Published: Thu, June 07, 2018
Money | By Ralph Mccoy

Koch brothers challenge Trump over tariffs

Koch brothers challenge Trump over tariffs

Billionaire industrialist and political megadonor David Koch, who helped oversee Koch Industries with older brother Charles Koch, is stepping down from his position as executive vice president and board member of the $100 billion (sales) conglomerate due to deteriorating health.

"We greatly appreciate his vital role on the board and all that he has done to help us build a strong foundation for our future success", Mark Holden, general counsel of Koch Industries and co-chairman of the semi-annual donor summits the political network hosts, said in a statement.

According to the Koch Industries website, "to millions of Americans, the words "Koch brothers" and "political activism" go hand-in-hand". On Sunday, they announced that they were launching a multi-million dollar campaign to fight his tariffs and encourage free trade.

"What is un-American is when shadowy billionaires pour unlimited money into our democracy to rig the system to benefit themselves and the wealthiest one percent. the Koch brothers seem to believe in an America where the system is rigged to benefit the very wealthy", then-Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said during a floor speech in 2014. "David has always been a fighter and is dealing with this challenge in the same way". And while they have praised Trump's policies on taxes, de-regulation and health care, they have aggressively attacked the Republican administration's trade policies. Their network has promised to spend $400 million to shape the 2018 midterm elections.

While the administration has taken "some incredibly positive steps for the American economy", the new tariffs will "undercut that progress and needlessly hamstring our full economic potential", said Americans for Prosperity president Tim Phillips. They have also devoted significant time and resources to strengthening conservative influence on college campuses, in the Hispanic community and in the nonprofit sector.

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The Manhattan resident donated $150 million to New York City's Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in 2015, the largest gift in the organization's history. "And David is much more into elective politics than I am". The longtime philanthropist, who has supported vaunted NY institutions such as the American Museum of Natural History, the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Lincoln Center, also funded a cancer research institute at MIT and has donated over $700 million to medical causes since his 1992 cancer diagnosis.

Separately, CNBC has reported that 78-year old David Koch is set to retire from Koch Industries because of ill health.

In Tuesday's letter, Charles Koch mentioned his brother's "steerage and loyalty, particularly in our most troubled instances, has been unwavering".

While the Koch name is on many buildings, he is best known for wading heavily into politics.

"David has by no means needed something for himself that he hasn't earned, as his sole want has all the time been to contribute", he wrote.

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