Power of Story
Send a Tweet        
- Advertisement -

Share on Google Plus Share on Twitter Share on Facebook 1 Share on LinkedIn Share on PInterest Share on Fark! Share on Reddit Share on StumbleUpon Tell A Friend (1 Shares)  

Printer Friendly Page Save As Favorite View Favorites (# of views)   No comments
OpEdNews Op Eds

Kochs' Push for Criminal Legal Reform Is Aimed at Protecting Corporate Lawbreakers

By       Message Thom Hartmann     Permalink
      (Page 1 of 2 pages)
Related Topic(s): ; ; , Add Tags Add to My Group(s)

View Ratings | Rate It

opednews.com Headlined to H4 11/27/15

Author 1486
Become a Fan
  (124 fans)
- Advertisement -

Reprinted from Smirking Chimp

From flickr.com/photos/28435100@N00/22073735366/: Koch Brothers' Toxic Empire
Koch Brothers' Toxic Empire
(Image by nordique)
  Permission   Details   DMCA

It looks like the Koch brothers have scammed us once again.

- Advertisement -

When news first came out that Charles and David Koch -- the Koch brothers -- were supporting criminal legal system reform efforts in Congress, many of us thought, "Wow, they're actually doing something good for once." And for good reason, too.

Criminal legal reform has, over the past few years, become one of the very few legitimately bipartisan issues in US politics, and given their public statements, it really looked like Kochs were joining that bipartisan consensus for all the right reasons.

Here, for example, is Charles Koch on a recent episode of "Morning Joe" talking about why we need to reform drug laws. Sounds pretty persuasive, right? Boy, were we naive.

- Advertisement -

Charles and David Koch may very well want to change drug laws, but the idea that they're making this push for criminal legal reform out of the goodness of their own hearts appears to be totally and completely false. After all the publicity they've gotten from the media and the DC establishment, it now turns out that the Kochs appear to want to change sentencing laws to help protect white collar criminals like, well, themselves or their buddies.

As The New York Times reported, Koch Industries, backing as part of a package of criminal legal system reform legislation, a bill that would change the way the feds can use a legal doctrine known as "mens rea" in white collar cases. If the bill passes, white collar criminals could get away with breaking the law if they can simply say that they "didn't know" they or their business and colleagues were breaking the law when committing the crime in question.

They can't do this now -- it's that whole "ignorance of the law is no excuse" thing. And while this whole issue of "did they or didn't they know" might sound like a minor bit of legal esoterica, it's not.

The power to convict someone of committing a crime, regardless of whether or not they knew they were breaking the law when they committed that crime, is an important tool for prosecutors, especially in white collar cases.

Justice Department officials, for example, told The New York Times that not having this tool might have prevented them from getting guilty pleas in a 2013 case involving a Colorado factory farm whose listeria-infected cantaloupes killed 33 people, as well as a 2012 case involving a pharmacy that killed three people by selling them mislabeled drugs.

In other words, letting white collar criminals claim ignorance of the law as a defense would make it really easy for them to get away with, well, murder. And, yes, according to The New York Times, that's what the Kochs are proposing.

- Advertisement -

So yeah, this is a big deal.

It also turns out that the Koch brothers have a very personal reason for supporting these kinds of changes to federal criminal law.

As The New York Times reports, Koch Industries' general counsel and senior vice president Mark Holden "acknowledge[s]... that the company's efforts to pursue revisions in federal criminal law were inspired in part by a criminal case filed 15 years ago against Koch Industries claiming that it covered up releases of hazardous air pollution at a Texas oil refinery. Those charges resulted in a guilty plea by the company and a $20 million penalty."

As usual, the Kochs are just looking out for themselves. And the sad thing is that even if they do really care about changing drug sentencing laws, their push to let white collar criminals off the hook could sabotage the efforts going on in Congress right now to make real change to our criminal legal system.

A bill that's effectively a gimme for polluters might be too much for many Democrats to swallow, especially now that the Justice Department has called it out as just that -- a gimme for polluters.

Next Page  1  |  2

 

- Advertisement -

View Ratings | Rate It

http://www.thomhartmann.com
Thom Hartmann is a Project Censored Award-winning New York Times best-selling author, and host of a nationally syndicated daily progressive talk program on the Air America Radio Network, live noon-3 PM ET. www.thomhartmann.com His most recent books are "The Last Hours of Ancient Sunlight," "Unequal Protection: The Rise of Corporate Dominance and the Theft of Human Rights," "We The People," "What Would Jefferson Do?," "Screwed: The Undeclared War (more...)
 

Share on Google Plus Submit to Twitter Add this Page to Facebook! Share on LinkedIn Pin It! Add this Page to Fark! Submit to Reddit Submit to Stumble Upon



Go To Commenting
/* The Petition Site */
The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this website or its editors.

Writers Guidelines

Contact AuthorContact Author Contact EditorContact Editor Author PageView Authors' Articles
- Advertisement -

Most Popular Articles by this Author:     (View All Most Popular Articles by this Author)

S&P Blames Republicans, Mainstream Media Fails to Report It

Globalization Is Killing The Globe: Return to Local Economies

The Great Tax Con Job

The Truth about the Trust Fund-- Destroying Social Security to Destroy the Two Party System

The Deciding Moment: The Theft of Human Right

Healthcare: First They Came for the Banksters