David Koch retires, leaving Trump a bit more alone
According to Jean Mayer, author of "Dark Money," the retirement of the Koch Industries vice president will have little effect on the push of ultraconservative politics in the United States.
David Koch, one of the great fortunes behind the Republican Party and a prominent defender of neo-conservative measures from tax cuts to inaction to curb climate change, has announced that he is withdrawing from the spheres of business and politics.
Koch, 78, the richest resident of Manhatthan, according to The New Yorker, led with his brother Charles the conglomerate Koch Industries, one of the largest economic empires in the United States, with a turnover of more than $115 billion in sales per year. His retirement from the position of executive vice president of Koch Industries is due to a prostate cancer that was diagnosed in 1992 and will be effective on July 1. David Koch will also retire because of the direction of Americans for Prosperity, one of the lobbying organizations from which the Koch brothers have channeled their aid and funding policies to the Republican Party, as well as neoconservative movements such as the Tea Party.
Born in Wichita, Kansas, David Koch studied engineering at MIT and began to get involved in politics and philanthropy in the 1980s when he ran for the vice presidency as a Libertarian candidate. After this episode, he decided to change his strategy and bet on lobbying through organizations such as Freedom Partners, Free Initiative and Americans for Prosperity as an instrument to influence U.S. policy.
"The retirement of David Koch from Koch Industries will make it easier to see more clearly what has been true from the start: Charles and David Koch, who came to be known as “the Koch brothers,” were equals in bloodlines and in wealth, but Charles has always been the brains behind the brothers’ vast corporate and political operations," wrote Jane Mayer at the New Yorker this week. Mayer is the author of "Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right," which has just been published in Spanish.
Why is America living in an age of profound and widening economic inequality? Why have even modest attempts to address climate change been defeated again and again? Why do hedge-fund billionaires pay a far lower tax rate than middle-class workers? In a riveting and indelible feat of reporting, Jane Mayer illuminates the history of an elite cadre of plutocrats—headed by the Kochs, the Scaifes, the Olins, and the Bradleys—who have bankrolled a systematic plan to fundamentally alter the U.S. political system, as stated by her publishing house. Mayer traces a Byzantine trail of billions of dollars spent by the network, revealing a staggering conglomeration of think tanks, academic institutions, media groups, courthouses, and government allies that have fallen under their sphere of influence.
Despite having supported neo-conservative measures, David Koch and his brother publicly disengaged themselves from Donald Trump during the 2016 campaign, making it clear that they would not support his tariff measures against aluminum and steel. The Kochs are defenders of free trade and immigration reform, and their ideas clash with the protectionist measures of the current president, especially when they affect the energy industry.
According to Mayer, "for the past four decades, the Kochs have tapped their vast fortune from a hundred-and-fifteen-billion-dollar-a-year family business, Koch Industries, to finance a private political machine whose reach and size have been described as rivaling that of the Republican Party. By lavishly underwriting candidates, policy organizations, and advocacy groups—often through untraceable donations—they have pulled American politics toward their own arch-conservative, pro-business, anti-tax, and anti-regulatory agenda, particularly in the environmental area," she wrote in The New Yorker. "Although David Koch is also stepping down from his role as chairman of the Americans for Prosperity Foundation, the foundation wing of the Kochs’ main political-advocacy group, their influence isn’t likely to wane anytime soon," she concluded.
.@JaneMayerNYer traces the lives of #billionaires to explain the hidden #influence of money on #American #democracy, in 'Dark Money' published by @randomhouse https://t.co/I2U1cPT6SU #books #mustread pic.twitter.com/sKbjys4NhH
— Outlook Business (@OutlookBusiness) June 9, 2018