The New Face of Koch Industries

Lombardo: "Reintroducing" the Koch empire.
National Journal
Christopher Snow Hopkins
Add to Briefcase
See more stories about...
Christopher Snow Hopkins
March 31, 2014, 5:40 p.m.

For some Demo­crat­ic politi­cians, the Koch broth­ers are syn­onym­ous with the cor­ros­ive in­flu­ence of money in polit­ics. Sen­ate Ma­jor­ity Lead­er Harry Re­id has waged an all-out war on the Wichita, Kan.-based in­dus­tri­al ti­tans, lam­bast­ing Charles and Dav­id Koch on the Sen­ate floor and ac­cus­ing them of “ter­rible dis­hon­esty” as they bank­roll anti-Obama­care ads.

Yet, for all the cri­ti­cism dir­ec­ted to­ward the Koch broth­ers, little at­ten­tion is paid to the source of their riches: a $115 bil­lion em­pire with 100,000 em­ploy­ees and a pres­ence in 60 coun­tries. To tell the story of Koch In­dus­tries, the com­pany has hired Steve Lom­bardo, a well-known PR ex­ec­ut­ive with ex­per­i­ence rep­res­ent­ing phar­ma­ceut­ic­als and oth­er in­dus­tries un­der fire.

“This is the first time I’ve gone in-house,” said Lom­bardo, who was most re­cently chair­man of the U.S. pub­lic af­fairs and crisis prac­tice at Burson-Marsteller. “My mis­sion is to re­in­tro­duce one of the largest cor­por­a­tions in the world, a com­pany that pro­duces everything from pa­per tow­els to elec­tric­al con­nect­ors to Stain­mas­ter car­pets. We are go­ing to try to tell the story in a hol­ist­ic way that’s rep­res­ent­at­ive of the Koch vis­ion of Amer­ica, one that’s about liberty and free­dom and cre­at­ing value to im­prove people’s lives.

“Of course, it’s true that our prin­cip­al share­hold­ers, Charles and Dav­id Koch, are in­volved in polit­ic­al activ­it­ies,” Lom­bardo ad­ded. “They are one among many con­trib­ut­ors to Amer­ic­ans for Prosper­ity and Free­dom Part­ners. Polit­ic­al is­sues do have an im­pact on the im­age and repu­ta­tion of the com­pany — every­one here is cog­niz­ant of that. Be­cause of polit­ics, the story of Koch In­dus­tries gets a little warped and mis­un­der­stood. As com­mu­nic­at­ors, we need to do a bet­ter job.”

In his new po­s­i­tion, Lom­bardo will over­see Koch Cre­at­ive Ser­vices, an in-house ad­vert­ising and mar­ket­ing group with 30 em­ploy­ees in Wichita. Since tak­ing over in Feb­ru­ary, Lom­bardo has been shut­tling between Wash­ing­ton and Wichita, with peri­od­ic trips to At­lanta. “For those of us who spend a lot of time on the East Coast, we for­get some­times that there are a num­ber of states in the middle sec­tion of the coun­try that do a good deal of the pro­duc­tion and man­u­fac­tur­ing in this coun­try,” he said.

Lom­bardo’s title is chief com­mu­nic­a­tions and mar­ket­ing of­ficer, a new role at Koch In­dus­tries. He re­ports to pres­id­ent and Chief Op­er­at­ing Of­ficer Dave Robertson.

Koch In­dus­tries, which began in 1940 as Wood River Oil and Re­fin­ing, is a con­stel­la­tion of com­pan­ies such as Geor­gia-Pa­cific, Molex, and Flint Hills Re­sources, which is a re­fin­ing, chem­ic­als, and bio­fuels com­pany. The privately held con­glom­er­ate is in­volved in everything from fer­til­izers and min­er­als to ranch­ing and com­mod­ity trad­ing, with a sig­ni­fic­ant role in en­ergy. One Koch sub­si­di­ary has 4,000 miles of pipelines that carry oil, li­que­fied nat­ur­al gas, eth­an­ol, and oth­er pet­ro­leum products.

Lom­bardo, 53, was raised in Manchester, N.H., and at­ten­ded Saint An­selm Col­lege. After re­ceiv­ing a mas­ter’s de­gree in pub­lic policy from St. Louis Uni­versity, he worked as a poll­ster on the statewide cam­paigns of then-Gov. John Ash­croft and former Sen. Kit Bond, both Mis­souri Re­pub­lic­ans. More re­cently, Lom­bardo served as a re­search con­sult­ant on Mitt Rom­ney’s 2008 pres­id­en­tial cam­paign.

In the early 1990s, Lom­bardo was hired by the phar­ma­ceut­ic­al in­dustry to re­pair its im­age after its repu­ta­tion took a hit over ex­or­bit­ant drug prices. Lom­bardo pro­posed a rebrand­ing, giv­ing rise to one of the best-known ac­ronyms on K Street: PhRMA, short for Phar­ma­ceut­ic­al Re­search and Man­u­fac­tur­ers of Amer­ica.

Earli­er in his ca­reer, Lom­bardo headed his own con­sultancy and was glob­al CEO of Strategy­One. He has rep­res­en­ted a di­verse ar­ray of cli­ents, from cor­por­a­tions and in­dustry groups to trade as­so­ci­ations and polit­ic­al can­did­ates.

What We're Following See More »
RSC OPPOSITION
House Conservatives Balk on Obamacare Replacement
5 hours ago
THE LATEST

"The chairman of the influential Republican Study Committee said Monday he would vote against a draft ObamaCare replacement bill that leaked last week. Rep. Mark Walker (R-NC), head of the 172-member committee, said Monday his opposition stems from the draft bill's use of refundable tax credits." He said the current plan simply "kicks the can down the road" rather than attempt any real reform.

Source:
ENLISTS THEIR HELP IN REPEAL/REPLACE
Trump Meets with Health Execs
5 hours ago
THE LATEST
ALSO VICTIMS OF VIOLENCE BY ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS
Scalia’s Widow to Be Trump’s Guest at Speech
5 hours ago
THE DETAILS

The White House revealed its guest list for President Trump's address to Congress on Tuesday night. The marquee name: Maureen Scalia, the wife of the late Justice Antonin Scalia. Also seated with the first lady will be three family members of people killed by illegal immigrants.

ZINKE NEXT IN LINE
Wilbur Ross Confirmed as Commerce Secretary
5 hours ago
THE LATEST
FORMER GOVERNOR, AMBASSADOR TO CHINA
Jon Huntsman in Line to be #2 at State
14 hours ago
THE DETAILS
×
×

Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.

Login