Rachel Maddow tends bar at an MSNBC event. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)
Rachel Maddow tends bar at an MSNBC event. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

On her Jan. 3 program, MSNBC host Rachel Maddow riffed on the experience of dealing with the Koch brothers, the prominent industrialists who fund free-market causes and conservative politicians. Here’s what she said: “And the conservative political figures who you can most count on to threaten to sue you and call your boss and scream about their victimization as loud as they can whenever they get mentioned by name in a way they do not control, are, of course, the Koch brothers — Charles and David Koch, who inherited a privately held oil and chemical company from their dad and thereby became almost unimaginably wealthy.”

That little gripe came in the midst of a spat between Maddow and the Kochs over the host’s contention that a “Koch-affiliated” group had promoted and defended a Florida law requiring drug testing for welfare applicants. Of course, that’s not the only spat between MSNBC and Koch.

The industrialists have crafted a long trail of e-mails and blog posts hammering MSNBC for all manner of alleged falsehoods that disparage them and their business interests. MSNBC President Phil Griffin, MSNBC talent and MSNBC producers are all quite familiar with a Koch blast.

And their exasperation shines through in an e-mail from an MSNBC producer shared with the Erik Wemple Blog by the Kochs. The e-mail was written on Jan. 17 and comes from MSNBC producer Laura Conaway of the Rachel Maddow Show. It’s directed to Rob Tappan, director, external relations, Koch Companies Public Sector and relates to Maddow’s recently aired findings about whether a Florida group that championed the Florida drug-testing law was affiliated with the Kochs.

Enjoy it.

Dear Mr. Tappan,

I’m a producer for the Rachel Maddow Show. In order to continue to be thorough in our reporting, we need guidance in the following areas. I’ve numbered them for clarity.

Thank you for the help.

Sincerely,

Laura Conaway
The Rachel Maddow Show

1) The Institute for Humane Studies is a 501(c)3 nonprofit corporation that lists Charles G. Koch of Koch Industries as chairman. According to its mission statement, “the Institute discovers, develops, and supports students, scholars, and other intellectuals who maintain the highest standard of academic excellence and who share an interest in the principles of the classical liberal tradition.”

In pursuit of that mission, the Institute for Humane Studies issues grants to college and graduate students, as shown in its IRS 990 filing for the 2011 tax year. In that filing, linked below, the Institute for Humane Studies reported revenue of $9.795 million along with grants and similar amounts paid of $833,792.

Did I get anything wrong about that? If so, please detail any errors.

http://www.guidestar.org/FinDocuments/2012/941/623/2012-941623852-096c424b-9.pdf

2) The Institute for Humane Studies at George Mason University offered the Charles G. Koch Summer Fellow Program, also known as the Koch Summer Fellow Program.

As shown on the webpage from the Institute’s website at the link below, the list of hosts for prospective Charles G. Koch Summer Fellows included the Foundation for Government Accountability, based in Naples, Florida.

Did I get anything wrong about that? If so, please detail any errors.

http://www.theihs.org/koch-summer-fellow-program/host-search?page=2

3) As shown on another page of the Institute for Humane Studies’ website, at the link below, the Charles G. Koch Summer Fellowship “combines a paid public policy internship with two career and policy seminars.” Among the choices for prospective Koch Summer Fellows is a “state policy” internship, described this way: “Intern at one of the State Policy Network think tanks throughout the United States. Analyze regulations and influence legislation at the state level. Help publish articles, editorials, or letters in state or local papers.”

Did I get anything wrong about that? If so, please detail any errors.

http://www.theihs.org/koch-summer-fellow-program/

4) On another page of the Institute’s website, at the link below, the Institute details the “State Policy Internships.” That page includes this description of the relationship between the Charles G. Koch Summer Fellows Program, as offered by the Institute for Humane Studies at George Mason University, and the State Policy Network: “The State Policy Track of the Charles G. Koch Summer Fellow Program, co-sponsored by the State Policy Network, offers experience in the policy world at the state level.”

Further, the page states, “Work in your home state or select another state with an organization specializing in your favorite issues.”

Further, the page states, “During your internship, you will help analyze regulations and influence legislation. You might also work on mobilization techniques using traditional tools and new media options such as blogs, podcasts, and social networking. You might help publish articles, editorials, or letters in state or local papers. The range of responsibilities depends on your host organization.”

The same page includes this description of “Internship Hosts”: “Internships at the state level are offered at member organizations of the State Policy Network—which strengthens the institutional capacity of market-oriented think tanks.”

Did I get anything wrong about that? If so, please detail any errors.

http://www.theihs.org/koch-summer-fellow-program/state-policy-internships

5) Another page of the Institute’s website, at the link below, states that the Charles G. Koch Summer Fellow Program is now being hosted by the Charles Koch Institute.

Did I get anything wrong about that? If so, please detail any errors. If I am correct in my reading, then can you please tell me when the fellowship moved from the Institute for Humane Studies at George Mason University to the Charles Koch Institute, and why it moved?

http://www.theihs.org/koch-summer-fellow-program/host-search

6) According to its IRS 990 filing for the 2011 tax year, found at the link below, the Charles Koch Institute formed in 2011 with $63.1 million in revenue and Charles G. Koch of Koch Industries as a director. It reported $0 in grants disbursed that year. It said its mission is “Presentation of formal education instruction to students in a classroom setting.”

The Charles Koch Institute lists as related tax-exempt organizations the Charles Koch Foundation, the Claude R. Lambe Charitable Foundation, and the Knowledge and Progress Fund.

Did I get anything wrong about that? If so, please detail any errors.

http://www.guidestar.org/FinDocuments/2011/274/967/2011-274967732-08d4e464-9.pdf

8) Has the Charles Koch Institute disbursed grants or similar contributions since tax year 2011? Please detail those, in keeping with the disclosure of grants and similar contributions made by other Koch-led nonprofits.

9) Since the Charles G. Koch Summer Fellow Program moved from the Institute for Humane Studies at George Mason University to the Charles Koch Institute, the list of “partner organizations” for the Koch Summer Fellow Program posted online has become much shorter. The relevant page, on the Charles Koch Institute website at the link below, now reads, “The partner organization list will be updated on a frequent basis. Please check back as we add more organizations. Partner organizations include:” followed by the names of 22 organizations, including the Institute for Humane Studies.

Did I get anything wrong about that? If so, please detail any errors. Please provide a complete list of partner organizations, including ones that are not currently posted on the Charles Koch Institute website.

http://www.charleskochinstitute.org/koch-summer-fellow-program/partner-organizations/

10) The Charles Koch Institute also offers the Koch Internship Program. On the relevant page at the Charles Koch Institute website, at the link below, the internship program’s list of “partner organizations” includes the Institute for Humane Studies and the State Policy Network.

http://www.charleskochinstitute.org/internship-program/partner-organizations

Did I get anything wrong about that? If so, please detail the errors. Also, please provide a complete list of partner organizations, including ones not listed on the Charles Koch Institute website.

11) The latest IRS filing for the Charles Koch Institute on Guidestar.org is for tax year 2011. Please make the Charlie Koch Institute’s 2012 IRS filing available to us.

12) Please make the Charles Koch Institute’s 2013 IRS filing available to us when it is filed.

A reply later came back from the Kochs, saying, “Here is a link to our publicly available 990 forms. With regard to your other questions, it appears you are asking us to confirm that you have read the documents and other materials correctly. If you have questions, please rely on the publicly available material.”

Erik Wemple writes the Erik Wemple blog, where he reports and opines on media organizations of all sorts.