Libertarian billionaire funds university enviro-lectures
Koch Brothers Watch
By COLIN WOODARD | September 21, 2011
The University of Maine at Machias announced last week that the campus will be welcoming its first Koch Speaker on Environmentalism and Freedom on October 6.
As the name suggests, the series is underwritten by a grant from the Charles G. Koch Foundation, the philanthropy of the conservative billionaire of the same name, which has been the subject of scrutiny both inside and outside of academe. In May, an internal faculty review committee concluded Florida State University had jeopardized its academic autonomy in agreeing to give the foundation veto power over the hiring and retention of faculty members in the economics department, in exchange for a $1.5 million grant. The faculty senate at George Mason University has sought to review the terms of $30 million in grants the university received from the foundation, but have been rebuffed; GMU is a private university and not subject to public-records disclosure.
Charles Koch and his brother, David, have given more than $100 million to libertarian causes, from the effort to repeal climate-change initiatives in California to the training of Tea Party activists via Americans For Prosperity, a group they founded. They seek to promote “economic freedom” — by which they mean freedom from taxes and government regulation, policy changes that would further enrich the Kochs, whose company is one of the top ten air polluters in the country. Between 2005 and 2008, the brothers vastly outspent ExxonMobil in giving to organizations fighting efforts to address climate change, with substantial amounts passing through Charles’s foundation.