David Koch, the billionaire Republican who, along with his brother Charles, helped fund a vast conservative political operation, died on Friday. He was 79 years old.
As two of the 10 wealthiest Americans, David and Charles Koch used their riches to help fund and advance their conservative and libertarian political beliefs. They helped found the Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank, the Reason Foundation, which publishes a libertarian magazine, and a series of political organizations, including Americans for Prosperity.
The Koch brothers emerged as public political figures when they helped fund and organize the opposition to President Barack Obama.
In doing so, the brothers came to be seen by political liberals and leftists as symbols of inequality and money in politics during America’s second Gilded Age.
David Koch was one of four sons born to Mary Koch and oil industry tycoon Fred Koch in Wichita, Kansas. The four brothers ― Frederick, Charles, and twins David and Bill ― inherited control of Wood River Oil and Refining Company, their father’s oil business, after his death in 1967 and promptly renamed it Koch Industries. Charles initially took charge of the firm, but David joined him in 1970.
As David and Charles Koch built their political empire, they fought their other brothers for control of the family business. Frederick Koch, the eldest brother, and Bill Koch, David’s twin, sued their siblings in 1983, ultimately settling for $1.1 billion. This lawsuit left David and Charles Koch the sole family owners of the business. David Koch died with a net worth of $58.7 billion.