Cato Institute, Koch Brothers Fighting Over Think Tank

by InvestorPlace Staff | March 7, 2012 6:26 pm

[1]The conservative billionaires who helped found and fund one of the most influential research centers in the United States are now at odds with their creation.

Charles Koch, who helped found the libertarian-leaning Cato Institute in 1974 along with current president Edward Crane, and his brother David Koch are suing the organization to gain control of it[2]. Both Kochs serve as members of the “shareholder” board, and have given nearly $30 million to the group since its founding.

The Kochs say that the suit is necessary to protect their legal interests in the organization. If successful, they would receive a third seat on the “shareholder” board, which would give them the power to control the majority of appointees to the board of directors, which sets the institute’s policy.

The current leadership of the institute worries that if the Kochs succeed in their lawsuit, they will turn the nonpartisan think tank into “yet another political arm of their [Kochs] vast empire.” In response, those leaders have created a web site, Save Cato[3], that aims to maintain the current power structure at the research center.

The Koch brothers are perhaps best known for owning Koch Industries, a company dealing primarily with energy and oil that is the second-largest privately owned company in the United States, and for their support of the conservative Americans for Prosperity PAC.

— Benjamin Nanamaker, InvestorPlace Money & Politics Editor

The opinions contained in this column are solely those of the writer.

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