The Center for Public Integrity sought comment from Koch Industries a dozen times during the course of its investigation of Koch’s lobbying network.
Eleven emails and phone calls were made to numerous Koch communications and lobbying officials beginning March 18 and continued until the eve of publication.
Koch’s only response came Monday evening in the form of an email from Melissa Cohlmia, director of corporate communications: “We have received your requests for assistance. We have serious misgivings about your claims of objectivity, balance and sourcing for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that you have written numerous pieces that are critical of issues that Koch would support.”
Center executive director William E. Buzenberg noted that the article is based on lobbying registrations filed by Koch’s own lobbyists. “This is hardly partisan material. In fact, it was exactly what Congress hoped would happen when it created the lobbying reports—greater transparency,” he said.
Buzenberg said the Center covers stories across the political spectrum.
“We cover special interests on all sides of policy issues—with the same vigor, same commitment to fairness, and the same transparency. The Center was the news organization that broke the Lincoln Bedroom scandal during the Clinton years. Last week, we exposed a major Obama fund-raiser who won access to the Energy secretary and cashed in on major stimulus grants and loans,” he said, citing just two examples.
Cohlmia also criticized what she called “substantial (Center) financial support from the same backers who are funding and organizing the partisan political attacks against Koch.”
Buzenberg responded that the Center is a nonprofit, nonpartisan investigative news organization funded by some 50 different foundations and hundreds of individuals. All funding sources $500 and above are listed on the Center’s website as part of its commitment to transparency.
“Just like for-profit news organizations which take advertising, we have a clear, unbreakable firewall between funding sources and our journalism,” Buzenberg said.