by David Safier

The Bloomberg News story, Koch Brothers Flout Law Getting Richer With Secret Iran Sales, is filled with instances of immoral and illegal behavior on the part of the Koch Brothers' corporations. When you look at the preponderance of evidence, it's clear, the Koch Brothers are motivated by greed, not love of country, respect for the law or any moral virtues. Their libertarian, Tea Party philosophy is little more than their way of making sure they pay less taxes and get away with more illegal activity.

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Yesterday I posted about Koch Oil defrauding both American Indians and the federal government by grossly underreporting the amount of crude they were pulling out of the ground. Today's story is more grisly.

Koch Pipeline Co. knew a portion of its Texas pipeline carrying liquid butane was badly corroded but didn't bother to fix it. "[O]ne expert, Edward Ziegler, likened it to Swiss cheese." Here's what happened.

On Aug. 24, 1996, Danielle Smalley and her high school friend and neighbor Jason Stone, both 17, smelled gas outside Smalley’s mobile home in rural Lively, Texas, 50 miles southeast of Dallas. The house had no telephone, so they decided to drive the Smalley family’s pickup truck to a neighbor’s home to call 911.

They never made it.

The truck stalled after the couple drove into a fog-like cloud, says Danielle’s father, Danny Smalley, who watched them drive away. It was butane vapor, leaking from a corroded steel pipeline. Seconds later, as Danielle restarted the truck, the gas ignited into a fireball, burning Danielle and Jason to death.

During the trial, expert witness Edward Ziegler "told the jury that he’d never seen a company disregard safety to this extent in his more than 25-year career."

Why was this section of pipe, which was closed for 3 years, reopened? According to a memo sent from one exec to another, the reason was, it would mean $7 million a year for the company.

The jury awarded the parent who sued Koch $296 million, though he settled for an undisclosed amount to avoid, I suppose, the years of appeals.

If Koch Pipeline Co. had followed the regulations in place at the time, the deaths would have been prevented. But the Koch Brothers are obsessed, not with following regulations, but with gutting them.

“My overall concept is to minimize the role of government and to maximize the role of the private economy and maximize personal freedoms,” David Koch told the National Journal in May 1992.

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