Jim Hickey’s American Politics

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Kock Foundation gives more than $90 million to southern universities

Charles Koch, and Koch Industries, have given about $90 million to universities in recent years, and much of that has gone to southern states according to a story by the Institute for Southern Studies. Just this year Charles Koch, and his brother David, propose the creation of an academic center, which they would pay for, at Western Carolina University. The donations often go to the creation of these centers which promote free market economy, which the Koch Brothers have advocated.

The Koch Brothers own Koch Industries, headquartered in Wichita, Kansas, which is heavily involved in the oil and chemical business. Their donations come through the Charles Koch Foundation, which sponsors academic programs, professorships, scholarships, a well as conferences for their economic education centers. They own many other multinational businesses as well, including Georgia-Pacific wood products company. The company was founded by their father, Fred Koch, in 1940 and they rose to fame after creating innovations in the oil refining process. Forbes Magazine said they were the second largest privately held company in the United States.

They have given away a lot of their fortune over the years through their various foundations. They have been criticized for giving money with the expectation of promoting their free market agenda. According to the article, they have given $108 million to 366 universities between 2005 and 2014. About $90 million of that total went to schools in the south.

The biggest benefactor has been George Mason University, which received $77 million for the creation of the Mercatus Center for Humane Studies. The center focuses on promoting free market economics. Most of the other donations were small by comparison, with Florida State getting $2.3 million, West Virginia and South Carolina each received $1.3 million. All of the other schools received less than $1 million.

While the Koch Brothers are conservative, the article points out, wealthy liberals such as George Soros and Michael Bloomberg have also made large contributions to universities. It is believed they are focusing on southern states more because that is where more conservatives are, and they may receive a better reception there with giving to programs that conservatives would embrace. The Koch Brothers have also donated heavily to the political campaigns of many state legislators in the south particularly.

The Charles Koch Foundation had $528 million in assets in 2014. The family also runs the Fred and Mary Koch Foundation, The Claude Lambe Foundation and the Charles Koch Institute.

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