Trump's Muslim ban would 'destroy our free society' – Koch brother
Billionaire industrialist Charles Koch, chairman of the board and CEO of Koch Industries, Inc., and his brother David are known for funneling millions of dollars into mostly conservative causes and political candidates with a few exceptions, such as prison reform. Charles Koch said he is "disappointed" with the Republican presidential field in a new interview with the Financial Times.
"It is hard for me to get a high level of enthusiasm because the things I'm passionate about and I think this country urgently needs aren't being addressed" in the campaign, he said, criticizing Republican frontrunners Donald Trump and Ted Cruz in particular.
The Koch brothers have not endorsed a presidential candidate yet and say they are saving much of their money to influence the general election. Their preferred Republican candidates - former Florida governor Jeb Bush and US Senator Marco Rubio, for instance, are top recipients of Koch-affiliated money - lag far behind the leaders in the campaign thus far with about 10 months until election day.
The Kochs have pledged to spend nearly a billion dollars supporting Republican candidates in 2016, yet Charles Koch claimed that this cash monsoon is having a paltry impact on the presidential campaign.
The brothers' political firepower and list of priorities "doesn't seem to faze [presidential candidates] much," he said. "You think we could have a little more influence."
Koch seemed to even question how much return on investment this mega-spending has for his political goals.
“I’m not confident,” he said. “I’d say there are some benefits. Ask me in 10 years.”
As for Trump and Cruz, Koch ripped some of the charged rhetoric coming from the pair, the leading Republican presidential candidates in public opinion polls. Koch lambasted Trump's proposals targeting Muslims in the US which have included a domestic registry and an outright ban on entry, ideas that would "destroy our free society," Koch said.
"Who is it that said, 'If you want to defend your liberty, the first thing you've got to do is defend the liberty of people you like the least?'" Koch said.
Trump has blasted the Kochs in the past, characterizing candidates who accept their money as "puppets."
Koch also ripped Cruz's promise to "carpet bomb" jihadist group Islamic State in areas the organization controls in Iraq and Syria, to the point where "sand glows in the dark." To describe his opposition to aggressive American policy in the Middle East akin to Cruz's statements, the billionaire credited with leading the modern movement to flood preferred American political candidates with unlimited campaign contributions quoted Chinese revolutionary Mao Zedong.
“I’ve studied revolutionaries a lot,” Koch said. “Mao said that the people are the sea in which the revolutionary swims. Not that we don’t need to defend ourselves and have better intelligence and all that, but how do we create an unfriendly sea for the terrorists in the Muslim communities? We haven’t done a good job of that."
Koch questioned US policy aimed at Muslim-majority nations since September 11, 2001, noting that there are about 1.6 billion followers of Islam in the world. "[A]re we going to ... go bomb each one of them?” he said.
“We have been doing this for a dozen years. We invaded Afghanistan. We invaded Iraq. Has that made us safer? Has that made the world safer?" Koch continued.
"It seems like we’re more worried about it now than we were then, so we need to examine these strategies," he added.
Operations of Koch Industries, the second-largest private corporation in the US, include oil refining and distribution, manufacturing of a wide variety of consumer products, cattle ranching, and chemical production. The brothers' top political priorities rest in dismantling government regulations – especially environmental restrictions – and undoing the Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare.