As the Koch brothers move forward with their attempt to gain control over the Cato Institute, details are emerging that show the rift among the founders has been building over the course of several years.
But what moved this from a hostile conversation to what Cato president Ed Crane has called a hostile takeover seems to center on making sure that President Barack Obama loses the 2012 election.
As Dave Weigel reports, the pivotal point was in November and, of all places, at Dulles International Airport.
According to Weigel:
In early November, David Koch met with Bob Levy, chairman of Cato’s board of directors, at Dulles International Airport. They were joined by Richard Fink, Koch’s chief adviser, and Kevin Gentry, a vice president of Charles Koch’s charitable foundation who’d been put on Cato’s board of directors. (Former Americans for Prosperity President Nancy Pfotenhauer had joined the board after the same meeting.)
“They said that a principle goal was to defeat Barack Obama,” remembered Levy. “The way David [Koch] put it was, ‘We would like you to provide intellectual ammunition that we can then use at Americans for Prosperity and our allied organizations.’ AFP and others would apply Cato’s work to advance their electoral goals.”
Levy asked them: “What gives you the impression that [Cato isn’t] providing intellectual ammunition?” He says now: “I never got a satisfactory answer. The only answer that makes sense was that Cato needed to be more responsive to their needs. We would take closer marching orders. That’s totally contrary to what we perceive the function of Cato be.”