Businessman, philanthropist, political activist, and chemical engineer David H. Koch is retiring from his position at Koch Industries due to poor health according to an internal memo obtained by Reuters. The billionaire is 78 years old and was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 1992. Despite many treatments and a 2016 hospitalization, he has not improved. His brother, Charles Koch, said in the Monday’s memo,
“As a result, he is unable to be involved in business and other organizational activities. Because of this, David will be retiring from his responsibilities at Koch and other organizations.”
David and Charles Koch have donated an estimated $680 million to doctors and research that seek to find a cure for cancer. About how his brother is dealing with his illness, Charles said, “David has always been a fighter and is dealing with this challenge in the same way.”
At Koch Industries, David has served as executive vice president and board member at the company that has a current value of $100 billion. The personal worth of Mr. Koch is estimated at $52 billion. The other responsibilities to which Charles referred in Monday’s memo include serving as chairman of Americans for Prosperity, a grassroots organization at the conservative end of the political spectrum. The organization was especially active during the presidency of Barack Obama whom they both saw as driven by a socialist agenda that threated their libertarian philosophy and their business.
David and Charles Koch are widely known for their financial support of conservative causes that favor businesses and stricter environmental regulation, according to the New York Times. They have, however, distanced themselves from and disagreed with President Trump on a variety of issues. On Sunday, they announced that they were launching a multi-million dollar campaign to fight his tariffs and encourage free trade. When Donald Trump called for a Muslim registry during his 2016 campaign, Charles spoke out against it. They also support DACA and withheld their support for Trump in his run for president. Both brothers have, however, agreed with the president on some issues, namely withdrawing from the Paris Accord and removing federal regulations on businesses.
David ran as a Libertarian candidate for president in 1980, and together the Koch brothers made large contributions to the Republican Party in 2010, facilitating the party’s rise in the House of Representatives in that year’s elections. They also contributed large sums of money to the Tea Party, helping it rise in visibility and numbers. Other non-political institutions to which he has made sizable contributions include the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, New York City Ballet’s Lincoln Center, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Among his most recent donations are $100 million he gave to the David H. Koch Center at the NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital that just opened this month and $150 million he gave to an outpatient cancer center at Sloane-Kettering that’s on target to open in April 2019.