Brothers Grim(e)

The Freedom Industries site in Charleston, West Virginia on Jan. 11What do the Koch brothers have to do with contaminated water? Seems the brothers Koch have their dirty little fingers dipped in every nasty cesspool of our corporatocracy these days, especially where gas and coal are concerned.  Now it is revealed that Freedom Industries (love the name), the company that dumped toxic chemicals into the waters of West Virginia, has ties to the infamous billionaire brothers.

In case you missed the non-stop media coverage (sarcasm on), over 300,000 residents of West Virginia have been affected by a massive chemical leak into the Elk River from a tank containing 4-methykcyckohexane methanol,a chemical used to “wash” coal.  The leaky storage tank had not been inspected since 1991.  Restaurants and schools were closed, businesses shuttered, and residents cleared the store shelves of bottled water after being warned not to use their tap water.  Ironically, these red-state residents who eschew any form of government intervention in their lives, or in private enterprise, are now pleading for federal disaster assistance and demanding an inquiry into the regulatory practices that allowed this environmental disaster to occur.

But I digress . . . .

Little is known about Freedom Industries, but their parent company is Georgia-Pacific which is owned by (you’re way ahead of me) the Koch Brothers and which produced this toxic coal-washing chemical.  Freedom Industries, itself, is only a few weeks old, as Bloomberg News reports;

Freedom Industries is the product of a merger effective Dec. 31, 2013, that combined Etowah River Terminal, the facility where the leak occurred, Crete Technologies, and Poca Blending, located in nearby Nitro.  How the pieces of the newly formed mini-conglomerate fit together merits urgent inquiry, as does the question of whether there’s any connection between the corporate mash-up and the fateful opening of a one-inch hole that allowed a noxious chemical to escape.

News is slowly trickling out about some of the corporate officers at Freedom, who are as colorful as the chemicals they spill.  According to the Charleston Gazette, “”Freedom Industries was founded by a two-time convicted felon [and] benefited from the 2009 federal stimulus.’ The Gazette identifies the co-founder as Carl Lemley Kennedy II. The Gazette also states that Kennedy, ‘In 1987 … pleaded guilty to selling between 10 and 12 ounces of cocaine in connection with a scandal that toppled then-Charleston Mayor Mike Roark.’ He eventually got his sentence reduced for his company related felonies by becoming a government informant to entrap cocaine dealers.” Further, In 2005, federal prosecutors charged Kennedy with failing to pay $200,000 in corporate taxes.

Current President Gary Southern held a press conference on Friday that was almost as disastrous as the spill itself.  As he chugged bottled water for the cameras, he repeatedly stressed how difficult this has been for him, personally, and how hard his team is working to correct the matter.
WV CHalreston Gary SOuthern 2

At the news conference, Freedom Industries President Gary Southern gave few details about the company, made several statements seemingly in conflict with what government officials have said, and was whisked away by a public relations handler with reporters still shouting questions. (Charleston Gazette)

In 2005, federal prosecutors charged Kennedy with failing to pay more than $200,000 in income taxes, according to reports at the time.
Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/blogs/attytood/Do-you-smell-that—-its-the-smell-of-FreedomIndustries.html#TySirgf43xdr7yeD.99
In 2005, federal prosecutors charged Kennedy with failing to pay more than $200,000 in income taxes, according to reports at the time.
Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/blogs/attytood/Do-you-smell-that—-its-the-smell-of-FreedomIndustries.html#TySirgf43xdr7yeD.99
In 2005, federal prosecutors charged Kennedy with failing to pay more than $200,000 in income taxes, according to reports at the time.
Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/blogs/attytood/Do-you-smell-that—-its-the-smell-of-FreedomIndustries.html#TySirgf43xdr7yeD.99

And then there is current Freedom Industries CEO Dennis P. Farrell.  Farrell and his girlfriend, media strategist Kathy Stover-Kennedy (yes, she’s the ex-wife of the above-named felonious founder), have caused a bit of a stir with their lavish lifestyle and her oddball Facebook post about the chemical spill.

651 (1)

(photos from Americans Against the Tea Party)

Stover-Kennedy wants her Facebook friends to know that her boyfriend, Denny, has been receiving frightening and inappropriate feedback about the spill, which was an “ACCIDENT” she types.  The poor dear then added that “I’m not asking for anyone’s sympathy, but a little empathy wouldn’t hurt.”  She reminded us that no one was hurt by the leakage (ask those 10 people in the hospital about that) and furthermore, “the boys at the plant made and drank coffee this morning!  I showered and brushed my teeth and I am just fine!”

 

Whew!  So glad you’re okay there, Ms. Stover-Kennedy.  This is all about you – and Denny – of course.  We have been oh so very concerned about you both! You are constantly in our thought and prayers and we hope you will soon recover from this terrible ordeal . . . .

Yup.  Typical Koch Brothers cronies.

–KBM

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This article has 6 comments

  1. TakeTheCannoli

    Now it can be told!

    This was Governor Chris Christie’s initial reaction when he was told there was a massive traffic jam at the George Washington Bridge:

    “Mmmm….jam.”

    (Thank you, David Letterman, for that story.)

  2. TakeTheCannoli

    Democracy Now aired in-depth coverage of the chemical spill, including reaction from Erin Brockovich.

    http://www.democracynow.org/2014/1/14/erin_brockovich_after_chemical_spill_west

    Ms. Brockovich pointed out at a town hall meeting that the plant was last inspected in 1991! West Virginia’s lax regulation of energy companies is a disgusting story in itself. It’s now illegal to even do an inspection of these chemical plants!

  3. Capt. Mary in Memphis

    We need a national strike to curb and regulate these fascist corporations. Ask that the organizations you belong to speak with other activist organizations and set a common starting date. Imagine what could happen if millions of members acted simultaneously.

    Btw, dunno why my strike letter lost all its after-sentence spacing when it was posted. As an editor, I went all spongy-cringy. Heh. There was also another page of list. If chance arises, I may impose these on you again. I’ve now tweaked the letter a bit to shorten it and allow further tweaking for individual organizations.

    Please contact your organizations to call for a national strike before protests are legislated out of existence. Thankee.

  4. Merle from Michigan

    Freedom anything seems like it has a Koch induced meaning. The people of WV and parts of Ohio might start paying attention to how their State Leaders are screwing them royally. Party affiliation doesn’t matter anymore. The Repubs are terrible, but some of those Dems are just as bad too. Good on You Mike and Kathy along with the few other true Progressive Talkers left out there!!

  5. Greg East of Toledo

    This whole mess in West Vir-ginny convinces me once again (and this is old news) that this corporatocracy is run by a criminal class (convicted cocaine dealer running a toxic chemical plant on the banks of a river supplying Charleston’s drinking water?!) Don’t drop your keys around any of these folk, they will sneak up behind you and have there way with you.

    I hear what Capt. Mary is trying to tell us about a national strike. They’ll just keep screwing us & the planet for profit, and our little protests will be summarily ignored and rejected. It will take much larger actions than we’ve seen so far; if not, the North American continent will continue to be nothing but a huge land mass to be exploited for it’s natural resources, without regard for the people and the environment.

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