Koch Brothers Paid Firm Run By Former NYPD Chief To Smear Journalist

Jane mayer 2008

New Yorker contributor reveals the Koch Brothers hired former NYPD commissioner  to smear her as a “plagiarist.”

Jane Mayer, a staff reporter for The New Yorker who recently linked the Koch family patriarch to Adolph Hitler, claims in a new book, Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind The Rise of the Radical Right,1 that the Koch Brothers hired the former commissioner of the New York Police Department and his daughter, a former FBI agent, to smear her as a plagiarist “after she revealed how David and Charles Koch were using their fortune to exert an outsize influence over American politics in a lengthy magazine expose titled Covert Operations,” according to a report by Fast Company.



Environmental group Desmog reports that Covert Operations “served at the time as one of the first in-depth pieces of long-form investigative journalism on David and Charles Koch and the influential right-wing political and climate change denial Tea Party network they had Frankensteined. Mayer’s book exposes that the Kochs hired the firm Vigilant Resources International, run by former NYPD head Howard Safir and his daughter Jennifer Safir (the former FBI special agent), to do dirty work on their behalf.”

The Claim Against the Koch Brothers and Vigilant Resources International

The claims against the Koch Brothers, Howard Safir and others is covered extensively by both Fast Company and Desmog, but we will highlight a few of the details and players here.

As Desmog reports:

The story, as Mayer told it in “Dark Money,” began when she received a January 3, 2011 email from her New Yorker editor, David Remnick.

“In his e-mail,” to me, Mayer wrote, “Remnick explained that ten minutes earlier he’d received a baffling inquiry about me from Keith Kelly, the reporter who covered the media industry for the New York Post.

Remnick’s query centered around accusations — most likely emanating from somewhere within Koch World and handed to the New York Post and other outlets — that Mayer’s journalistic track record, according to their research, was rife with plagiarism.

However, as Fast Company explains, those claims and others presented by The Daily Caller proved to be false. According to their report, Mayer and Remnick were also “contacted by a reporter for a conservative news site The Daily Caller, who accused her of plagiarism, a journalistic sin that can destroy a career.” However, “the four examples didn’t hold up, especially since Mayer explicitly cited the authors whose work she was accused of ripping off in two cases, and three of the authors issued statements supporting Mayer.”



Fast Company goes on to elaborate on the vast network of resources utilized to smear Mayer to include people associated with Sarah Palin’s vice-presidential campaign and former Republican  congressman J.C. Watts (R-OK):

Other operatives reportedly tapped by Koch Industries to discredit Mayer and take on critics of the brothers were Michael Goldfarb (who worked for Sarah Palin’s vice-presidential campaign and later founded conservative publication The Washington Free Beacon) and Philip Ellender, who ran the company’s lobbying and public relations operations in Washington, D.C., reports Mayer.

Three blocks from the White House, about half a dozen operatives worked in office space in the back of former congressman J.C. Watts’s lobbying firm, Mayer says. “Their aim, according to a well-informed source, was to counteract The New Yorker’s story on the Koch brothers by undermining me. ‘Dirt, dirt, dirt’ is what the source later told me they were digging for in my life. ‘If they couldn’t find it, they’d create it.’” She learned from her own sources that “their search for dirt had started with my personal life, I was told, but when that turned up nothing truly incriminating, they moved on to plagiarism.”

The Aftermath

As Fast Company reports, the campaign against Mayer remains in full effect:

The attacks against Mayer continue. Soon after the publication of her book this week, Koch Industries posted a lengthy rebuttal on the company’s site, accusing Mayer of “questionable sourcing and a misrepresentation of the facts.” And just yesterday, conservative political fundraising group America Rising PAC went on the attack, accusing her of a liberal bias and claiming that Mayer’s great-great-grandfather worked at Lehman Brothers and did business with Nazi Germany, though she tells Fast Company that no one in her immediate family has ever worked for Lehman Brothers.



FOOTNOTE 1: As Fast Company reports,

Some of Mayer’s revelations about the Kochs from Dark Money have made headlines, including the assertion that the family patriarch helped build a major oil refinery in Nazi Germany that was personally approved by Adolf Hitler. The Kochs have insisted that the refinery was built years before Germany invaded Poland and that the elder Koch stopped doing business in the country “when it became clear that Hitler’s government was a tyrannical regime.”

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Samuel Warde

Samuel is a writer, social and political activist, and all-around troublemaker.
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