Politics & Policy

Kochs Add Life

The “evil” Koch brothers pour billions into schools, cures, arts, and nature.

Do monsters get any meaner than Godzilla and King Kong? You bet! Charles and David Koch are ginormous and superbad. Just ask Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid.

“When you make billions of dollars a year, you can be as immoral and dishonest as your money will allow you to be,” the Nevadan said February 26 on the Senate floor. “These two brothers,” Reid added, “are about as un-American as anyone that I can imagine.”

San Francisco billionaire and Democratic campaign contributor Tom Steyer told Men’s Journal that David Koch is “just a famously evil person!”

For his part, Steyer earned some $1.5 billion in hedge funds. He plans to spend $100 million to support candidates who share his obsession with so-called global warming. Steyer’s political giving is fine to Reid and other Democrats, as are the dollars that currency speculator George Soros pours into left-wing causes. According to a 2010 report by the Media Research Center, “He’s given more than $550 million to fund the liberal infrastructure in the United States — pro-abortion, pro-euthanasia, pro-gay marriage, pro-drug legalization, pro-union and pro-government-funded media as well as anti-faith, anti-death penalty and as anti-conservative as they come.”

And yet the Kochs’ money is an injection of sulfuric acid into the body politic. Never mind that OpenSecrets.org ranks Koch Industries (and its $18.14 million) as No. 59 on its list of “Heavy Hitters” who gave to candidates, parties, and leadership PACs between 1989 and 2014. The 58 bigger donors are overwhelmingly pro-Democrat and labor-union-dominated.

The ten Heaviest Hitters gave some $535 million over those 15 years and are described as either “fence sitters” or “strongly” to “solidly Dem,” as opposed to the “solidly Repub” Kochs. (The  Kochs’ personal donations to outside conservative groups like Americans for Prosperity are not counted here, nor are George Soros’s gifts to liberal organizations like MoveOn.org.)

Here’s what the Left thinks when they hear the words “Koch Brothers.”

Singer/activist Harry Belafonte may be the Kochs’ bitterest foe.

“They make up the heart and the thinking in the minds of those who would belong to the Ku Klux Klan,” he fumed at a November 3 campaign rally for then-candidate and now New York City mayor Bill de Blasio. “They are white supremacists. They are men of evil. They have names. . . . The Koch brothers — that’s their name.”

Democrat de Blasio followed Belafonte on stage and said nothing to distance himself from this racial Vesuvius. Indeed, de Blasio lauded Belafonte as “a treasure to our nation” and “a voice of a wisdom that’s deeper than any wisdom we need in our day-to-day life.”

The Kochs’ critics are free to disagree with the Kansas industrialists and their libertarian ideas. However, most who despise the Kochs would be shocked by what these “greedy capitalists” do with their profits —  beyond campaign donations.

‐For starters, the Kochs support university programs and think tanks that try “to understand the nature of human freedom and how that freedom leads to prosperity,” as the Charles Koch Foundation (CKF) explains. (Full disclosure: I have addressed the Koch Summer Fellows Program and collaborated for decades with market-oriented non-profits that enjoy the Kochs’ generosity.)

CKF underwrites research and teaching at Brown, Mount Holyoke, Sarah Lawrence, the University of Wisconsin at Madison, Vassar, and some 245 other colleges and universities. This includes a speaker series, a reading group, and an essay contest at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, in Harry Reid’s home state. Koch Industries (which offers same-sex-spousal benefits to its legally married employees) also donated $814,000 to the Kansas State University Office of Diversity to assist “historically under-represented students.” 

Charles Koch (center) greets a flock of college interns last summer at Koch Industries’ global headquarters in Wichita, Kansas. Koch companies  employ hundreds of paid college interns across America every summer.

Since 1991, more than 12,000 high-school students in Kansas and Missouri have graduated from CKF’s Youth Entrepreneurs program. This initiative teaches commercial smarts and connects young people with business mentors. As its website notes, it helps “students gain self-confidence and learn to apply skills such as goal setting, discipline, accountability, self-reliance, judgment, and economic and critical thinking.”

‐The Kochs fund cures and treatments.

David Koch survived a 1991 plane crash that killed 34 people, including everyone else in first class. He soon was diagnosed with, and then endured, prostate cancer. These challenges reinforced his passion for medical philanthropy. Among $506 million in such gifts, his major grants include:

$25 million to Houston’s M. D. Anderson Cancer Center to eliminate genitourinary malignancies.

$25 million to New York’s Hospital for Special Surgery, home of the first total knee replacement. Surgeon-in-chief Dr. Thomas P. Sculco said, “Our continued focus on research and innovation would not be achievable without the generous support of David Koch and others.”

$30 million to New York’s Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center.

$100 million for cancer research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

$100 million for a new ambulatory care center at New York Presbyterian Hospital. This donation actually triggered an outbreak of mental illness among Leftists who decried Koch’s nine-digit check.

“Quality care, not Koch care!” unionized nurses screamed outside Koch’s Park Avenue apartment — never mind that his contributions create work for unionized nurses. Demonstrators promised a “cookout to kick Koch out.” As the Washington Free Beacon reported, they even wrote their own anti-Koch song, to the tune of Frank Sinatra’s “New York, New York”:

Start Spreading the News

The Poor are Abused

But we just will not Stand For It

New York, New York

Koch Care is Unfair

Many cupboards are bare

And that’s just not the heart of us

New York, New York

We want to wake up

To a City that is Koch free

And find we’ve all got a shot

Everyone gets healthcare

Our kids do not fail

And the Kochs are in Jail!!!!

Our movement Is Growing

Some day it’ll stop Snowing!!

We’re Making a Brand New Start to it

Here in New York!

And here we make it clear

We’ll kick the Koch’s [sic] out of here

It’s up to you

New York, New York

 Other liberals wisely refuse to look this multimillion-dollar gift horse in the mouth.

“I’m an extremely progressive left-wing radical,” oncology patient Kara Morgan told the New York Post, in a March 17 story headlined “Cancer survivors rip donation protesters.” She added: “But dollars are dollars. I do disagree with a lot of things the Koch brothers do, but I can’t imagine turning the money down. It’s a good thing that he’s doing. I’m grateful for that.”

‐The Kochs are patrons of the arts.

Elizabeth B. Koch, Charles’ wife, launched the Koch Cultural Trust. It has furnished $1.8 million in grants to artists and musicians with ties to Kansas.

The Trust gave pianist Grace Brungardt $2,500 in 2011 to attend the University of Kansas’s International Institute for Young Musicians, and $3,000 in 2012 to participate in Indiana University’s Piano Academy.

“The Koch Cultural Trust gave me the means to pursue my dreams and further my musical education,” said Brungardt. “I would not have been able to pay for either of the camps, and would have missed all the enrichment and opportunities they provided.”

“The Koch Cultural Trust has helped me so much in terms of beginning a career in New York City,” said Jacob January. The Trust gave him $2,000 in 2012 to attend dance classes in New York. “It’s very difficult to get started with deposits on apartments and plane tickets being so expensive.” January added, “It was so nice to have the funds to help deflect some of the cost and keep my mind focused on my art, rather than my money.”

Smithsonian Institution secretary G. Wayne Clough (left) awards a piece of Smithsonite to David H. Koch in 2012 as thanks for his $50 million in gifts to the museum and research organization.

David Koch supports PBS’s documentary series Nova. He also is a paleo-philanthropist, having given $15 million to the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History for a Hall of Human Origins, and another $35 million to update its fossil and dinosaur displays. New York’s American Museum of Natural History will enjoy a new Dinosaur Wing, thanks to David’s $20 million gift.

David’s $65 million contribution will give Manhattan’s Metropolitan Museum of Art a new outdoor plaza with landscaping and fountains.

David also donated $100 million in 2008 to modernize the former New York State Theater at Manhattan’s Lincoln Center, home to the New York City Ballet. “This gift puts the performing arts in another league of fund-raising and helps to elevate our expectations and gives us all a tremendous vote of confidence,” said Lincoln Center president Reynold Levy. The facility now is called the David H. Koch Theater.

‐The Kochs also steward the environment.

“Koch Industries, Inc., takes a leadership role in the promotion of biodiversity, wildlife habitat enhancement, land restoration and conservation education,” according to Wildlife Habitat Council president Robert Johnson. “Koch and its subsidiaries maintain Council-certified programs at 10 facilities throughout the United States,” including Montana’s 300,000-acre Matador Cattle Company Beaverhead Ranch.

Koch employees in 2011 helped the American Chestnut Foundation plant 650 saplings on protected land at a Georgia-Pacific mill in Virginia.

In 2010, the Kochs gave the Nature Conservancy $1 million to help acquire the nearly 11,000-acre Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve in Kansas.

Flint Hills Resources helps Ducks Unlimited maintain 36,000 acres of waterfowl habitat on 116 Minnesota lakes. For these efforts, Ducks Unlimited gave this Koch subsidiary its Emerald Teal Award.

Love or loathe Charles and David Koch’s politics, only a liar could deny the tremendous social good that their money secures. Rather than quietly collect mansions and yachts, they spend billions to school students, cure diseases, cultivate artists, and clean the Earth.

If only Godzilla and King Kong were this philanthropic.

 — Deroy Murdock is a Manhattan-based Fox News contributor and a media fellow with the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution, and Peace at Stanford University.

Deroy Murdock is a Manhattan-based Fox News contributor, a contributor to National Review Online, and a senior fellow with the London Center for Policy Research.


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