In the “Republican Wave” election of 2010, when brothers Charles and David Koch emerged as defining figures in American politics, the greatest beneficiary of Koch Industries largess was the newly elected Congressman Mike Pompeo. Since his election, Pompeo has been referred to as the “Koch Brothers’ Congressman” and “the congressman from Koch.”
Pompeo, who on Friday accepted President-elect Donald Trump’s invitation to take over as director of the Central Intelligence Agency, is a foreign-policy hawk who has fiercely opposed the Iran nuclear deal, stoked fears of Muslims in the United States and abroad, opposed closing the Guantánamo Bay detention camp, and defended the National Security Agency’s unconstitutional surveillance programs as “good and important work.” He has even gone so far as to say that NSA whistle-blower Edward Snowden “should be brought back from Russia and given due process, and I think the proper outcome would be that he would be given a death sentence.”
Pompeo’s open disregard for privacy rights in particular and civil liberties in general, as well as his penchant for extreme language and more extreme policies, mark him as a profoundly troublesome pick to serve as the head of a powerful intelligence agency. But he is also one of the most remarkably conflicted political figures in the conflicted city of Washington, thanks to his ties to the privately held and frequently secretive global business empire that has played a pivotal role in advancing his political career.
Pompeo came out of the same Wichita, Kansas, business community where the Koch family’s oil-and-gas conglomerate is headquartered. Indeed, Pompeo built his own company with seed money from Koch Venture Capital.
More important, from a political standpoint, is the fact that Pompeo made the leap from business to government with a big boost from the Koch brothers and their employees. “I’m sure he would vigorously dispute this, but it’s hard not to characterize him as the congressman from Koch,” says University of Kansas political science professor Burdett Loomis.
In fact, that’s a strikingly appropriate characterization for the man who Donald Trump wants “to serve as head of the United States intelligence community; act as the principal adviser to the President for intelligence matters related to the national security; and serve as head of the Central Intelligence Agency.”