VAL 2016 | Koch Industries är USA:s näst största privata företag. Endast Cargill lär vara större.
Parallellt med detta familjeföretag har bröderna Charles Koch och David Koch byggt upp ett politiskt imperium som bl.a. består av stiftelser, tankesmedjor och lobbyorganisationer.
En av de viktigaste, och mest inflytelserikaste av dessa organisationer är Americans for Prosperity. Organisationen förväntas spendera många miljoner kronor under kommande presidentvalskampanj.
De två andra bröderna, Bill och Fredrick, har dock aldrig delat sina bröders politiska intresse.
Däremot har striden om vem som skall leda företaget ibland tagit sig direkt groteska proportioner. Kochs mångåriga familjefejd får i emellanåt Lars Noréns pjäser att framstå som direkt harmoniska i jämförelse.
I Daniel Schulmans bok Sons of Wichita: How the Koch Brothers Became America’s Most Powerful and Private Dynasty, beskriver författaren hur Charles och Davids politiska intressen blev ett slagträ i kampen om företaget.
Här nedan följer ett utdrag som publicerades i Mother Jones i augusti förra året.
Bill’s criticisms—intemperate as they could sometimes be—were not merely rooted in sibling rivalry. He and other shareholders had developed some legitimate worries about the company’s direction. Koch Industries had run afoul of agencies ranging from the Department of Energy to the Internal Revenue Service, and it even faced a criminal indictment for conspiring to rig a federal lottery for oil and gas leases.
Bill had also grown troubled by the increasing amounts of company money Charles diverted to his ”libertarian revolution causes”—causes Bill considered loony. ”No shareholders had any influence over how the company was being run, and large contributions and corporate assets were being used to further the political philosophy of one man,” Bill said later.
Charles’ philosophy had been deeply influenced by their father, whose experiences helping to modernize the USSR’s oil industry in the early 1930s turned him into a rabid anti-communist who saw signs of Soviet subversion everywhere. A staunch conservative and Barry Goldwater backer, Fred was among the John Birch Society’s national leaders; Charles joined in due time, and by the ’60s was among a group of influential Birchers who grew enamored with a colorful anti-government guru named Robert LeFevre, creator of a libertarian mecca called the Freedom School in Colorado’s Rampart mountain range. From here, Charles fell in with the fledgling libertarian movement, a volatile stew of anarchists, devotees of the ”Austrian school” of economics, and other radical thinkers who could agree on little besides an abiding disdain for government.
By late 1979, as tensions with Bill were escalating, Charles had become the libertarian movement’s primary sugar daddy. He had cofounded the Cato Institute as an incubator for libertarian ideas, bankrolled the magazine Libertarian Review, and backed the movement’s youth outreach arm, Students for a Libertarian Society. He had also convinced David to run as the Libertarian Party’s vice presidential candidate in the 1980 election (Bill had declined). David was able to pour unlimited funds into his own campaign, circumventing federal restrictions on political contributions.
Their father had loathed publicity, scrupulously guarding the family’s privacy. But, to Bill’s dismay, Charles and David’s activism was beginning to draw attention to the company and the family. Worse, at the very moment that the Energy Department was investigating Koch Industries for violating price controls on oil, David and his Libertarian Party running mate, Ed Clark, were on the campaign trail openly antagonizing the agency by calling for its eradication.
Just as Charles and David had elevated their father’s midsize Midwestern oil company into an international behemoth, they have carried the family’s political torch into the 21st century in a way that Fred Koch would find hard to comprehend. Fred’s John Birch Society, where Charles began his political education, has been relegated to the fringe. But as Charles and David’s influence reached new heights during the Obama era, so too did the strain of thinking popular among Fred and his allies, who saw socialism (and its evil twin, communism) lurking behind government’s every move.
After mounting an unprecedented political effort in 2012, and earning little more than a reputation as rapacious villains for their trouble, the brothers and their allies have regrouped for another battle. The advocacy group they founded, Americans for Prosperity, is expected to dump $125 million into the upcoming midterm elections—and the Kochs are gearing up for an even bigger and more expensive bout in 2016. Like their father, it’s not in their DNA to back down from what they believe is a just fight. Decades have gone by, and peace has still never come to Kansas.
Tidskriftsomslag: Mother Jones, augusti 2014.