Gage Skidmore / Flickr David Koch...
Gage Skidmore / Flickr

The 78-year-old Koch is executive vice president of Koch Industries, a former Libertarian candidate for Vice President, one of the most influential men in conservative circles, and tied with his brother Charles Koch for the title of 6th richest man in the world. His estimated wealth is somewhere north of $60 billion.

Koch’s libertarian political positions haven’t always aligned with the Republican Party, especially on social issues and on positions such as prison reform, but he has consistently set aside any concerns on that front to provide “generous” funding to Republican candidates. In particular, both Koch brothers provided much of the funding and organization that created the Tea Party; providing buses, ads, and extensive media that presented their work as a “grassroots movement.” The organization “Americans for Prosperity,” founded by David Koch, worked closely with the Tea Party, and with the ultra-conservative “freedom caucus” within the Republican House, to drive tax cuts and deregulation from which the Kochs have benefited on the order of several billion dollars.

As noted by The New Yorker, the Koch Brothers also worked behind the scenes to fund politicians, right wing media, and Republican think tanks working to create an anti-Obama hysteria.

The anti-government fervor infusing the 2010 elections represents a political triumph for the Kochs. By giving money to “educate,” fund, and organize Tea Party protesters, they have helped turn their private agenda into a mass movement.

Those same tools were put to use in electing Donald Trump, and the same anti-government tactics are now being used to unwind the legal system and allow Trump to go after political opponents in the name of ferreting out the “deep state.” The infrastructure that the Koch’s built is the foundation of both the current Republican Party and of Trumpism.

It’s possible that Koch may be stepping aside because of health. Illness earlier in the year had him failing to appear at several business and political events.

A copy of the full letter, obtained by the Washington Post, indicates that an unspecified illness is the reason for David Koch’s announced retirement. His brother Charles Koch, 82, remains in charge of both the business and political interests.

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