Koch fighting climate research funding probe

Koch fighting climate research funding probe

The conglomerate owned by conservative activists Charles and David Koch said it won’t cooperate with Senate Democrats’ investigation into its potential funding of skeptical climate research.

The company’s top lawyer released a letter late Tuesday that he sent last week to Sens. Ed MarkeyEdward (Ed) John MarkeyOvernight Tech: Zuckerberg breaks silence on Cambridge Analytica controversy | Senate passes sex trafficking bill | EU pushes new tax on tech | YouTube toughens rules on gun videos Dem senator responds to Zuckerberg: 'You need to come' testify Zuckerberg breaks silence on Cambridge Analytica crisis MORE (D-Mass.), Barbara BoxerBarbara Levy BoxerThe ‘bang for the buck’ theory fueling Trump’s infrastructure plan Kamala Harris endorses Gavin Newsom for California governor Dems face hard choice for State of the Union response MORE (D-Calif.) and Sheldon WhitehouseSheldon WhitehouseOvernight Defense: Senate sides with Trump on military role in Yemen | Dem vets push for new war authorization on Iraq anniversary | General says time isn't 'right' for space corps Overnight Energy: EPA plans to restrict use of science data for regs | Pruitt's Italy trip cost more than K | Perry insists he's staying at Energy Senate sides with Trump on providing Saudi military support MORE (D-R.I.), invoking the First Amendment to fight the probe.

He further accused the senators of trying to infringe upon the Kochs' free speech and free association rights.

“To the extent that your letter touches on matters that implicate the First Amendment, I am sure you recognize Koch's right to participate in the debate of important public policy issues and its right of free association,” Koch General Counsel Mark Holden wrote in the letter.

He added that the senators did not justify why they would investigate activities protected by the First Amendment’s rights of free speech and free association.

Holden said Koch officials “object to your apparent efforts to infringe upon and potentially stifle fundamental First Amendment activities.”

The Koch brothers are very active in conservative political circles and have pledged to spend nearly $1 billion in the 2016 election cycle to support free-market Republicans.

They have been critical of efforts to fight climate change and greenhouse gases and have donated groups that challenge climate change science, including the American Energy Alliance and the Cato Institute.

Koch, which owns subsidiaries in industries like oil refining, agricultural supply and paper products, was one of 100 companies that Markey, Boxer and Whitehouse are investigating.

The senators launched their probe shortly after climate researcher Willie Soon was accused of accepting more than $1.2 million from oil, gas and coal companies in exchange for his research questioning the role of greenhouse gases in climate change.

Activist group Greenpeace said it has documented that Soon received $230,000 from the Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation.

A similar inquiry by House Democrats led a wide variety of academics and some Republicans to accuse lawmakers of trying to silence skeptical research.