Read time: 17 mins
By Mike Small • Thursday, December 6, 2018 – 22:01
For years, people have speculated about who is behind a shadowy group of well-connected ‘free speech advocates’ spreading far-right ideologies and climate science denial.
The group emerged from a libel trial and bankruptcy of the ‘Living Marxism’ magazine in 2000, has roots in the Trotskyist left, and is now the factory behind a production line of far-right polemic that has infiltrated mainstream media and politics. It currently has its public home on Spiked — a website dedicated to belligerent, populist, anti-environmental, Islamophobic ‘analysis’.
Until now, no one knew who funded the network.
Through a joint investigation with George Monbiot at The Guardian, DeSmog UK can reveal that the group are funded by the Koch brothers — the right-wing libertarian US oil billionaires who have been at the heart of climate change denial in the United States.
Our investigation shows that Spiked has received $300,000 from the Koch’s over the past three years, including $150,000 in 2016 — the year of Donald Trump’s US presidential election victory and the UK’s Brexit referendum.
Koch Industries is the largest privately-owned energy company in the US. It has been described as a “kingpin of climate science denial”, outpacing ExxonMobil when it comes to donations to organisations opposing established climate science and regulations to combat greenhouse gas emissions.
The Koch brothers’ funding network has also been credited with the rise in the influence of far-right, libertarian, rampant free-market capitalist thinking in the US and UK.
That this network is substantially funded by foreign donors puts the group’s own claim to be radical iconoclastic “free-thinkers” in a new light.
Public tax returns from the Charles Koch Foundation show that in 2016 the organisation donated $150,000 to Spiked’s American fundraising arm, Spiked US Inc, through two separate donations (of $130,000 and $20,000). That is more than the total funding ($137,000) that Spiked US Inc declared on its 2016 tax return.
The Charles Koch Foundation also gave Spiked US Inc $20,000 in 2017, over half of the $37k in total declared by Spiked US Inc in 2017.
When approached by this investigation to clarify its funding relationship with the Charles Koch Foundation, Spiked’s managing editor, Viv Regan, revealed that it had actually received as much as $300,000 from the foundation over the past three years.
Spiked’s editor, Brendan O’Neill, also writes for Reason Magazine, owned by the Reason Foundation, which has received $1 million from the Charles Koch Foundation over the past two years.
Contrast Spiked US Inc’s tax return with Spiked’s UK accounts (which by law do not have to contain as much detail as US public accounts), and it seems that almost all of the organisations’ resources appear to come from the US.
In 2016, the UK company, Spiked Limited, recorded total shareholders funds of £11,439. In 2017, that figure was just £8,651.
So what does the Koch’s money buy? A certain amount of “libertarian advertorial”, for sure.
Revealed: US Oil Billionaire Charles Koch Funds UK Anti-Environment Spiked Network | DeSmog UK – December 2018
Read time: 17 mins By Mike Small • Thursday, December 6, 2018 – 22:01 For years, people have speculated about who is behind a shadowy group of well-connected ‘free speech advocates’ spreading far-right ideologies and climate science denial. The group emerged from a libel trial and bankruptcy of the ‘Living Marxism’ magazine in 2000, has… [Read More]