Charles G. Koch and David H. Koch, the deep-pocketed conservative activists, launched a court fight yesterday over control of the Cato Institute, one of the nation’s best-known free-market think tanks.
The Washington-based public-policy group was founded in 1974 as the Charles Koch Foundation. The name was changed to Cato in 1976, with the Koch brothers as longstanding contributors. The group had four shareholders until last year: Charles Koch; David Koch; Edward H. Crane III, Cato’s president; and William A. Niskanen, who died in October. Niskanen, who once was acting chairman of President Ronald Reagan’s Council of Economic Advisers, was Cato’s chairman emeritus.
Koch officials tell POLITICO that the brothers think the shareholder agreement is clear that there should now only be three shareholders, while Crane thinks Niskanen’s 25-percent control should go to his widow, Kathryn Washburn.