Billionaire political donor Charles Koch, who has spent millions of dollars to influence elections, slammed “corporate welfare” and “cronyism” in an interview published Monday.
Speaking at the resort where he and his brother David Koch summoned their network of wealthy donors which plans to spend $889 million on the 2016 election, Charles Koch said politicians ultimately serve “their supporters” when they get into office, a practice he slammed as “destructive.”
“I like a lot of the Republican rhetoric better than the Democrats’. But when they’re in office, it’s pretty much the same thing. It’s serving their supporters, it’s corporate welfare, it’s cronyism which is so destructive, particularly to the disadvantaged,” Koch told the Washington Post.
Koch insisted he would “get rid of all the corporate welfare” and said “we fight against all of it.”
The intensely private megadonor’s decision to sit for an interview came as the Koch brothers and their network of donors let reporters inside the private summit for the first time as an effort to shed the image that Democrats have painted of them as a nefarious pair of brothers and their political network.
Five Republican presidential candidates made an appearance at the Koch brothers’ biannual political summit, looking to lock in some support of the Kochs’ vast and deep-pocketed political network.
Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and former Hewlett-Packard chief executive Carly Fiorina all attended the summit, courting the megadonors’ highly-valued support.
The Koch brothers have yet to settle on a favorite in the primary race, a point Charles Koch underscored again in his interview Monday.
Koch emphasized though that the country needs to change trajectory, pointing to losses in productivity and slower growth of the middle class and, at two points in the interview, said that the damage is bad “particularly for the disadvantaged.”
He also downplayed the influence and power that he and his brother hold over American politics, saying “people like to overstate the case.”
“There are so many things I would change!” Koch said. “If I had all this power, why aren’t they getting changed? This is ludicrous.”
And as the Republicans vying for the Kochs’ support continue to downplay the existence of global warming or its effects, despite overwhelming scientific evidence and agreement, Koch himself explained that he doesn’t believe global warming will have the “catastrophic” effects that some are foreboding.
“Well, I mean I believe it’s been warming some,” said Koch, an oil and chemical magnate. “there has been warming. The CO2 goes up, the CO2 has probably contributed to that. But they say it’s going to be catastrophic. There is no evidence to that.”
Koch, who believes in a free-market system with minimal government influence, also weighed in on what he said he believes are unnecessary and burdensome licensing practices.
“Bartender: he’s going to make your drink too strong? I mean, this is nonsense!” Koch said.