BILLIONAIRE KOCH BROTHERS’ TEA PARTY: David Koch Brings “The Sugar” of Money
The Koch brothers are all the news, David and Charles… along with what some call their ‘libertarian’ based outpouring of money so much of which is ‘heavily weighted giving’ to protect their own business interests: oil, lumber, formaldehyde. Well, they earned it. They can give it to whom they wish. Within the law.
But some choices seem puzzling. And I dont mean the amounts of sugar poured into tea party-like groups such as one David Koch helped to found: Americans for Prosperity Foundation, which has 25 states’ chapters reporting about how they have organized to push Obama administration policies back.
Oddly, Koch brothers Charles and David, gave no huge multi-million dollar money boost to Bob Barr, the former Representative to the Federal Congress who ran for President on the Libertarian Party ticket against Barack Obama in 2008. Why the Koch brothers didn’t pour money to get a candidate who espouses many of their ideas and ideals, elected is a mystery.
Except, media hype about brothers’ Koch being libertarians is likely not accurate: They are Republican tribe. Conservative clan.
WHERE THE SUGAR IS POURING
But, they outspent ExxonMobil from 2005-2008, giving huge amounts of money to organizations fighting climate change legislation, for instance. They’ve funded a spider network of many foundations, think tanks, (Charles is one of the founders of Cato Institute) and political front groups that continue to target many Obama Administration policies: health-care reform, EPA rulings, immigration, economic-stimulus, Federal finance legislation.
This funding via billions of dollars over time, is noted in an August 2010 essay in The New Yorker magazine: “in political circles, their ideological network is known as the Kochtopus”. The family name is actually pronounced “coke” and thus no pun intended.
A study released in 2010 by the University of Massachusetts at Amherst’s Political Economy Research Institute named Koch Industries one of the top ten air polluters in the United States. Charles Lewis, founder of the Center for Public Integrity, said, “The Kochs are on a whole different level. There’s no one else who has spent this much money. The sheer dimension of it is what sets them apart. They have a pattern of lawbreaking, political manipulation, and obfuscation. I’ve been in Washington since Watergate, and I’ve never seen anything like it. They are the Standard Oil of our times.”
Yet, David Koch, an affable personality, says his outfits run cleaner than the current air standards require.
Yet, in many environmental watchdogs’ minds, what is being said and what is actually being done do not match up.
SUGAR PHILANTHROPY AND NAMING RIGHTS
David Koch gives money, and many buildings and chairs are named after himself, in the style of the old barons of times far past.
In July 2008, it was announced that New York State Theater in Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts would be renamed the David H. Koch Theater after he pledged $100 million over 10 years to renovate the theater.
David Koch, in 2006, made a $20 million gift to the American Museum of Natural History, creating the David H. Koch Dinosaur Wing.
He made a contribution of $15 million to the National Museum of Natural History in 2009 to create the new David H. Koch Hall of Human Origins, which opened March 2010.
He financed the construction of Deerfield Academy’s $35 million state-of-the-art Koch Center for mathematics, science and technology.
Koch also sits on the Board of Directors of the Prostate Cancer Foundation and is the eponym of the David H. Koch Chair of the Prostate Cancer foundation.
He contributed $100 million in 2007, to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to help fund the construction of a new 350,000 square foot building to be home of the David H. Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research.
In aptly named Placentia, California, a park is named after Mr. Koch.
There are many more buildings named after him.
Mr. Koch says his eldest son, now about twelve was diagnosed with severe allergies that first occurred in a break out of hives and difficulty breathing at a polo event. But, David Koch himself says he is a survivor of prostate cancer for about 18 years now, and he is 70 years old. (Prostate cancer continues to be seen from many points of view medically: many see prostate cancers are extremely slow moving–there’s a saying amongst some doctors that old age will kill a man before his prostate cancer ever will– and many, not all, have excellent prognosis, unlike many other cancers that rapidly move to vital organs.)
Mr Koch hadnt married until he received the diagnosis of prostate cancer at about age 51, and currently he and his wife, Julia a former couture assistant, age 49, have three children, the oldest is age 12. He speaks of teaching his children to work very hard when they are old enough.
LAVISH NATIVE AMERICAN EXHIBIT: YET…
To note a recent charity event with photos of Mr Koch and the mainstream media personages attending like Leslie Stahl, Tom Brokaw… and Billy Joel, see here. This was a benefit for American Museum of Natural History. It raised a modest $1.5 million, considering more than 400 multimillionaire and multibillionaire guests attended, “with cocktails in the Theodore Roosevelt Rotunda and a special viewing of Totems to Turquoise: Native North American Jewelry Arts of the Northwest and Southwest in Gallery 3.”
This last, the viewing of Native American treasures, is a bit of an irony…
“In 1989, the Senate Select Committee on Indian Affairs investigated their business and released a scathing report accusing Koch Oil of “a widespread and sophisticated scheme to steal crude oil from Indians and others through fraudulent mismeasuring.” The Kochs admitted that they had improperly taken thirty-one million dollars’ worth of crude oil, but said that it had been accidental. Charles Koch told committee investigators that oil measurement is “a very uncertain art.”
To defend its reputation, Koch Industries hired Robert Strauss, then a premier Washington lobbyist; the company soon opened an office in the city. A grand jury was convened to investigate the allegations, but it eventually disbanded, without issuing criminal charges. According to the Senate report, after the committee hearings Koch operatives delved into the personal lives of committee staffers, even questioning an ex-wife. Senate investigators were upset by the Kochs’ tactics. Kenneth Ballen, the counsel to the Senate committee, said, “These people have amassed such unaccountable power!”
from Jane Mayer’s article at The New Yorker
Mr Koch and his wife, Julia were Ball Chairs of this event, along with Sarah Jessica Parker, Matthew Broderick, Jerry Seinfeld and others.
REGARDING BEING ON A CANCER BOARD AND MANUFACTURING 2.2 BILLION POUNDS of FORMALDEHYDE YEARLY
Mr. Koch serving on the National Cancer Advisory Board has been attacked as a hypocrite, for Koch industries is one of the largest manufacturers of formaldehyde, estimated at 2/2 billion pounds a year and has spent huge amounts of money to lobby legislators attempting to forestall EPA classifying the substance as directly responsible for serious illnesses in children and adults … formaldehyde a known carcinogen dangerous to human beings, particularly putting them at risk for cancers of the blood.
501.C.3 NOT FOR PROFIT ORGS WHO ARE TAX EXEMPT, NOT SUPPOSED TO LOBBY NOR ATTEMPT TO INFLUENCE POLITICS, says IRS
Charitable organizations, such as churches, private charitable foundations, that are 501.c.3′s are not supposed to give money to influence nor proselytize politicking. They are tax exempt as a tradeoff against not using their money to influence public policy, or to attempt to sway voters, ditch or elevate a candidate. Their tax free status depends on following the IRS laws to the letter.
The entire issue about how and if money flows through the Koch brothers many ‘charitable’ organizations to politicos could be under intense scrutiny….
I’ve a sense in reading through the data about the Koch brothers enterprises that a two tier system exists (I know, I know), one that regular people must submit to regarding regulations and the law or else cease and desist, pay fines and/or go to prison… and another one, wherein few want to disturb the flow of sugar.
Thing is, scrutiny is heat, and heat melts sugar into bitter black cinder.
A QUESTION NOT ANSWERED DURING THE AGE OF CARNEGIE, MELLON and ROCKEFELLER
It’s still a question for our times: how does one weight ‘giving money to others’ within the law, against giving which appears to stand outside the law … and which has far more in its motive than just charity to the hungry and homeless–
Machiavelli said…. have enemies who fear you more than you fear them, and you will be safer. He also said one can buy off the blinded populace by doing seeming good deeds with much public fanfare. He also said that befirending the most hostile of one’s own kingdom and provisioning them, will give a king an able army to defend the king if attacked.
Machiavelli also says to remain in power, avoid heat, be charming, become indispensable, do for others what they ought do for themselves by funding them, give them bounty, even though the king might be against the his own government giving bounty to all; be the government unto yourself, be particular, be the controller and giver of bounty to those who serve your purposes and who will protect you.
But the grandmothers of the world, having lived through many wars, say a new wealthy regime that gives to only some of the poor and disgruntled does so to start a fire ‘over there,’ so those engaged in battling the blaze can be told they are ‘fighting the good fight’ — and thus not be able to see the opulent castles being built on the backs of the poor and the vulnerable, ‘elsewhere.’
I only know this: that fire ‘over there,’ in our times… is the snickersnacking of straw swords lunging back and forth between dems and repubs. That, more than anything, appears to be a diversion from something more important entirely. One has to wonder while the populace is inspired to fight the smaller fights of Obama-nama-fe-fi-fo-fama, who are the actual kings… not the elected ones… and what are those non-elected kings actually doing ‘elsewhere?’
For what does pouring sugar do on fires? Turns bitter. Who would want to be stirring up even more bitterness and resentment for covert reasons? And why?
An excellent profile article about David Koch can be found at New York magazine by lead writer Andrew Goldman (with additional reporting by Elien Becque).
DISCLOSURE: In the 1990s, I met Mr. Koch at an authors’ event for adult literacy at the grand Waldorf Astoria Ballroom in NYC. Coming from a family who could not read nor write, I was one of the on-stage speakers. Mr. Koch did not give me money. Though it sure could have helped way back struggling through college on my own as a single mom cleaning big homes and delivering MultiList books.
Just a note: he seems to me to be very much in personality like President Bill Clinton and Sen. Bill Bradley, generous with smiles, easy to laugh, has a sensitive emotional register, is clearly used to ‘the good life,’ is used to being liked, appears not a racist, but has, as most his age and race do, memory of when ‘whites’ once dominated many things to the exclusion of most all others. He is 6’5″, a former basketball player, and has, like many athletes who are elders, still that lanky certainty of gait and arm swing. He is also clearly shrewd and dedicated to paying his way into public policy.