Charles and David Koch are perhaps the best known names in dark money. The brothers run Koch industries, the second-largest private corporation in America
. Each controls a fortune of worth an estimated $42 billion, according to Forbes
They have used their personal wealth to build a powerful political advocacy network aimed at promoting their free-market economic views and supporting like-minded candidates. Today, that network rivals the Republican party, according to a Politico analysis
The Koch brothers became politically active in the late 1970s. In 1977, Charles Koch helped co-found
the Cato Institute
, the country’s leading libertarian think tank. In 1980, David Koch was the Libertarian Party’s vice-presidential candidate
. In the early 2000’s, the brothers began expanding their network’s influence through politically active nonprofits and other groups. The Koch network now includes more than forty conservative or libertarian organizations
involved in lobbying, political advocacy, or policy research.
As a result of their network, the Koch brothers wield considerable influence among conservative donors and politicians. They host retreats
for donors who contribute at least $100,000
a year to various groups backed by their network. In June, Charles Koch said the network’s 2016 budget
was roughly $750 million.
According to USA Today
, the network is currently “undergoing a significant reorganization” and “streamlining some of its operations.”