Billionaire David Koch to retire from Koch Industries

Howard TerryJun 08, 2018

At Koch Industries, David Koch, age 78, carried the title of executive vice president, but his role - and partnership with his brother - gave him great sway over a conglomerate that employs 120,000 people and makes everything from Stainmaster carpet to Lycra cloth to Dixie paper cups and Sparkle paper towels, not to mention vast enterprises with petrochemicals.

Officials said David Koch would transition to a director emeritus role at the company, the second largest privately held firm in the United States. Here is an excerpt from the note sent to staff.

The 78-year-old NY resident is suffering from deteriorating health, according to a letter that older brother Charles Koch sent to company officials Tuesday morning. And in a sign about its shifting strategy, it appears to be more willing to take on the Trump administration than many other political organizations on the right. That includes $100 million to the New York State Theater at Lincoln Center, now the David H. Koch Theater, and $65 million for renovations at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Charles Koch, who will stay on as chairman and chief executive of Koch Industries, said his brother was "instrumental" in expanding the business they inherited from their father "1,000 fold" and branching out beyond energy into a host of other products.

The announcement came just one day after the Koch-backed political network announced a multimillion dollar publicity campaign to Donald Trump's controversial tariffs on steel and aluminum.

This story is developing and updates may be added to this post.

Along with his brother, he has made an indelible mark on the promotion of conservative causes, so much so that former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid blasted Republicans as having a "Koch addiction". The Koch network has plans to spend up to $400 million on politics and policy initiatives during the 2018 midterm election cycle.

But Koch is perhaps better known for his work as an industrialist and his support for libertarian political causes. They have, however, distanced themselves from and disagreed with President Trump on a variety of issues. He is a resident of New York City. David Koch is a prostate cancer survivor and donated hundreds of millions of dollars to cancer research and medical facilities over the years. He has also given $185 million in total donations to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, his alma mater.

David Koch made his own foray into politics decades ago, waging an unsuccessful bid as the Libertarian Party's vice presidential candidate in 1980 with Ed Clark.

Although David Koch's involvement had been reduced in recent years, he still held several top positions within the Koch network, including as chairman of a foundation that supports Americans for Prosperity. They won about 1% of the vote.

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