March 4, 2012

Confused about the Cato takeover threat from the Koch brothers? You’re not alone

Filed under: Law, Liberty, Politics, USA — Tags: , — Nicholas @ 11:40

Brad DeLong rounds up some of what’s being said about the attempt by Charles Koch to take control of the Cato Institute:

Ed Crane on the Koch Brothers:

    Charles G. Koch has filed a lawsuit as part of an effort to gain control of the Cato Institute, which he co-founded with me in 1977. While Mr. Koch and entities controlled by him have supported the Cato Institute financially since that time, Mr. Koch and his affiliates have exercised no significant influence over the direction or management of the Cato Institute, or the work done here. Mr. Koch’s actions in Kansas court yesterday represent an effort by him to transform Cato from an independent, nonpartisan research organization into a political entity that might better support his partisan agenda. We view Mr. Koch’s actions as an attempt at a hostile takeover, and intend to fight it vehemently in order to continue as an independent research organization, advocating for Individual liberty, limited government, free markets and peace.

Jonathan Adler on the Koch Brothers:

    The Volokh Conspiracy » Koch v. Cato: Cato’s Crane and Cato Chairman Bob Levy charge the [Kochs’ law]suit is about transforming Cato into a less independent and more political (if not also more partisan) institution…. Many libertarian-leaning organizations receive money from the Kochs and their foundations and are attacked on this basis. Such attacks can be deflected, as financial support is not the same thing as control. But if the Koch brothers themselves represent the controlling majority of an organization’s board, that organization is, by definition, a Koch-run enterprise…. They will forevermore characterize the Cato Institute as “Koch-controlled” — and, as a legal matter, they will be correct…. [A]ny benefit from whatever changes they could make will be outweighed to the permanent damage to Cato’s reputation caused by turning it into a de facto Koch subsidiary. In short, they will have destroyed the Cato Institute to save it.

Update: Jason Kuznicki on the internal side of the debate at Cato:

When I learned that the Kochs were suing Cato, I’m sorry to say that one of the first things I felt was vindication. I’d been saying for years that Cato was essentially an independent shop. The suit makes no sense unless I was right all along.

I’ve worked at Cato for five and a half years. In that time I have never seen a single decision made in consideration of the Koch brothers’ wishes. Cato has always appeared to be run by two people: its president, Ed Crane, and its executive vice president, David Boaz. It was like that when I was hired, and it’s like that now.

Even they don’t call all the shots, either; plenty of things get published that they actually disagree with, including some of my stuff. The people who spin elaborate fantasies about the Kochs acting as our puppet masters were, and are, dead wrong. They’ve been wrong since at least the early 90s, if not earlier. I’ve been saying so for years. Now the whole Cato Institute is in open revolt against the Kochs, a revolt that grew up with astonishing speed.

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