Charles has done more than just construct one of the world’s largest industrial empires. With David, he has spent decades trying to remake the American political landscape and mainstream their libertarian views. Together, the brothers pumped hundreds of millions of dollars into this endeavour. Unlike other major political donors, they offered more than just money; a strategic vision. They funded academics, think-tanks, and political organisers to coalesce public support around their causes. The Tea Party movement that rose up after the election of President Barack Obama germinated, in part, from the intellectual seeds that the Kochs had planted over the years. Though the brothers downplayed any connection to this cadre of irate citizen activists, they helped to provide the key financing and organisational support that allowed the Tea Party to blossom into a formidable political force within the Republican Party – one that paralysed Congress and eventually ignited a GOP civil war.
Morris eased the pickup truck to the side of the road. The wide, busy thoroughfares of 1950s Wichita, Kansas, were just five miles southwest, but here on the largely undeveloped outskirts of the city, near the Koch family’s 160-acre property, the landscape consisted of little more than an expanse of flat, sun-bleached fields, etched here and there by dusty rural byways. The retired Marine, rangy and middle-aged, climbed out of the truck holding two sets of scuffed leather boxing gloves.