Kochs: Buying influence from college to politicians. Just like some other billionaires we know. | Arkansas Blog

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Kochs: Buying influence from college to politicians. Just like some other billionaires we know.

Posted By on Sat, Sep 13, 2014 at 6:38 AM

click to enlarge PHILANTHROPY AT WORK: The Walmart logo would be a fitting addition to the display of the UA Education Reform Department, heavily financed by and attuned to the education agenda of Walton billionaires.
  • PHILANTHROPY AT WORK: The Walmart logo would be a fitting addition to the display of the UA Education Reform Department, heavily financed by and attuned to the education agenda of Walton billionaires.

The billionaire Koch brothers' effort to buy influence through the political system is well-known. (Well, maybe not as well-known as the Mark Pryor campaign wishes it were known.) But here's another way the Kochs shape the country: In the college classroom.

From the Center for Public Integrity and the Daily Beast:

In 2007, when the Charles Koch Foundation considered giving millions of dollars to Florida State University’s economics department, the offer came with strings attached.

First, the curriculum it funded must align with the libertarian, deregulatory economic philosophy of Charles Koch, the billionaire industrialist and Republican political bankroller.

Second, the Charles Koch Foundation would at least partially control which faculty members Florida State University hired.

And third, Bruce Benson, a prominent libertarian economic theorist and Florida State University economics department chairman, must stay on another three years as department chairman—even though he told his wife he’d step down in 2009 after a single three-year term.

The Charles Koch Foundation expressed a willingness to give Florida State an extra $105,000 to keep Benson—a self-described “libertarian anarchist” who asserts that every government function he’s studied “can be, has been, or is being produced better by the private sector”—in place.

Hmmm. Sound familiar?

It would be unkind, Razorback flacks would say, to suggest that the Walton billionaires expected any ideological payback from the millions they've given to the University of Arkansas, home to the Sam Walton College of Business. It is strictly coincidental that the University of Arkansas Department of Education Reform, with its Walton-subsidized faculty (their pay is the envy of lowly liberal arts profs), steadily produces work that fits hand in glove with the Walton Family Foundation's initiatives on charter schools and such. Some, however, have seen an effort to influence education with Walton money, such as in this New York Times report earlier this year:

The size of the Walton foundation’s wallet allows it to exert an outsize influence on education policy as well as on which schools flourish and which are forced to fold. With its many tentacles, it has helped fuel some of the fastest growing, and most divisive, trends in public education — including teacher evaluations based on student test scores and publicly funded vouchers for students to attend private schools.

“The influence of philanthropy in terms of the bang for the buck they get is just really kind of shocking,” said Jack Schneider, an assistant professor of education at the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Mass.

A separate Walton foundation that supports higher education bankrolls an academic department at the University of Arkansas in which faculty, one of whom was recruited from conservative think tank, conduct research on charter schools, voucher programs and other policies the foundation supports.

But, hey. These are OUR billionaires.

Tags: , , , , , ,


Comments (5)

Showing 1-5 of 5

Add a comment

Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-5 of 5

Add a comment

More by Max Brantley

  • TGIF: News roundup, open line

    The week-ending news roundup and open line.
    • Oct 19, 2018
  • Rich white people fund PAC behind racist attack ads supporting French Hill UPDATE

    More reporting on the people contributing to Black Americans for the President's Agenda, which is running racist ads in Little Rock in support of Republican Rep. French Hill. The money isn't coming from black Americans, but wealthy conservative Republicans such as an owner of the San Francisco Giants. GOP feeling heat, files ethics complaint on ad.
    • Oct 19, 2018
  • Another made-up Republican attack: The Saline County socialists are coming to take your business

    The latest in bogus Republican political attacks comes from Saline County, where Steve Lux, chairman of the county Republican Committee, has sent a letter warning members of the Benton-Bryant Chamber of Commerce that a progressive group working to elect Democrats in the county is allied with a socialist group that wants nothing less than "the elimination of private business." This is, of course, nonsense.
    • Oct 19, 2018
  • More »

Readers also liked…

  • Free Zinn book for Arkansas teachers

    Arkansas teachers! Get your free Howard Zinn book here! Whether Kim Hendren likes it or not.
    • Mar 3, 2017
  • ADEQ denies C&H Hog Farm permit

    The Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality has denied a new permit for the C&H Hog Farms' concentrated animal feeding operation near Mount Judea (Newton County). This is a big and somewhat surprising victory for critics who have viewed C&H's large-scale pig farm and the pig waste it generates as an existential threat to the Buffalo National River.
    • Jan 10, 2018
  • Payday lenders on the march at legislature

    Payday lenders are working hard to get legislative cover for the reintroduction of their usurious loan business to Arkansas. Some are fighting back.
    • Mar 10, 2017

People who saved…


  • Arkansas vs Ole Miss at War Memorial stadium in Little Rock, Saturday, Oct. 13, 2018. After leading for much of the game, Arkansas lost 37-33 when Ole Miss scored the game winning Touchdown with less that 2 minutes left. 
  • Margaret Clark Adventure Park
    New sculptures, preschoolers play area dedicated in Riverfront Park in Little Rock.

Most Recent Comments


© 2018 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation