“The new, hyper-partisan think tanks had impact far beyond Washington. They introduced doubt into areas of settled academic and scientific scholarship, undermined genuinely unbiased experts, and gave politicians a menu of conflicting statistics and arguments from which to choose. The benefit was a far more pluralistic intellectual climate, beyond liberal orthodoxy.”

“The Kochs were unusually single-minded, but they were not alone. They were among a small, rarefied group of hugely wealthy, archconservative families that for decades poured money, often with little public disclosure, into influencing how Americans thought and voted. Their efforts began in earnest in the second half of the twentieth century. In addition to the Kochs, this group included Richard Mellon Scaife, an heir to the Mellon banking and Gulf Oil fortunes; Harry and Lynde Bradley, midwesterners enriched by defense contracts; John M. Olin, a chemical and munitions company titan; the Coors brewing family of Colorado; and the DeVos family of Michigan, founders of the Amway marketing empire. Each was different, but together they formed a new generation of philanthropist, bent on using billions of dollars from their private foundations to alter the direction of American politics.”

“One associate said Koch had confided that he gave away approximately 40 percent of his income each year, which he estimated at about $1 billion. This of course left him with an annual income of some $600 million and considerably helped ease his tax burden, but he enjoyed the role, a family member said, in part because it bought him respectability. There was another side to his spending, however, that was then still largely secret. While David was happy to put his name on some of the country’s most esteemed and...

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