I wrote this story for Grist, where it first appeared.
A company controlled by the billionaire Koch brothers, who have bankrolled numerous right-wing causes, has donated $1 million to the campaign to pass Proposition 23, the California ballot initiative that would suspend the state’s global-warming law.
The contribution was made Thursday and came from Flint Hills Resources, a Kansas petrochemical company that is a subsidiary of Koch Industries. The Koch brothers were the subject of a recent profile in The New Yorker.
The Koch donation came a day after Tesoro, a Texas oil company that has been bankrolling the pro-Prop 23 campaign, put $1 million into the campaign coffers.
According to the No campaign, 97 percent of the $8.2 million raised by the Yes forces has been given by oil-related interests and 89 percent of that money has come from out of state. Three companies, Koch Industries, Tesoro, and Valero — another Texas-based oil company — have provided 80 percent of those funds.
“There are three companies from out of state that have a very specific economic interest in rolling back our clean energy economy and jobs,” Thomas Steyer, a San Francisco hedge-fund manger who is co-chair of the No on 23 campaign, said during a conference call Friday.
“I am a businessman,” he added. “I believe in the free enterprise system. I believe in profit. But companies have to accept the rules that are placed on them.”
Steyer, founder of Farallon Capital Management, has pledged $5 million of his own money to the No campaign.
As the traditional Labor Day kickoff to the fall campaign season approaches, the No campaign has also been collecting some large donations, albeit from individuals rather than corporations.
A Southern California businesswoman, Claire Perry, contributed $250,000 on Monday. Last Friday, Julie Packard, a daughter of Hewlett-Packard founder David Packard, gave $101,895.
“If the Yes on 23 folks win, we’re going to change the framework for investment here,” said Steyer. “We’re going to change our ability to create new industries. Those industries are going to go elsewhere, probably not in the United States. Probably specifically our biggest competition in this is China.”