Path 2

News Economy Monday, Jul 20 2015

Jeb Says He'll Climb Mountains But Drove Florida Toward A Cliff

Jul 20, 2015

TO: Interested Parties
FROM: Jessica Mackler
RE: Jeb Says He’ll Climb Mountains But Drove Florida Toward A Cliff

DATE: July 20th, 2015

Jeb Bush is spending his Monday in Florida laying out his economic agenda and according to reports he’s going to rely heavily on what he did as governor, even invoking “Mount Washington” in the place of his old favorite “Mount Tallahassee.” For all the talk about climbing mountains, Jeb’s record is clear: He drove Florida’s economy straight toward a cliff. Don’t take it from us – University of Florida economist Dave Denslow says, “Jeb’s Florida fails as a model for the nation.”

  • The job growth Bush will tout was driven by construction and real estate jobs in the housing bubble, which peaked in his last year in office.
  • Three-fifths of the job creation under Bush was erased in the four years after he left office. As a result, Florida plunged into a recession even deeper than the one experienced nationally.
  • The $19 billion in tax cuts Bush pushed through primarily benefitted the wealthy and businesses.
  • Florida had one of the highest costs of doing business in the country when Bush left office.

Adding insult to injury, Bush is speaking at Florida State University, which has been mired in a controversy over their ties to the Koch brothers. Bush appointed a director of the Koch-backed James Madison Institute as a FSU trustee, and then to the Florida Board of Governors overseeing universities statewide. Meanwhile, the Charles Koch institute used a strings-attached gift to reject nearly 60 percent of faculty suggestions in an attempt to make sure FSU was appropriately teaching libertarian ideology. An expert on university-donor contracts called the Kochs’ influence “an egregious example of a public university being willing to sell itself for next to nothing.”

Jeb Bush in a nutshell: Recycled ideas from his failed governorship that left Florida worse off, at a university dealing with the fallout from taking Koch brothers money for teaching their ideology.



ü During Bush’s time as Governor, the Florida state budget relied heavily on revenue derived from the housing bubble. He used this unanticipated revenue boom for to fund major tax cuts for wealthy Floridians and businesses, but he failed to reduce Florida’s reliance on a single revenue source, leaving the state budget ill-prepared for the housing bubble burst and economic recession that occurred shortly after he left office.

ü Bush’s tax cuts were aimed at and primarily benefitted corporations and the wealthy, not the middle class. Meanwhile, other factors besides tax cuts were larger drivers of economic growth during the nationwide boom years during which Bush served as governor. These included tourism, population growth, and home buyers.

ü State spending rose significantly under Bush. Between 1999 and 2007 Florida general fund spending rose from $18 billion to $28 billion, while Total spending rose from $45 billion to $66 billion.

ü When Bush left office, Florida has one of the highest costs of doing business in the country.

ü The Koch backed Mercatus Center reported that economic freedoms decline in Florida between 2001 and 2007.

ü The Chamber of Commerce gave Florida a “D” when Bush left office in workforce readiness and academic achievement.

Housing Bubble


Significant Amount Of Florida’s Economic And Job Growth In The Jeb Bush Era Was Driven By A Massive Run-Up In Housing Prices, Which Peaked In Jeb Bush’s Last Year In Office, Then Plunged The State Into A Worse Recession Than The Nation As A Whole. According to the Washington Post, “Those stats are, indeed, something to brag about. They’re also missing a huge caveat, as many Bush critics immediately noted: A significant amount of Florida’s economic and job growth in the Bush era was driven by a massive run-up in housing prices — which peaked in Bush’s last year in office, then plunged the state into a worse recession than the nation as a whole.” [Washington Post, 6/16/15]

Zillow Chief Economist Stan Humphries Said It Is “Empirically Inescapable” That “Housing Was A Big Part Of The Robust Florida Economy At The Time.” According to the Washington Post, “It is ‘empirically inescapable’ that ‘housing was a big part of the robust Florida economy at the time,’ said Stan Humphries, the chief economist at the real estate website Zillow, which analyzed the role of housing-driven spending in the state’s economic boom.” [Washington Post, 6/16/15]

Escalating Home Prices Helped Jeb Bush When He Was In Office, And Hurt Florida When He Was Out Of Office. According to the Washington Post, “Escalating home prices fuel the economy in several ways. They drive more activity in the construction and real estate sectors. Indirectly, rising prices make homeowners spend more money on consumer goods. That’s because those homeowners feel wealthier, because their houses are more valuable. Both those effects helped Bush when he was in office, and hurt Florida when he was out of office.” [Washington Post, 6/16/15]

More Than A Third Of Florida’s Better-Than-The-Nation Growth Under Jeb Bush Was A Direct Result Of Increased Construction And Real Estate Activity. According to the Washington Post, “Florida saw a much sharper increase in its construction and real estate sectors than the nation as a whole during the time Bush was governor. According to a Post analysis of Commerce Department statistics, more than a third of Florida’s better-than-the-nation growth under Bush was a direct result of increased construction and real estate activity.” [Washington Post, 6/16/15]

Zillow Found That, Through The Peak Of The Housing Bubble In 2005, Half Of Florida’s Faster-Than-The-Nation Growth Was Attributable To The Housing Wealth Effect. According to the Washington Post, “Estimating the ‘wealth effect’ – the extra consumer spending due to rising housing prices – is less exact. Economists at Zillow attempted to do so at the request of the Post. They added up the total value of all housing in Florida and in the nation from 1998 through 2006, and the change in value from year to year. Then they assumed – based on a conservative read of economic literature – that consumers would increase their spending each year by one-tenth the added value of their homes. Zillow found that, through the peak of the housing bubble in 2005, half of Florida’s faster-than-the-nation growth was attributable to the housing wealth effect.” [Washington Post, 6/16/15]

Wells Fargo Economic Mark Vitner Estimated That The Housing Bubble Accounted For About One-Fourth Of Florida’s Growth During Jeb Bush’s Tenure. According to the Wall Street Journal, “Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush says he can deliver 4% annual economic growth as president – about twice as fast as the U.S. has been growing recently. Why is he so confident? During his 1999-2007 tenure as governor, Florida grew 4.4%, his campaign boasts. Today it even unveiled a cute graphic illustrating the claim. The trouble is, say some economists, Gov. Bush’s Florida growth record was based in large part on a housing bubble – national in scope but particularly frothy in Florida — that exploded the year he left office in 2007. Wells Fargo economist Mark Vitner, who has studied the Florida economy since the 1980s, estimates that the housing bubble accounted for about one-fourth of Florida’s growth during Mr. Bush’s tenure.” [Wall Street Journal, 7/7/15]

Mark Zandi: “The Growth In Florida Wasn’t Sustainable. It Was Something Temporary” Due To The Housing Bubble. According to the Wall Street Journal, “Moody’s Analytics chief economist Mark Zandi, a housing expert, says Florida’s economy in the early 2000s isn’t a model for U.S. growth over the coming years. ‘The growth in Florida wasn’t sustainable,’ he said. ‘It was something temporary’ due to the housing bubble.” [Wall Street Journal, 7/7/15]


Almost All Of The Economic Gains Jeb Bush Referred To, Including Three-Fifths Of The Job Creation, Were Wiped Out In The Four Years After He Left Office, Once The Bubble Burst. According to the Washington Post, “When you account for the role of housing, Bush’s economic record looks a lot more mixed. Almost all of the gains he talks up today, including three-fifths of the job creation, were wiped out in the four years after he left office, once the bubble burst.” [Washington Post, 6/16/15]

By The Mid-2000s, Florida’s Housing Prices Rose By Nearly 30 Percent A Year, More Than Double The National Average; By 2011, They Bottomed Out And Lost All The Extra Value They’d Gained Since 2003. According to the Washington Post, “It’s easy to see just how much higher the bubble rose in Florida than in the rest of the country. By the mid-2000s, the state’s housing prices were rising by nearly 30 percent a year, more than double the national average. But by 2011, they’d bottom out — and lost all the extra value they’d gained since 2003.” [Washington Post, 6/16/15]

Zillow’s Analysis Showed That In 2006, The Housing Effect Disappeared Because The Growth In Housing Prices Slammed To A Halt. According to the Washington Post, “In the last year of Zillow’s analysis, 2006, the housing effect disappears – because the growth in housing prices slams to a halt. Examining the several years that followed Bush’s term, Humphries said, would show housing extracting a drag on the state’s economy.” [Washington Post, 6/16/15]

Housing Bubble Collapse Pushed Florida Into A More Severe Recession Than The Rest Of The Country

Housing Bubble Collapse Pushed Florida Into A More Severe Recession; Florida Construction Employment Grew By Half Under Jeb Bush, More Than Double The National Rate, And In The Following Eight Years, It Fell Nearly Twice As Fast. According to the Washington Post, “Just as the housing bubble helped the Florida economy rev hotter than the nation under Bush, its collapse pushed the state into a more severe recession. Florida construction employment grew by half under Bush, more than double the national rate — and in the following eight years, it fell nearly twice as fast.” [Washington Post, 6/16/15]

In The Four Years After Jeb Bush Left Office, As Housing Prices Tumbled And Recession Set In, The Nation Averaged 0.3 Percent Growth, While Florida Averaged -2.4 Percent Growth. According to the Washington Post, “The most striking stat, though, is growth. Under Bush, Florida indeed averaged 4.4 percent growth per year, after adjusting for inflation; at the same time, the nation averaged 3 percent growth. In the four years after Bush left office, as housing prices tumbled and recession set in, the nation averaged 0.3 percent growth. Florida averaged -2.4 percent.” [Washington Post, 6/16/15]


Economist Dave Denslow Column: “Florida’s Strong Growth From 1999 Through 2006, His Years As Governor, Was Fueled By A Housing Bubble…Jeb’s Florida Fails As A Model For The Nation.” According to a column by economist Dave Denslow and published by the Gainesville Sun, “Turning back to Jeb, who would not be a candidate today had Dukakis won in 1988, everyone knows that Florida’s strong growth from 1999 through 2006, his years as governor, was fueled by a housing bubble, even zanier here than in most other states. Fortuitously, the bubble slowed and then burst as Jeb left office, plunging Florida deep into recession. To gain a longer perspective, consider the years from 1999 through 2014. Florida’s real GDP per person rose by 3 percent. That’s 3 percent total, not per year. Over the same period, U.S. real GDP per person rose by more than 14 percent. If U.S. real GDP per person had been as torpid as Florida’s, the nation would be 10 percent below where it is today. Now that statement is simplified, omitting Florida’s rapid retiree population growth. But even so, Jeb’s Florida fails as a model for the nation.” [Gainesville Sun – Dave Denslow Column, 6/28/15]

Bush’s Tax Cuts Primarily Benefitted The Wealthy And Businesses

Sun-Sentinel: Jeb Bush Pushed For Tax Cuts That “Chiefly Benefited Business And The Wealthy.” According to the Sun-Sentinel, “A policy wonk, Bush pursued an agenda so frenetic that even his efficiency czar resigned in protest. ‘I’ve always felt, if you can do something today, why wait? It’s just my nature,’ said Bush, 53, who grew grayer and slightly stouter in Tallahassee, but never slackened his pace, even during his final days. He championed tax cuts that chiefly benefited business and the wealthy, trimmed the state payroll, stripped job protection from thousands of mid-level civil servants, gained more power over the judiciary, exploited his Washington connections to prevent the closing of military bases and launched the nation’s first statewide private school voucher program.” [Sun-Sentinel, 12/31/06]

Carl Hiaasen Column: Jeb Bush Pushed Tax Breaks Which Mainly “Benefitted Corporations And The Welll-To-Do.” According to a column by Carl Hiassen and published by the Miami Herald, “In Tallahassee they talk of the Bush legacy as an historic shift in power from the Legislature to the governor’s office; of the more than 250 judges that he appointed; of the overhaul of the state’s university system, now run by political appointees instead of by an independent Board of Regents; of $19 billion in tax cuts. The rest of Florida won’t remember Bush for his policy initiatives or power-building, abstractions to ordinary folks. Same goes for the tax breaks, which chiefly benefited corporations and the well-to-do. The image of Jeb that will remain in the public consciousness is of a sober, steady presence during all those hurricanes that mauled the state during his tenure.” [Miami Herald, 1/7/07]

St. Petersburg Times: Tax Burden Was “Lightened Only For The Wealthiest, Who Were Taxed The Least To Begin With.” According to an editorial published by the St. Petersburg Times, “In his inaugural address four years ago, Gov. Jeb Bush complained about the ‘crushing weight’ of Florida taxes. He has prided himself on cutting taxes every session since then. But for most Floridians, the state and local tax burden has become heavier still. It has been lightened only for the wealthiest, who were taxed the least to begin with.” [Editorial – St. Petersburg Times, 1/12/03]

Orlando Sentinel: During Eight Years Under Bush, The Legislature Approved A Cumulative $19 Billion In Tax Cuts That Mostly Helped Wealthier Floridians And Corporations. According to the Orlando Sentinel, “During eight years under former Gov. Jeb Bush, the Legislature approved a cumulative $19 billion in tax cuts that mostly helped wealthier Floridians and corporations.” [Orlando Sentinel, 3/2/08]

Economists Said Economic Growth Was Due To Factors Besides Bush’s Governorship

Jeb Bush Boasted That His Conservative Revolution Had Led To A $5 Billion Plus Surplus In State Revenue And An Unemployment Rate Of 3 Percent; Economists Credited Population Growth, Home Buyers, And Tourism For The Robust Economy. According to a column by David Colburn, “Beyond such political and structural developments, Bush enjoyed eight years of prosperity during which he was able to reduce taxes without disrupting state services. Bush boasted that his conservative revolution had led to a $5 billion plus surplus in state revenue and an unemployment rate of 3 percent. Economists, however, credited population growth, home buyers and tourism for the robust economy.” [Orlando Sentinel – David Colburn Column, 12/10/06]

Job Growth Under Jeb Bush Was Lower Than The Previous Five Governors

Strong Job Growth In Florida During Jeb Bush’s Tenure Was Lower Than That Of The Previous Five Governors. According to the Miami Herald, “A strong state and national economy fattened Florida’s budget by 45 percent — from $49 billion when he took office to more than $71 billion this year. Bush credited his tax cuts for strong job growth, although the rate was the lowest of Florida’s past five governors.” [Miami Herald, 12/17/06]

Spending Went Up Under Bush’s Leadership

CATO: Bush “Let Spending Rise Quickly Toward The End Of His Tenure” And “Jeb Was Good On Taxes, But Apparently Not So Good On Spending.” According to the CATO Institute, “The basic story from the Cato reports is that Jeb Bush was a prolific tax cutter, but he let spending rise quickly toward the end of his tenure. Like George W. Bush, Jeb was good on taxes, but apparently not so good on spending. Jeb Bush was in office from 1999 to 2007. Florida general fund spending increased from $18.0 billion to $28.2 billion during those eight years, or 57 percent. Total state spending increased from $45.6 billion to $66.1 billion, or 45 percent. (This is NASBO data from here and here). Over those eight years, Florida’s population grew 16 percent and the CPI, which measures inflation, grew 24 percent.” [CATO Institute, 4/9/14]

  • 1999-2007: Florida General Fund Spending Rose From $18 Billion To $28 Billion. [National Association Of State Budget Officers, 1999-2007]
  • 1999-2007: Total Florida Spending Rose From $45 billion to $66 billion [National Association Of State Budget Officers,1999-2007]

Under Bush, Florida Lagged Compared To The Rest Of The Nation


2007: CNBC Ranked Florida’s Cost Of Business As 8th Highest In The Nation. [CNBC Top States 2007, Accessed 4/14/15]


2000: Florida Ranked 31st In Per Capita Personal Income Growth. [Bureau Of Economic Analysis, Accessed 4/15/2015]

2007: Florida Ranked 46th In The Nation In Per Capita Personal Income Growth. [Bureau Of Economic Analysis, Accessed 4/15/2015]


2001: Mercatus Center Ranked Florida 13th In The Nation In Overall Economic And Personal Freedom And 6th In Fiscal Freedom. [Mercatus Center, 2013]

2007: Mercatus Center Ranked Florida 20th In The Nation In Overall Economic And Personal Freedoms And 10th In Fiscal Freedom. [Mercatus Center, 2013]


2007: U.S. Chamber Of Commerce Gave Florida A “D” For “Postsecondary And Workforce Readiness.”According to the U.S. Chamber Of Commerce, “Florida earns a poor grade in this category. Only 58% of its 9th grade students receive a diploma within four years compared with the national average of 70%.” [U.S. Chamber Of Commerce Report Card, 2007]

2007: U.S. Chamber Of Commerce Gave Florida A “D” For “Academic Achievement.” According to the U.S. Chamber Of Commerce, “Student performance in Florida is lower than average. Eighth graders stand 4 percentage points below the national average in the percentage at or above the proficient level on the NAEP reading exam.” [U.S. Chamber Of Commerce Report Card, 2007]


Charles Koch Institute University Giving Background

Center For Public Integrity’s Dave Levinthal: “When The Kochs Spend Money On Universities, Or Even High Schools, They Do It To Advance The Long-Term Objectives Of The Koch Political Network.” According to KCUR, “But, Dave Levinthal, at the Center for Public Integrity isn’t so sure. He’s studied Koch funding for years and says that when the Kochs spend money on universities, or even high schools, they do it to advance the long-term objectives of the Koch political network. ‘At every level that they can operate in, for all intents and purposes they are making investments that will build that next generation of Libertarian economic thinkers, and actors, business people and politicians,’ says Levinthal.” [, 12/17/14]

Koch Giving To Universities Rose From Seven Schools In 2004 To 254 Universities In 2014. According to Forbes, “Brothers Charles and David, who are each worth $42.7 billion and are tied at No. 4 on the Forbes 400 list of America’s Richest, have poured nearly $50 million into 254 universities nationwide since 2005, according to an interactive database recently published by Greenpeace. A decade ago, the same database reports, the Kochs gave to only seven schools.” [Forbes, 11/4/14]

Charles Koch Foundation Program Officer: “When We Support A School’s Initiative, It Is To Expand Opportunity And Increase The Diversity Of Ideas Available On Campus.” According to Inside Higher Ed, “Groups affiliated with the Koch brothers foundations have repeatedly denied that financial support of colleges infringes on academic freedom and did so when asked for a comment on Monday’s campaign. ‘Academic freedom and the free exchange of ideas are cornerstones of our philanthropy,’ said John Hardin, a program officer with the Charles Koch Foundation, in an email. ‘When we support a school’s initiative, it is to expand opportunity and increase the diversity of ideas available on campus.’” [Inside Higher Ed, 11/4/14]

“Most” Koch Gifts To Schools Have Gone Towards “Hiring Professors, Building Economic Research Centers That Promote Capitalism, Or Supporting Research About Libertarian Politics.” According to Forbes, “Most of those gifts go towards hiring professors, building economic research centers that promote capitalism or supporting research about libertarian politics.” [Forbes, 11/4/14]

The Charles Koch Foundation Published Its Set Of “Academic Giving Principles.” According to the Washington Post’s Answer Sheet Blog, “After decades of donating millions of dollars to colleges and universities in an effort to promote its own conservative world view, the Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation has just published its set of ‘academic giving principles.’ Let’s look at the reality of the foundation’s giving before the fantasy principles.” [Answer Sheet Blog – Washington Post, 11/7/14]

The Charles Koch Foundation’s Grant Agreements With Utah State University, West Virginia University And Clemson University Included Provisions That The Foundation Be “Involved In Reviewing Candidates For Jobs.” According to the Washington Post’s Answer Sheet Blog, “It was not a singular event. Inside Higher Ed reported in 2011 that foundation grant agreements with Utah State University included a provision that the Koch foundation be involved in reviewing candidates for jobs and requires that tenure-track professors hired with Koch money follow ‘Objectives and Purposes.’ The same was true with the foundation’s grant agreements with West Virginia University and Clemson University in South Carolina. At George Mason University in Virginia, students have pushed the administration to reveal details of its relationship with Koch.” [Answer Sheet Blog – Washington Post, 11/7/14]

Washington Post: When The Koch Foundation “Gives Money, It Expects Something Back.” According to the Washington Post’s Answer Sheet Blog, “When the foundation gives money, it expects something back, which makes it interesting that in its newly published ‘academic giving principles,’ the foundation says it wants to fund ‘scholars and students who are free to teach, learn, research, speak, critique, and receive support for their work without interference from anyone on or off campus.’” [Answer Sheet Blog –Washington Post, 11/7/14]

Koch Campus Donations Contained Conditions That Were “Explicitly Ideological.” According to the Free Expression Policy Project, “Most of the funding has gone to economics departments, and the conditions are explicitly ideological.” [Free Expression Policy Project, 11/13/14]

Koch Funding Went To 250 Programs At 350 Colleges And Universities Nationwide In 2014. According to KCUR, “A decade ago, Koch university funding was limited to a hand full of schools. No more. ‘Currently we’re fortunate to support over 350 programs, and over 250 colleges and universities across the country,’ says John Hardin director of university relations at the Koch Foundation.” [, 12/17/14]

Koch Attempts to Influence Florida State University


St. Petersburg Times: “During The First Round Of Hiring In 2009, Koch Rejected Nearly 60 Percent Of The Faculty’s Suggestions.” According to St. Petersburg Times, “David W. Rasmussen, dean of the College of Social Sciences, defended the deal, initiated by an FSU graduate working for Koch. During the first round of hiring in 2009, Koch rejected nearly 60 percent of the faculty’s suggestions but ultimately agreed on two candidates. Although the deal was signed in 2008 with little public controversy, the issue revived last week when two FSU professors – one retired, one active – criticized the contract in the Tallahassee Democrat as an affront to academic freedom.” [St. Petersburg Times, 5/10/11]

Tampa Tribune Columnist Joe O’Neill: “Whereas Most Donors… Are Limited In Influence, Koch Is Accorded Virtual Veto Power For Its $250,000 Per Year. Too Little Money For Too Much Input. A Classic Lose-Lose.” According to an opinion by columnist Joe O’Neill in The Tampa Tribune, “Speaking of FSU’s call, the Koch deal candidly smacks of a sell-out. Whereas most donors, no matter how prestigious and how appreciated and how generous, are limited in influence, Koch is accorded virtual veto power for its $250,000 per year. Too little money for too much input. A classic lose-lose.” [Joe O’Neill – The Tampa Tribune, 5/18/11]

Author Of University Inc. Jennifer Washburn Called The Koch Deal With FSU “Truly Shocking” And Said It Was “An Egregious Example Of A Public University Being Willing To Sell Itself For Next To Nothing.” According to St. Petersburg Times, “Jennifer Washburn, who has reviewed dozens of contracts between universities and donors, called the Koch agreement with FSU ‘truly shocking.’ Said Washburn, author of University Inc., a book on industry’s ties to academia: ‘This is an egregious example of a public university being willing to sell itself for next to nothing.’” [St. Petersburg Times, 5/10/11]

Koch Wanted To “At Least Partially Control Which Faculty Members Florida State University Hired,” Offered Extra Money to Keep Favorite Faculty Members, Including Economics Chair Bruce Benson

CPI: The Charles Koch Foundation Wanted The Ability To “At Least Partially Control Which Faculty Members Florida State University Hired.” According to The Center for Public Integrity, “Second, the Charles Koch Foundation would at least partially control which faculty members Florida State University hired. […]At Florida State University, Benson noted in a November 2007 memorandum that the Charles Koch Foundation would not just ‘give us money to hire anyone we want and fund any graduate student that we choose. There are constraints.’ Benson later added in the memo: ‘Koch cannot tell a university who to hire, but they are going to try to make sure, through contractual terms and monitoring, that people hired are [to] be consistent with ‘donor Intent.’” [Center for Public Integrity, 9/12/14]

CPI: Foundation Said That Florida State University Economics Department Chairman Bruce Benson “Must Stay On Another Three Years As Department Chairman—Even Though He Told His Wife He’d Step Down In 2009.” According to The Center for Public Integrity, “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.” [Center for Public Integrity, 9/12/14]

CPI: Foundation Offered An Extra $105,000 To Florida State To Keep Benson—A Self-Described “Libertarian Anarchist.” According to The Center for Public Integrity, “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.” [Center for Public Integrity, 9/12/14]

CPI: Bruce Benson Claimed That “While He Continued Serving As Florida State’s Economics Department Chairman Until 2012, Charles Koch Foundation Money Wasn’t A Factor.” According to The Center for Public Integrity, “[Bruce] Benson also said that while he continued serving as Florida State’s economics department chairman until 2012, Charles Koch Foundation money wasn’t a factor. While the foundation initially discussed providing money to help fund Benson’s salary, ‘that idea was taken off the table very early in negotiations,’ he said. ‘I continued as chair because I felt I could still make a valuable contribution to the department.’” [Center for Public Integrity, 9/12/14]

Benson On Risk Of FSU Accepting Koch Foundation Funds: “We Cannot Expect Them To Be Willing To Give Us Free Reign…Can We Find Faculty Who Meet Our Own Standards But Who Are Also Acceptable To The Funding Sources?” According to The Center for Public Integrity, “[Bruce] Benson also predicted entering into an agreement with the foundation carried some risk. ‘There clearly is a danger in this, of course. For instance, we might be tempted to lower our standards in order to hire people they like,’ Benson wrote, in advocating that the university not do so. ‘We cannot expect them to be willing to give us free reign to hire anyone we might want, however, so the question becomes, can we find faculty who meet our own standards but who are also acceptable to the funding sources?’” [Center for Public Integrity, 9/12/14]

New President Of Florida State University John Thrasher Was Asked To Admit That He Had Accepted Funding From Koch Industries At A Meeting With Student Protestors. According to the Tallahassee Democrat, “John Thrasher’s first official act Monday as president of Florida State University was to meet with his harshest critics, leaders of the left-leaning student organization Progress Coalition. Thrasher spent almost an hour beginning at 8 a.m. with the three dozen or so students, many of whom had protested on the front steps of the Westcott Building on Thursday while Thrasher was being confirmed by the Board of Governors in Boca Raton. The students presented Thrasher with a list of nine demands, asking him to admit that he had accepted funding from Koch Industries and that he ‘lied to students about his Koch funding on Sept. 15, 2014.’” [Tallahassee Democrat, 11/10/14]

Koch Campus Donations Contain Conditions That Are “Explicitly Ideological.” According to the Free Expression Policy Project, “Most of the funding has gone to economics departments, and the conditions are explicitly ideological.” [Free Expression Policy Project, 11/13/14]

FSU Economics Chair Makes Annual Reports to Koch About Faculty’s Publications, Speeches, And Classes

Economics Dept. Chair Bruce Benson “Makes Annual Reports To Koch About The Faculty’s Publications, Speeches, And Classes, Which Have Included The Economics Of Corruption.” According to St. Petersburg Times, “Bruce Benson, chairman of FSU’s economics department, said that of his staff of 30, six, including himself, would fall into Koch’s free-market camp. ‘The Kochs find, as I do, that a lot of regulation is actually detrimental and they’re convinced markets work relatively well when left alone,’ he said. Benson said his department had extensive discussion, but no vote, on the Koch agreement when it was signed in 2008. He said the Koch grant has improved his department and guaranteed a diversity of opinion that’s beneficial to students. ‘Students will ultimately choose,’ he said. ‘If you believe strongly in something, you believe it can win the debate.’ Benson makes annual reports to Koch about the faculty’s publications, speeches and classes, which have included the economics of corruption.” [St. Petersburg Times, 5/10/11]

FSU Faculty Ties to Koch Network

Gainesville Scene: “Numerous Faculty Members In The FSU Economics Department Have Ties To Koch Organizations.” According to the Gainesville Scene, “In fact, numerous faculty members in the FSU economics department have ties to Koch Organizations.” [Gainesville Scene, 1/9/15]

FSU Faculty Lora Holcombe Is A Member Of The Association Of Private Enterprise Education (APEE), An Organization Created By The Koch Family Foundations. According to the Gainesville Scene, “Lora Holcombe teaches ‘introduction to principles of macroeconomics,”’ which is a required course for all business and economics majors. Holcombe is a member of the Association of Private Enterprise Education (APEE), an organization created by Koch Family Foundations.” [Gainesville Scene, 1/9/15]

  • The Required Textbook For Holcombe’s Class Was Written By James Gwartney Of APEE And Cato, Richard Stroup, Of Cato And The Institute For Energy Research, And Russell Sobel, Of APEE And Cato. According to the Gainesville Scene, “The required textbook for her introductory class, ‘Macroeconomics: Private and Public Choice,’ was written by authors with Koch ties. Among these authors is: James Gwartney, the president, vice president and executive board member of APEE and adjunct scholar at the Cato Institute, which was founded by Charles Koch; Richard Stroup, a fellow at the Cato Institute and the director of the Koch-founded Institute for Energy Research; Russell Sobel, executive board member of the Association of Private Enterprise Education and affiliate of the Cato Institute.” [Gainesville Scene, 1/9/15]


Charles Koch Foundation Offered Florida State University’s Economics Department Millions Of Dollars With “Strings Attached” In 2007, Outlined In Previously Unpublished Documents Obtained By CPI. According to The Center for Public Integrity, “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. […] Such details are contained in 16 pages of previously unpublished emails and memos obtained by the Center for Public Integrity.” [Center for Public Integrity, 9/12/14]

CPI: Koch Foundation Required The “Curriculum It Funded Must Align With The Libertarian, Deregulatory Economic Philosophy Of Charles Koch.” According to The Center for Public Integrity, “First, the curriculum it funded must align with the libertarian, deregulatory economic philosophy of Charles Koch, the billionaire industrialist and Republican political bankroller.” [Center for Public Integrity, 9/12/14]

Koch’s Contract With Florida State University “Provides That The Programs Funded And Professors Hired Must ‘Advance And Expand’ Research And Teaching Related To ‘Free Enterprise.’” According to the Free Expression Policy Project, “Florida State’s ‘Memorandum of Understanding’ with Koch likewise provides that the programs funded and professors hired must ‘advance and expand’ research and teaching related to ‘free enterprise.’ The agreement specifies that the Foundation will have approval power over faculty appointments that it funds. If the Foundation disagrees with a proposed appointment, it can refuse to fund the position.” [Free Expression Policy Project, 11/13/14]

  • The FSU Contract “Guaranteed Mandatory Reading Of Ayn Rand’s Writings In Some Courses.” According to the Free Expression Policy Project, “Faculty at Florida State were upset in 2011 to discover that the grant also guaranteed mandatory reading of Ayn Rand’s writings in some courses.” [Free Expression Policy Project, 11/13/14]

Koch-Funded Economics Professors Are “Misrepresenting Climate Science, ‘A Field Well Outside Of Their Credentialed Expertise.’” According to the Free Expression Policy Project, “A primary concern of Greenpeace is that the Koch funds are supporting professors and programs that are impeding attempts to stop or slow climate change. Greenpeace reports that Florida State’s economics department, heavily financed by Koch, appears to host professors who are misrepresenting climate science, ‘a field well outside of their credentialed expertise.’ Three of the four authors of a notorious economics textbook containing misinformation about climate science have ties to FSU.” [Free Expression Policy Project,11/13/14]

A Summer Macroeconomics Class At FSU Was “Laden With Videos Of Anti-Government Crusader John Stossel.” According to the Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting, “Such concerns have been raised at other colleges accepting Koch Foundation money, most notably George Mason University and Florida State University. At FSU, which has received $2.8 million from Koch, economics professors hired with foundation money must be ‘free markets’ advocates who see society through the Koch lens. A summer macroeconomics class at FSU was laden with videos of anti-government crusader John Stossel.” [, 12/19/14]


While In The State Senate, FSU’s New President John Thrasher Supported A Law Allowing Universities To Hold “Closed-To-The-Public Meetings With Outside Donor Groups, Essentially Preventing Students From Knowing If Private Funding Is Influencing The Academic Integrity Of Their College.” According to the Gainesville Scene, “The new president of FSU, John Thrasher, is a former state legislator whose campaign received more than $2,000 from Koch Industries. While in the Florida Senate, Thrasher supported a recently passed law that now allows universities to closed-to-the-public meetings with outside donor groups, essentially preventing students from knowing if private funding is influencing the academic integrity of their college. This is especially dangerous because while the Koch/FSU agreement was made public, universities will not be obligated to disclose any such transactions that happen in the future.” [Gainesville Scene, 1/9/15]

FSU Made “Minor Changes” In Response To The Public Outcry Over The Koch Relationship. According to the Gainesville Scene, “In response to public outcry, FSU administrators re-evaluated the school’s relationship with the Charles Koch Foundation. The new deal made only minor changes, limiting the number of Koch representatives on the advisory board to one and requiring that the board not hire new faculty, although after new hires are made the board can decide whether the Koch Foundation money will be used to pay his or her salary.” [Gainesville Scene, 1/9/15]

ALEC Named Thrasher Its Legislator Of The Year In 1998, But Thrasher Claimed He Stopped Attending ALEC Meetings In 2000 And Did Not Go Back Until 2009. According to the Miami Herald, “Earlier in his political career, Thrasher was more eager to align with organizations affiliated with the Kochs. During the lead-up to his term as House Speaker, he attended American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) meetings where conservative lawmakers were encouraged to support legislation backed by interests including the Koch brothers. ALEC named Thrasher its legislator of the year in 1998. He said he stopped attending ALEC meetings when he left the House in 2000, and did not go back in 2009 when he won a special election for a Senate seat.” [Miami Herald, 9/21/14]

FSU President John Thrasher “Abruptly Canceled” A Meeting With Students “Who Believe FSU Sold Its Academic Integrity For Funding Of Some Economics Teaching Positions By The Conservative Koch Brothers.” According to the Tallahassee Democrat, “Florida State University President John Thrasher abruptly canceled a meeting Wednesday with students who believe FSU sold its academic integrity for funding of some economics teaching positions by the conservative Koch brothers.” [Tallahassee Democrat, 1/14/15]

Politifact Rated Thrasher’s Claims That He Hadn’t Received Koch Funding As “Mostly False”

New Florida State University President John Thrasher Denied Ever Receiving Koch Contributions. According to PolitiFact, “[John] Thrasher became defensive when questioned about his ties to Charles and David Koch, the billionaire libertarian brothers who have spent freely on anti-regulation causes. At one point, a graduate student asked Thrasher about campaign contributions he had received from the brothers. The former lawmaker from St. Augustine denied receiving any. ‘I don’t have a relationship with the Koch brothers,’ Thrasher said. ‘You say I’ve got contributions from them? You go look at my contributions, I’ve never received any contributions from the Koch brothers.’” [PolitiFact, 11/19/14]

Koch Industries Has Made Four Donations Totaling $3,000 To Thrasher In The Past Three Years; The Final Donation Came After The Board Of Trustees Had Voted For Thrasher’s FSU Presidency. According to PolitiFact, “A trip to the Florida Division of Elections website showed that Koch Industries, based in Wichita, Kan., has made four contributions to Thrasher’s re-election campaign since 2012. The multinational group owns interests in manufacturing, energy, textiles, chemicals, paper, ranching, finance and investing, among other things. Current Florida campaign finance laws allow corporations to donate up to $1,000 per election to a legislative candidate. Koch Industries has given Thrasher $3,000 over the past three years. Two donations on Jan. 9, 2012, and Oct. 11, 2012, were $500 apiece. Two were $1,000 each, on Feb. 8, 2014, and Oct. 21, 2014. This final donation came after the forum in question, and after the Board of Trustees had voted for Thrasher.” [PolitiFact, 11/19/14]

PolitiFact: “Mostly False” That Thrasher Never Received Koch Donations. According to PolitiFact, “Thrasher said he has ‘never received any contributions from the Koch brothers.’ Thrasher says he has never received money personally from the Koch Brothers, and as far as we can tell, that’s correct. However, he did receive four donations totaling $3,000 from Koch Industries, a company they own. That’s what we’re checking, not whether he knows Charles and David Koch. […] The statement contains an element of truth but ignores critical facts that would give a different impression. We rate it Mostly False.” [PolitiFact, 11/19/14]

Thrasher Was Chairman Of Gov. Rick Scott’s Re-Election Campaign And Koch Industries Contributed $25,000 To Gov. Scott’s Political Committee. According to the Miami Herald, “Koch Industries also donated $25,000 to Gov. Rick Scott’s Let’s Get to Work political committee. Thrasher is chairman of Scott’s re-election campaign.” [Miami Herald,9/21/14]

Thrasher Denied Koch Control Over University’s Hiring

John Thrasher: “Contrary To Misinformation Being Circulated,” The Agreement Between FSU And The Koch Foundation “Contains No Provisions” That Violate Academic Freedom “Or Threaten…Faculty Governance.” According to an opinion by FSU President John Thrasher in the Tallahassee Democrat, “I have been asked several times to comment on the current Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the Department of Economics at Florida State University and the Charles Koch Foundation. I have reviewed the current version of this MOU and the university’s relationship with the Koch Foundation and, contrary to misinformation being circulated, it contains no provisions that violate the academic freedom of the faculty or the students or threaten the integrity of the university’s policies regarding faculty governance.” [John Thrasher – Tallahassee Democrat, 1/16/15]

Thrasher: “A Decision To Hire Is Made Entirely By The Faculty Of The Department And The Dean,” After Which “A Separate Decision May Be Made To Apply To The Koch Foundation” For Funding To Support The Hire. According to an opinion by FSU president John Thrasher in the Tallahassee Democrat, “The changes made in the current MOU protect against potential donor influence over faculty hiring decisions. A decision to hire is made entirely by the faculty of the department and the Dean, in accordance with university policy. After the decision to hire is made, a separate decision may be made to apply to the Koch Foundation for grant funding to support the position. The hiring decision is made based on the willingness and ability of the Dean and the department to support the position with university funds regardless of any subsequent grant funding decision eventually made by the Koch Foundation. The Koch Foundation is an external source to which a request for grant funding may be made, of which there are many at the university.” [John Thrasher – Tallahassee Democrat, 1/16/15]

Thrasher: “Members Of The Economics Department Feel Very Strongly That Any Attempt To Limit Their Ability To Obtain Funding From The Koch Foundation Is A Violation Of Their Academic Freedom.” According to an opinion by FSU president John Thrasher in the Tallahassee Democrat, “The faculty members of the economics department feel strongly that any attempt to limit their ability to obtain funding from the Koch Foundation is a violation of their academic freedom. The chair of the department, Dr. Mark Isaac, stated, ‘I believe that any attempt by anyone, be they students, faculty, or external groups, to tell members of my department that they may not make a grant application to a foundation because ‘we don’t like that foundation’ is, at a minimum, a gross violation of academic freedom.’” [John Thrasher – Tallahassee Democrat, 1/16/15]

Thrasher: “There Is No Donor Control Over The Curriculum In The Economics Department.” According to an opinion by FSU president John Thrasher in the Tallahassee Democrat, “Similarly, there is no donor control over the curriculum in the economics department. All decisions regarding course offerings and content are made by the Graduate and the Undergraduate Studies Committees of the department and the faculty members teaching the courses.” [John Thrasher – Tallahassee Democrat, 1/16/15]


Protests and Criticism from FSU Students

Independent Florida Alligator Editorial: “If The Koch Brothers Are Able To Run Roughshod Over The Interests And Values Of The FSU Student Community, It Seems Likely That They…Will Replicate This Strategy.”. According to an editorial by the Independent Florida Alligator, “At Other Universities if the Koch brothers are able to run roughshod over the interests and values of the FSU student community, it seems likely that they and other wealthy, politically inclined Americans will replicate this strategy at other universities. University administrators and faculty members should be evaluated based on their qualifications and not on whether their political beliefs align with those of wealthy donors.” [Independent Florida Alligator, 8/27/14]

FSU Progress Coalition Op-Ed: In Florida The “Koch Cover-Up Bill” Blocks “All Public Access To Meetings Between Private Donors And Public University Foundations.” According to an op-ed by Ralph Wilson of the FSU Progress Coalition for the Tallahassee Democrat, “One month after the exposure of the 2013 Koch contract, Thrasher chaired a Senate Rules Committee meeting at which students and faculty spoke out against the ‘Koch Cover-up Bill.’ This bill, now state law, blocks all public access to meetings between private donors and public university foundations. Predictably, HB 115 was sponsored by legislators who champion the Koch-funded organizations American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and Americans for Prosperity.” [Ralph Wilson – Tallahassee Democrat, 8/27/14]

  • FSU Progress Coalition Op-Ed: After Voting Support Of The Bill State Sen. John Thrasher Was “Fast-Tracked” As Florida State University’s Possible Next President By Its Presidential Search Advisory Committee. According to an op-ed by Ralph Wilson of the FSU Progress Coalition for the Tallahassee Democrat, “The bill allows donors such as the Kochs to keep contracts with universities out of public view. As these universities are not required to disclose donor funding, they would have to rely on whistleblowers to speak up only after corrupt contracts have been signed. Despite hearing these concerns from student and faculty testimony, Thrasher voted in support of the bill. Seven short days after the bill passed, [state Sen. John] Thrasher was fast-tracked by Bense’s PSAC [Presidential Search Advisory Committee]. The corporate/political influence on Bense’s PSAC is blatant and unapologetic. Many members have direct connections to the controversial corporate-legislative partnership ALEC and Koch-funded institutes. In fact, ALEC/Koch affiliates have more representation on Bense’s PSAC than either faculty or students.” [Ralph Wilson – Tallahassee Democrat, 8/27/14]

FSU Students Strongly Opposed Appointment of Former State Senator John Thrasher to Presidency of Florida State University

Student Group To Protest John Thrasher’s Presidency At Florida State University Because “A Thrasher Appointment Presidency Would Put FSU In The Hands Of…The Billionaire Libertarian Koch Brothers.” According to the Miami Herald, “But the student group, known as the FSU Progress Coalition, is demanding the state Board of Governors reject Thrasher’s appointment when it meets Wednesday in Boca Raton. The students say a Thrasher appointment presidency would put FSU in the hands of corporate interests and the billionaire libertarian Koch brothers. ‘John Thrasher is three-time Koch-funded American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) Legislator of the Year who has been cited twice for ethics violations, lied to students and faculty about his Koch funding, and supported legislation that defunds education in the state of Florida and supports the school-to-prison pipeline,’ the group wrote in a press release Monday. ‘He has no academic background and a legacy of supporting structural racism, homophobia and anti-environmental policies that point directly to his political ties with corporate industry as a whole and Koch in particular.’” [Miami Herald, 11/3/14]

New President Of Florida State University John Thrasher Was Asked To Admit That He Had Accepted Funding From Koch Industries At A Meeting With Student Protestors. According to the Tallahassee Democrat, “John Thrasher’s first official act Monday as president of Florida State University was to meet with his harshest critics, leaders of the left-leaning student organization Progress Coalition. Thrasher spent almost an hour beginning at 8 a.m. with the three dozen or so students, many of whom had protested on the front steps of the Westcott Building on Thursday while Thrasher was being confirmed by the Board of Governors in Boca Raton. The students presented Thrasher with a list of nine demands, asking him to admit that he had accepted funding from Koch Industries and that he ‘lied to students about his Koch funding on Sept. 15, 2014.’” [Tallahassee Democrat, 11/10/14]

Faculty Criticism

Ray Bellamy, Head Of Surgery At The Tallahassee Campus Of FSU’S College Of Medicine: The Kochs “Want Their View Taught… And It Amounts To Propaganda, Rather Than Assisting Education.” According to KCUR, “When the Koch Foundation donated to Florida State it installed a Koch-appointed board to scrutinize hiring, research funding, and some academic work. Ray Bellamy, head of Sergey [sic] at the Tallahassee campus of FSU’s College of Medicine, uncovered all this with his own open records request. ‘They want their view taught,’ says Bellamy. ‘And it amounts to propaganda, rather than assisting education.’” [, 12/17/14]

Part-Time FSU Instructor Financed A Full-Page Ad In The Tallahassee Democrat, “John Thrasher Should Not Be FSU’s Next President,” That Mentioned “Large Donations” From The Koch Brothers. According to the Miami Herald, “Part-time FSU instructor Ray Bellamy financed a full-page ad in the Tallahassee Democrat newspaper titled ‘John Thrasher should not be FSU’s next president’ that mentioned, among many other gripes, ‘large donations’ from the Koch brothers.” [Miami Herald, 9/21/14]

President Of The American Association Of University Professors: “It Amounts To The Koch Brothers’ Foundation Basically Trying To Buy A Position On The Faculty. And That Certainly Is A Threat To Academic Freedom.” According to the Free Expression Policy Project, “Rudy Fichtenbaum, president of the American Association of University Professors, told National Public Radio: ‘it amounts to the Koch brothers’ foundation basically trying to buy a position on the faculty. And that certainly is a threat to academic freedom.’” [Free Expression Policy Project, 11/13/14]

Criticism From Florida State University Graduate Assistants United

PR Chair Of The United Faculty Of Florida For FSU-Graduate Assistants United, Lakey: Charles Koch Foundation “Still Has Veto Power Over Who Gets Hired” CKF Must Approve A Hire “To Get The Position Funded.” According to an opinion by Lakey, the Public Relations Chair of the United Faculty of Florida- Florida State University-Graduate Assistants United, in the Tallahassee Democrat, “Faculty recommendations included a suspension of hiring under the agreement until the advisory board included two faculty members and worked by majority. The 2013 agreement includes two faculty members and one CKF [Charles Koch Foundation] member, and demands a unanimous vote. The 2013 contract says that the selection of professorship positions must go through normal university processes of hire but before the hire takes place the information on the candidate must be put past CKF, which is under no obligation ‘to provide funding’ to the selection. This means that CKF still has veto power over who gets hired in the department with its money. This means the department must put forward someone CKF approves in order to get the position funded.” [Lakey – Tallahassee Democrat, 1/10/15]

Lakey: The Koch Foundation Agreement Hires Faculty Into Tenure Track Positions, But Only Funds Them For “Exactly The Amount Of Time It Takes To Gain Tenure,” At Which Point FSU Must Fund Them. According to an opinion by Lakey, the Public Relations Chair of the United Faculty of Florida- Florida State University-Graduate Assistants United, in the Tallahassee Democrat, “Of final concern, not to the Faculty Senate report, but to me, is this: The Charles Koch Foundation offers funding for five professor positions, but only funds these tenure-track positions for five to six years. That is exactly the amount of time it takes to gain tenure. At the time of tenure, CKF funding disappears and the 2013 agreement mandates that FSU agree ‘to assume full responsibility for the continued maintenance and funding of the Professorship Positions.’ In other words, the Charles Koch Foundation puts its people in and then the taxpayers are required to keep them. Five years of CKF funding to guarantee a lifetime taxpayer position.” [Lakey – Tallahassee Democrat,1/10/15]

Tallahassee Democrat: Thrasher “Sees No Point In Sitting Down With The Progress Coalition After Reading” A Letter From A Graduate Teaching Assistant Known As “Lakey” In The Tallahassee Democrat. According to the Tallahassee Democrat, “Thrasher said he sees no point in sitting down with the Progress Coalition after reading a column in the Tallahassee Democrat on Sunday by a graduate teaching assistant known only as ‘Lakey.’ She wrote that the university’s agreement with the Charles Koch Foundation jeopardized academic freedom.” [Tallahassee Democrat, 1/14/15]

Lakey “Said Her Group Was Disappointed ‘That Student Interests And Concerns Are Being Relegated To A Place Below Those Of Private Donors.’” According to the Tallahassee Democrat, “Lakey said her group was disappointed ‘that student interests and concerns are being relegated to a place below those of private donors.’ She said Thrasher had agreed in November to get back to the students but now wanted to meet only with some of them personally.” [Tallahassee Democrat, 1/14/15]

National Student Protests

Students On “Nearly 30 Campuses” Nationwide “Called For A Separation Of College And Corporation” In Protests “Spearheaded” By FSU Students That “Highlighted Financial Influence From The Koch Brothers.” According to Inside Higher Ed, “Students on nearly 30 campuses around the country called for a separation of college and corporation in protests Monday. Although the events highlighted financial influence from the Koch brothers, organizers said the campaign is a response to a broader trend of corporate influence. The idea was spearheaded by students at Florida State University, where past criticisms over the university’s relationship with the Charles Koch Foundation are now intertwined with criticism of choice of a politician without an academic background for university president.” [, 11/4/14]

  • The Goal Of “UnKoch My Campus” Was To “Increase The Number Of Campuses That Are Trying To Expose The Details Behind Koch Foundation Donations.” According to Inside Higher Ed, “For UnKoch My Campus, the goal is increase the number of campuses that are trying to expose the details behind Koch foundation donations to see if there’s anything that blatantly threatens academic freedom, Lindsey Berger, one of the organizers, said. Berger helped author a report on the Koch brothers’ influence on college campuses with another organizer, Connor Gibson. The third founder of UnKoch My Campus, Kalin Jordan, started a Koch Free Zone group to protest donations at Suffolk University.” [Inside Higher Ed, 11/4/14]

  • Michigan State University Students Filed A Request For Public Records With Ties Between The University And The Koch-Related Foundations. According to Inside Higher Ed, “Students at Michigan State University asked for tips from students at George Mason University and Florida State on how to request public records about correspondence or contracts between the university and the Koch-related foundations. The group submitted the request Monday.” [, 11/4/14]
  • George Mason University Students Petitioned For Administrators To Release Information About The Kochs’ Relationship With The School That They Have Not Been Able To Get Through Public Records. According to Inside Higher Ed, “At George Mason University, the top university recipient of Koch donations, students are pushing the administration to release information they haven’t been able to get through public records. George Mason President Angel Cabrera has said that the university never allows private donor sway over the hiring process, curriculum or anything that would threaten academic integrity. Samantha Parsons, a student who co-founded Transparent GMU, says students deserve proof. On Monday, Parsons and other students handed out fliers and collected signatures for their petition to administrators to release more information. ‘People are becoming more and more aware, but there are certainly students who have no idea what’s going on,’ Parsons said. The Transparent GMU fliers compared the amount of money given since 2005 to Florida State and to George Mason, including through its foundation, the Mercatus Center and the Institute for Humane Studies. Parsons said the total far exceeds Florida State’s donations. ‘We’re really questioning what $48 million has bought them here at George Mason,’ Parsons said.” [, 11/4/14]

“UnKoch My Campus” Protests “Broke Out Across The Nation” At Nearly 30 Colleges In 2014. According to Forbes, “’UnKoch My Campus’ Protests Spread Across Nation: ‘UnKoch my campus,’ demanded students at nearly 30 colleges on Monday. Protests broke out across the nation as part of a campaign calling for more transparency in what industrialists Charles and David Koch give to college campuses, and how much influence the billionaires wield in academic decisions.” [Forbes, 11/4/14]

National Criticism

LA Times Columnist Michael Hiltzik: The Kochs’ Donation To FSU Is An Example Of Wealthy Donors Only “Interested In Advancing Their Own Notions Of How The World Works Or Should Work–In Ideology, Not Ideas.” According to an opinion by columnist Michael Hiltzik for the Los Angeles Times, “Wealthy donors today seldom have an interest in independent, objective academic study; they’re interested in advancing their own notions of how the world works or should work–in ideology, not ideas. As we reported earlier this summer, examples of this trend have been proliferating in recent years. In 2007, the Charles Koch Foundation offered Florida State University millions of dollars to set up a libertarian hive in its economics department, according to documents recently disclosed by the Center for Public Integrity.” [Michael Hiltzik – Los Angeles Times, 9/15/14]

Published: Jul 20, 2015

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