Twice yearly, the billionaire industrialists Charles and David Koch assemble a crowd of wealthy economic libertarian sympathizers to raise funds for their efforts to influence government and the American public.
Last June, Charles Koch stood before such a crowd in Vail, Colo., and thanked by name a number of people who donated more than $1 million each to the brothers’ agenda. Sometime afterward, the editors at Mother Jones obtained a recording of the speech. This week they published the names of the big contributors along with brief biographies detailing the sources of their wealth, their political and business affiliations, family relations and, when possible, the size of their gifts. —ARK
The Farmers: Dick Farmer is from Ohio. The founder and former CEO of the Cintas Corporation, his story is literally rags-to-riches: He turned his father’s Depression-era rag-cleaning business into a $3.5 billion enterprise. Farmer and his wife, Joyce, are longtime Republican boosters; during the 2002 election cycle the couple gave about $1 million to the party.
The Friesses: Foster Friess founded the investment firm Friess Associates in 1974 with his wife, Lynn; in 2001, he sold a majority share for $247 million. Friess is a champion of conservative Christian causes and one of Wyoming’s richest men. His son, Steve Friess, helps him run the family’s philanthropic foundation. (Steve’s wife, Polly, was also on the list of Aspen Koch participants.)
The Marshall family: Elaine Marshall of Dallas is the widow of E. Pierce Marshall, a son of oil tycoon J. Howard Marshall who served on the board of Koch Industries before his death. Elaine was involved in a successful effort to prevent the late Playboy Playmate Anna Nicole Smith, who married Howard when he was 89, from inheriting the family’s wealth. Before Smith’s death, she was investigated by the FBI but never prosecuted in a murder-for-hire plot against Pierce. In the end, Pierce inherited the bulk of his father’s wealth because he and his father had previously helped Charles and David Koch thwart a takeover of Koch Industries; Howard’s eldest son—also named Howard—sided against his father and was disinherited as a result. Meanwhile, Elaine’s son, E. Pierce Marshall Jr., is senior vice president and general counsel at oil exploration company MarOpCo. Another son, Preston Marshall of Houston, is the president of MarOpCo.