by Jeff Mann, Online Director, Energy Action Coalition
On Sunday a secretive network of corporate CEOs, bankers, and far-right operatives convened in the desert to develop strategies for using their corporate wealth to enact polluter-friendly policies.
They did everything possible to keep their gathering out of the public eye, but there was one thing they didn't count on: we were there too.
Over 1,000 of us mobilized in the California desert to expose the Koch Brothers and their band of billionaires. The protest generated headlines across the country, and the Kochs are scrambling for PR cover to protect their tarnished image.
They shouldn't have been surprised. Joel Francis, a leader with the California Student Sustainability Coalition, has taken on the Koch Brothers before and was a featured speaker at the rally. Joel made a video and wrote a letter to all of you:
Joel's Letter to Youth Activists
To members of my generation,
Last fall I joined thousands of young Californians to stand up to Big Oil and defeat Proposition 23, a sneaky attempt by big polluters to gut California's climate and energy legislation. I challenged Charles Koch, CEO of Koch Industries, and primary financier of Prop 23 to a public debate so that we could expose his true intentions. While Mr. Koch ignored my challenge, we defeated Proposition 23 by revealing the inevitable truth and mobilizing our communities to vote No! We did what people said was un-doable, we stood up to Big Oil and won! But unfortunately the battle is not yet over, and that’s why I’m writing today.
On Sunday, I joined over a 1000 people at a posh resort near Palm Springs, California for an unprecedented event -- we gathered in the middle of the desert, not for rest and relaxation, but because we were fired up. The Koch Brothers were at it again, they were holding a secretive gathering of corporate CEOs, bankers and right-wing media pundits to strategize on how they could continue to use their money to advance their radical political agenda.
The Koch brothers and their friends are spending hundreds of millions of dollars to influence our democratic elections. They want to buy, or in ways have already bought the control over the direction of public policy. Our democracy is and has been under siege.
One year ago the Supreme Court ruled in a case known as ‘Citizens United’ to allow unrestricted corporate spending in our elections. It opened the floodgates for Big oil, bankers, and polluters like the Koch Brothers to spend unlimited amounts of money on elections and corrupt our democracy. And just when you thought it couldn’t get more outrageous, we’ve recently learned that 2 Supreme Court justices that ruled in the case attended Koch-sponsored strategy meetings in the lead up to the Supreme Court decision -- I’d call that a major conflict of interest.
Last fall when we stood up to Big Oil’s Proposition 23 we showed when people come together and organize we can beat back the big polluters. With corporate spending going through the roof, and the EPA under attack, we must continue our efforts. There will not be a more important time to voice our concerns.
I am sick of watching my fellow Marines deployed overseas because of our addiction to fossil fuels, sick of our health being threatened by pollution, and sick of special interests interfering with our democracy and derailing efforts to create opportunity with a clean energy economy - we need a Power Shift.
When I heard about Power Shift 2011, I knew I had to be there. 10,000 of us will converge in Washington, DC to continue the march to restore our democracy. We’ll take mass action to make sure were heard, and come together to plan and train on new efforts to restore our democracy and create a clean energy economy. I’m counting down the days.
I hope you will join me in propelling this movement to take our democracy back.
See you at Power Shift,
Joel A. Francis