Michael Richard Pompeo was nominated for U.S. Secretary of State by President Donald Trump on March 13, 2018, after Trump fired former Exxon executive Rex Tillerson.
Previously, Pompeo was the director of the United States Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and former Representative of Kansas's 4th Congressional District, where the global headquarters of Koch Industries is located. While serving as a Congressman, the Huffington Post described the Tea Party Republican as "the Koch brothers' point man in the House." Koch Industries and its employees was Pompeo's largest contributor in each of his campaigns.
Pompeo was tapped by President Donald Trump to be the Director of the CIA on November 18, 2016. He was confirmed by the Senate 66-32 on January 23, 2017 and sworn in that night.
Pompeo's first company, Thayer, was an investment company funded in part by Koch Venture Capital. Pompeo’s second company, Sentry, was tied to a Brazilian division of Koch Industries. Pompeo’s financial history and ties to the billionaire Koch brothers have not been fully publicly vetted because he has only faced one significant but limited electoral challenge.
Born in 1963, Pompeo grew up in Orange County, California, heavily influenced by Ayn Rand. He was recommended for the U.S. Military Academy by his Congressman, “B-1 Bob” Dornan. In 1986, Pompeo studied mechanical engineering and graduated first in his class at West Point. He served five years on active duty, the minimum required by military academies, primarily in Germany, earning the rank of Captain. In 1991, Pompeo entered Harvard Law School and was one of a couple dozen editors on its law review.
- 1 Ties to the Koch Brothers
- 2 Pompeo Defended CIA Use of Torture
- 3 Pompeo: Edward Snowden Should "Be Given a Death Sentence"
- 4 Pompeo Considers Terrorism a Threat to Christianity
- 5 Pompeo: "I Don't Agree With" Same Sex Marriage
- 6 Contact
- 7 References
The Koch brothers -- David and Charles -- are the right-wing billionaire co-owners of Koch Industries. As two of the richest people in the world, they are key funders of the right-wing infrastructure, including the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and the State Policy Network (SPN). In SourceWatch, key articles on the Kochs include: Koch Brothers, Koch Industries, Americans for Prosperity, American Encore, and Freedom Partners.
Ties to the Koch Brothers
In 1994 Pompeo was employed at the D.C. law firm of Williams & Connolly where he worked on tax law and on a major case involving an amendment to the Arkansas Constitution (and other states) imposing term limits. In 1992, Williams & Connolly began representing U.S. Term Limits, Inc., which admitted to the press that it used “promotional literature, mailing lists and other items from a campaign committee that the Koch brothers funded to push term limits.” It is unclear if Pompeo knew of the relationship between U.S. Term Limits and the Kochs. In mid-2016, as a third-term Congressman Pompeo signed the latest pledge of U.S. Term Limits, to vote for a constitutional amendment to limit congressional service to three terms. Pompeo won his election for a fourth term in Congress in November 2016.
Pompeo's first company, Thayer, was an investment company funded in part by Koch Venture Capital. Thayer raised more than $90 million in its first three years, which enabled it to buy three Wichita companies that make aerospace parts. Years later Pompeo’s office claimed that Koch Industries had only invested “2%” in Thayer, but there is no independent documentation of that claim and no materials to show whether Koch Industries was a lender or part owner/shareholder through its investment capital or how long it invested in the firm.
Pompeo’s second company, Sentry, was tied to a Brazilian division of Koch Industries. It is not clear what the nature of that business relationship was or how significant it was to Pompeo’s business. It is not clear Sentry had other contracts with Koch Industries domestically. Sentry was located in the same building as the Koch-fueled Flint Hills Center for Public Policy.
Pompeo Served as Trustee of Koch Think Tank
In 2004 Pompeo became a trustee/board member of the Flint Hills Center for Public Policy, a role he served for four years. Flint Hills was founded and led by Charles Koch’s oldest advisor, George Pearson, to advance Kochs’ policy agenda in Kansas. Pompeo served alongside Pearson and other Koch operatives, in an uncompensated position as trustee.
Flint Hills, which partially shared a name with a division of Koch Industries, was renamed the Kansas Policy Institute, in 2010 as the Kochs gained greater notoriety. KPI is a member of the Koch-funded State Policy Network (SPN), which helps state-based “think tanks” push the Koch policy agenda.
As a trustee—basically a board member—Pompeo worked with one of Charles Koch’s closest and oldest advisors to help push Koch’s agenda to change the law in Kansas and nationally. According to federal tax filings, Pompeo was a trustee of Flint Hills in 2004, 2005, 2006, and 2007, although he is also listed on an archived part of the group’s website as a trustee intro 2008. This past year, Pompeo joined in giving a personal tribute to George Pearson and has appeared at KPI events. Many of the legislative positions Pompeo has echo the agenda of the Kochs’ Kansas think tank and Koch groups like Americans for Prosperity. 
In 2016, Pompeo joined in giving a personal tribute to George Pearson and has appeared at KPI events.
Kochs' Americans For Prosperity Backed Pompeo
In 2009, as Pompeo began to prepare to run for Congress, he was a featured speaker at newly launched Tea Party event coordinated by Americans for Prosperity (AFP). As Lee Fang reported, “On August 28, 2009, Pompeo spoke at a large Tea Party rally organized by AFP... In addition to the rallies and Tea Party events, AFP has touted Pompeo for signing onto its pledge to ignore climate change.” AFP’s Kansas arm was led in 2009 by Alan Cobb, a former Koch lobbyist.
In 2010, KOCHPAC, the Koch Industries’ PAC, endorsed Pompeo in the Republican primary for the congressional district where Charles Koch lives. According to Open Secrets, “Koch Industries,” through individuals and entities, was the largest contributor to Pompeo’s campaign, by an exponential amount greater than others. The bulk of outside money in the primary was spent for Pompeo and against his main opponent; the donors are unknown.
Koch Industries Is Pompeo's Top Campaign Contributor
Representative Pompeo's largest contributor in his each of his Congressional campaign's was Koch Industries and its employees, totaling $375,100 since 2010. According to the Center for Responsive Politics people working for Koch Industries contributed:
- $71,100 in 2016
- $114,400 in 2014
- $110,000 in 2012
- $80,000 in 2010
KochPAC contributed $10,000 to Pompeo's CAVPAC and $4,000 to Pompeo for Kansas, Inc. (See all of the 2016 Koch candidates here. KochPAC supported Pompeo with $10,000 in 2014, $10,000 in 2012 and $10,000 in 2010.
But these direct donations do not include the amount of money spent by Koch groups like David Koch's Americans for Prosperity on activities that promoted Pompeo or helped influence elections in his favor.
Pompeo's Staff Included Koch Insiders
Pompeo's campaign co-chairs included David Murfin, a wealthy oilman who attended the Koch electoral retreats that were later incorporated into the entity that was dubbed Freedom Partners, and Nestor Wiegand, Jr a real estate scion who was also a trustee of Flint Hills. KOCHPAC endorsed Pompeo instead of the other three Republicans running for an open congressional seat, and Koch Industries, through its employees and its PAC, is by far the largest donor to Pompeo’s electoral campaigns. David Koch’s Americans for Prosperity helped give Pompeo a platform with the emerging Tea Party in 2009, before he ran, and helped promote him in their grassroots outreach in the state in 2010.
As Jane Mayer noted in her book, Dark Money: “After his election, Pompeo turned to the company for his chief of staff, choosing Mark Chenoweth, a lawyer who had worked for Koch Industries’ lobbying team. Within weeks, Pompeo was championing two of Koch Industries’ legislative priorities— opposition to Obama’s plans to create a public EPA registry of greenhouse gas polluters and a digital database of consumer complaints about unsafe products.” Chenoweth left after almost three years for another Koch-funded group..
His positions have been promoted by Koch-funded groups, and he has defended the Koch Brothers in the press. He has taken numerous positions on legislation that are consistent with the Koch agenda through its lobbying or their non-profit groups.
Pompeo Publicly Defended Koch Brothers in Press Release
Yet opponents of the House’s effort to hold the IRS accountable have doubled down and continued to attack two private citizens, Charles and David Koch, as deserving of such government abuse. Senator Reid’s attacks today from the Senate floor are reprehensible. This cannot be tolerated -- not for these two great men or for any individual who disagrees with those in power. The Kochs’ Wichita-based company employs close to 60,000 people in manufacturing jobs. These predominantly middle-class employees live in nearly all 50 states and are a benefit to the communities they work and live in. They are good people and good neighbors, my neighbors, and deserve protection under the law that is equal to those lawmakers who seek to marginalize them. The jobs created by this company are a far greater benefit to the middle class than any wasteful Washington program. We should be taking lessons from hardworking Americans in the private sector instead of continuing to play politics with people’s lives. Earlier today, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid accused the Kochs of funding ads critical of the Affordable Care Act’s disastrous implementation that he claims are “completely untrue," a claim that contradicts the thrust of most news coverage of the roll out.
Dan Glickman, a Democrat who represented Kansas' 4th district for 18 years, lost his seat to a Koch-backed Republican challenger, as reported by the Wichita Eagle. "Glickman was a Democratic member of Congress from Wichita until 1994, when he says the Kochs opposed him for supporting a BTU tax on energy. He lost to Todd Tiahrt. 'I was on the receiving end of their campaign decisions,' Glickman said. 'I viewed it as I was on their target list. I had grown up in Wichita, and Charles and his brothers grew up there; I knew Charles, and knew David, and I had met Bill. We would go to Colorado, to Aspen, and I’d meet them. And we all got along fine. We have a lot of mutual friends, actually. So I knew it wasn’t personal. I never viewed it as personal. But I had voted for an energy tax, and they don’t like energy taxes. So they opposed me, which was their right. And I lost the election.'"
Pompeo Defended CIA Use of Torture
Pompeo issued a statement after a 2014 Senate report found that the CIA tortured suspected terrorists. "These men and women are not torturers, they are patriots. The programs being used were within the law, within the Constitution, and conducted with the full knowledge of Sen. Feinstein. If any individual did operate outside of the program's legal framework, I would expect them to be prosecuted to the full extent of the law."
Pompeo: Edward Snowden Should "Be Given a Death Sentence"
Pompeo, a staunch supporter of NSA bulk data collection and surveillance, called for NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden's execution on February 11, 2016:
“He 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 for having put friends of mine, friends of yours, who serve in the military today at enormous risk because of the information he stole and then released to foreign powers,” Pompeo said.
Pompeo signed onto a letter in September, 2016 urging President Obama not to pardon "serial exaggerator and fabricator" Snowden as well issuing a press release that called for "prison rather than pardon for Edward Snowden."
Snowden has been nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize, had all charges lifted by EU Parliament and has been recognized with a number of awards, including the Sam Adams Award, an award given annually to an intelligence professional who has taken a stand for integrity and ethics.
Pompeo Considers Terrorism a Threat to Christianity
“This threat to America,” Pompeo told a church group in Wichita in 2014, is from a minority of Muslims “who deeply believe that Islam is the way and the light and the only answer... They abhor Christians,” Pompeo said, “and will continue to press against us until we make sure that we pray and stand and fight and make sure that we know that Jesus Christ is our savior is truly the only solution for our world.”
Lee Fang of The Intercept reported that Pompeo, responding to an audience member at an event hosted by the Westminister Institute, failed to reject the idea that President Barack Obama wanted Iran "to win". “Every time there has been a conflict between the Christian west and the Islamic east, the data points all point to a singular direction. You asked me why. That gets trickier, right? It is very clear that this administration — and when I say that, a very narrow slice inside the leadership regime here in Washington has concluded that America is better off with greater Iranian influence certainly in the Middle East, but I think around — certainly it’s tolerated around the world. But if you ask me why they think that, I’ve listened to them intently and I cannot with any certainty provide you an answer to that.”
"At an evangelical church in his district that specializes in addressing 'Satanism and paranormal activity'- and standing in front of a Christian flag - Pompeo in 2015 spoke of the 'struggle against radical Islam, the kind of struggle this country has not faced since its great wars.' He warned that 'evil is all around us,' citing reports of terror plots, and cautioned the congregation not to be deterred by those who might call them 'Islamophobes or bigots,'” According to Fang.
The Kansas lawmaker released a statement denouncing the Islamic Society of Wichita in March 2016 for hosting a speaker that he perceived had ties to Hamas. Fang notes that Sheik Monzer Tali had spoken at the mosque four times before this without an incident. Additionally Pompeo took up issue with the timing as it was scheduled on the same day as Good Friday, a Christian holiday. "On one of the most holy days on the Christian calendar, and only days after radical Islamic extremists murdered dozens of innocents of many faiths in Brussels, Belgium, they chose to bring a Hamas-connected sheik to their community center here in Wichita. They should cancel his appearance... But worse, now, in my own community, rather than make clear that violence in the name of Allah is always wrong, the Islamic Society of Wichita has chosen the day, when millions of Christians commemorate the crucifixion of Jesus Christ on the cross, to bring a cleric who has claimed his commitment to Hamas, to lead their services... They will be responsible for the damage among religious faiths that is sure to follow."
Pompeo: "I Don't Agree With" Same Sex Marriage
Speaking at the Kansas Family Strengthening Summit on 2011 Pompeo issued his thoughts on same-sex marriage, "I don’t agree with (same-sex marriage). I think marriage ought to continue to be between one man and one woman. So do most Kansans, for what it matters. I think when it was on the ballot (the state constitutional ban on same-sex marriage), 70 percent (voted in favor of the ban). There was overwhelming support for it in the state of Kansas... I think as you look back at civilization, look back at history, you find the strength of these families having a father and a mother is the ideal condition for childbearing,” Pompeo said. “Doesn’t mean there aren’t great families with single parents, great young men and women raised without either parent. If you’re asking for what is ideal, I think it’s being raised by a man and a woman.”
7701 E. Kellogg, Suite 510
Wichita, Kansas 67207
Washington, D.C. Office
2452 Rayburn HOB
Washington, D.C. 20515
- Elliot Negin, The Koch Brothers Are Still Trying to Break Wind, Huffington Post, December 9, 2013.
- Matt Flegenheimer, Mike Pompeo is Confirmed to Lead C.I.A., as Rex Tillerson Advances, New York Times, January 23, 2017.
- U.S. Agency for Global Media Board, organizational web page, accessed April 19, 2019.
- Dan Morain and James Bornemeier, Secretive Group Is Major Supporter of Term Limits : Election: Organization, which has ties to Libertarian movement, has given $678,000 to promote Prop. 164., The Los Angeles Times, October 28, 1992.
- Lee Fang, Meet Mike Pompeo: The Congressional Candidate Spawned By The ‘Kochtopus’, ThinkProgress, September 21, 2010.
- Center for Responsive Politics, Top Contributors: Kansas District 04, OpenSecrets.org, accessed January 10, 2017.
- Center for Responsive Politics, KochPAC, OpenSecrets, accessed January 12, 2017.
- Jane Mayer, Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right, Penguin, 2016.
- Mike Pompeo, Statement from Congressman Mike Pompeo on Washington’s Attacks on Koch Industries, press release, February 26, 2014.
- Roy Wenzl and Bill Wilson, Charles Koch relentless in pursuing his goals, Wichita Eagle, October 14, 2012.
- Mike Pompeo, The Release of the Senate Report on CIA Activities Harms U.S. National Security, press release, December 10, 2014.
- Curtis Tate and Lindsay Wise, Rep. Mike Pompeo wants to revive mass surveillance program, McClatchy DC, January 27, 2016.
- Mary Louise Kelly, For CIA Nominee Mike Pompeo, 'Not A Good Situation To Inherit', NPR, December 14, 2016.
- Charlie Savage, House Intelligence Committee Urges No Pardon for Edward Snowden, New York Times, September 15, 2016.
- Mike Pompeo, Pompeo Calls for Prison rather than Pardon for Edward Snowden, press release, September 15, 2016.
- Erik Ortiz, 2016 Nobel Peace Prize Top Contenders, From the White Helmets to Snowden, NBC News, October 6, 2016.
- Conor Friedersdorf, European Lawmakers Vote in Support of Edward Snowden, The Atlantic, October 29, 2015.
- Sam Adams Associates for Integrity in Intelligence, about, organizational website, accessed January 12, 2017.
- Lee Fang, Trump CIA Pick Mike Pompeo Depicted War on Terror as Islamtic Battle Against Christianity, The Intercept, November 23, 2016.
- Mike Pompeo, Pompeo Asks Islamic Society of Wichita to Cancel Fundraising With Hamas-Linked Imam on Holy Friday, press release, March 24, 2016.
- Jon Parton, Pompeo visits campus, talks about ISIL, gay marriage, Kansas State Collegian, October 22, 2014.