The Film Archives
Published on Mar 4, 2016
The Koch family (/ˈkoʊk/ KOKE) is an American family of industrialists, philanthropists and businesspeople, most noted for their political activities and control of Koch Industries, the second-largest privately owned company in the United States (with 2013 revenues of $115 billion). The family business was started by Fred C. Koch, who developed a new cracking method for the refinement of heavy crude oil into gasoline. Fred’s four sons litigated against each other over their interests in the business during the 1980s and 1990s.
Charles G. Koch and David H. Koch, today commonly referred to as the Koch brothers — and the only two of Fred Koch’s four sons still with Koch Industries — are also affiliated with the Koch family foundations.
The Koch brothers have indicated that they intend to raise almost $900 million in support of candidates in the 2016 elections, and have given more than $100 million to conservative and libertarian policy and advocacy groups in the United States, including the Heritage Foundation and the Cato Institute, and more recently “Americans for Prosperity.”
“Americans for Prosperity”, founded by David Koch, has been reported by Kenneth Vogel of Politico to be one of the main nonprofit groups assisting the Tea Party movement; but in 2010, Koch spokeswoman Melissa Cohlmia distanced the Kochs from the tea parties and FreedomWorks saying that “no funding has been provided by Koch companies, the Koch foundations, Charles Koch or David Koch specifically to support the tea parties.” According to the Koch Family Foundations and Philanthropy website, “the foundations and the individual giving of Koch family members” have financially supported organizations “fostering entrepreneurship, education, human services, at-risk youth, arts and culture, and medical research.”
Former Republican congressman Joe Scarborough, co-host of MSNBC’s Morning Joe, has pointed out that, although their critics are usually unaware of the fact, the Koch brothers have supported more than just what are generally considered conservative causes. They opposed George W. Bush on many issues, are pro-choice, support same sex marriage, and had worked closely with the Obama White House for the Obama administration’s criminal justice reform initiatives that aligned with their own.
According to the environmentalist group Greenpeace, the Koch brothers have played an active role in opposing climate change legislation. Organizations that the Koch brothers help fund, such as Americans for Prosperity, The Heritage Foundation, the Cato Institute, and the Manhattan Institute, have been active in questioning global warming. According to salon.com, through Americans for Prosperity the Koch brothers influenced more than 400 members of Congress to sign a pledge to vote against climate change legislation that does not include offsetting tax cuts.
While the Koch family has been making substantial donations to criminal justice reform organizations for nearly a decade, most recently the Kochs headed a bipartisan resolution to make more serious leaps to reform. Included in these are aims at eliminating overcriminalization and overincarceration, which generally harms low-income and minority communities, as well as reducing recidivism rates, diminishing barriers faced by the rehabilitated seeking employment, and law enforcement’s asset forfeiture to deprive the incarcerated of property.
Global Climate Change