The Other Koch Brother

In the shadow of his brothers' Tea Party fame, Bill Koch seems almost like a normal billionaire.

"I think he has made a fortune in some of the dirtiest types of energy we use," says Rodgers. "I suppose it galls him that somebody makes money with clean-energy wind turbines that he might even see occasionally from his oceanfront mansion."

In 2001, Bill Koch finally won a victory against his brothers. Koch Industries paid $25 million to the federal government in a settlement deal; in return, the feds dismissed charges that the company stole oil from Native American and federal lands. Bill Koch and his co-plaintiff shared $7.4 million, according to the Center for Public Integrity.

That year, Bill, David, and Charles also signed an undisclosed settlement that ended the legal battles among them and helped repair their relationship. In 2005, when Bill married his third wife, Bridget Rooney—her grandfather, Art Rooney, founded the Pittsburgh Steelers, and she had had a son with Kevin Costner—David was the best man at the wedding.

PRNewsFoto/Palm Beach High School Foundation, Kim Sargent; © Sargent Photography
Bill Koch celebrates the America’s Cup victory in San Diego.
Portofsandiego.org
Bill Koch celebrates the America’s Cup victory in San Diego.

Bill Koch continued his legal antics, but they shifted to his hobbies. In 2006, he sued the wine broker who sold him bottles of wine that purportedly belonged to Thomas Jefferson. After hiring his own investigators and speaking to Jefferson's foundation at Monticello, Koch discovered the wine was fake. "I've bought so much art, so many guns, so many other things, that if somebody's out to cheat me, I want the son of a bitch to pay for it," Koch told the New Yorker.

The mystery of the expensive wine's origins sparked a nonfiction book, and Koch and Goldstein saw themselves as crusading heroes in a made-for-Hollywood story. "This is National Treasure," Goldstein told writer Benjamin Wallace, author of The Billionaire's Vinegar.

Koch eventually won a default judgment against the wine broker, although a judge dismissed a separate case against Christie's Auction House. Last year, Koch made headlines again for suing an interior designer who didn't follow his request to decorate his Colorado ranch in appropriate Western style. He and the designer settled their dispute before the case went to trial.

Meanwhile, Koch moved on to his next project: a private high school in West Palm Beach.

It's early June. As the academic chief of the Oxbridge Academy, it's Neen Hunt's job to convince the parents at this open house that a new high school, built on the grounds of a former Jewish Community Center, is worth $15,000 in annual tuition.

Hunt's voice is weathered, and she has the severe, lined faced of a veteran Upper West Side New Yorker. Short, with curly brown hair and a floral print dress, she stands at a podium speaking gravely to the audience of roughly 65 parents and preteens sitting on folding chairs.

"We're looking for deep understanding, not just broad coverage of the issues," she says. "Think deeply. Probe. Don't be afraid to take risks."

Behind Hunt is an elevated stage and an enormous projector screen for PowerPoint presentations. The auditorium at the former JCC in West Palm Beach is carpeted in a sedate blue. Outside this room are empty, echoing hallways and linoleum floors. There's an outdoor pool, six tennis courts, a large indoor basketball court, a dance studio, and spacious playing fields.

According to 2009 tax documents, the Oxbridge Academy Foundation's board is composed entirely of high-ranking employees from Oxbow. Bill Koch is the school's founder and provider of $50 million in start-up funds.

In 2008, Charles Koch gave $1.5 million to the Florida State University economics program—but it came with major strings attached. In exchange for the money, Koch got the power to screen and approve all faculty hired. FSU faced a storm of criticism for accepting that deal.

Goldstein insists things are different at Oxbridge. He says his boss's political allegiances are "hard to pin down"—he has given money to Al Gore, as well as to Democrats in Colorado. And politics, Goldstein says, has nothing to do with Oxbridge. The school has hired accomplished teachers with a variety of political views—including Dennis Yuzenas, a social studies teacher who was punished elsewhere for wearing a pro-Obama T-shirt to school.

"There was no political litmus test given to any of them. We wanted the best," Goldstein says. "We're not out to start a revolution."

lisa.rab@browardpalmbeach.com

« Previous Page
 |
 
1
 
2
 
3
 
4
 
5
 
All
 
My Voice Nation Help
20 comments
tcatjohnson
tcatjohnson

Sounds like all three Koch brothers need a visit from the Red Brigades. 

tcatjohnson
tcatjohnson

Sounds like pretty much the same flavor of asshole to me...

Rich
Rich

"he's not his brother's keeper" says his spokesman. pretty much sums up the koch brothers' philosophy of life.

Rhonda Mike
Rhonda Mike

I personally do not think it told of the bad things they all do, but they all DO have good points too.... I seem to like the "black sheep" of the family Bill best..(perhaps I can relate) They are an interesting family..... I pray that their eyes will be opened and see the need to pay tax ......Everyone needs health care... everyone needs a job that pays enough to go back and forth. The unions are needed, as they help to make things better for employees etc....We do need free schools and colleges for ALL who chose to go...

Emilio Lizardo
Emilio Lizardo

You want to know how 400 families own as much of American assets as the poorest 150 million Americans, they manipulated the government to help transfer that wealth.

The direct consequence is that overall demand has dropped through the floor. We've just recreated the great depression.

LadyKisha
LadyKisha

I just paíd $20.87 for an íPad 2.64GB and my girl-friend loves her Panasoníc Lumíx GF 1 Cámera that we got for $38.79 there arriving tomorrow by UP S.I will never pay such expensive retail príces in stores again. Especially when I also sold a 40 inch LCD T V to my boss for $657 which only cost me $62.81 to buy. Here is the website we use to get it all from, BidsBit.com

keiraKnightly
keiraKnightly

I just paíd $20.87 for an íPad 2.64GB and my girl-friend loves her Panasoníc Lumíx GF 1 Cámera that we got for $38.79 there arriving tomorrow by UP S.I will never pay such expensive retail príces in stores again. Especially when I also sold a 40 inch LCD T V to my boss for $657 which only cost me $62.81 to buy. Here is the website we use to get it all from, BidsBit.com

Tommy Tank
Tommy Tank

Perhaps the reporter might have contacted some of the actual people who opposed the sweetheart land deal, that would close public access and which was specifically kept public to provide such.

Or looked into the lies and slander being published in ads weekly by an astroturf group run out of a Denver law firm?

One-sided fluff piece. Disappointing

Barack
Barack

"know that your most worthy of efforts will be scorned by your peers for it is they who suffer when you excel. Should your actions and ambitions threaten them not, you are simply striving towards the insignificant."

We are all born into this world and must make tough decisions. I think protesting Sci-Fi wind farms off the coast of Mass. is a good protest. Too often we here of these grand ideas to save the planet. I would like to track how much the public will pay for these fans and how much the government will receive as their kick back. Fans off the coast of Mass. saving the planet is like building a sling shot on the coast of California to fly people to China without burning fuel. What a joke.

And how many people die every year in Massachusetts building Large Fans? I hope no more than two. This just in: Digging for coal is dangerous. It's not for everyone. Maybe we should stop using coal as a society for a year and see how many lives are saved. From my understanding, coal miners continue showing up for work every morning knowing what the dangers are.

Why do media outlets and activists want to make the public feel as though they are victims and Billionaire's responsible for a sliver of American independence from foreign energy suppliers are the villains? I'm lost. The facts are in and our neighbors to the South are prospering because of the tax cuts given to big businesses choosing to relocate and this is how we speak of the ones trying to keep their business here in our Country? So strange.

jenniferLy
jenniferLy

I just paíd $20.87 for an íPad 2.64GB and my boyfriend loves his Panasoníc Lumíx GF 1 Cámera that we got for $38.79 there arriving tomorrow by UP S.I will never pay such expensive retail príces in stores again. Especially when I also sold a 40 inch LCD T V to my boss for $657 which only cost me $62.81 to buy.Here is the website we use to get it all from : http://BidsBit.com

orwellsworstnightmare
orwellsworstnightmare

He is much less offensive than his brothers, David H. and Charles T. Koch. Compared to them, he is almost a class act. He is, however, still a Koch.

Nancy Bulger
Nancy Bulger

It's unfortunate that Bill Koch had a difficult childhood. Many of us would also like to discuss ours, but moreso, we are trying to live well now, and not at the expense of polluters who would sacrifice our best interest to their fortune. Cape Wind is not the toy protest of Bill Koch, nor should their spokesman or the goal of their renewable energy project receive any less credit than Bill's donations to various causes, which in no way make up for the deaths by coal emissions that his huge industry causes. Bill should turn his various donations and do-good philanthopy into investment in technologies like offshore wind. This would be a great way to make up for a past. Maybe all his ex-wives and girlfriends would like him better too.

Zero Emissions
Zero Emissions

Why doesn't Bill Koch fund some pump out stations in every Nantucket Sound port to stop the raw sewerage from ferry boats and recreational boaters from fouling it? There are 3 million ferry passengers using the Sound yearly and 5 million private boaters. I live on Nantucket Island and think about pollution every time I jump in the water. Yuk! Wind turbines are pollution free and don't use water or any fossil fuels during operation. Just think of all the fish larve that are killed every year at the Mirant Power Station on the Cape Cod Canal by the plant's cooling system. Cape Wind is going to happen: it is just a question of time. No power plant in our nation's history has ever been more closely reviewed. The stack of paper is literally about 9 feet tall! I can't wait to sail amongst those graceful giants on a boat and marvel at them.

Clean Air Lover
Clean Air Lover

Koch has donated far more than the 1.5 million to the opposition group to Cape Wind reported in this article and he used his dirty energy company, Oxbow, to funnel nearly one million in lobbying expenses against Cape Wind, he also directly pays the salary of the opposition group's CEO according to their Form 990 filed with the IRS.

tomdurk
tomdurk

So is it good that he is not quite as slimy as his brothers? It is good that his astroturf party is not the Tea Party. But a 42,000 foot house? Taking 18,999 acres of federal property for a private ranch? He also inherited billions, continues to pollute in his oil & coke industries (with huge externalities), and has thrown significant money into starting a highly litigious astroturf group (The Alliance to Protect Our View) fighting against Cape Wind.

Womanphoenix
Womanphoenix

"One-sided fluff piece"? You must think that domestic-abuse allegations (or dumping renewables for coal) reflect well on a man.

Palin
Palin

Sorry, dude, but Cape Wind's going to do just.fine: http://www.renewableenergyworl...

In fact, the only thing its well-heeled NIMBY foes can say about it now is that it won't be the first US offshore wind project -- that honor may well go to a Texas project that is being pushed to completion, spurred on by Cape Wind's success over the billionaire oil trustafarians and old-money dynasties that opposed it.

Emilio Lizardo
Emilio Lizardo

Domestic abuse allegations are a staple of divorce. In this case worth 16 mil. 70% of domestic abuse is initiated by the woman. And it's mom that's most likely to harm the kids. DV is a scam issue.

Yea, it's a fluff piece, but hey, it's the 'Voice'.

 
Loading...