Billionaire David Koch, Who Used His Wealth to Reshape U.S. Politics, Dies at 79
[WSJ] David Koch, the billionaire libertarian who gave more than $1 billion to charitable causes but was better known for using his money to reshape U.S. politics, died Friday. He was 79 years old.
His family released a statement Friday saying, "While we mourn the loss of our hero, we remember his iconic laughter, insatiable curiosity, and gentle heart." According to a statement from Koch Industries Inc., Mr. Koch fought various illnesses over many years.
Mr. Koch, whose net worth of about $50.5 billion tied him with his brother as the world’s 11th-richest person in Forbes magazine rankings, gained most of his wealth from a 42% stake in Wichita, Kan.-based Koch Industries, which has interests ranging from oil to beef to paper and is the second-largest closely held U.S. company.
A longtime New York resident, Mr. Koch was until retirement in June 2018 an executive vice president of the family company.
Though he was a liberal on social issues like abortion and same-sex marriage, Mr. Koch used his fortune to support conservative causes that favor lowering taxes, free trade and fewer regulations. He was the Libertarian Party’s 1980 vice-presidential candidate.
With his surviving older brother, Charles Koch, the chairman and chief executive of Koch Industries, Mr. Koch created a network composed of like-minded wealthy donors brought together to back conservative causes.
They were credited with helping finance the limited-government Tea Party movement that helped Republicans win control of the House in 2010 during President Obama’s first term.
Their support of conservative causes became a lightning rod for Democrats, raising the ire of then-Sen. Harry Reid of Nevada, who in 2014 called Mr. Koch and his brother "un-American" and accused them of "trying to buy America" through campaign cash.
The network the brothers built includes more than 700 donors who give $100,000 or more a year, as well as a group called Americans for Prosperity that has chapters in 36 states. In terms of its influence on the conservative agenda in the U.S., the network is rivaled only by the Republican Party.
Megadonors such as the Kochs were able to grow their influence after the Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United decision, which allowed unlimited spending, both directly and indirectly, by outside groups.
The Koch brothers didn’t back Donald Trump in his 2016 campaign for president, but their political network has lauded his administration’s efforts to loosen regulations. The Kochs, though, have been critical of the president’s policies on trade and immigration.
Mr. Koch’s significant philanthropy to nonpolitical causes was widely lauded. A one-time college basketball star, he literally loomed large‐at 6-foot-5-inches tall‐over New York society as a fixture at splashy galas and as one of the city’s most generous philanthropists.
He donated more than $1.3 billion of his fortune to charity, including gifts to the State Theater of New York at Lincoln Center‐renamed the David H. Koch Theater‐New York-Presbyterian Hospital and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, all in Manhattan.
Diagnosed with prostate cancer in 1992, Mr. Koch had in recent years suffered from deteriorating health, according to the letter announcing his retirement from business and political activities. Over decades, Mr. Koch funneled some of his largest donations to cancer research, most notably to Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in Manhattan and to his alma mater, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, Mass., for the founding of the Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research.
In speaking of his philanthropy, Mr. Koch described himself in interviews with The Wall Street Journal as a "sugar daddy" for charitable causes with a "moral obligation" to give. He preferred to donate his money to outstanding institutions rather than "use it on buying a bigger house or a $150 million painting," he said. "I really want to put my money to work making the world a better place."
Posted by: Beavis 2019-08-24