Did Koch Industries Bribe Cornyn As Texas AG?

An interesting Texas Monthly piece from way back in 2000 suggests that then Texas Attorney General John Cornyn went easy on the powerful Koch industries after they polluted Texas waters in return for their support for him during his 1998 campaign.

John Cornyn was a judge at the Texas Supreme Court from 1991 to 1997 and was elected Texas Attorney General in 1998. Prior to his stint at the Texas Supreme Court, Cornyn was a judge at the Texas 37th District Court.

According to the Texas Monthly piece, pipelines belonging to Wichita-based Koch Industries leaked oil products into the waters of Texas and several other states. The federal government went after Koch Industries for violations of the Clean Water Act and several states including Texas joined the lawsuit. Texas attorney General at that time was Dan Morales (Cornyn’s predecessor). AG Morales is famous for the major win he scored against the Tobacco industry that netted the Lone Star state a staggering $17.3 billion in fines from Big Tobacco.

It is against the backdrop of AG Morales’ win against Big Tobacco that Koch Industries backed John Cornyn’s candidacy for Texas AG–in essence to shield themselves from having to pay astronomical fines to the Lone Star state as Big Tobacco did. So you say, “OK @Emolclause you’re really grasping at straws here. Cut to the chase and explain how Koch Industries recruited Cornyn to avoid paying astronomical fines to the Lone Star state after polluting its waters.” Here it is in a nutshell.

As the Texas Monthly piece correctly points out, going after Big Tobacco, Big Oil etc in court usually involves very complex litigation that requires a battery of “cream of the crop” attorneys. Needless to say, such attorneys charge astronomical fees for their services–fees that most state elected officials(AGs) feel uncomfortable paying using taxpayer funds. What most states end up doing therefore (at least before AG Cornyn came along) is that they enter into agreements with these smart attorneys whereby the attorneys take on the complex litigation without any payment from the state in return for a share(percentage) of the fines they recoup from the offending company. In the case of Big Tobacco for example where Texas netted an astronomical $17.3 billion in fines, the attorneys in the case ended up getting paid a whopping $3.3 billion.

AG Morales attempted to duplicate his success against Big Tobacco in his fight against Koch Industries by using the same technique of a battery of smart attorneys not paid by the state. Koch Industries backed Cornyn’s campaign for Texas AG in 1998, donating $5000 to his campaign. Cornyn went on to win the election in 1998 and when he became AG, immediately began fighting the practice of using “outside” lawyers for complex litigation like the one the state was pursuing against Koch Industries. Cornyn wanted only state attorneys(from the AG’s office) to handle the complex litigation against Koch Industries and others–an obvious legal advantage to the big companies. He used the straw argument that the staggering $3.3 billion paid to attorneys in the Big Tobacco case should have ended up in the state’s coffers instead.

What ended up happening is that the high-powered attorneys AG Morales had lined up to go to trial against Koch Industries left and the Lone Star state was forced to accept a paltry $35 million settlement from Koch, a settlement that deeply angered environmentalists. Most experts agree that had Cornyn allowed Morales’ attorneys to take Koch to trial, they were looking at a possible $225 million or more in fines. Obviously some of the $225 million would have gone to pay the attorneys’ fees but the Lone Star state would still have ended up with more than the paltry $35 million “slap on the wrist” settlement Cornyn got. Therefore Koch essentially backed Cornyn as AG in order to save themselves from paying astronomical fines to the state for polluting its waters. Sad indeed!!

Cornyn when confronted about this “slap on the wrist” settlement against Koch industries reportedly answered that it was “pretty darned good for a Republican.” In other words he did not aggressively pursue Koch Industries as much as he should because they traditionally supported Republicans.

Even more troubling is the fact that Cornyn assailed his GOP primary opponent in the Texas AG race for engaging in the exact similar conduct he was now excusing–taking money(contributions) from a company the Texas AG’s office was pursuing in court. This means Cornyn knew what he was doing was unethical but did it anyway.

It also cannot be left unsaid that the Texas Monthly piece accused John Cornyn of “playing politics with the law at the expense of the public interest.”  This is especially instructive now that he is running for reelection in 2020. Hopefully his Dem challengers will dig into this excellent Texas Monthly piece to dig up other troubling aspects of John Cornyn’s political career

Bottom line, Texas has always been assumed to be a reliably “red state” by much of the national mainstream media and indeed by some establishment Democrats. Yours Truly challenged this notion back when nobody thought Beto O’Rourke had any chance against Ted Cruz and we saw what happened. The same needs to happen with John Cornyn, whose long record both in Texas politics and as U.S. Senator provides ample oppo-research fodder for his prospective Dem challenger. Yours Truly will certainly do his part to expose John Cornyn for the corrupt politician he has always been, beginning with this shady deal he did for Koch Industries against the best interests of the Lone Star state.

For those of you very happy with @Emolclause’s activism don’t shy away from the “tip jar” below on your way out.

You may reach the author via email at author@grassrootsdempolitics.com or author@emolumentsclause.com

Unmarked And Unfenced EPA Super Fund Site In Texas

A shocking Fox26 Houston report says that the Environmental Protection Agency(EPA) has for years ran an unmarked and unfenced super fund site in the Texas city of Cypress located 24 miles north west of Houston.

According to Fox26 Houston a negligent Texas dry cleaning company dumped the dangerous chemical tetrachloroethylene, a carcinogen, at this unmarked and unfenced site in Cypress Texas for 14 years(1988-2002) and the carcinogen has since sipped into the area’s water wells. Numerous Cypress Texas residents have since been diagnosed with cancer related to the chemical meaning this is a serious and existential environmental hazard. Environmental activist Pam Bonta says, “We are seeing a lot of cancer and illness. We requested that they [EPA] revisit this. We demanded that they get it cleaned up because people are dying, bottom-line.”

Another environmental activist Becky Romano said “You walk on the property and you just smell the gas. You feel it in your body and it just makes you sick.”

Even more troubling, it appears the Texas company dumped this dangerous chemical right around the corner where a Cypress strip mall is currently located. Given the number of people that frequent such strip malls in small cities like Cypress, it is fair to assume that there are a lot of Cypress residents still being exposed to this carcinogen on a daily basis. EPA says it will take two years to make the site safe.

Bottom line the dangerous environmental situation playing out in Cypress Texas once again underscores the need to reign in the EPA especially in GOP-controlled states like Texas where the push for deregulation is literally endangering people’s lives. Hopefully House Democrats will soon haul in EPA officials responsible for this Cypress super fund site for some tough grilling as to how a site as dangerous as this is not even fenced and clearly marked as such. This is gross recklessness for which someone at EPA should either be fired or criminally prosecuted.

How Koch Brothers Paid Gov Abbott To Pollute Texas

Few people know this fact but in 2001 Koch Petroleum Group pled guilty to covering up environmental violations at one of their refineries in Corpus Christi Texas–essentially admitting that they knowingly polluted the Texas atmosphere and then lied about it.

Since then the Koch Brothers have embarked on a rigorous campaign not to bring their industries into compliance, but to do away with environmental protections altogether. To that effect they have enlisted the services of Texas Republicans to peel away environmental protections that were put in place for the public’s safety. You would think any sane Texan would advocate for a cleaner environment and urge Koch industries to strive for better emission standards. Well, not the Texas GOP. In the same way the Texas GOP has backed the Koch Brothers/ALEC mission to do away with Medicare/Medicaid under the guise of “Balanced Budget”, they are also helping them pollute the Texas environment under the guise of “deregulation”.



What the Texas Republicans fail to tell their supporters is why the regulations were enacted in the first place, the obvious answer being for public safety. Take for instance the deadly explosion that happened at Texas’ West Fertilizer Company in 2013 that killed 15 people and wounded 226 others. After a federal investigation, the U.S. Chemical Safety Board concluded that the explosion was caused by the Ammonium Nitrate the company had on storage. The Chemical Safety Board added that the incident at West Fertilizer was a result of violations by the company, chief among them its failure to disclose to local authorities and the public that the chemicals they had on storage created a massive fire hazard. The Chemical Safety Board suggested that Texas do better on chemical disclosure to avert another chemical disaster.

However, a few months after the West disaster the Koch family sent then Texas AG Greg Abbott “donations” for his Texas Gubernatorial bid and just like that all the chemical disclosure reforms that were suggested by the U.S. Chemical Safety Board went out the window. Instead Greg Abbott started touting the ridiculous idea that requiring chemical companies to disclose what they had on storage would make it easier for terrorists to strike. Think about that folks, after the Koch family gave money to Greg Abbott he totally abandoned the public’s safety concerns, even after 15 people had been killed and 226 others wounded. In essence Koch Brothers paid Abbott to allow chemical companies to hide dangerous chemicals from the public, even though they knew 15 people had just died as a result of such failure to disclose.

Fast forward to 2017 and a similar chemical disaster happens, this time at the Archema Chemical Plant in Crosby, Texas after Hurricane Harvey. Turns out Archema much like West Fertilizer, failed to disclose that it was storing large amounts of Sulphur Dioxide, contrary to what U.S. Chemical Safety Board had suggested after the 2013 West disaster but in keeping with Gov Greg Abbotts directive that they didn’t have to disclose because of fear of terrorism. I mean this was a classic case of Gov Abbott’s policies putting people’s lives in danger.

Strangely, nobody has ever held Governor Abbott to account over his deadly and inexplicable policy towards chemical disclosure and whether donations from  the Koch family influenced his strange policy. The hapless Mainstream Media, with the exception of the wonderful Kiah Collier, lets Gov Abbott get away with this dangerous policy that will undoubtedly lead to further Texas deaths.

Think about that folks, because of the Koch Brothers, Gov Abbott will not allow Texans to know what dangerous chemicals are stored near their neighborhoods, their children’s schools, etc. A Texan for example would like to know whether there are toxic materials stored in an area before say purchasing a home in that area. Texans are denied all this because Koch Brothers tells Gov Abbott not to allow it. But not to worry folks, Yours Truly will make sure Gov Abbott’s DEADLY CHEMICAL POLICY GOES AWAY, whether the Koch Brothers like it or not

Bottom line Dems must expose how Governor Abbott and other Texas Republicans have sacrificed the public’s safety for the enrichment of their Super Donor Koch Brothers. 

For those of you very happy with @Emolclause‘s activism don’t shy away from the “tip jar” below on your way out