Charles Koch is a billionaire in his 70s who, along with his brother, David, built the hugely profitable and privately held Koch conglomerate focused on chemicals, textiles, paper and other products from an oil company they inherited from their father.
Longtime patrons of libertarian and conservative causes, the brothers have built an elaborate network of political and social groups that have funneled tens of millions of dollars to groups such as Americans for Prosperity. The network is among the most potent outside forces driving Republican politics and candidates.
The Kochs have relied on a complex tax and campaign finance system to keep most of their donations shrouded in mystery, and several of the groups they fund do not have to disclose the names of their donors in real time. In many cases, years pass before the Kochs’ level of giving is disclosed.
The Charles Koch Foundation’s mission, according to its tax forms, is to advance “liberty and economic freedom by educating students in a classroom.” That foundation does not directly fund political operations.
Democrats such as Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid have sought to depict the two men, who support low taxes and less regulation, as buying elections to support their own business interests.
This is the fifth-largest gift UNCF said it has received. The largest, $1.6 billion, came from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.