Mark Holden

Mark Holden

Credentials

  • Holden earned a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Massachusetts. He earned his law degree from the Columbus School of Law at the Catholic University of America in 1988.1Mark Holden,” Americans for Prosperity. Archived May 24, 2019. Archive.fo URL: https://archive.fo/RUraW

Background

Mark V. Holden is the senior vice president of Koch Industries, chairman of the board of Freedom Partners Chamber of Commerce, and chairman of the board of the Americans for Prosperity Foundation.2Mark Holden,” Americans for Prosperity. Archived May 24, 2019. Archive.fo URL: https://archive.fo/RUraW

Holden began working for Koch Industries in 1995 as a litigation attorney, and later as vice president and general counsel for litigation and compliance “where he worked with the various Koch companies on a variety of litigation, regulatory, compliance, and commercial issues.”3Mark Holden,” Americans for Prosperity. Archived May 24, 2019. Archive.fo URL: https://archive.fo/RUraW

He also serves as president and COO of the legal division of Koch Companies Public Sector “which provides legal, government and public affairs services to Koch Industries, Inc. and its affiliates.”4(Press Release). “Mark Holden of Koch Industries Presented with Charles Colson Award,” Prison Fellowship, December 6, 2018. Archived May 23, 2019. Archive.fo URL: https://archive.fo/1MzGL

In 2011, Politico described Holden as “part of a low-profile Koch inner circle” that also included Richard Fink and Philip Ellender.5Kenneth P. Vogel. “The Kochs’ Democratic enforcer,” Politico, June 14, 2011. Archived May 25, 2019. Archive.fo URL: https://archive.fo/XflPp

Criminal Justice Reform

Mark Holden has been spearheading the Koch’s criminal justice reform projects. Of the prison system, he has said to “not let the government overreach continue.”6And Justice for All,” Koch newsroom, Archived May 25, 2019. 7(Press Release). “Mark Holden of Koch Industries Presented with Charles Colson Award,” Prison Fellowship, December 6, 2018. Archived May 23, 2019. Archive.fo URL: https://archive.fo/1MzGL 8We Are Koch | Mark Holden,” Vimeo video uploaded by user Matthew David Wilder, December 28, 2016. Archived .mp4 on file at DeSmog. 9Koch Industries’ SVP & General Counsel Mark Holden Joins The Wilkow Majority on Sirius XM Patriot,” YouTube video uploaded by user “Koch News,” June 1, 2018. Archived .mp4 on file at DeSmog.

Experts have suggested the Kochs are interested in criminal justice reform for their own interests. For example, quoted by Jane Mayer in a piece at the The New Yorker, University of Michigan law professor David Ullmann argued: “The Koch brothers are not interested in criminal-justice reform because they suddenly became interested in the number of poor and minority Americans who are in prison. By their own admission, they became interested because they were prosecuted in Corpus Christi. They and their allies want to take us back to 1970, before the regulatory state.”10New Koch,The New Yorker, January 17, 2016. Archived May 24, 2019. Archive.fo URL: https://archive.fo/jUWtp

PR Watch reported that the some of the Kochs’ proposed changes in criminal justice reform would “make it harder to hold executives and their employees responsible for violating U.S. laws and would protect their financial interests, at the public’s expense.”11Brendan Fischer and Lisa Graves. “Koch Self-Interest in Criminal Justice Reform, Exposed,” PR Watch, December 16, 2015. Archived May 24, 2019. Arhcive.fo URL: https://archive.fo/rdzyg

Political Contributions

The following is based on campaign finance data collected by the Federal Election Commission on file for Mark Holden:12Campaign finance data,Federal Electoun Commission. Seach performed May 23, 2019.

Recipient Committee and YearContributions
KOCH INDUSTRIES INC POLITICAL ACTION COMMITTEE (KOCHPAC)$68,500
2004$500
2005$3,000
2006$5,000
2007$5,000
2008$5,000
2009$5,000
2010$5,000
2011$5,000
2012$5,000
2013$5,000
2014$5,000
2015$5,000
2016$5,000
2017$5,000
2018$5,000
BROWNBACK FOR PRESIDENT INC$1,000
2007$1,000
POMPEO FOR CONGRESS, INC.$1,000
2012$500
2014$500
POMPEO FOR KANSAS, INC.$500
2016$500
Grand Total$71,000

Stance on Climate Change

Mark Holden does not appear to have made any public statements on climate change.

Key Quotes

April 13, 2015

The following is a quote, regarding campaign finance disclosure, from Mark Holden during a panel “Free Speech: Where the Left and the Right Agree and Disagree” co-sponsored by the American Constitution Society and the Federalist Society: (Empasis added)13Freedom of Speech,” C-SPAN, April 13, 2015. Archived .mp4 on file at DeSmog.

”[…] I don’t quite see the need for all the disclosure laws, quite frankly, other than for people to put together lists and try to intimidate, and I don’t think it really brings about a lot of you know full and fair discussion on the issues in our country any more.”

June 2014

The following is an excerpt from audio obtained by The Undercurrent of Mark Holden discussing strategy at a Koch Industries seminar in Dana Point, California.14EXCLUSIVE AUDIO: Koch Lawyer Analyzes the Opposition,” YouTube video uploaded by user “The Undercurrent,” September 9, 2014. Archived .mp4 on file at DeSmog.

“Charles and I, we’ve been working on these issues for 50 years or more, but in the last year, because of the LIBRE Initiative, Generation Opportunity, Concerned Veterans for America, Americans for Prosperity, and many others, I don’t want to — by not mentioning them, I don’t mean to exclude them — they’ve been very effective. They’ve done a great job. And I’ve always accepted and appreciated everything this group, this room has done. I really do.

(Inaudible) all morning (Inaudible). And what we have is a drop in the bucket compared to the left. (Inaudible) and they outnumber us. They outnumber us by a lot. So why do we get all the love? We know this, right? We talk about it all the time. Because you’re effective. If you weren’t any good, they wouldn’t care. You’re eff-, you’re effective, and here’s the deal. They know. And you know the quote, first they ignore you, then they mock you, then they attack you, then we win.

We’re close to winning. I don’t know how close, but we should be because they can’t attack the ideas. They don’t have the real path, all they do is target and the just try to silence people. You know, they’re afraid of us. They really are. They’re afraid of this room.” (Emphasis added).

May 17, 2012

In an interview on MSNBC with Martin Bashir, Mark Holden denied the American Legislative Exchance Council (ALEC)—of which Koch is a member—had any involvement in Florida stand your ground laws following the shooting of an unarmed 17-year-old African-American who was shot and killed in 2012.15Mark Holden of Koch Industries on Martin Bashir,” YouTube video uploaded by user “KochFactsTV,” May 22, 2012. Archived .mp4 on file at DeSmog. 16Glenn Kessler. “Was the ‘Stand Your Ground’ law the ’cause’ of Trayvon Martin’s death?The Washington Post, October 29, 2014. Archive.fo URL: https://archive.fo/0lUWf

“Just because you’re a member of a group doesn’t mean you’re supporting and involved in every aspect of the group,” Holden said.17Mark Holden of Koch Industries on Martin Bashir,” YouTube video uploaded by user “KochFactsTV,” May 22, 2012. Archived .mp4 on file at DeSmog.

When pressed by Bashir on whether the Kochs support stand your ground laws, Holden responded:18Mark Holden of Koch Industries on Martin Bashir,” YouTube video uploaded by user “KochFactsTV,” May 22, 2012. Archived .mp4 on file at DeSmog.

“I don’t know; I’ve never talked to them about it.”19Mark Holden of Koch Industries on Martin Bashir,” YouTube video uploaded by user “KochFactsTV,” May 22, 2012. Archived .mp4 on file at DeSmog.

However, Lisa Graves, who was then the Executive Director of the Center for Media and Democracy, published a two-part report documenting how the National Rifle Association’s extreme agenda on guns flourished at ALEC, while Koch Industries helped lead the group through its corporate board and on the key ALEC task force that prioritized changes like the Stand Your Ground laws.

Key Deeds

December 19, 2018

Mark Holden spoke at an event hosted by Axios, also featuring Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), and CNN’s Van Jones on criminal justice reform.20Criminal Justice Reform,” C-SPAN, December 19, 2018. Archived .mp4 on file at DeSmog.

November 21, 2018

Holden went on Washington Journal to discuss criminal justice reform where he supported the President’s actions on the “First Step Act.” According to Holden, it “would do a lot of great things.”21Mark Holden on Criminal Justice Reform Efforts,” C-SPAN, November 21, 2018. Archived .mp4 on file at DeSmog.

April 13, 2015

Mark Holden was a panelist in “Free Speech: Where the Left and the Right Agree and Disagree,” a panel discussion co-sponsored by the American Constitution Society and the Federalist Society at the National Constitution Center “Freedom Day Celebration.” Topics included campaign finance reform.22Freedom of Speech,” C-SPAN, April 13, 2015. Archived .mp4 on file at DeSmog.

Describing the Kochs’ work on criminal justice reform, Holden said:

“We’re involved in criminal justice reform work, and we have been for many, many years. First off, it’s core to Charles Koch’s belief in a free and prosperous society.”23Freedom of Speech,” C-SPAN, April 13, 2015. Archived .mp4 on file at DeSmog.

‘If you want to help the poor, as we do […] there’s no better way than to reform our criminal justice system.”24Freedom of Speech,” C-SPAN, April 13, 2015. Archived .mp4 on file at DeSmog.

In addition to the poor, Holden revealed the Koch’s corporate experience with the justice system was also something they wished to “learn from.” He said (Emphasis added):25Freedom of Speech,” C-SPAN, April 13, 2015. Archived .mp4 on file at DeSmog.

We had some negative experiences ourselves, with the criminal justice system, back in the mid 90s that we learned from. And we wanted to see whatever we learned and how the process went for us… if it’s happening to a big company with a lot of resources like us, what’s happening to the small business owners? What’s happening to the average citizen? What’s happening to the average Joe on the street out there?

And so that got us involved working with the NACDL, National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, and others. […]”

(Graves and Brendan Fischer documented how Koch used NACDL’s white collar crime section to advance its agenda to change criminal rules to make it harder to hold corporations and corporate executives liable for criminal activity.)

Answering a question on “Anonymous campaign speech,” and “why is it important to be able to give anonymously to political campaigns?” Holden responded:

“I think it’s important because it’s consistent with the Bill of Rights and the Constitution. What you were just talking about. I think, my point of view, is that people should be able to give money anonymously or on the record. It should be up to them to decide, and not for the government to decide.

The government, and remember the Bill of Rights. Um, I’m going to paraphrase the late great Justice William Brennan here, which I’m sure he will be very flattered by. But basically, the Bill of Rights, the framers didn’t lay out what our rights were. They made sure the government couldn’t infringe upon those rights because they were presumed to be pre-existing. And my point of view is that, to the extent people want to disclose—and there are a lot of disclosures laws that are compel disclosure, and trust me, Bill and I were talking before I got on here—Charles Koch and David Koch get pretty much credited or blamed, whatever your point of view is, for every single penny that’s spent on a conservative or libertarian cause or issue or candidate. So there is no dark money as with regard to the Kochs in my opinion.

But the reality is, there’s a cost to disclosure. And from a cost-benefit analysis, in my opinion, I don’t quite see who really pays attention to this other than activists on each side that want to harass, intimidate, create lists, try to out them. We’ve seen it over time and I’ve seen both sides do it. I know they do it on our side, against us, excuse me, with the Kochs. And there have been a number of death threats. And I’m not asking for sympathy or empathy, I’m just saying it comes at a cost and who really benefits from the disclosure?”

”[…] I don’t quite see the need for all the disclosure laws, quite frankly, other than for people to put together lists and try to intimidate, and I don’t think it really brings about a lot of you know full and fair discussion on the issues in our country anymore.” (Empasis added)

June 2014

In audio obtained by The Undecurrent, Mark Holden can be heard discussing strategy regarding the progressive opposition group, the Democracy Alliance. The audio was from a Koch Industries seminar in Dana Point, California.26EXCLUSIVE AUDIO: Koch Lawyer Analyzes the Opposition,” YouTube video uploaded by user “The Undercurrent,” September 9, 2014. Archived .mp4 on file at DeSmog.

View transcript of portions of the audio that were audible below, via text published at The Undercurrent. Note that due to poor audio quality, there may be inaccuracies in the transcription:

EXCLUSIVE AUDIO Koch Lawyer Analyzes the Opposition TRANSCRIPT (Text)
May 17, 2012

Mark Holden appeared on Fox News’ Hannity show to defend Koch Industries and the Koch brothers.27Mark Holden of Koch Industries with Sean Hannity,” YouTube video uploaded by user “KochfactsTV,” May 23, 2012.

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