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Marine Veteran Joel Francis Challenges Billionaire Charles Koch to Debate Over Big Oil-Funded Prop. 23, Will Fly to Kansas if Tycoon Ignores Him

Marine veteran and Cal State L.A. senior Joel Francis wants to go mano-a-mano with billionaire Charles Koch.

Yesterday, Francis challenged the wealth tycoon to a debate over Proposition 23, the controversial November ballot measure that seeks to suspend California's strict global climate change law. Koch Industries, a Kansas-based agro-energy company run by Charles and David Koch, contributed $1 million to the effort to pass the initiative, which also has the support of Big Oil companies.

"Mr. Koch," Francis says in a prepared statement, "I get that you and your corporation don't want to be part of our clean energy future. That's your free-market choice. But that doesn't mean you get to wreck its development for everyone else."

Francis, a 31-year-old student at Cal State L.A. who was on the debate team there, is part of a youth movement in California that's doing grassroots work to defeat Prop. 23.

California Student Sustainability Coalition, a grassroots, youth group that's battling Prop. 23 and the Koch brothers, came up with the idea for the debate challenge, with Francis signing on and getting support from them.

"If you are going to try to hurt the economy of a state you don't even live in," Francis says to Charles Koch, "then you ought to have the courage to explain yourself in person."

Them there's fighting words.

Francis will fly to Koch Industries HQ in Wichita, Kansas, early next week if the billionaire ignores the debate challenge, attempting to confront Charles Koch in person.

Contact Patrick Range McDonald at pmcdonald@laweekly.com.

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