Nukewatch Quarterly Summer 2016
David and Charles Koch placed a uranium-tainted pot of gold at the gates of the Grand Canyon, and a few lucky politicians found it. The origin of this radioactive rainbow was traced in an article published by Think Progress News Site in March.
A broad coalition has been working to declare the area around the Grand Canyon a National Monument which would prevent any new uranium mines in the 1.7 million acres surrounding it. Several Native American tribes including Havasupai, Hualapai, Hopi, Navajo, Zuni, Paiute, and Yavapai, along with businesses and environmental groups, make up the coalition that is working both through Congress and direct petition to President Obama to promote this designation, an authority the president has already used three times this year. Among the people of Arizona, 80 percent are in favor of such protection, including 65 percent of Republicans. Surprisingly, several politicians representing them differ in opinion.
Greg Zimmerman, one of the authors of the Think Progress article, was able to explain some of the discrepancy when he dug into the 990 tax forms of the beneficiaries. The pot of gold has its origin in American Encore (formerly known as the Center to Protect Patient Rights), a dark money organization partly funded by the Koch brothers. The funds are then passed to the anti-park efforts being run by Prosper, Inc. and Prosper Foundation, Inc. According to tax filings discovered by Zimmerman, “American Encore has funded 83 percent of Prosper Inc.’s total budget since its creation, donating over $1.5 million to the organization in 2013 and 2014.” They have worked to lobby politicians and do anti-park publicity. Senator John McCain is known to have benefitted from Koch-backed dark money. In addition to dark money, which cannot be traced to its origin, several Arizona Representatives received donations directly from Koch Industries. Here are the amounts given during the 2014 cycle according to the Center for Responsive Politics: Representatives Paul Gosar ($5,000), David Schweikert ($10,000), Trent Franks ($2,500), Matt Salmon ($3,500) and Senator Jeff Flake ($2,000 in 2012). They have all opposed protecting tribal sacred cultural sites and favored continued pollution of this national treasure in order to return favors.
—Think Progress, Mar. 2, 2016; Center for Responsive Politics, Nov. 30, 2015; Navajo-Hopi Observer, Sept. 20, 2015