#1: The Koch brothers
A few fun facts about Charles and David Koch:
- They are the proud owners of Koch Industries, the second-largest privately run business in America, which owns oil refineries in Texas, Alaska, and Minnesota and control some 4,000 miles of pipeline.
- Thanks to the Citizens United Supreme Court decision, billionaires like the Kochs and large corporations like theirs can now spend an unlimited amount of money to influence the political process.
- According to Forbes, the Koch brothers are now worth $80 billion, an increase of a measly $12B since last year.
- They are among the largest funders of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and the Americans Land Council (ALC), the two most organized, well funded proponents of transferring public lands to the state for eventual liquidation
#2: Ken Ivory
A few brass tacks on ol’ Kenny:
- He’s the former CEO of the “non-profit” American Lands Council (ALC) who pulled a $135k salary in 2014 and resigned his post to later mentioned wannna be land grabber, and Montana politician, Jennifer Fielder, amid allegations of fraud and intentionally violating lobbying and disclosure laws.
- While at the helm of the ALC Ivory conned several county and state governments into “donating” tax payer money to fund the ALC’s attack on public lands.
- He’s currently the Director of the “Free The Lands” Project with Federalism In Action.
- He hails from the leader in land theft and privatization of public lands, and arguably the most bass ackwards state politically in our great country, Utah.
#3: Jennifer Fielder
Some scoop on Jen:
- She’s the new head honcho of the American Lands Council (ALC), having taken the reins from Ken Ivory.
- Fielder is Vice Chair of the Montana Republican Party, a party that includes the transfer of public lands in its official party platform.
- She’s received a glowing, formal endorsement from the Oath Keepers, one of the whacko militant groups at the heart of the Malheur Refuge occupation, and she has been posting recently on the ALC website in defense of the recent Oregon occupation.
- She’s a member of the Sanders Natural Resource Council, which is run by the Militia of Montana (yes, that’s their actual name), founded by John Trochmann, of white supremacist fame.
#4. Political Candidates with Strings
- Ted Cruz has received campaign contributions from the Koch Brothers and many have called him out as a Koch puppet. A Ted Cruz puppet? That’ll keep your kids up at night…and me. He is “vigorously committed to transferring as much federal land as humanly possible back to the states.” His words. Back in July of ’15 he proposed this asinine amendment to the bipartisan Sportsmen’s Act. Cruz Amendment #3456: Limit Federal Ownership of State Lands: Prevents the federal government from owning more than 50 percent of the land in any state. I guess he didn’t realize that we the people own the land. Federal agencies manage it, not own it.
- Marco Rubio has this to say, “The federal government controls far too much land, especially in the Western states like Nevada. While there is clearly a legitimate role for federally owned and managed land in certain situations, we must empower states and tribes whenever appropriate. I believe we should institute a top-down review of all federal property, including land, to help determine what should stay in the federal government’s purview and what should be returned back to states and localities.”
- Advocating for land transfer and private ownership of federally managed land is in the GOP platform See pages 18 & 19 on the attached.
- See here for breakdown on where each of the political candidates stand on public lands. All candidates were given the same questions and time to respond.
Connecting the dots:
So if it isn’t already clear, the winners in a land transfer scenario are those with a vested interest in the eventual sale or monetization through private lease of said lands. The states cannot afford to manage the lands, so if they were ever to be transferred to state ownership, not only would our previous rights as owners of those lands be null and void under new ownership, the lands would instantly become assets available to the highest bidder. You would be hard pressed to find an economist that would argue otherwise.
Guys like the Koch brothers aren’t interested in bringing public land users together to hold hands and sing around a warm campfire. They have no interest in, or expectation of, better management of lands under state control. As Sean Combs would say, “It’s all about the benjamins baby” and there isn’t much money to be made by private interests when lands are managed for the greatest public benefit, be that by federal or state agencies.
You probably noticed that I didn’t mention the Bundys or any other penny ante thieves among the key players. Intentional omission. The Bundys and other fringe extremists like them are nothing more than convenient distractions. They are the grunts, pushers, fall guys. Bosses don’t look or act like these goofs. Let’s looks into a dark crystal ball and envision that our public land was transferred to state ownership and then sold off to say the Koch brothers for example. Do you see them letting degenerate ranchers like papa Cliven and sonny boy Ammon use it for free, or are they drilling it, fracking it, making money? If the Kochs have any delinquent tenants in their current business dealings who are over a year in arrears to the tune of over $1 million, like we do in the Bundys, they’re litigating and seizing assets.
Do some research and see if your local or state politicians are somehow connected to this organized crime. You might find that some of your tax dollars have already been funneled off to fund efforts to steal your public lands or that a candidate you’re considering voting for is on the wrong side of this issue.
Pro land transfer = NO VOTE. Write to them and tell them that.
4 thoughts on “The Land Grab Mafia”
This site’s content is well written and for the most part dead-on accurate, but there are a few things that threaten to undermine its credibility. For example:
“State Trust Land can be liquidated by the state to “benefit the public school system” or more likely to continue the pocket lining of state politicians.”
I don’t believe politicians are necessarily “lining their pockets” with the proceeds of state trust land sales. .
Also, it’s stated that objective economists have studied state management of federal lands and found it financially unfeasible. While I’m sure that’s what any objective economist would find, I’ve had trouble locating studies of this issue by objective economists. The Hunter Conservationist should have provided links or footnoted sources if they really have any.
While I’d say they’re somewhat right about Ted Cruz, I found their characterizations of Cruz and others to be gratuitous. I get the idea the authors are part hunter-conservationists, part partisan Democrats. (Note of irony here: The only GOP presidential candidate who seems to have it right turns out to be Donald Trump, of all people, probably because he has two sons who hunt and apparently have explained the issue to him.)
Finally, the authors of the site are keeping identities anonymous. I doubt that’s necessary for personal safety, and I’m always suspicious of anonymous writing on the net. The people behind The Hunter Conservationist should identify themselves so we can know more about them and what other agendas they might possibly have, or not have.
That said, this site provides an excellent survey of the issue and is worthy of more praise than criticism.
Larry, I appreciate your input very much. Thank you for taking the time to provide it. I’m an Arizona resident, have lived all over our great country, and am a life long hunter.
My only agenda is keeping public lands in public hands.
My choice in keeping my identity private is one born out of concern. One only needs to look at the recent Oregon situation to see the kind of people we’re dealing with.
In regards to political persuasion, I’d say social liberal and fiscal conservative is accurate, but most certainly not partisan. The vast majority of pro-transfer politicians happen to be Republican, but there are definitely R’s on the right side of this issue (mostly in western states that benefit greatly from the economic benefit outdoor recreation creates in the rural economies), and the intent is not to make this a partisan conversation. Politicians are either on the right or wrong side of this, regardless of party affiliation. Your Trump example is right on, and I’m glad he’s taking direction from his son on this issue, but in all fairness it’s also well documented the he’s a life long Democrat.
The statements on each person (other than the tongue in cheek first bit about Cruz) are facts.
In regards to the “pocket lining” comment, I’d hardly say it’s difficult to point to examples where politicians have benefited monetarily from taking a particular position on an issue or several, or a stretch to follow the bouncing ball in this example back to the monetary influences.
The intent of the blog isn’t to go down the center of the road on issues. It’s to get people’s attention and inspire them to get involved using informed, opinionated writing.
While I agree with the above named “bosses” being key players in the the land grab movement I believe you have left out a couple. Namely the sorry excuse for a representative Bob Bishop from, as you so aptly put it “the leader in land theft and privatization of public lands, and arguably the most bass ackwards state politically in our great country, Utah.”
Bishop’s Public Land Initiative is nothing more than a trojan horse. While on the surface he acts as though he wants all land managers input to piece this together, he and his team have whittled away at it to the point that it provides barely any protection for introduced lands and encompasses lands that already have existing protection.
His partner in crime in this initiative is Representative Jason Chaffetz, who pardon my french is about as useful as tits on a bull.
Lastly we have Governor Herbert of the bass ackwards state of Utah who just authorized 14 million to be spent in a frivolous lawsuit against the federal government over the transfer of federal lands.
There you have your Utah trifecta, I would be remiss if I didnt include Orin Hatch…but currently I am having a difficult time trying to find out what is more useless than tits on a bull.
Couldn’t agree more on Bishop, Joe. Gov. Herbert is a good one as well, though I think he may only a danger to you poor folks who live in Utah. I’m cautiously optimistic that no one will watch his failures and follow his lead. Most importantly, I very much appreciate your use of “useless as tits on a bull”. One of my favorites.