting with two individuals who are not elected officials ? don't you think the people of new jersey would like to know what the content of that conversation was?
>> what conversation?
>> the meeting that they had.
>> i wasn't involved in that.
>> i'm asking you imagine the position of a constituent who was elected governor who discovers the governor is going off to, your words, private meetings with the koch brothers oz. don't you think the constituents have a right to know what the content of that meeting was, what the purpose of that meeting was?
>> i think new jersey has a lot they've disclosed. i'm sure governor christie complied with them. i think there is another issue as well, mr. bashir.
>> everyone calls for more and more disclosure, and then what happens is when disclosure comes out, there are more violent attacks against us, terror gets against our facility.
>> so the fact that we have been begging for mr. charles or mr. david koch to come, indeed, many colleagues on my network have invited both individuals to any number of interviews. the reason they fail to do so is purely because they're afraid of being attacked, correct?
>> first of all, they run a business. it's a full-time job. they work every day of the week, basically. the other reality is, quite frankly , their ideas are what's important to them. their personalities, that's not what they do. the final thing is, quite frankly , coming on nbc, i don't think they feel they would be given fair treatment given what's happened in the past.
>> you mean unfair questions?
>> he would get asked unfair questions. they get accused of the typhoid mary in chicago that led to a shooting. that type of thing.
>> thank you for coming back on. thank you for the book. and would you convey on behalf of myself and every one of my colleagues that we would welcome mr. charles or mr. david koch at any moment at their convenience.
>> thank you very much. i