In what should be a surprise to few, conservative businessman Charles Koch was once a part of a radical right group so extreme even the GOP wanted no parts of it. Koch was a member of the controversial John Birch Society during the height of the Civil Rights Movement, according to recently discovered documents.
Koch, who is the co-owner and CEO of Koch Industries along with his brother David, has long touted conservative ideals for years. The brothers learned these lessons from their father, Fred Koch, who helped found the John Birch Society and Charles followed his father’s lead.
The Progressive magazine and reporters from Democracy Now! unearthed documents that show the Society had aims of funding its mission and to stop the burgeoning efforts of those in the Civil Rights Movement.
From the Democracy Now! interview with The Progressive‘s Lisa Graves:
[W]e’ve been doing research in archives across the country, and what we’ve discovered is not just that Fred Koch, Charles and David Koch’s father, was a member of the John Birch Society and in fact helped found it, but what we discovered in archives is that Charles Koch himself followed his father’s footsteps into the John Birch Society. And that society was a very extreme organization. It was an extreme right-wing organization that spent the ’60s largely opposing the civil rights movement here in the United States.
The Progressive followed Democracy Now!‘s report with one of their own:
Charles Koch was not simply a rank and file member of the John Birch Society in name only who paid nominal dues. He purchased and held a “lifetime membership” until he resigned in 1968. He also lent his name and his wealth to the operations of the John Birch Society in Wichita, aiding its “American Opinion” bookstore — which was stocked with attacks on the civil rights movement, Martin Luther King, and Earl Warren as elements of the communist conspiracy. He funded the John Birch Society’s promotional campaigns, bought advertising in its magazine, and supported its distribution of right-wing radio shows.
As both pieces indicate, Koch used his considerable wealth then as he and his brother do now to back extreme-right notions. With the erecting of several organizations funded by their seemingly endless flow of cash, the Koch Brothers have long attempted to undermine liberal policies and have unleashed a series of attacks against President Barack Obama.
The Progressive notes that while the Kochs donated $25 million to the United Negro College Fund recently, it was replete with special rules that indicate the money wasn’t just a simple show of charity.
Photo: Koch Industries