National Democratic campaign starring Alaska: ‘Republicans addicted to Koch’

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid isn’t known for his quick quips. But a line that he used on the Senate floor as he was railing against Senate Republicans will provide the theme around a Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee campaign, a campaign in which Alaska plays a starring roll.

The line: “The GOP is addicted to Koch,” is sure to be something Alaskans will hear over and over again as the DSCC uses Internet ads and videos, as well as social media to tie Republicans to politically active billionaire brothers.

The DSCC says that so far, the Koch brothers have spent $30 million in trying to influence the upcoming races, and more than $600,000 attacking Alaska U.S. Sen. Mark Begich.

The brothers also recently shut down a refinery in North Pole Alaska that it owned and laid off 80 workers because the refinery was too expensive to run, Koch Industries announced last month.

The Koch brothers bought Flint Hills from Williams in 2004 for $290 million. According to an SEC filing, it said that it planned to spend $100 million on it to offer “cleaner-burning fuels to Alaska communities and consumers.” Because it’s a private company, it hasn’t had to report how much of that it ended up spending.

What is known is that since its purchase, a plume of the industrial chemical sulfolane has spread and continues to do so. It’s now 3 miles long and 2.5 miles wide and has left 300 households and businesses with tainted water and depleted property values. In addition to the layoffs, the closure effects other entities. The Alaska Railroad also relied heavily on the refinery and is now considering layoffs.

Flint Hills knew that sulfolane pollution existed in the groundwater beneath site of the refinery, and as early as 2004, the state warned the company about the spread. It repeatedly ignored the warnings.

The DSCC is planning on using all of this information in its national campaign.

Closer to home, it’s pushing the GOP candidates — Joe Miller, Mead Treadwell, and Dan Sullivan – to address the issue.

“Dan Sullivan and Mead Treadwell’s refusal to criticize the Koch Brothers’ actions prove that they could care less about the Alaskans the Kochs fired or the families they hurt, and the fact that Sullivan and Treadwell’s silence comes while willfully accepting the Koch’s limitless campaign cash is a slap in the face to all Alaskans,” said Justin Barasky, a spokesman at the DSCC.

I’ve got an email out to the campaigns asking for a response. I’ll post as I get them.

Contact Amanda Coyne at


7 thoughts on “National Democratic campaign starring Alaska: ‘Republicans addicted to Koch’

  1. Lana Johnson

    Just to set the record straight, the refinery is still operating – and will until sometime this spring. No one has yet been pink-slipped. And the governor is soliciting new owners and has received expressions of interest from at least two companies, including the second refinery in North Pole.

  2. soothsayer

    This race is lining up to be a race between Mark Begich v Dan Sullivan. There is an outside chance that Miller could sneak in on a populist swell but it is unlikely. So here’s what we know: Begich is the incumbent and with that goes some benefits. We also know that he is a very skilled and sly campaigner. He has a lot more money on hand than does Sullivan despite Sullivan’s fundraising success. Begich’s campaign team is experienced and tested. He has one of the best pollsters and media teams in the country from what I have read and understand. Sullivan is inexperienced and untested. The state’s geopolitical demographics are great for Sullivan. Sullivan’s campaign team is untested and very inexperienced. His campaign manager Ben Moore is a joke. His inexperience has really shown in the campaign’s inability to get off the ground. The thing that is keeping the campaign in the potlight is Sullivan’s apptitude and acumen at fundraising. At this point, I’d put my money on Begich unless Sullivan gets some real campaign staff talent and proves himself to be up for the fight. It’ll be fun to watch. The SUPERPACs are going to flood our airwaves and our mailboxes.

  3. Sutton

    The Koch brothers are nothing more than rich thugs. Still, I can’t stomach politicians whose walk doesn’t match their talk. Begich lies, tells a group most anything they want to hear and is trying to convince Alaskans that he is good for Alaska. If you think Obama and Harry Reid are good for Alaska, then you should like Begich. I don’t care for Treadwell for the same reasons. Right now, I’m leaning Joe Miller.

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