Libertarian History/Philosophy

Koch Brothers Deny Tea Party Paternity


The billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch have been recently fingered, through their support of Americans for Prosperity, as the corporate paymasters ginning up a phony "grass roots" Tea Party movement.

Frum Forum gets a rare interview with president of their charitable Charles G. Koch Foundation, Richard Fink, who denies paternity and gives his version of what Koch ideological funding is all about.

"We've been labeled tea party founders or funders – in fact, masterminds – but that's not consistent with the facts," said Fink. "To my knowledge, we have not been approached for support by any of the newer 'tea party' or other grassroots groups that have sprung up around the country in the past year or so."

One organization that Fink help create and Koch has helped fund, Americans for Prosperity, regularly interfaces with tea party groups….Fink denied that Koch had anything to do with Americans for Prosperity's tea party activities. "I don't consider them a Tea Party institution," Fink added. "[The group] has been active for nearly thirty years. While they participate in events with tea party groups, our support of them has included no funds specifically for tea party-related efforts."

To press the point, Dr. Fink even had some mild criticism of the tea party movement. "Some of their worries are… more thoughtful, some of them are less thoughtful," he told FrumForum.

While Koch has at times funded organizations that are activist, their focus remains overwhelmingly ideological, Fink argued:

Historically, we've spent the majority of our efforts funding research… we funded tens of thousands of students through their colleges, dozens of professors, we've been very heavy on the development of ideas and a deeper understanding of what makes societies prosper.

….Fink adds that while they "help them get started, give them seed money," they "then let [funded organizations] meet the market test of survival."

Fink also admits that after decades and many millions supporting limited government ideas, scholarship, and causes, things haven't worked out as well as they might have hoped.

But Koch's efforts have hit a roadblock, even in the eyes of one of Koch's highest-ranking executives. "If you look at where we've gone from the year 2000 to now, with the expansion of government spending and a debt burden that threatens to bankrupt the country, it doesn't look very good at all… It looks like the infrastructure that was built and nurtured has not carried the day," said Fink…..

Fink says, "in terms of [the tangible] results [of our funding], it's really not all that clear to me… [we] need to get more into the practical, day to day issues of governing to be successful."

David Koch is on the board of trustees of the Reason Foundation, which owns Reason magazine and Reason Online.

More from Fink and the Koch brothers on their ideas and actions vis a vis libertarian ideas and activism in my gigantic book Radicals for Capitalism: A Freewheeling History of the Modern American Libertarian Movement. Previous Kochblogging from me.

NEXT: Prince of Pot to Be Extradited

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  1. “The billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch have been recently fingered”

    That’s assault!

    1. Q: What do the Unabomber and a girl from Northern Quebec have in common?

      A: They both got fingered by their brother.

      1. Where the fuck is North Quebec?

        1. its north of Central and Southern Quebec.


  2. Is Kochtopus a drinkable offense per Reason’s Official Excuses to Drink Prior to Noon Especially When You Work Out of The House And Your Boss Can’t Smell Booze On Your Breath Over The Phone yet?

    1. DRINK!

  3. “We here at the Kochtopus are running a perfectly respectable slope-greasing organization, and good to you, sir. I SAID GOOD DAY!”

  4. I hope not, Sudden, because i left my flask at home again.

  5. Shouldn’t the title of this be “Someone who works for the Koch brothers sort of denies involvement with the Tea Party movement, most of the time, anyway”?

    1. Actually the title should be” Where’s Alan ‘Herpes’ Vanneman when you don’t need him?”

      Oh, here you are.

      1. Beautiful.

  6. We’ve been labeled tea party founders or funders ? in fact, masterminds ? but that’s not consistent with the facts,

    Exactly what you would expect the Secret Masters to say.

    1. I don’t know nothin’ about that.. Oh — I was in the Olive Oil business with his father but that was a long time ago that’s all.

  7. For all the good they may have done, I can’t help but question the thought process that led them to fund Rand Paul’s opponent, Trey Grayson.


    1. I’ve never seen any solid evidence that they are actually a part of that group…

    2. Conspiracy theorists shouldn’t have any trouble following the thread.
      Cato’s Crane and Mises Institute’s Rothbard hated each other. Ron Paul is associated with Mises’ Rockwell.
      Rand Paul is Ron Paul’s son. So why should the “Kochtopus” back the son of someone heavily imbedded in the lair of the anti-Kochtopus?

      1. It all just seems so petty. I understand the whole feud, but if your philanthropic outlook is geared toward liberty, it just seems counterproductive and immature to fund a moderate neoconservative against Paul out of spite.
        Matt C, it is not implied they a part of that group, they simply donated to a PAC.

    3. It seems to me that Rand is libertarian leaning in a few, limited number of ways. But mostly he’s a Republitard, especially when it comes to abortion and a few other things. That said, it seems that he resembles someone who might want to be fiscally conservative and at this point anything approaching financially responsible is what I’m after.

  8. It only makes sense that a Koch would provide seed money.

  9. Historically, we’ve spent the majority of our efforts funding research? we funded tens of thousands of students through their colleges, dozens of professors, we’ve been very heavy on the development of ideas and a deeper understanding of what makes societies prosper.

    Presumably, their conclusion is that what makes societies prosper is sodomy, prostitution, open borders and psychotropic drugs.

    1. Shut the fuck up, slappy.

    2. No, that’s what makes societies FUN.

  10. Presumably, their conclusion is that what makes societies prosper is a limited government that lacks the ability or desire to outlaw sodomy, prostitution, open borders and psychotropic drugs.

    1. Now I know why we have a government – to stop libertarians from fucking the country up for the rest of us.

      1. Don’t you have a close relative to rape, slappy.

        Now scram.

  11. Koch + libertarian = fail.

  12. you rang?

  13. Students for Liberty threatens to restore campus libertarianism to its salad days of the 1970s. Atlas Research is supporting and collaborating with free market think tanks all over the world. One hopes Koch continues to fund these efforts as they are vitally important to liberty in America.

  14. Key words: “to my knowledge” and [to paraphrase] not funding any group directly. They are however, channeling money into groups that working with Tea Parties to help solidify movement organization and priorities. Not a hard one to figure out.

  15. OK Koch, where’s my check?

  16. I think the left is firmly convinced that the Tea Party movement is some kind of corporate conspiracy because they are so elitist and so contemptuous of ordinary Americans that they can’t actually imagine that ordinary people can do anything with the guidance and prodding of elites of one kind or the other.

    If you read leftists writings on middle-class America such as “What’s the Matter with Kansas” you see a mindset that treats most Americans as passive dupes of powerful interest who can be easily manipulated by their intellectual superiors. Leftists really don’t believe that most people are capable of making rational political decisions about major issues.

    When large numbers of American’s rebel against the leftists benevolent guidance, the leftists’ elitism, arrogance and narcissism leaves them with just one explanation: a competing group of elites, just as smart as leftists but evil, must have stampeded the sheep.

    Leftist will claim that they aren’t elitist because they want to take from the rich to give to the poor. What they don’t understand is that elitism isn’t about money, its about respect. It’s about treating others as your social, intellectual and moral equals.

    That they can never do.

    1. I agree as usual, but don’t you mean “imagine that ordinary people can’t do anything without the guidance…”

      Or am I just awake too early?

  17. It would have been interesting to hear Fink explain why it made sense to support a statist neo-con like Greyson over the liberty loving Rand Paul.

    1. I wouldn’t go so far as to call him freedom-loving.

  18. More telling is the fact that Fink will grant interviews with David fucking Frum but not with any libertarian type journalists.

  19. Whew! I was beginning to worry that the right didn’t have a George Soros.

  20. Well, this is probably the only opportunity I’ll ever have to link to this bizarre serious of fan videos dramatizing the Mises-Cato split:

    Also, I’ll buy a beer for anyone who can sit through all of these

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