Jane Mayer, staff writer at the magazine since 1994, says the brothers have spent $100 million+ pushing an anti-intellectual, anti-Obama, pro-Republican libertarian, Tea Party-supporting agenda using a $35 billion fortune that is topped only by those of Bill Gates and Warren Buffet.
Mayer, noting that Koch Industries have been tabbed as one of the ten worst air polluters in the U.S., said the cigarette industry similarly delayed its comeuppance for decades by preaching doubt about cigarettes and cancer.
“The Kochs are 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,” she writes.
Neither David or Charles Koch nor anyone associated with them (except anonymously) would talk to Mayer about her 11-page article.
Koch operatives are active in promoting the Tea Party which has a conservative agenda, according to research by Mayer.
David Koch with his wife, Julia, outside the Koch Theater.
First Lady Michelle Obama, although third honorary co-chair of a May 17 gala recognizing Koch’s millions in gifts to the American Ballet Theatre, skipped the gala “because Koch is best known as part of a family that has repeatedly funded stealth attacks on the federal government and on the Obama administration in particular,” says Mayer.
Koch family foundations have given millions to 34 right-leaning political and policy groups with names like the Institute for Justice (which files lawsuits opposing state and federal regulations), and the Institute for Humane Studies (which supports libertarian academics).
The 1980 Libertarian Policy platform, quoted by Mayer, called for the abolition of the FBI and CIA; federal regulatory agencies including the SEC and Dept. of Energy; ending Social Security, minimum wage laws, gun control and all personal and corporate income taxes.
It also proposed legalized prostitution; legalized recreational drugs, and legalized suicide. Government would have one function: protecting individual rights.
Koch has pledged $10M to repair Lincoln Center’s fountain.
Mayer has dug up tax records showing that the David H. Koch Charitable Foundation spent more than $120M from 1998-08 while the Charles G. Koch Foundation spent $48M+.
The Claud R. Lambe Foundation of Charles and his wife spent $28M and Koch Industries (oil refineries, pipelines, Georgia-Pacific lumber, Dixie cups, Lycra) spent $50M+ on lobbying since 1998.
A theme of the Mayer article is that scientists and academics often cave to desires of rich businesspeople.
Cited by Mayer is the new book, "Merchants of Doubt: How a Handful of Scientists Obscured the Truth on Issues from Tobacco Smoke to Global Warming." Published in May by Bloombury Press, New York, it was authored by Naomi Oreskes, professor of history and science, University of California, San Diego, and Erik Conway.
David Koch told New York magazine that he does not believe that global warming is caused by human activity.
Should the planet get hotter, he told the magazine, “The earth will be able to support enormously more people because far greater land area will be available to produce food.”
Mayer accuses the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History of dancing to the Koch tune because of gifts from his foundations.
The exhibit, she writes, notes that carbon dioxide levels are at record levels and are projected to increase, but “makes it seem part of a natural continuum.”
Humans adapt to changes in the earth’s temperature and amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, says the exhibit, noting that people may adapt by building “underground cities,” developing “short, compact bodies,” or “curved spines” so that “moving around in tight spaces may be no problem.”
“Such ideas uncannily echo the Koch message,” writes Mayer.
Cristian Samper, the museum’s director, told her the exhibit is not about climate change and called Koch “one of the best donors we’ve ever had, in my tenure here, because he’s very interested in the content but completely hands off.”
Mayer said the exhibit “infuriates” physicist Romm who says it “whitewashes the modern climate issue” and is “underwritten by big-time polluters who are underground funders of action to stop efforts to deal with this threat to humanity.”
Mayer writes that while the “Kochs and their political operatives declined requests for interviews, a prominent New York PR executive who is close with the Kochs put forward two friends: George Pataki, former New York governor, and Mortimer Zuckerman, publisher of the New York Daily News and a real-estate magnate.”
Pataki called David Koch “a patriot who cares deeply about his country” while Zuckerman praised Koch’s “gently decency” and the “range of his public interests.”
(Koch images: Koch Family Foundation)