Charles Koch

"The enormous cost and unreliability of wind and solar are making people’s lives worse."
CEO and Chairman

Charles G. Koch, born in 1935, is the CEO and Chairman of Koch Industries.  Koch is also on the Board of Directors for Koch Industries subsidiaries Georgia-Pacific and Invista.

His father, Fred Koch, was a staunch libertarian and an early member of the John Birch Society, as was Charles Koch for a period of his life. Like his father, Charles is also an ardent supporter of libertarian and conservative organizations. He is a co-founder of the Cato Institute, the Chairman of the Institute for Humane Studies, and has sponsored multiple conferences for entrepreneurs to encourage them to fund free-market groups. Charles has even applied his libertarian ideology to the structure of Koch Industries, using his own trademarked “Market Based Management” to run the entire company. "Just as central planning is a failure in running government, so it is at the level of the firm," says Charles.

Source: The Wall Street Journal

Charles and his brother David were involved in a decades-long family dispute with their brothers, Bill and Fred, regarding a buy-out of company shares. Bill and Fred claimed that Charles and David shortchanged them by $340 million. The vicious lawsuits began in the early 1980s and continued for nearly two decades.

Source: Greenpeace

Charles Koch is tied with his brother David as the 6th wealthiest person in the World according to Forbes, estimating their weath at $41.3 billion each. Bloomberg estimates Charles Koch's wealth exceeds $52 billion.

“Over the past 135 years, the ground temperature has warmed — there’s some debate on this — around eight-tenths of a degree centigrade. In the atmosphere [the temperature change] has been slightly less, but not enough to argue much about. A big driver is most likely man-generated CO2, but what we see is that this increase is much less than has been projected. So, the indications are that the temperature isn’t as sensitive to increases in CO2 concentration as was thought. I don’t see the evidence that there’s an immediate catastrophe or even one in the future.”
- Interview with Steven Foley, Financial Times, January 8, 2016

Forbes reporter Daniel Fisher:

"I started by asking [Charles Koch] his views on global warming, and he rattled off from memory statistics going back to 1880 comparing atmospheric CO2 levels to temperature.
"Q. Is this evidence of CO2-induced global warming?
"It’s highly probably that CO2 has contributed to that.
"Q. Is it good science to conclude humans are the cause?
'A. It’s not settled, it’s not certain. Anybody who says something this complex is settled is not using good science.
"Q. Is current energy policy too focused on fighting carbon emissions?
"A. The present policies of subsidizing and mandating inefficient alternatives is counterproductive. The enormous cost and unreliability of wind and solar are making people’s lives worse. They’re increasing the cost of energy, they’re corrupting the business community, increasing corporate welfare, and they’re counterproductive. On the other hand, if people believe this is a problem, or could be a problem, then it’s worth investing a certain amount in, not by government mandating, but by letting companies like ours and others innovate to find economic solutions that will make peoples’ lives better today and in the future. Because there are economic alternatives to fossil fuels and because they reduce whatever risk there is that CO2 emissions can cause real harm in the future."
I believe it’s been warming some. There’s a big debate on that, because it depends on whether you use satellite measurements, balloon, or you use ground ones that have been adjusted. But there has been warming. The CO2 goes up, the CO2 has probably contributed to that. But they say it’s going to be catastrophic. There is no evidence to that."
- Washington Post, 2015 (see fact check of Charles Koch's climate science denial by scientists in The Guardian)

"With the uncertainty and the politicization of the science so far, to go spend trillions of dollars a year changing the whole world economy to satisfy something this uncertain, because you have some religious zealots like Al Gore going around preaching this--it doesn't make sense."

"My father said, 'Son, never sue. The lawyers get a third, the government gets a third, and you get your business destroyed.'"
"Every company wants smart people. Well, Hitler was smart. Stalin was smart. Mao was smart. If somebody's evil, the smarter they are, the more damage they're going to do."

-Esquire, December 17, 2008


See PolluterWatch's profile of Koch Industries for information on its pollution record, political spending, and financing of campaigns against climate change and clean energy policies. See Greenpeace's factsheet for Koch Facts.

The U.S. Senate investigated Charles Koch for his alleged role in funding so-called "issue ads" that violated campaign law by helping conservative Republican congressional candidates in 1996. Koch Industries has been the largest oil and gas industry contributor to electoral campaigns since the 2006 election cycle. During the 2008 elections, Koch Industries contributed over $1.8 million, 88% to Republican candidates.

Though Charles Koch claims his company honors "10,000 percent compliance" with all environmental, health and safety rules, Koch Industries has a long and ongoing record of environmental crimes and violations.

Major Anti-Environmental Political Campaigns:

Koch Industries wholly-owned subsidiary Flint Hills Resources has spent $1 million to promote California Proposition 23, intended to stall state law promoting clean energy and reductions in greenhouse gases.

Leadership at Climate Change Denial Organizations

Key Koch-backed organizations include the Americans for Prosperity Foundation, which was founded and remains chaired by David Koch, originating from a predecessor organization run by Charles Koch's top operative, Richard Fink, another top executive at Koch Industries. the , which Charles Koch co-founded the Cato Institute and recently attempted to seize through a coup of Cato's board of directors. Charles is chairman of the Institute for Humane Studies at George Mason University, collaborating with the Charles Koch Institute to train students and young professionals in Koch's self-made theory of Market-Based Management, places interns and fellows at Koch-funded organizations like the Heritage Foundation, the American Legislative Exchange Council, the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, and other organizations funded by the Kochs.

Funding of Universities

From 2007-2012, Koch foundations spent $43,2 million on over 200 universities, according to data published by American Unviersity's Investigative Reporting Workshop and from the Center for Public Integrity. Reporting on Charles Koch's contracts with U.S. universities has repeatedly drawn criticism from experts in academic freedom at the American Association of University Professors, citing the influence Koch's multimillion dollar grants have allowed him.

George Mason University (GMU) has depended on Koch foundations for 15% of its grant income in the last five years, according to IRS 990 tax forms filed by the Charles Koch Foundation and the George Mason University Foundation. GMU hosts the Institute for Humane Studies, chaired by Charles Koch, and the Mercatus Center, founded and run by Koch Industries executive Richard Fink, a former member of GMU's board of visitors. GMU's Board of Visitors currently includes Koch lobbyists Nancy Pfotenhaur as well as Kim Dennis of the Searle Freedom Trust, which frequently coordinates spending with the Charles Koch Foundation on political and university expense. GMU president Ángel Cabrera sits on the advisory board of the Charles Koch Institute's Wellbeing Initiative. GMU's Law school has come under criticism for hosting judicial junkets that serve to influence judges who sometimes later preside over cases involving companies that funded events they attended.

At Florida State Unversity (FSU), the Charles Koch Foundation has arranged for both direct and de facto control over the hiring of professors and programs for students. Koch-funded economics professors have promoted cliamte change denial, misrepresenting science outside of their credentialed experience. 

More info: NPR, 2014; Inside Higher Ed, 2011; Tampa Bay Times, 2014. See also 2014 op-eds from concerned FSU students and professors in the Tallahassee Democrat and the George Washington University Hatchet.

Suffolk University in Boston hosts a Koch-funded think tank called the Beacon Hill Institute (BHI), which has written factually incorrect reports used by Koch-funded groups campaigning against state clean energy laws, most notably in Kansas, Ohio and North Carolina. Beacon Hill's data has been used by organizations like the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), Americans for Prosperity, The Heartland Institute, and other organizations affiliated through the State Policy Network. BHI has been repremanded by its host unviersity after being caught seeking funding for "reports" that were pitched to funders with the pre-determined conclusion that results could be used to attack the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, a cap-and-trade climate program involving ten northest states. Koch-funded organizations have sought to undermine RGGI for several years.

Catholic University received a letter from 50 catholic educators criticizing the school for accepting a $1 million grant from Charles Koch, citing concerns over his ideological and political work being mirroed by officials at the school who question the science of climate change and criticize the right of public workers to form unions.

George Washington University was criticized in an op-ed by one of its students for not offering enough information about the school's latest $100,000 agreement with the Charles Koch Foundation, arguing, "Transparency is key when academic freedom and the community’s trust is on the line."

As documented at ThinkProgress, Koch has similar arrangements at several other public universities.

Buying and Training Future Talent for KochWorld:

Through programs run by the Charles Koch Institute, annual multimillion dollar investments in universities through the Charles Koch Foundation, and other organizations like the Institute for Humane Studies at George Mason University (chaired by Charles Koch), Charles Koch's money recruits people to work for Koch-funded political groups that are financed and sometimes founded by the Kochs.

Opposition to Social Security, Promotion of Social Security to Friedrich Hayak:

In a letter published by The Nation, Charles Koch, who supports groups campaigning to abolish social security, ecouraged Austrian economist Friedrich Hayak take advantage of social security in order to live in the states to become a "senior distinguished scholar" for the Institute for Humane Studies. Hayek, who was reluctant to abandon universal healthcare in Austria due to poor health, qualified for U.S. social security because he attended the University of Chicago when the program was created. Hayek was know for his complete opposition to social security, was a major influencer of Charles Koch's own philosophy. David Koch is also a known opponent to the program, pledging to end social security as part of his libertarian vice presidential campaign platform in 1980.

Promotion of DDT Pesticides in "Poor Countries"

In a 2012 speech accepting the William E. Simon Prize in Philanthropic Leadership from the Philanthropy Roundtable, Charles Koch cited "horrific examples of philanthropy doing more harm than good, such as advocating poor countries stopping the use of DDT, which led to so many deaths."

Use of the 1971 Lewis Powell Memo as a Roadmap to Expand Corporate Political Influence

In a 1974 speech to business leaders and libertarians in Dallas, Texas, Charles Koch invoked the suggestions of Lewis Powell, by name, in his advocacy of more business spending and coordination around polticial causes (see New York Times). Greenpeace has documented how Koch Industries and Charles Koch have taken up Lewis Powell's suggestions to work with other business executives to expand corporate influence among politicians, judges, in the media and at American universities. Charles Koch disagreed with Powell on a couple points, arguing that a free market doesn't truly exist and that business leaders weren't necessarily already advocates of a free market. Citing a need to push back on consumer advocates like Ralph Nader and student protestors around the nation, Koch wrote:

To date, business has tried to defend itself by taking a conciliatory attitude rather than exposing the fallacies in the anti-capitalist arguments. For example, when the oil industry and others are criticized for having "excess" profits, businessmen should argue that in a free market there is no such thing as excess profits -- that without high profit there could be no signal to invest more capital in order to increase production to meet the consumer demand that created the profits.