Koch Industries | KCUR

Koch Industries

The Making Of Koch Industries

Aug 27, 2019

You won't see its name on many products but the Wichita-based conglomerate touches the lives of most Americans.

Charles and David Koch took their father's oil-refining business and converted it into the second largest privately held corporation in North America. Business writer Chris Leonard discussed what has been behind the brothers' success, their past transgressions against Native Americans and environmental law, and their influence on American politics.

David Koch, who built one of the nation's largest private businesses with his brother Charles and pumped money into conservative groups to help reshape American politics, has died.

Charles Koch confirmed the news in a statement on Friday that referenced David's long-running ailment.

President Donald Trump on Tuesday lashed out at the Koch brothers, tweeting that the billionaire industrialists are a "total joke in real Republican circles" and that he is "a puppet for no one."

It's the latest salvo between the president and Charles and David Koch, who did not endorse Trump in his 2016 presidential bid and have criticized Trump's spending plans and trade policies.

Charles Koch is chairman and CEO of Wichita's Koch Industries. David Koch stepped down last month from his business and political activitites because of health concerns.

Gage Skidmore / Flickr

The statewide team that's been collaborating to cover elections in Kansas this year is taking your questions

John Trewolla from Prairie Village sent us this one:

I sure am curious about whether and how the Koch brothers from Wichita are influencing the GOP (especially Brownback's) campaign. Not to put too fine a point on it, is Brownback in their pocket?

It's a collaboration that few people saw coming: the Koch Brothers, the ACLU and President Obama working together on a common cause. All three are involved in a push to pass sweeping criminal justice reform this year. We speak with one of the package's key negotiators about what they're trying to achieve.

Guest:

  • Mark Holden is general counsel for Koch Industries.

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The Koch brothers have donated large amounts of money to universities all over the U.S. including the University of Kansas. On this edition of Up to Date, Steve Kraske talks with two reporters, who have been covering these large contributions, about the influence of private interest money on higher education. 

Guests:

Frank Morris / KCUR

Charles and David Koch are well known for funding political campaigns, but the Kochs also donate tens of millions of dollars to colleges and universities.

Nothing unusual about wealthy people giving to higher education, but some professors warn that Koch funding can come with conditions that threaten academic freedom, and that has sparked a debate about the influence of big donors in an age of diminishing public university funding.

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