Koch blames Crane for New Yorker hit-piece

Politics,Beltway Confidential,Conn Carroll

Billionaire libertarian activist David Koch escalated his battle with Cato Institute President Ed Crane today, releasing a nine-page statement that accuses Crane, among other things, of being a source for Jane Mayer’s 2010 New Yorker hit-piece on Koch Industries.

“Notwithstanding all the wonderful things said about us when soliciting [financial support for Cato], in 2010 Ed became a source for Jane Mayer of The New Yorker, providing negative background on an article that was highly critical of Charles and me,” Koch writes. “As Ed has shown, he will partner with anyone - including those that oppose Cato and what it stands for - to further his personal agenda at the expense of others working to advance a free society,” Koch continued.

Koch’s letter also responds to claims made by Crane and Cato Chairman Bob Levy, that the Kochs are trying to obtain majority control of Cato for the first time in history. Koch writes:

For most of its existence, Cato has been controlled (as Bob’s talking points describe it) in whole or large part, by the Kochs. In fact, between 1991 and 2008, Cato had five shareholders - Charles; Ed; Bill Niskanen; a long-time Koch Industries employee (then still employed by Koch); and me. During those 17 years, Koch-affiliated individuals had the ability to elect the majority of the board and the ability to acquire the stock of Ed and Bill, but we did not, and there was never any outcry over a “negative impact” during that time.

Koch also takes issue with Levy’s account of a meeting that happened at Dulles Airport where Levy has said Koch demanded that Cato, “provide intellectual ammunition that we can then use at Americans for Prosperity and our allied organizations.” Koch admits he mentioned AFP but was clear that Cato should not limit its support to Koch affiliated entities:

As an example, I mentioned a group which I am involved - Americans for Prosperity. I believe AFP has done a good job of turning concepts into concrete deliverables, but it is just one example of such an organization. I never asserted that Cato should be directed by, or at the whim of, any other organization, or that they should aspire to advocate the way AFP does.

You can read the whole memo here. I have just reached out to Cato for a response.

UPDATE: Cato says Levy stands by everything he wrote in this statment.

UPDATE II: Cato has sent a more detailed statement, which you can read here.

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