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Billionaire David Koch’s death occurred at 79

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libertarian Billionaire David Koch’s death occurred at 79 on Friday at his house in Southampton, N.Y. Koch, who with an estimated net worth of nearly 50 billion dollars was possibly the 11th richest person on the planet, came with his brother Charles to personify the political power of the ultra-wealthy. For a long time, they supported libertarian and right-wing political causes, lobbying to protect the family oil business from regulation, and their wealth from taxation.

“It is with a heavy heart that I announce the passing of my brother David. Anyone who worked with David surely experienced his giant personality and passion for life,” the elder Koch continued a statement about billionaire David Koch’s death. The statement did not cite a cause of death but noted David Koch’s decades-old battle with prostate cancer. He is survived by his wife Julia and their three children.

“Twenty-seven years ago,” the statement said, “David was diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer and given a grim prognosis of a few years to live. David liked to say that a combination of brilliant doctors, state of the art medications and his own stubbornness kept cancer at bay.”

Koch retired from the company and the Koch political operations in 2018, citing health reasons. Sources close to the family told CNN he had been in weakening health in recent weeks.

The Koch brothers were best known for their position in politics, and they used their immense wealth to build a sprawling array of think tanks, foundations, and political organizations to spread their small-government, free-market message. In some elections, the Koch network rivaled the spending and scope of the national Republican Party, and analysts view their activism as encouraging to have fueled the Tea Party movement.

Billionaire David Koch’s death will not bring significant changes to their network

Throughout the 2016 elections, the brothers spent about $900 million backing Republican candidates, on par with the totals spent by each national political party. Their continuance support for conservative causes would be hard to measure because so much of their spending was laundered through opaque front-groups and nonprofits.

The causes of growing inequality are diverse, ranging from globalization to de-industrialization. But public policy is not an exception. Even as the top 1% of Americans now own 37% of the country’s wealth, other advanced economies have maintained more fair societies while facing the same economic and competitive concerns. Since Koch was born, the annual top marginal income tax rate has been cut by 54%.

Koch’s death is not anticipated to bring significant changes to the network founded by Charles Koch and now managed on a day-to-day basis by his top leader Brian Hooks.

The organization previously was in the midst of a transformation when David Koch passed away from his formal roles. The Koch groups now are called Stand Together and have made more advances in philanthropy and policy issues.

Billionaire David Koch's death occurred at 79
Image: The New York Times

More about David Koch

David Hamilton Koch was an American businessman, philanthropist, political activist, and chemical engineer. He entered the family business Koch Industries, the second-largest personally held company in the US, in 1970.

Koch was a libertarian. He was the 1980 candidate for Vice President of the United States from the United States Libertarian Party and helped support the campaign. He founded Citizens for a Sound Economy. He provided political advocacy groups and political campaigns, almost entirely Republican. Since June 2019, he was ranked as the 11th-richest person in the world with a fortune of $48 billion.

Koch was the Libertarian Party’s vice-presidential candidate in the 1980 presidential election, sharing the party ticket with presidential candidate Ed Clark. The Clark–Koch ticket guaranteed to remove Social Security, the Federal Reserve Board, welfare, minimum-wage laws, corporate taxes, all price supports and support for agriculture and business, and U.S. Federal agencies including the SEC, EPA, ICC, FTC, OSHA, FBI, CIA, and DOE.

David H. Koch Charitable Foundation

David H. Koch established the David H. Koch Charitable Foundation. The David H. Koch Charitable Foundation has funded cancer research and a number of arts and science organizations, including the American Ballet Theatre, New York City Ballet, Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the American Museum of Natural History.

An open letter to museums from 36 members of the scientific community demanded that the Smithsonian and other museums cut any ties with the Kochs, because of worries that they would remove information on climate change. The Smithsonian countered by stating both exhibits in question did examine in great detail the impacts of climate change. The Koch Foundation responded they “have pledged or contributed more than $1.2 billion dollars to educational institutions and cultural institutions, cancer research, medical centers, and to assist public policy organizations.”

David Koch donated $35 million in 2012 to the Smithsonian’s Natural History Museum and $20 million to the American Museum of Natural History in New York City. Joe Romm of ThinkProgress stated, “David Koch did not personally intervene to affect the exhibit”. David Koch was a member of the board of trustees of the American Museum of Natural History in New York and the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History in Washington.

The David H. Koch Charitable Foundation is a significant funder of Americans for Prosperity, a libertarian/conservative political advocacy group. David H. Koch chaired the board of directors of the associated AFP Foundation.

Failure as a libertarian Party’s vice-presidential candidate

David Koch was most active in Americans for Prosperity, the grassroots arm of the Koch’s sprawling network, which built a combination of more than 3 million activists to push the agenda of the Kochs and the roughly 700 like-minded donors to help fund their public policy work.

But in the era of President Donald Trump — whom Charles Koch pointedly declined to support in 2016 — the network has undergone a notable shift in focus, increasing its commitment to work across party lines on top priorities, such as promoting free trade and creating a path to strong legal situation for undocumented immigrants brought to the US as young children.

In June, Americans for Prosperity published four new political action organizations and stated it would wade into primaries to help incumbent politicians, including Democrats, who side with Koch on trade, immigration, and other issues. David Koch himself entered politics decades ago, waging a failed bid as the Libertarian Party’s vice-presidential candidate in 1980 with Ed Clark. They won just 1% of the vote.

But despite failing as a candidate and not getting enough votes, he is still remembered as an influential person in politics.

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