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Who was David Koch and what was his role at Koch Industries?

DAVID Koch, the billionaire owner of one of the most valuable companies in the world, has died at 79.

But who was he, how much was he worth, and what was his role in Koch Industries?

Who was David Koch?

David Koch was, with his older brother Charles, the co-owner of Koch Industries, a chemicals and oil refining business the pair inherited from their father, Fred, in 1967.

He was born in Wichita, Kansas in 1940, the year his father founded the firm, and graduated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology with a master's degree in chemical engineering in 1963.

He joined the family firm in 1970, opening its New York office in 1970, and ultimately became vice president under Charles, the chairman and CEO.

As of 2019, he had a personal fortune of $48bn, making him, jointly with Charles, the 11th richest person in the world.

In 1980, he was the vice presidential candidate for the Libertarian Party, and later became a major donor to the Republican Party and backer of the Tea Party Movement.

In 1996, he married Julia Flesher, 56, with whom he had three children.

Koch had suffered recurring bouts of cancer since 1992, and in June 2018 retired due to worsening health issues.

What is Koch Industries?

Koch Industries was founded by Fred Koch, a chemical engineer, in 1940 after he developed an innovative crude oil refining process.

David and Charles inherited and expanded the business after his death at 67.

It is now involved in the manufacture, refining, and distribution of petroleum, chemicals, energy, fibre, polymer, minerals, fertilisers as well as ranching, finance, and commodities trading.

The company remained privately owned, with each of the brothers having a 42 per cent stake, and is the second-largest privately held company in the US.

It has annual revenues or $110bn and employs 120,000 people in 60 countries.

The company used its freedom from the pressures of public markets to make longer-term investments, and Charles has stated that it would go public "over my dead body".

What what his involvement in politics?

Koch was vocal in his support of various political courses.

He advocated libertarianism, individual liberty, and free market principles as well as the cutting of taxes and government spending.

He also opposed the Dodd-Frank Wall Street and Consumer Protection Act, a federal US law which overhauled financial regulation in the wake of the 2007-08 financial crisis.

He was liberal on social issues, supporting access to abortions, gay rights, same-sex marriage, and stem-cell research and opposing President Trump's Muslim travel ban.

He was also a major donor to medical research, particularly searches for a cure for cancer, and between 1998 and 2012 contributed an estimated $395 million to medical research and institutions.

In 1980, Koch was the Libertarian Party's nomination for vice president, donating $100,000 a month to his own campaign.

He ran pledging to abolish social security, welfare, minimum wage laws, corporate taxes, and all subsidies for agriculture and business as well as the Federal Reserve Board, which oversees the Reserve and helps implement monetary policy in the US.

He broke with the Libertarian Party in 1984 when it supported the elimination of all taxes, later lending his support the the Republican Party and the Tea Party movement.

Why was he controversial?

Both Koch brothers have faced heavy criticism for their support for the stripping back of taxes, workers' rights and social safety nets from positions of such wealth.

They have also been vocal in support of climate change denial, and backed an attempt in 2012 to roll back the ability of the US Environmental Protection Agency to regulate greenhouse gas emissions.

Their position has been linked to the fact Koch Industries' business relies in extremely large part on the emission of fossil fuels, a major contributor to climate change.

In 2011, according to a database held by the US Environmental Protection Agency, the company emitted over 24 million tonnes of carbon dioxide, as much as is typically emitted in a year by five millions cars.

A 2010 New Yorker profile said of the brothers: "The Kochs are longtime libertarians who believe in drastically lower personal and corporate taxes, minimal social services for the needy, and much less oversight of industry – especially environmental regulation.

"These views dovetail with the brothers' corporate interests."

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