David H. Koch
The New Yorker has described David Koch and his brother Charles Koch as "longtime libertarians who believe in drastically lower personal and corporate taxes, minimal social services for the needy, and much less oversight of industry—especially environmental regulation." The Kochs have built and bankrolled a powerful network of foundations, think tanks, and politically active organizations that try to influence elections and policy.
David Koch is an executive vice president and board member of Koch Industries, and chairman and chief executive officer of Koch Chemical Technology Group, LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Koch Industries, which he has led since 1970. David leads the David H. Koch Foundation. Forbes listed his net worth as $41.5 billion as of July 2014, tied with his brother Charles as the sixth wealthiest person in the world.
In 2018, Koch Industries announced that David "is stepping away from his political and business interests because of declining health."
David Koch passed away on August 23, 2019.
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.
- 1 Koch Brothers Early History
- 2 The Koch Fortune
- 3 Koch Brothers Early Activism, 1960-1980
- 4 Building the Koch Cadre, Non-Electoral Activity
- 5 Electoral Activity
- 5.1 "Triad" Campaign Finance Scheme Avoids Disclosure Laws, 1996
- 5.2 The Koch Donor Network
- 5.3 Building a Post-Citizens United $400 Million Dark Money Web
- 5.4 Koch Funded Dark Money Groups Investigated and Fined in California
- 5.5 Involvement in Scott Walker Race and Recall Election in 2010
- 5.6 2012 Post-Election Audit
- 5.7 Future Commitment to Politics
- 6 News and Controversies
- 7 Philanthropy
- 8 Affiliations
- 9 Articles & sources
- 10 External links
Koch Brothers Early History
Charles Koch (b. 1935) and David Koch (b. 1940) are two of the four children of Fred Koch and Mary Koch. Fred Koch founded Wood River Oil and Refining Co. in 1940; it had been renamed Rock Island Oil & Refining Co. by 1961 and was renamed Koch Industries by Charles Koch in 1967. Fred Koch was also a founder and executive committee member of the far-right John Birch Society, known for opposing the Civil Rights Act, the Voting Rights Act and communism.
The senior Koch's views are thought to have influenced the Koch brothers' pro-business, anti-union agenda. Lisa Graves noted that "The Kochs' mistrust of public education can be traced to their father, Fred, who declared that the National Education Association was a communist group and public-school books were filled with “communist propaganda,” paranoia that extended to all unions, President Eisenhower and the “pro-communist” Supreme Court." Echoing this anti-union fervor, David Koch has stated that Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker's attack on public unions was “critically important."
He also accused President Barack Obama of being "a hardcore socialist."
Relationship to John Birch Society
Fred Koch was a founding member of the John Birch Society. In the 1960s, Charles Koch opened a John Birch Society bookstore with Bob Love, a friend of his father. At the time, the Society was campaigning against the civil rights movement, calling for the impeachment of Chief Justice Earl Warren, who had ordered public school desegregation in Brown v. Board of Education, and accusing President John F. Kennedy of "treason" in ads shortly before his assassination. 
Charles and Love didn't resign from the Society until 1968. The split was reportedly due to disagreement's about the Society's support for the Vietnam War.
Charles shared his isolationist position with Robert LeFevre's all-white "Freedom School," which he funded and on whose board he sat. Charles had also encouraged his brother, David, to attend a Freedom School retreat, according to Sons of Wichita.
The Koch Fortune
Charles Koch took over his father's Rock Island Oil and Refinery Company, becoming president and chairman in 1967 and renaming it Koch Industries  Since then, the company's revenues grew from just over $100 million to over $115 billion in 2014. The Koch brothers' fortunes have also grown dramatically in that time, increasing from $375 million each in 1984 to some $17 billion each in 2008--and a staggering $41 billion each in 2014, just a few years after the 2008 economic crisis.
In addition to successful investments and expansion of its resource extraction operations over the years, Koch Industries has engaged in commodity speculation and created new types of derivatives. The Nation has reported that Koch Industries was "among the largest traders (including Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley) speculating on the price of oil in the summer of 2008," afterwards also playing a prominent role in lobbying against regulation of the derivatives market, according to Bloomberg Businessweek.
Koch Industries has been involved in many investigations and indictments related to the Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act.
A list of lawsuits involving Koch Industries can be accessed here: Legal Complaints Against Koch Industries
Koch Brothers Early Activism, 1960-1980
David Koch Runs for Vice President as Libertarian, 1980
David Koch was the vice-presidential nominee for the Libertarian Party in 1980, running alongside presidential candidate Ed Clark. About the failed bid, the New York Times has written that "much of what occurred in that quixotic campaign shaped what the Kochs have become today — a formidable political and ideological force determined to remake American politics, driven by opposition to government power and hostility to restrictions on money in campaigns."
David Koch's campaign was made possible by Buckley v. Valeo, a 1976 Supreme Court decision that loosened campaign finance laws. The decision permitted unlimited spending of a candidate's own money on his/her own campaign, as well as unlimited spending by individuals to promote a candidate, if that individual was not coordinating their campaign with the candidate. In 1979, David Koch wrote a letter to Libertarian Party members about his plan to make use this new loophole to fund a Libertarian Party campaign. “As the Vice presidential nominee of the Libertarian Party I will contribute several hundred thousand dollars to the Presidential campaign committee in order to ensure that our ideas and our Presidential nominee receive as much media exposure as possible.” David would spend about $2.1 million on the campaign, but the Libertarian Party won just over 1% of the vote nationally.
According to William Koch, Charles and David's brother, Charles began spending significantly on the Libertarian Party. According to the New York Times, William said in a 1986 interview, "Charles was giving as much to the Libertarians as he was paying out in dividends […] Pretty soon we would get the reputation that the company and the Kochs were crazy.”
Statements David Koch made during the campaign are revealing of his anti-government views. As the New York Times reported about his statement at the 1979 Libertarian nominating convention, David "denounced the 'harassment of Koch Industries and implored the Libertarian Party activists to make the party 'a force that will roll back the coercive force of government.'" At a speech on the campaign trail in 1980, "David Koch railed against what he saw as overregulation. Presidents Nixon and Carter had bequeathed an 'Alice in Wonderland' energy policy, he argued, a mix of subsidies and price controls that had stymied market forces and caused high prices and shortages."
Charles Koch Calls for the Development of a “Well Financed Cadre”
Charles Koch began funding the Institute for Humane Studies in the 1960s. He also created his own Charles Koch Foundation to funnel money to the Libertarian Society. He helped found the Cato Institute in 1974, by which time he was already giving money to the Libertarian Party. Charles also purchased the Libertarian Review.
In a 1974 speech, Charles Koch stated:
- "The important strategic consideration to keep in mind is that any program adopted should be highly leveraged so that we reach those whose influence on others produces a multiplier effect. That is why education programs are superior to political action, and support of talented free-market scholars is preferable to mass advertising. The development of a well financed cadre of sound proponents of the free enterprise philosophy is the most critical need facing us at the moment."
The Kochs have funded a number of nonprofit organizations like the American Legislative Exchange Council, think tanks and legal foundations, which are listed here:
Building the Koch Cadre, Non-Electoral Activity
After the failed 1980 campaign for the vice presidency, the Koch brothers lessened their involvement in the Libertarian Party, increasingly focusing their attention and financial support on developing their own network of "educational programs" and "cadre" of free-market advocates.
The Kochs' funding founded Citizens for a Sound Economy (CSE) in 1984, headed Richard Fink. Fink was shortly thereafter appointed to President Ronald Reagan's "Commission on Privatization." In the late 1980s and 1990s, CSE pushed for banking deregulation, like the elimination of Glass Steagall, spearheaded the defeat of a greenhouse gas tax, and helped in the defeat of health care reform in the Clinton era.
Today the brothers directly and indirectly fund a wide network of organizations that promote their "free enterprise philosophy," from think tanks to scholarship programs to policy advocacy groups. Recipients include a long list of academic institutions; Koch family foundations gave some $30.5 million to 221 colleges and universities from 2007 to 2012.
Access a list of organizations with ties to the Koch brothers here:
Bankrolling American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC)
Koch Industries has had a seat and a vote on the corporate board of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) since 1994. ALEC has awarded both Koch brothers its Adam Smith Free Enterprise Award. The Nation reports that the Kochs have likely given over $1 million to ALEC over the years, and many of ALEC's model bills reflect the policies the Kochs have been advocating for decades.
Funding Judicial Junkets
The Kochs have funded seminars for judges since the 1990s, first at the University of Kansas and later at George Mason University, which hosts the Koch-funded think tank the Mercatus Center. For example, the George Mason University Law & Economics Center hosted "an expenses-paid conference on public pension reform" which was funded by the Charles G. Koch Foundation, as well as corporate funders like ExxonMobil, Google, and Walmart, according to the Center for Public Integrity. The Judicial Conference of the United States has noted that judges' attendance at such seminars "poses certain concerns," including that "judges may be influenced inappropriately by those who sponsor or contribute (financially or otherwise) to these seminar programs and who might be litigants before those judges."
A report by Center for Media and Democracy/The Progressive found that a federal judge who halted an investigation into alleged illegal campaign coordination, which involved groups like the Wisconsin Club for Growth and Americans for Prosperity, "attended privately-funded, all-expenses-paid judicial seminars put on by George Mason University in 2006, 2008, 2010 and 2012." The Washington Post reported on a similar conference in 2011, when Google was facing an antitrust investigation, writing that "Google executives worked behind the scenes with officials at George Mason University’s Law & Economics Center to put on academic conferences that would be attended by officials who were considering the case."
Bankrolling the Tea Party
The Koch brothers and their network have played a significant role in supporting the far-right Tea Party movement. According to the New Yorker, the Kochs' "Americans for Prosperity has worked closely with the Tea Party since the movement’s inception," providing everything from "Tea Party talking points" to lists of officials for activists to contact to funding conferences. The New York Times reported that Freedom Partners, for which "longtime Koch employees" constitute a majority of the board, has given grants to a number of Tea Party-affiliated groups.
According to the New Yorker, a Koch Industries spokesperson has denied that the Kochs provide funding for Tea Party groups, and David Koch has told New York magazine, "No one representing the tea party has ever even approached me."
"Triad" Campaign Finance Scheme Avoids Disclosure Laws, 1996
The Koch’s have a long history of funding money into electoral campaigns. For example, the Kochs used a variety of means to influence the 1996 election cycle.
In Kansas, according to the Lawrence Journal-World,
- "Koch-linked contributions of ‘hard money’—gifts of more than $200 by identifiable individuals or political action committees divulged to the FEC—to the state's four representatives and two Senators totaled $130,600."
Senate Democrats found evidence of more complex funding schemes, as well, namely a political campaign operation called "Triad," which they suggested "allowed wealthy individuals to put more money into the election process than they would otherwise legally have been allowed to do" while evading campaign reporting requirements. In 1997, investigators for the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee told the New York Times that "they believe[d] Koch Industries support[ed] the Economic Education Trust, based in Twin Falls, Idaho, which gave $1.3 million to Triad in 1996."
In an interview with Bill Moyers, staffer Beth Stein explained the scheme as follows:
- "One of the things that Triad did was set up two shell corporations, essentially, tax-exempt organizations. One was called Citizens for Reform and the other was called Citizens for the Republic Education Fund, and the sole thing that those corporations did was to air attack advertising in various races across the country."
In 1998, the Minneapolis Star Tribute reported that “Koch Industries Inc. backed a secret trust that donated $1.8 million in 1996 to finance issue ads sympathetic to conservative Congressional candidates, [lending] new credence to the conclusion last year of Senate Democratic investigators that Koch's owners, Charles and David Koch, were probably the financiers behind the trust that contributed to at least two nonprofit groups.”
The Koch Donor Network
Since at least 2006, the Kochs have hosted semi-annual meetings for wealthy right-wing donors. While these Koch network gatherings are carefully guarded, occasional leaked documents and recordings have revealed that they include "titans of industry — from health insurance companies, oil executives, Wall Street investors, and real estate tycoons — working together with conservative journalists and Republican operatives," as well as prominent public officials, including members of Congress, state governors, and even Supreme Court Justices Clarence Thomas and Antonin Scalia. The meetings involve fundraising, reportedly in the millions of dollars, as well as discussions about political strategy.
A full list of known participants in Koch summit meetings can be accessed on the Koch network page.
Building a Post-Citizens United $400 Million Dark Money Web
According to the Washington Post, in 2012 the Kochs and fellow donors backed a "network of politically active nonprofit groups" that was "carefully constructed with extensive legal barriers to shield its donors," raising over $400 million for the election cycle. As the Post explains, a "labyrinth of tax-exempt groups and limited-liability companies help[ed] mask the sources of the money, much of which went to voter mobilization and television ads attacking President Obama and congressional Democrats."
For example, Freedom Partners, which Politico has referred to as "the Koch brothers' secret bank", spent some $250 million in the 2012 election cycle, much of it spent in grants to other groups that ran so-called "issue ads" during the election.
Koch Funded Dark Money Groups Investigated and Fined in California
The Center to Protect Patient Rights, a group run by Koch operative Sean Noble, was fined by the California state elections board for violating campaign finance disclosure laws as part of a campaign to prohibit "unions from using automatic payroll deductions to raise money for political campaigns."
Other "dark money" groups involved in the network included funding sources Freedom Partners and the TC4 Trust, CSE successor Americans for Prosperity, and a long list of Koch astroturf organizations like the 60 Plus Association, Generation Opportunity, American Commitment, Concerned Women for America, the Libre Initiative, and Public Notice. Additional funding went to the Wisconsin Club for Growth, and from there to Citizens for a Strong America, both of which were later involved in a criminal investigation related to the 2012 election.
Involvement in Scott Walker Race and Recall Election in 2010
Walker's gubernatorial campaign received $43,000 from the Koch Industries PAC during the 2010 election. The Koch PAC gave $1 million to the Republican Governors Association, which in turn spent $65,000 on independent expenditures to support Walker. The RGA also spent $3.4 million on TV ads and mailers attacking Walker's opponent, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett. 
In a February 2012 interview with the Palm Beach Post, David Koch admitted that he was helping fund Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker as Walker fought off a recall election sparked by his anti-union legislation. The paper reported that Koch acknowledged his group, Americans for Prosperity, was "hard at work in places such as Wisconsin, where Gov. Scott Walker is facing off with public unions and grappling with a likely recall."
Koch was quoted as saying, "We're helping him, as we should. We've gotten pretty good at this over the years [...] We've spent a lot of money in Wisconsin. We're going to spend more." 
Highlighting the recall as a fight against unions, Koch also stated that "What Scott Walker is doing with the public unions in Wisconsin is critically important. He's an impressive guy and he's very courageous…If the unions win the recall, there will be no stopping union power."
2012 Post-Election Audit
According to Politico, after this network "spent hundreds of millions to win the White House and the Senate — and came up empty," the Kochs undertook a major audit of their organizations. Reportedly disappointed with the election results, Charles Koch wrote an e-mail to major donors about the need "to re-examine our vision and the strategies and capabilities required for success," adding that "Our goal of advancing a free and prosperous America is even more difficult than we envisioned, but it is essential that we continue, rather than abandon, this struggle."
Future Commitment to Politics
In a 2014 interview with the Wichita Business Journal, Charles Koch identified "cronyism" as one of the biggest problems facing the United States, adding, "You name it, in every industry we have this. The successful companies try to keep the new entrants down. Now that’s great for a company like ours. We make more money that way because we have less competition and less innovation. But for the country as a whole, it’s horrible."
When asked why he continues to be involved in politics, despite negative public reactions, Charles answered, "It’s like Lee Trevino used to say, somebody asked him, "How are you winning all these golf tournaments?" and he said, “Well somebody has got to win them and it might as well be me.” That’s the way I am on this. There doesn’t seem to be any other large company trying to do this so it might as well be us. Somebody has got to work to save the country and preserve a system of opportunity."
News and Controversies
Funding Walker Campaign and WI Club for Growth
The Kochs provided direct funding Republican Scott Walker's 2010 gubernatorial campaign in Wisconsin and funded issue ads for the 2012 recall election. They also funded the Wisconsin Club for Growth, which is involved in the 2012-2014 "John Doe" criminal investigation in Wisconsin.
David Koch admitted that he was helping fund Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s campaign in an interview with The Palm Beach Post. In the February 2012 interview Koch acknowledged that his group – Americans for Prosperity - is hard at work in Wisconsin, where Gov. Scott Walker is facing off with public unions and grappling with a possible recall vote.
"We're helping him, as we should. We've gotten pretty good at this over the years," he says. "We've spent a lot of money in Wisconsin. We're going to spend more," said Koch.
Funded by Koch money, Americans for Prosperity spent about $700,000 on an "It's working" television ad buy in the state that credits Walker's public pension and union overhaul with giving school districts the first surpluses they've seen in years.
"What Scott Walker is doing with the public unions in Wisconsin is critically important. He's an impressive guy and he's very courageous…If the unions win the recall, there will be no stopping union power," said David Koch.
Calls President Obama "A Hardcore Socialist"
In an interview immediately after the death of Osama bin Laden, David Koch told New York Magazine that he believes President Barack Obama is "a hardcore socialist...and he’s marvelous at pretending to be something other than that, but that is what I believe he truly is, a hardcore socialist."
Argues Climate Change Might Be Beneficial
David Koch is on record saying that he was unconvinced that global warming has been caused by human activity. Even if it has been, he said, the heating of the planet will be beneficial, resulting in longer growing seasons in the Northern Hemisphere. “The Earth will be able to support enormously more people because far greater land area will be available to produce food,” he said. 
David Koch has also donated hundreds of millions of dollars to a number of non-political causes. According to a profile published by Koch Industries, "he and the David H. Koch Charitable Foundation have pledged or contributed more than $1 billion to cancer research, medical centers, educational institutions, arts and cultural institutions, and to assist public policy organizations." Philanthropic causes supported by David Koch include:
- New York-Presbyterian Hospital
- Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center
- The Mount Sinai Medical Center
- The Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York City)
- The Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History
- New York State Theater at Lincoln Center
According to information provided by Koch Industries, David Koch has been affiliated with the following non-profits:
- Cato Institute, Board Member
- Reason Foundation, Board Member
- Americans for Prosperity Foundation, Board Member
- National Cancer Advisory Board, National Cancer Institute
- Deerfield Academy, Deerfield, Mass, Life member, Board of Trustees
- The Economic Club of New York, New York, Member, Board of Directors
- Allen-Stevenson School, New York, Member, Board of Trustees,
- Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Member, Board of Trustees,
- New York-Presbyterian Hospital, New York, Governor,
- Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, New York, Member, Board of Trustees,
- M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, Member, Board of Visitors,
- Hospital for Special Surgery, New York Member, Board of Trustees,
- Rockefeller University, New York, Member, Board of Directors,
- House Research Institute, Los Angeles, Member, Board of Trustees,
- Whitehead Institute, Cambridge, Mass., Member, Board of Associates
- Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, Cold Spring Harbor, N.Y., Honorary Member, Board of Trustees,
- Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Mass., Life Member of the Corporation
- Prostate Cancer Foundation, Los Angeles, Member, Board of Trustees
- American Ballet Theatre, New York, Vice Chairman, Board of Directors
- American Museum of Natural History, New York, Member, Board of Directors
- Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, Washington, D.C., Member, Board of Trustees
- Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, Inc., New York, Member, Board of Directors
- Aspen Institute, Aspen, Colo., Member, Board of Directors
- Institute of Human Origins, Phoenix, Ariz., Member, Board of Directors
- WGBH, Channel 2, Boston, Mass., Member, Board of Overseers
- Library of Congress, Washington, D.C., Member, James Madison Council
Additionally, David Koch has been affiliated with the following organizations:
- National Geographic Society, Council of Advisors
- Earthwatch Institute, Emeriti Director,
- African Wildlife Foundation, Honorary Trustee
- WNET, Trustee
Articles & sources
David Koch was a passenger on USAir flight 1493 which crashed at LAX on February 1st 1991 
- Cato Institute
- Koch Industries
- Koch Family Foundations
- Charles G. Koch
- Oil industry
- Sherry Lansing - close friend and former girlfriend 
- David H. Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research
- "David Koch made his own foray into politics decades ago, waging an unsuccessful bid as the Libertarian Party’s vice presidential candidate in 1980 with Ed Clark. They won about 1% of the vote." 
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- Lee Fang, "MEMO: Health Insurance, Banking, Oil Industries Met With Koch, Chamber, Glenn Beck To Plot 2010 Election," ThinkProgress, October 20, 2010. Accessed June 30, 2010.
- Lee Fang, "EXCLUSIVE: Koch Brothers Convene Ultra-Secret Billionaires Meeting To Raise Funds, Plot Strategy," Republic Report, February 3, 2012. Accessed June 30, 2014.
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- Mike Allen and Jim Vandehei, "Exclusive: The Koch brothers' secret bank," Politico, September 13, 2013. Accessed June 30, 2014.
- Nicholas Confessore, "Group Linked to Kochs Admits to Campaign Finance Violations," New York Times, October 24, 2013. Accessed June 30, 2014.
- Al Shaw, Theodoric Meyer and Kim Barker, "How Dark Money Flows Through the Koch Network," ProPublica, February 14, 2014. Accessed June 30, 2014.
- Brendan Fischer, "WI Club for Growth, Target of Walker Recall Probe, at Center of Dark Money Web", Center for Media and Democracy, November 18, 2013. Accessed June 30, 2014.
- Lisa Graves, "A CMD Special Report: Scott Walker Runs on Koch Money," Center for Media and Democracy, February 18, 2011. Accessed July 7, 2014.
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- Stacy Singer, David Koch intends to cure cancer in his lifetime and remake American politics, Palm Beach Post, February 18, 2012.
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- Stacy Singer, David Koch intends to cure cancer in his lifetime and remake American politics, Palm Beach Post, February 18, 2012
- John Nichols, David Koch Admits to Helping Walker Big Time, The Cap Times, February 20, 2012
- Sarah Owen, "David Koch Gives President Obama Zero Credit for Bin Laden’s Death," New York Magazine, May 5, 2011.
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- Bill Berkowitz, "Patron saints of right wing think tanks acquire Georgia Pacific Corp: Oil barons Charles and David Koch, two of the nation's worst environmental criminals, now control the country's largest privately held company", Working for Change, December 6, 2005.
- The billionaire brothers who are waging a war against Obama.http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2010/08/30/100830fa_fact_mayer#ixzz1440AGk88